2012 John Deere Gator XUV 550 S4 First Look

January 11, 2012
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
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Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA’s Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn’t matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

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Take a look at the new Gator in action in this 2012 John Deere Gator XUV 550 S4 First Look Video.

John Deere adds a pair of midsize side-by-sides which includes a new four-seat UTV as part of its Crossover Utility Vehicle (XUV) family. The XUV 550 and 550 S4 use a smaller engine than the John Deere Gator XUV 825i that was introduced in 2010, and represent an entry into the JD family of SxS that won’t break the bank.

The new 550 series uses an air-cooled 570cc V-Twin engine. John Deere engineers use a carburetor to deliver fuel and the mill generates a claimed 16 HP and 28.6 lb-ft. A CVT transmission utilizes High, Low, Neutral and Reverse with 2WD and 4WD. It uses a limited-slip front differential which is engaged with a lever. The rear differential is unlocked to minimize wear and tear on the ground surface, but can be locked mechanically.

“These new vehicles provide an unparalleled balance of off-road performance and work capability at a very affordable price,” said David Gigandet, tactical marketing manager, Gator utility vehicles. “The new John Deere Gator XUV 550 and 550 S4

2012 John Deere Gator XUV 550 S4
The XUV 550 S4 uses a convertible cargo rack which folds down the back seat for more bed cargo.

are a great compliment to our popular line-up of XUVs, and offer the most comfortable way to get you, your crew, and all your supplies to those hard-to-reach destinations.”

Front suspension uses dual A-arms with nine inches of travel from the independent shocks. Out back is a fully independent setup as well with eight inches of travel available from the H-arm arrangement. The two-seat model has 10.5 inches of ground clearance and the S4 offers 9.3 inches. The Gator uses hydraulic disc brakes at all four wheels and has a mechanical parking brake. Rack and pinion steering and a 79-inch wheelbase generate a turning radius of 19.7 feet on the S4. The standard 550 has a 72.8-inch wheelbase and turns in 12.3 feet. The Gator S4 weighs a claimed 1455 pounds with a full 4.9 gallons of fuel while the two-seater is 1220 pounds. Payload capacity is 800 (550) and 1200 pounds (S4).

Consumers can choose between the standard bucket seats or a bench seat in the 550, while the S4 has two rows of bench seats. A convertible cargo rack in the rear folds down to allow greater carrying capacity in the bed box.

2012 John Deere Gator XUV 550 S4
Both models are available in traditional
Green/Yellow or Realtree Hardwoods HD

“The rear seat flexibility in the Gator XUV 550 S4 is truly innovative,” said Gigandet. “The S4 can transport up to four people, but for the times when you need to carry more gear, the back seat can become more useful in seconds and increase your cargo space by 32 percent.”

Riders are held in place with three-point seat belts and the roll-over cage is made from 1.75-inch tubular steel. Rolling on 12-inch wheels, the Gator has a track width (center of tires) of 48 inches. As expected from a company with such strong agricultural heritage, the XUV 550 is available with 75 attachments including cabs, brush guards, snow plows, and is intended to work as hard as it plays. A claimed top speed of 28 mph from the V-Twin engine clearly shows this Gator isn’t intended to race. The cargo bed can hold 400 pounds and is a manual dump with power assist option. Towing up to 1100 pounds is accomplished with a standard 2-inch receiver.

The newest Gator is available in traditional Green/Yellow as well as a hunter-friendly Realtree Hardwoods HD camo. An XUV 550 starts at $8199 and the XUV 550 S4 at $9299.

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