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Test Tracks: 2018 Arctic Cat Pantera 6000 ES

What you want when you want smoothness
2018 Arctic Cat Pantera 6000 ES
It’s not always all about speed. Comfort is a huge part of touring and this one has it!
I’ve hit that Buick stage of life, and a silky touring sled like Arctic Cat’s Pantera is sort of like finding a double-pack of Cialis in the back seat of your car. The Pantera has it all and then some!

■ Why a big touring sled is fun

First, there’s enough power with the 6000 engine. This is a stout 599cc 2-stroke liquid cooled twin cylinder dual stage injection engine that gives the big sled a peppy feeling and a bit of growl to show anyone who’s looking that you’re still master of your domain. The engine starts quickly and yes, there’s electric start and push-button reverse.

With Cat’s new clutching, the engine’s power engages smoothly and you’ll hear a pleasant growl from under the hood up until about 40 mph. The Pantera cruises quietly in the 40-60 mph range, and beyond, but this is a touring sled so most folks won’t be at sustained speeds much faster than 50mph. Your reflection in the morning mirror may tell you that’s not fast enough, but don’t listen too hard. Even with a person on the comfy rear seat the Pantera will easily cruise past 70 mph down a frozen lake, like a Buick cruising down a smooth interstate.

The long track underneath helps provide Pantera with a boulevard-ride too. I ripped over corduroy trails that on a short-track performance sled set my teeth to chattering. But on the Pantera trail ripples were barely noticed as I skimmed along. Personally, the Pantera gave me the best ride experience of any sled I tested this season.

Handling is fine too. The sled is large, but the steering feel is moderate and turn-in into corners was precise and still authoritative. The ProTour 6 skis carve accordingly to most any trail sled. There’s no better feeling than being in total control when the significant other is riding shotgun.

Lucky for them too, Pantera offers soft and comfortable seats front and rear, plus the rear seatback is adjustable and well-padded. These seats are a little slick, not as grippy as the performance sleds, or even some other 2-ups, but in theory you won’t be pushing this as hard as a snocross wanna-be racer.
2018 Arctic Cat Pantera 6000 ES
Long, warm and ready. With a huge windshield and mirrors, this touring sled has it all for the long-distance rider.
The rear-seat rider gets large hand grips with gauntlets over them to keep hands warm in particularly cold conditions, plus the footrests are well grooved for good grip to augment the comfort for the passenger.

Comfort is important up front too. In addition to the soft, well-shaped seat, Pantera has one of the best windshields on the market. The 14-inch (supposedly mid-height) shield extends wide enough to protect both hands while also keeping cold air from blasting your body. On the performance sleds, with bikini/thong-type windscreens, I feel major wind resistance from my body at anything over about 40 mph. That is draining after a whole day! On the Pantera I felt no resistance even when cruising at 70.

Being a large sled, the Pantera also offers generous storage behind the second seat with a big plastic container mounted on the tunnel. Cat has new rubber fasteners to hold the container top in place and they are easy to open and close. The tunnel storage easily will hold a belt, several bottles of water, and several sets of gloves. There’s also the option in this space of putting a hard case auxiliary gas tank accessory of 4.3 gallons. This ups the range of the 6000 and allows non-stop riding all day.

Pantera comes with dual mirrors mounted on the windshield. That’s better than nothing, certainly, but there’s enough flex in the shield that the mirrors do vibrate quite a bit, but maybe a bit less than years past. This is something that has been an issue for decades. Body-mounted mirrors are more stable, but tend to break more easily if the sled ends up on its side, or scrapes something when loading or unloading.

Cat features its easy-to-use dual pod dash gauge on the Pantera along with an electrical outlet to plug in a helmet’s heated shield. We believe every trail sled should have this!
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