Let me guess; you didn’t know quite enough about the 4th generation REV platform with the all-new 850 E-TEC engine package, so you didn’t pull the trigger in the spring and order your new 2017 Ski-Doo MXZ X-package. And, as you know all too well, if you don’t order in the spring you are pretty much S.O.L. Bummer, right?
Well, maybe all is not lost. You see, Ski-Doo smartly realized there would be sleepers like you that didn’t instantly realize how cool these new sleds were, so they had the vision to also offer much of the 2017 technology in a slightly-less aggressive version, the MXZ TNT. As with all previous year TNT models, we find a slightly less high-end rear track shock than what comes on the higher-tier X-package sleds. Both versions come with HPG Plus shocks front and center, where the (standard) X-package is fitted with a KYB Pro 36 in the rear featuring compression adjust with an Easy Adjust knob; the TNT gets a non-adjustable HPG Plus in the rear. This is truly the biggest difference, but there is more. The X-package could have been ordered with the optional Adjustment Package that consists of the (killer) Quick Adjust System for the rMotion rear suspension, along with the adjustment knob on the Pilot TS skis that lets you raise or lower the carbide blade to your liking of how responsive of cornering you desire. The TNT 850 comes with the familiar Pilot 5.7 skis, which is not all that bad in our expert opinion. We find these skis to actually work better in loose snow or fresh snow, where the adjustable Pilot TS skis are designed more for hardpacked trails. Yes, the adjustability is nice, but we are perfectly fine with the all-around performance of the Pilot 5.7 skis on the TNT 850. Some of our riders actually prefer this ski.
The X-package also gets a forward-adjustable riser, something the most aggressive riders might value but most trail riders will never use, and then the rack steering system on the X-package MX Z 850. You might not have heard much about this, but somewhere along the line the Ski-Doo team decided to use different steering systems on the X-models to give these sleds a more premium positioning over the TNT (and Renegade Adrenaline) models, which are fitted instead with a single pitman arm, resulting in slightly more bump steer than would be with the rack steering. This translates into vehicle tracking stability and predictability, at least in theory, as many riders would never push their sleds to the point that they would notice the difference, where others would be able to feel the difference in full-stroke conditions as the sled will be more predictable and confident – especially in nose-landings, specifically one ski types.
Regardless of the steering system, the 4th Generation REV gets a new RAS 3 front suspension with another inch of travel, afforded by the new die-cast front bulkhead that features a constant 22-degree caster angle compared to the variable 18-24 degree caster angle of the RAS 2. What you notice from this is how the newest REV models have reduced bump feedback and track even straighter through the rough, regardless of the steering system.
One sweet thing is how the TNT 850 (and all TNT sleds) are now fitted with the longer 129” version of the rMotion rear suspension, making a good thing (no, great thing) even better. Better traction, better braking, better flotation, and even in the tightest corners you just can not really detect any difference at all in how quickly it handles and how sharply it responds. The tail is going to stay back there, not trying to pass you as abruptly as a 120” track would, so the stability and predictability is also enhanced. Seriously, with this kind of power under the hood you want the slightly longer track.
So if you are sitting there thinking you are destined to ride old technology this winter because you didn’t ante up for an X-package this past spring, do not despair. Get your butt down to your local Ski-Doo dealer and see if he was smart enough to order some of the MXZ TNT 850 E-TEC sleds. For trail riders, we could argue this is actually the better sled at a better value than the X-package. Only if you are the most extreme of riders who demands the adjustability offered by an X-package will you be truly missing out. You might even prefer the white TNT or black and silver options to the screaming yellow or black and red X-packages. They all bring a new level of playfulness and responsiveness to snowmobiling, and do so with the very first snowmobile engine ever designed from the ground up to be a direct injection motor. Just wait ‘till you grab a handful of the 850. Hardees has thick burgers, Ski-Doo has thick engines. Seriously, who even needs a four-stroke with a 2-stroke that is this durable, this powerful, and has this much torque? We rest our case.