In the crowded utility-vehicle market, Bobcat has managed to achieve a measure of product differentiation for its model 2300. The new model stands apart from the crowd by virtue of its RapidLink attachment system, which is a front-mounted, hydraulically operated, joystick-controlled coupler that permits this four-wheel driver to handle a bucket, pallet forks, push broom, snow blade and mower.
According to product manager Brad Claus, more attachments will be forthcoming. The RapidLink system's attachment arm can lift loads as heavy as 500 pounds to heights of 2 feet. When not required, the system can be removed, allowing the 2300 to go about more conventional chores.
The 2300 features a 20-hp diesel engine, as well as the Bobcat IntelliTrak four-wheel-drive system, which automatically sends power to all four wheels and protects against traction loss, says Bobcat, by "preventing one, two or three wheels from spinning without the fourth." The automatic locking differential engages when needed, says the company, but disengages when turning to minimize ground disturbance and wear to tires and drive components. The 2300's deep-ratio, continuously variable transmission relieves the driver from shifting and is designed to provide high torque and travel speeds to 25 mph.
For the driver, the 2300's rack-and-pinion steering system is designed to provide low-effort turning with a quick ratio, and the design of the wheel-cut angle affords a short turning radius. Double A-arm front suspension and swing-arm rear suspension is aimed at smoothing the ride, and an adjustable steering column and adjustable seat help place the driver in the comfort zone. A 12-volt power adapter is on the dash if you need it, and cup holders, which no doubt you will definitely need, are standard equipment.
And to provide support for all of this comfort and technology is the 2300's aluminum frame which, says Bobcat, was chosen for its rust-resistance, strength and durability. The new frame also supports an 800-pound-capacity, power-dump bed. For added towing and rear-attachment capability, the new model also provides a standard 2-inch receiver hitch.
We had the recent opportunity to take the 2300 through a pretty serious rough-terrain obstacle course at a Bobcat press event. We were left with the impression that this new utility vehicle was essentially unconcerned about steep grades, wheel-swallowing potholes and tight turns that sometimes left a wheel catching air. And we were taken, too, with its adept handling of a bucket and forks. List price for the 2300 is around $15,000, and the attachments range in price from about $350 to $2,250.