The Japanese brand’s new entry-level workhorse is anything but basic
Kubota’s new RTV520 utility vehicle is the perfect embodiment of the saying, “The best things come in small packages.”
While it might be the smallest and least powerful of its UTV siblings in Kubota’s range, it does what it’s meant to do and it does it well.
The RTV520 builds on the original RTV500 released back in 2008 and inherits all the well-loved traits of its predecessor while improving on aspects like ride quality, aesthetics and technology.
Farmmachinerysales.com.au had the opportunity recently to take the RTV520 for a spin at a paddock in Colac, Victoria, and is happy to report that it has earned our tick of approval.
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More grunt less noise
One of the improvements over the RTV500 is a new engine offering that bit more power. A 2-cylinder Kubota liquid-cooled EFI engine provides 17.4hp of grunt to carry out any load-hauling task around the farm, or simply to ferry two people across the paddock.
While it boasts more power, the amount of noise it generates is lower than that of previous models, Kubota claims, at around 83dbA. In fact, low noise levels have always been a drawcard of the RTV500, and lowering it further increases the RTV520’s versatility to work in a wider range of industries such as local council areas, golf courses or in livestock operations where loud noises could pose an issue.
With a width of just 1390mm, the unit can squeeze through tight gates or travel on narrow roads with ease.
Kubota has equipped the RTV520 with a brand new five-link suspension system that it says increases rear suspension stroke by 30 per cent and front suspension stroke by 20 per cent.
Overall, the new and improved system aims to enhance the ride quality of the vehicle and prevent it from bottoming out when traversing rough terrain.
While the paddock where we tested the unit didn’t have the full gamut of surfaces a UTV like this is likely to encounter, we can safely say the RTV520’s suspension handled any bumps it did encounter with ease, and delivered a smooth ride.
Combine that with some nicely padded seats in the cabin, and operators don’t feel like they’re being thrown around like rag dolls and can ride comfortably no matter how fast or slow the UTV is travelling.
Slow but steady
The Kubota RTV520 is capable of a top speed of about 40km/h. That may not sound fast, but keep in mind that the RTV520 has been designed to tow loads or carry passengers, not race across dunes, so speed is not crucial to its operation.
In fact, Kubota’s answer to a speedy utility vehicle that can still function seamlessly as a workhorse is its range-topping Kubota Sidekick, which is capable of reaching a top speed of 64km/h.
When testing the RTV520, we never quite reached top speed but it certainly felt like we were going much faster than the dashboard showed.
Thanks to a variable hydrostatic transmission, the vehicle starts and stops very smoothly without any of the jerking and jolting that may be experienced on some other UTV models.
As the RTV520 has been designed for slower operations, such as spraying or livestock herding, smooth acceleration is crucial to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the driver and passenger, along with any other animals that may be nearby. Also, any constant jerking and jolting quickly becomes tiresome, especially when carrying out tasks requiring frequent stops and starts.
Dynamic braking on the RTV520 gives operators the confidence to brake quickly and safely when going downhill, for example. Much like the acceleration, braking is also very smooth so you don’t feel like you’re at risk of head-butting the windshield when hitting the brakes.
According to Kubota, the RTV520 has a load capacity of 200kg in the tray and a hefty towing capacity of 530kg via a standard trailer hitch.
We weren’t able to test the UTV with any load in the tray or while towing, so we cannot judge the unit on its load-handling capabilities.
What we can say, however, is how well built the RTV520 is to handle cargo. The tray is made of metal, not plastic, so it should stand the test of time well. Unloading the tray is as simple as unlatching it from both sides of the UTV and a quick heave-ho slides the load right out the back.
Heavy-duty steel cargo tie-down hooks are built into the tray to allow farmers to secure whatever they are carrying, because the last thing anyone needs is tools hurtling across the paddock when the RTV520 encounters a bump.
Make it your own
In 2020, Kubota refreshed the styling of its compact UTV to bring it right up to date.
The RTV520 sports a redesigned hood, a new front grille, a new headlight design and updated graphics.
While it comes with a range of standard accessories, it can be customised with extra bells and whistles depending on the requirements or tasks at hand.
Some optional extras include a plastic canopy, front LED work lights, rear LED work lights, front guard and alloy wheels.
Is this a reliable, hard-working UTV? Very much so. Did it blow our minds? No. Was it fun and comfortable to drive? Yes. Would we recommend this to our readers? Yes, we would!
There is nothing fancy about the RTV520. Yes, it has a fresh new look and some new features, but that’s where the novelties stop, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, true to Kubota’s style, the RTV520 is still as simple as possible to operate and to maintain. And in a world where vehicles are getting more complicated than ever, with increasingly more to potentially go wrong, that in itself means a lot.
The Kubota RTV520 is priced from $15,964 excluding GST and is now available from Kubota dealerships nationwide.