Which Brand of Snowmobile is Best? Ski-Doo vs. Arctic Cat vs. Polaris vs. Yamaha


Many say that Ski-Doo is the best snowmobile brand, as this company is the market leader in the snowmobile industry. Others disagree and say that Yamaha is the best snowmobile brand, even if it has the smallest market share. This is because the durability and reliability of Yamaha snowmobiles are legendary. To make the decision more difficult, you can find two more reputable brands on the market, which are Polaris and Arctic Cat.

These manufacturers are often called the “Big Four” by offering more than 150 different snowmobiles each year.

If you are wondering which brand of snowmobile is best, this post is for you.

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a lot of useful information on these manufacturers under one roof.

Ski-Doo Snowmobiles

Ski-Doo is arguably the market leader in the snowmobile industry, as this company has a market share of 40-50% each year.

Ski-Doo snowmobiles are manufactured by Canadian BRP Inc. (Bombardier Recreational Products). The first model was introduced in 1959 and was invented by Joseph Armand Bombardier.

It’s a fun fact that the original brand name of these sleds was Ski-Dog, but the name had to ultimately be changed to Ski-Doo due to a typo in the brochure.

The company offers snowmobiles in five categories:

  • Mountain
  • Trail
  • Recreational & Utility
  • Crossover
  • Touring

Beyond the sleds, the company has its own range of accessories and suits. Let’s take a look at some key facts about this manufacturer!

Where are Ski-Doo snowmobiles made?

Ski-Doo snowmobiles are manufactured in Valcourt, Quebec (Canada). If you want to see what the Ski-Doo factory looks like from the inside, don’t miss this amazing factory tour video:

Is Ski-Doo better than Polaris?

Many say that Ski-Doo is better than Polaris, as Ski-Doo is the market leader year-after-year. The Canadian company is known for its continuous innovation, unique features, and outstanding marketing. These are probably what make Ski-Doos the best-selling snowmobiles each year. But it’s safe to say that Polaris sleds also have their strengths, so finally it seems that it’s all about personal preference. If you want to learn more, don’t miss this detailed comparison:

Where is Ski-Doo headquartered?

Ski-Doo is headquartered in Valcourt, Quebec, Canada.

Are Polaris Snowmobiles the Best?

Polaris Inc. (formerly Polaris Industries Inc.) was founded in 1954. The company is an American manufacturer of snowmobiles, ATVs, UTVs and motorcycles. It’s a lesser-known fact that Polaris manufactured personal watercraft from 1994-2004!

Arctic Cat is also one of the best snowmobile manufacturers, as it has the second largest market share in the snowmobile market (around 33%). The most frequently asked questions about this company are as follows:

Does Polaris still make snowmobiles?

Yes, fortunately, Polaris still makes snowmobiles. The American manufacturer offers around 40 different models each year in four categories: Mountain, Crossover, Trail Performance, and REC/Utility.

Does Polaris make 4-stroke snowmobiles?

No, Polaris currently doesn’t offer 4-stroke snowmobiles. In the past, there were some 4-stroke sleds in the company’s fleet, but for several years it has only manufactured sleds with 2-stroke engines. However, there are rumors that 4-stroke Polaris snowmobiles are just around the corner!

Who makes engines for Polaris?

Polaris engines are developed and manufactured in-house. The company’s well-known snowmobile power sources are Liberty and Patriot engines. These power plants offer a wide range of options for all Polaris snowmobile lines.

Where are Polaris snowmobile engines made?

Polaris snowmobile engines are made in the USA. The factory is located in Osceola, Wisconsin.

Where are Polaris snowmobiles made?

While their engines are manufactured in Osceola, Wisconsin, Polaris snowmobiles are made in Roseau, Minnesota. Aside from sleds, many off-road Polaris vehicles are manufactured and assembled here as well.

The company also has some other factories in the US, which are located in the following four locations:

  • Huntsville, AL: Slingshot and Off-Road Vehicles
  • Spirit Lake, IA: Indian Motorcycles
  • Roseau, MN – Snowmobiles and Select Models of Off-Road Vehicles
  • Osceola, WI: Engines

If you want to visit one of these factories, the good news is that tours are available by prior registration.

Is Arctic Cat made by Polaris?

No, Arctic Cat doesn’t make Polaris, as these companies are competitor manufacturers.

Does Polaris own Indian?

Yes, Polaris has owned Indian since 2011. After Polaris purchased Indian, its production facilities were relocated to Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Where is Polaris based?

The Polaris headquarters is located in Medina, Minnesota.

Is Arctic Cat the Best Snowmobile Brand?

Arctic Cat is a reputable American brand of off-road vehicles and snowmobiles. The company was founded in 1960 and subsequently purchased by Textron Inc. in 2017.

Although Arctic Cat has a much smaller market share compared to its competitors (around 15%), it’s still considered to be one of the best snowmobile manufacturers.

Let’s take a closer look at this company now!

Does Arctic Cat still make snowmobiles?

Yes, to the delight of its fans, Arctic Cat still makes snowmobiles. The manufacturer offers nearly 20 sleds in 6 different categories.

Note: The word “near” in the link above should be “nearly.”

Does Arctic Cat make a 4-stroke snowmobile?

Yes, besides the 2-stoke models Arctic Cat makes 4-stroke snowmobiles as well. If you are considering buying a 4-stroke Arctic Cat sled, you can choose either naturally-aspirated or turbocharged power sources. The most powerful 4-stroke model is the Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat, powered by a 998cc, 3-cylinder, turbocharged engine. This amazing powerplant produces more than 200 HP!

It’s safe to say that this Arctic Cat ZR 9000 is a very close relative of the Yamaha Sidewinder, and this is no accident!

Does Arctic Cat use Yamaha engines?

Yes, Arctic Cat uses Yamaha engines but just in its 4-stroke snowmobiles. This is because Arctic Cat didn’t want to develop a new 4-stroke power source from scratch to replace the outdated Suzuki engines. Instead, the company began to cooperate with Yamaha in 2009 to use their 4-stroke, 123cc power sources in their kid-sized sleds. This cooperation worked very well, as Yamaha 4-stroke engines started appearing in many other Arctic Cat sleds in the 2014 model year. In their 2-stroke snowmobiles, Arctic Cat still uses the powerplants the company developed itself.

It’s nice to know that the other main snowmobile companies develop and manufacture their own engines as well.

Who owns Arctic Cat?

Arctic Cat is owned by Textron Inc. In 2017, Textron acquired this reputable powersport manufacturer for no less than $247M. In the following years, Arctic Cat ATVs and UTVs were rebranded for Textron, which resulted in poor sales figures and customer dissatisfaction. Because of this, the company restored the original brand name of these off-road vehicles. Meanwhile, they continued to manufacture their snowmobiles under the name Arctic Cat.

Where are Arctic Cat snowmobiles made?

Arctic Cat snowmobiles are made in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. If you are wondering how these amazing sleds are manufactured, don’t skip this informative factory tour:

Yamaha Snowmobiles

Although Yamaha is one of the best snowmobile brands, it has a surprisingly small market share of around 5%.

Yamaha was among the first companies who entered the snowmobile business. Beyond snowmobiles, the company manufactures many off-road vehicles, motorcycles, jet boats and personal watercrafts (WaveRunners).

Would you like to learn more about Yamaha snowmobiles? Keep reading!

Does Yamaha make a 2-stroke snowmobile?

Yes, Yamaha still makes 2-stroke snowmobiles. Two examples: Yamaha Mountain Max 165, powered with a 2-stroke, 794cc engine and the SXVenom Mountain, which comes with a 397cc power source.

Who makes Yamaha snowmobile engines?

Yamaha develops and manufactures their snowmobile engines in-house.

Did Yamaha buy Arctic Cat?

No, Yamaha didn’t by Arctic Cat, but there is an agreement between these companies allowing 4-stroke Arctic Cat snowmobiles to be powered with Yamaha engines.

Because of this, many fans believe that Cat and Yamaha sleds are exactly the same. But they are wrong!

Although they share the same engines, most of their other main parts are different. Apparently, Arctic Cat focuses on designing and marketing 2-stroke sleds, while Yamaha’s focus is on 4-stroke models.

Where are Yamaha snowmobiles built?

Yamaha snowmobiles are built in Japan. The company has a very remarkable quality control system to ensure their high quality. Each sled is personally tested when it leaves the assembly line.

What Brand Sells the Most Snowmobiles?

Ski-Doo sells the most snowmobiles each year, with a market share close to 50%. As there are 100-150k snowmobiles sold worldwide each season, this means Ski-Doo sells around 50,000-70,000 sleds year- after-year. In contrast, the market share of competitor snowmobile manufacturers are as follows: (2017 data)

  • Ski-Doo: 47%
  • Polaris: 33%
  • Arctic Cat: 16%
  • Yamaha: 4%

What is the Most Reliable Snowmobile Brand?

Many people claim that the most reliable snowmobile brand is Yamaha. Aside from snowmobiles, it’s safe to say that other Yamaha vehicles and vessels are famous as well for their reliability and durability. That’s why you can find Yamaha WaveRunners in the majority of jet ski rentals!

Are you wondering why Yamaha snowmobiles are not more popular in the US?

One of the main reasons is probably because Yamaha doesn’t pay as much attention to all the little details or to the marketing as much as their competitor manufacturers.

And let’s face it, purchasing a snowmobile is a highly emotional decision (unless you need a utility sled for work of course). Because of this, it’s typically the design, bells and whistles plus the marketing that sells snowmobiles, not their reliability!

How Many Snowmobile Manufacturers Have There Been?

It’s an interesting fact that there have been more than 100 snowmobiles manufacturers throughout history. Here are some of them, but this list is certainly not complete:

  • Conroy
  • Rupp
  • Fuqua
  • OMC
  • Coleman
  • Bangor Punta
  • ARMCO
  • Giffien
  • Massey Ferguson
  • Roll-O-Flex
  • Suzuki
  • Moto-Ski
  • John Deere
  • Textron
  • AMF
  • MTD
  • Mercury

Many of these have been acquired by a larger manufacturer, while others were permanently discontinued.

Conclusion – Which Brand of Snowmobile is Best?

Which brand of snowmobile is best? This is a typical question of many beginners, and with good reason.

Ski-Doo is considered to be the best snowmobile manufacturer by many enthusiasts. The Canadian company is the market leader in the snowmobile industry, and for good reason. It spends a lot of time on research and development. That’s why Ski-Doos are among the most innovative snowmobiles each year, featuring the newest technologies and materials.

Other say that Yamaha is the best choice because their models are considered to be the most reliable snowmobiles on the market. On the other hand, they are less innovative, sporty, and stylish.

When it comes to the other two main manufacturers, based on sales figures it seems they also produce great products.

Ultimately, it’s safe to say that the final decision is all about personal preference.

If you are considering buying a sled, best practice is for you to first determine which type of snowmobile you need. Then, do extensive online research, as each model has its advantages and disadvantages.

You can avoid a lot of headaches if you become familiar with the possible flaws upfront.

If you think that new sleds are overpriced, you can even consider a used one. But be careful, as it’s not recommended that you buy a sled priced cheaper than $4,000.

Although you can find vintage snowmobiles on the market for only $1,000, they are worn out and may cause more trouble than you ever expected.

This is our overview of the best snowmobile manufacturers. We hope you like it!

References:

https://snowgoer.com/latest-news/bombardier-snowmobile-production-for-1971-you-wont-believe-the-numbers/11917/

https://snoriderswest.com/article/general/arctic_cat_announces_engine_and_co_brand_agreements

https://www.ski-doo.com/

https://arcticcat.txtsv.com/

https://snowmobiles.polaris.com/

https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/snowmobile

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