Reliable, innovative, and powerful – these three words best describe the Kubota RTV 500. Entering the ATV scene in the late 2000s, this four-wheeler amazed the off-roading community with its highly engineered specifications, good looks, and well-balanced functionality. Since its inception, the Kubota 500 is turning out to be one of the most promising wheelers in the market.
The launch of the Kubota RTV 500 in 2008 targeted consumers in need of a 4×4 for agricultural and commercial applications. With its solid rear axle, low center of gravity, clean aesthetics, and a manual dump bed, the four-wheeler did just that – while also satisfying the whims of adventurers.
From its first year in production, this vehicle has been consistently in the top 25% of highly-acclaimed UTVs. But more than its handsome styling, well-thought-out design, and offering of a pleasant ride, its standing is backed up by over a century’s worth of expertise in engines.
Keep on reading as this guide lets you in on more details about the Kubota RTV 500.
About Kubota RTV 500
The Kubota RTV 500 is a 15-hp utility quad introduced to the public in 2008 by Kubota Corporation. Because its manufacturer is a key player in the fields of machinery and heavy equipment, the vehicle was a highly-anticipated release. And boy, did it meet expectations! The four-wheeler boasted sleek styling, operator-friendly controls, smooth performance, and an open cabin that was roomier than its same-category counterparts.
Unlike the diesel-powered tractors that the Japanese firm produced, this wheeler was gas-fed. Additionally, it featured a Variable Hydrostatic Transmission versus CVT that was widespread in the market. Dimensions-wise, the vehicle was slightly bigger than its competition, making for improved comfort in seating and a better riding experience. It also came out with only two trims – Orange and Realtree® Hardwoods Camouflage – which lend to an effective product recall with consumers.
Especially for owners who are better acquainted with tractors, the Kubota RTV500 is, undoubtedly, their go-to vehicle. And why not? The quad has impressive hauling capabilities, is a dream to tour people with, and performs exceptionally well around the farm – among other things. It is also ideal for hunting, with tons of accessory options interchangeable with its smaller-displacement sibling – the RTV400.
Kubota RTV 500 Specs & Features
The Kubota RTV 500’s fuel-injected power mill eliminates the need for jetting adjustment when riding in high-altitude areas and makes for easier cold starting. Additionally, it lends to the 4×4’s improved acceleration, quiet operation, and on-demand power delivery. All of the 500-class Kubota models are gas-fed. But amusingly, it is still confused with its diesel-powered big-bore siblings.
Furthermore, the four-wheeler uses a dry element air filter, which you can clean using compressed air should dust adhere to it (compressed air pressure must not go beyond 205 kPa or 2.1 kgf/cm2, 30 psi). However, the air cleaner will need replacement if you find carbon or oil sticking to it. To maintain good airflow to the engine, replacing the primary element of your air filter yearly or after every 6th cleaning is required.
|Engine Brand Name||GZ460F-E3-UV|
|Engine Type||2 cylinders, 4-cycle, Gasoline, OHV|
|Carburetion System||Electronic Fuel Injection|
|Engine Cooling||Liquid cooling|
|Engine Fuel||Unleaded gasoline of at least PON 87 or RON 91 rating, containing MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) or < 10% ethanol. Gasohol fuels (up to 10% ethyl alcohol, 90% unleaded gasoline by volume) are also permitted|
|Fuel Capacity||20 L/5.3 US gal|
|Bore x Stroke Ratio||69×60 mm (2.72 x 2.40 in)|
|Displacement||455.6 cm³ / 27.8 in³|
|Horsepower||15.8 hp/16 PS (11.8 kW) @ 3,600 RPM|
|Maximum Torque||54.9 Nm (5.6 kgf-m, 40.4 ft-lb @ 1,800-2,200 RPM) – unverified|
|Maximum Speed||Low: 10 mph (16 km/h)|
High: 25 mph (40 km/h)
Reverse: 14.3 mph (23 km/h)
|Starter System||Electric starter|
|Engine Oil & Quantity||1.35 L (1.43 US quarts) – w/ filter change|
1.2 L (1.27 US quarts) – w/out filter change
SAE 10W-30 4-stroke engine oil w/ an API grade of SJ meeting JASO T903 MA, MB
Alternatives: SAE 5W-20, 5W-30 for temperatures below 0°C (32°F)
Quite like Polaris, the Kubota 4×4 utilizes a company-exclusive hydrostatic transmission or VHT. This innovative automatic transmission lends to the quad’s impressive grip, handling, and performance – on top of providing the needed muscle riders seek when traversing diverse terrain.
When servicing the VHT link, use a generous amount of Multipurpose Grease NLGI-2 or NLGI-1(GC-LB). For other Kubota RTV 500 parts such as differential lock lever, parking brake pivot, and battery terminal, a moderate amount of spray-type grease is recommended.
|Transmission, Transfer||Continuously Variable Hydro Transmission (VHT)|
|Drive System||Rear 2WD or 4WD|
|Steering||Rack & Pinion|
|Differential Lock||Standard, hand-operated w/ mechanical holder|
|Gear Selection||Hi-Lo range forward, neutral, reverse|
Online resources providing details about the Kubota RTV 500’s ignition and charging system are a bit obscure. It does have an electric start system. But whether it mates to an electronic CDI or not can only be confirmed through the service manual. The vehicle does have a 12V accessory plug sandwiched between the two cup holders fronting the passenger side of the bench seat. Take caution not to have water trickle down the receptacle outlet to avoid any shorts or electrical problems.
Unlike most mainstream quads, the 4×4 requires a Kubota-exclusive battery, which is not that easy to find. To replace the stock battery, reach out to the nearest Kubota dealer in your location for assistance.
|Spark Plug||NGK BKR4E, 0.6 – 0.7 mm (0.024 – 0.028 in) gap|
Tightening Torque: 12-15 Nm (1.22-1.53 kgf-m, 8.9-11 ft-lb)
|Fuse||20 Amp (main, radiator fan) 15 Amp (headlight, taillight, hazard, brake light, horn, work light) 10 Amp (engine control, fuel pump, fan motor relay, cooling fan motor, alternator, work light relay, 12V DC output) 5 Amp (instrument panel)|
|Battery||12V (32 Ah)/20 Hr, 450-CCA 426MF/Group 26R formats|
|Battery Dimensions||222 x 171 x 203 mm (8.75 x 6.75 x 8 in – L x W x H)|
Tires & Brakes
On top of hydraulic disc brakes, the 4×4 has a rear-wheel parking brake actuated via a hand lever that lends to its stopping power. Stock tires are adequate for heavy yard work or long hours of trail riding. If in need of new knobbies, you may opt for same-size tires with either asymmetrical or directional (chevron or V-shape) patterns. But if you want to improve your wheeler’s performance in mud or soft surfaces, then go for 27-inch ITP Mega Mayhem Mud Terrain ATV Tires (view on Amazon) – these tires are great for off-roading, too.
|Front Tire, off-road/road air pressure||6-ply HDWS/ATV tires, 24 x 9-12, 97 kPa (0.97 kgf/cm2, 14 psi)|
|Rear Tire, off-road/road air pressure||6-ply HDWS/ATV tires, 24 x 11-12, 97 kPa (0.97 kgf/cm2, 14 psi)|
|Tread Depth Limit (F/R)||3 mm (0.12 in) / 3 mm (0.12 in)|
|Front Brake Type||Hydraulic-operated, dry disc brake|
|Rear Brake Type||Hydraulic-operated, dry disc brake|
Unlike most Japanese and U.S.-made ATVs, Kubota shocks are set to #3 in the factory. You can adjust them to feel lighter or stiffer, depending on hauling needs or riding conditions. Based on Kubota RTV 500 reviews, the four-wheeler only has short-travel suspension (although this is unspecified in the manual). To ascertain the specific wheel travel of both front and rear shocks, consult your nearest Kubota dealer.
|Toe-in||0 ± 20 mm (0 ± 0.79 in)|
|Turning Radius||3.5 m (11.4 ft)|
|Front Suspension Type||Independent, MacPherson strut-type w/ 5-way preload-adjustable shocks|
|Rear Suspension Type||Semi-independent, Multi-link w/ 5-way preload-adjustable shocks|
The 500-cc wheeler is larger than average UTVs but is still compact enough to fit at the back of a full-size pickup truck. Similarly, its cargo bed has slightly more volume – at 0.25 m3 (9 ft3) – than its competition. The vehicle weight limit includes operator and passenger weight, cabin weight, cargo bed capacity, tongue weight, and Kubota RTV 500 accessories – and should not go beyond 453 Kg (1,100 lbs).
|Length||2,690 mm (105.9 in)|
|Width||1,390 mm (54.7 in)|
|Height||1,829 mm (72 in)|
|Ground Clearance||205 mm (8.1 in) – front axle; 175 mm (6.9 in) – rear axle|
|Wheelbase||1,800 mm (70.9 in)|
|Tread Centers (F/R)||1,016 mm (40 in) / 1,041 mm (41 in)|
|Dry Weight||615 Kg (1,358 lbs) w/ ATV Tires; 620 Kg (1,369 lbs) w/ HDWS Tires|
|Cargo Bed Dimensions||856 x 1,032 x 290 mm (33.7 x 40.6 x 11.4 in)|
|Cargo Bed Capacity||200 Kg (441 lbs) If both the operator and passenger weigh 190 Kg (418 lbs), the permissible bed capacity goes down to 136 Kg (300 lbs)|
|Payload Capacity||430 Kg (949 lbs)|
|Maximum Vehicle Weight Limit||453 Kg (1,100 lbs)|
|Tongue Weight||50 Kg (110 lbs)|
|Towing Capacity (F/R)||250 Kg (551 lbs) / 500 Kg (1,102 lbs)|
Exterior & Lighting
The Kubota RTV 500 is offered in Orange and Realtree® Hardwoods Camouflage and has two types – a cab and ROPS setup. It features a contoured co-driver seating, manual-tilting bed, and seatbelts. The differential lock, range gear shift, and 4WD levers are easily visible, found on the dash center. Equipping your quad with a Great Day Deluxe Rumble Seat (view on Amazon) is an excellent idea if you want to convert your Kubota into a four-seater.
A winch mount bracket already comes standard with the four-wheeler. However, Kubota RTV 500 aftermarket accessories such as a digital speedometer like Trail Tech 922-122 Voyager Pro GPS Kit with Digital Gauge Trail Maps (view on Amazon), deluxe front guard, and rear net are optional. There is a provision in the instrument panel next to the hour meter and fuel temperature gauge. If you want to make use of this, make sure to get a circular RPM gauge or speedometer.
|Key/Engine Stop Switch||Standard|
|Headlight||12V 27/27 W x 2|
|Brake/Taillight||12V 21/5 W x 1|
|Easy Checker™||3.8 W (14V, 0.27A)|
|Instrument Panel Light||3.8 W (14V, 0.27A)|
Kubota RTV 500 Price
Trader sites and auction listings value the Kubota RTV 500 between $2,100 and $9,200. Despite some of these secondhand vehicles being 2009 models, they keep their value surprisingly well. These 4x4s are generally in great shape and working condition. However, note that most of them have been rental machines and may show considerable wear and tear.
Depending on vehicle use (or abuse), there may be a need to replace the headlights, tires, or muffler. If you are deciding to purchase a unit that is not formerly private-owned, expect tears in the bench seat, ripped seat belts, scruffs and dings on the ROPS or plastic panels. Conversely, camo trims and units with titles, soft tops, winches, ball hitch, windshield, or an enclosed cab are rare finds.
The table below is a good point of comparison in determining if a pre-loved Kubota is overpriced:
|Year – Model||Orange||Realtree® Hardwoods Camouflage|
|2008 Kubota RTV 500||$8,299||$8,799|
|2009 Kubota RTV 500||$8,799||$9,299|
|2010 Kubota RTV 500||$9,199||$9,699|
|2011 Kubota RTV 500||$9,199||$9,699|
|2012 Kubota RTV 500||$9,475||$9,990|
|2013 Kubota RTV 500||$9,475||$9,990|
|2014 Kubota RTV 500||$9,475||$9,990|
|2015 Kubota RTV 500||$9,475||$9,990|
|2016 Kubota RTV 500||$9,475||$9,990|
|2017 Kubota RTV 500||$9,475||$9,990|
|2018 Kubota RTV 500||$9,475||$9,990|
|2019 Kubota RTV 500||$9,799||$10,299|
|2020 Kubota RTV 500||$9,799||$10,299|
Kubota RTV 500 Top Speed
Contrary to what most riders may think, the most complained aspect of this four-wheeler is not its top-end speed but its lack of torque in high range. While 25 mph is not the best speed rating to have, it is more than adequate in the woods or on the farm. However, this does not mean that owners do not want to get more out of the quad.
The thing is, the 2nd pump shuts off as soon as the vehicle hits the magic number. Not to mention that it does not have a chain-and-sprocket setup that will allow mechanically inclined riders to tinker with gear ratios. The Kubota RTV 500 is fuel-injected, which means that you cannot swap out the stock carb with a powerplant from a high-performance or sport quad.
This problem has long been brought to the attention of Kubota engineers who are challenged in incorporating middle range on pre-production and future models due to upgrade costs. However, the design team has reprogrammed the 4×4’s hydro-pump to increase pressure and idle RPMs since knowing the issue.
If you are starting to feel disheartened – don’t! Options to make your 500-cc Kubota go faster may be limited, but the means to make it happen are there. Not being able to get a powerful carb or adjust gearing may be an upset. But you can still improve the power output of your wheeler – thanks to an increasing number of outfits producing throttle kits and performance chips that make the UTV a bit faster (plus the ability to increase the vehicle’s compression ratio).
Kubota RTV 500 – Transmission Problems
Many Kubota owners love their machines, especially their good looks and build. But some of them also wish the UTV was not too underpowered. And that’s absolutely normal! Like its competition, the Kubota RTV500 is not perfect and still has lots of room to improve and optimize its design. In this section, we’ll go over some of the most common Kubota 500 RTV problems:
Plus and Minus
Compared to the competition’s CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission, the Kubota RTV 500’s hydrostatic transmission is, generally, more durable but less efficient. The automatic transmission push-and-pull trait adversely impacts its reliability, although this may not be the case for everyone. While the lack of torque is still evident for some owners, the machine does not always bog down when going uphill.
The key to avoiding any hassle with the VHT is ensuring proper adjustment of the throttle cable and linkage setup. Pay attention to the bolt under the throttle cable that serves as a stop for the pedal. It limits how far the transmission servo valve is moved and directly affects the four-wheeler’s maximum speed. Make sure that you adjust the pedal stop so that it does not go down so far. Then, readjust the throttle cable so that the quad’s speed governor bottoms out when the pedal hits the stop.
Underpowered Golf Cart
The low-end pull is not an issue, as the vehicle can pull a heavy-duty switchblade plow (view on Amazon) with ease. But one of the challenges owners have with this quad is its ability to go up inclines. Driving uphill can be taxing and may require the rider to stop and downshift to low to climb successfully. It would be understandable if the slope were more than 15°. However, owners have reported experiencing difficulty even with less steep inclines.
If there is one thing that this 4×4 is finicky about, it is its maximum weight capacity. While this is hardly an issue for long-time UTV riders, newbies tend to forget that the rider and passenger are part of the equation. Kubota owners have shared in forums that the whining noise is caused by going beyond 190-Kg combined rider weight and usually ends in hearing the whining sound from either side of the bench seat.
Rattle Issue at Idle
Although many owners think that the issue is coming from the driveshaft, this tin-can noise is actually a harmonic transferred vibration from the muffler to the frame’s mounting point caused by the frame torquing a little bit. The cables below and in front of the muffler are a probable part of the problem, too. They sometimes rub against each other and may add to the vibration.
A DIY fix that skilled riders have come up with is to cut a 1/4 inch thick piece from a commercial truck bed liner (view on Amazon) and put that filling in the small gap between the solid frame mounting point and the muffler. This simple fix is unbothered by heat (so long as the engine heat does not go beyond the material’s melting temperature) and has proven to eliminate the pesky rattling noise. As for the cables in the muffler area, wrapping a zip tie around their wear point helps reinforce the cables in place, reducing tremors.
Kubota Corporation (or Kabushiki-Kaisha Kubota) is a Japanese manufacturer based in Osaka specializing in tractors and heavy equipment. Founded in 1890 as Oide Foundry (or Oide Chuzo-jo), the firm first manufactured weighing scales and cast-iron pipes. It gradually worked its way to opening the Amagasaki Plant in 1917, where it kicked off producing oil-based engines, housing materials, and energy-saving equipment.
Kubota has become a well-respected constituent of the TOPIX 100, known for introducing many firsts to Japan and the world and making the Kubota RTV 500 and other product offerings used in agriculture, construction, and marine propulsion.
Conclusion – Kubota RTV 500 Review
In terms of performance, versatility, and style, the purpose-built Kubota RTV 500 definitely gives you bang for your buck. The machine does a pretty fantastic job when used for riding through narrow farm-track slips, carrying logs, and crossing mud puddles. It may not have the same power output as a Polaris or Can-Am. But at the end of the day, it is never meant to take on rock boulders and fly.
Sure, it can do much better with a diesel power mill, an improved hydrostatic transmission, and a stronger chassis. But for what it currently offers, I would say the Kubota RTV 500 is one sweet ride!
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.