Once again, we had the privilege of conducting a long-term test of a vehicle from CFMOTO, a manufacturer we’ve had the pleasure of working with for several years. It goes without saying that in an exhaustive test, we can truly separate the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the hyperbole.
Overall, I was personally excited to get my hands on this side-by-side back in June. It adds to the already interesting lineup that CFMOTO offers among its range of vehicles. We’ve come a long way from the limited variety offered by this manufacturer not too long ago.
Mixed Expectations for the 2023 CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail… Initially!
To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of narrow side-by-side vehicles labelled “Trail.” My perception of these vehicles is that they’re designed for recreational purposes with a certain degree of restraint. This caution arises from the fact that their reduced width implies diminished stability.
The Advantages of Compact Vehicles
I must mention that at first glance, this category doesn’t immediately scream, “fun factor.” Nevertheless, when we are fully aware of this constraint, we can start to appreciate some advantages that a vehicle in this category has to offer. These types of vehicles essentially consist of all-terrain quads that can easily maneuver in tight spaces.
This type of vehicle essentially offers auto-quads that can squeeze through tight spaces with ease.
Pushing It to the Limits!
However, despite initially driving with some caution during my first few rides, I quickly pushed it to its maximum without feeling any sense of insecurity. I made repeated attempts to drive at top speed and suddenly turned the steering wheel for a sharp change of direction, but at no point did I feel that this vehicle was inclined to tip over.
Undoubtedly, the front stabilizer bar plays a crucial role in preventing rollovers in corners. Its rigidity is significant, providing that extra bit of stability that makes the CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail 2023 easy to handle.
This rigidity and stability instill a great deal of confidence in anyone behind the wheel of this vehicle. Beginners will find it an all-terrain quad that allows them to get acquainted with the activity with confidence.
An Engine That Measures Up.
Our test model is equipped with a 963 cc engine producing 79 horsepower. Each cylinder has a single overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder. It draws in air through a high-volume intake with a filter and pre-filters. Downstream from the filters is the Bosch fuel injection system.
The power output is more than sufficient for the average user. Furthermore, its sound is muted, allowing both the driver and passenger to converse comfortably without having to raise their voices excessively.
2 Driving Modes
The CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail offers Normal and Sport driving modes. Depending on the types of trails I was on, I frequently switched between the two. For my part, the Normal mode is recommended for technical and bumpy trails. The electronic throttle response is less sensitive, providing consistent and smoother acceleration.
On the other hand, the Sport mode significantly increases throttle responsiveness, turning the ZFORCE 950 into a high-performance machine. Reactivity and sensitivity are heightened, allowing for quick and sudden accelerations. However, when navigating obstacles at low speeds, this overly sensitive response can be uncomfortable, as it becomes challenging to control the burst of power.
Electrifying Driving Experience: The Impressive Power of EFI
EFI enables one of the advantages—the electronic throttle control. Starting the engine is effortless, it runs smoothly, and it provides robust mid-range power. At idle, the throttle response is gentle, but as the revs increase, the engine delivers impressive acceleration.
This applies similarly as the engine continues to rev higher, pulling strongly upward, and maintaining lively acceleration. As for its top speed, I reached 120 km/h in a secure location, and it appeared eager to go even faster. If this doesn’t suffice, I’m uncertain about what will meet your expectations.
A Surprising Cabin…
Slipping into the cockpit of the 2023 CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail is a convincing experience. One might mistakenly assume that space could be limited for two tall adults, but it’s quite the opposite. Upon taking a seat, you immediately feel that the seats have high, sporty side bolsters that keep you in place during spirited driving. However, I would have appreciated even more lateral support, but it’s a minor concern.
Thoughtful Improvements: The Practical Interior of the CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail
The interior space is compact because CFMOTO has equipped this vehicle with linear doors. While shoulder space is adequate, the left elbow takes a hit due to this configuration. Consequently, I tended to drive at 10 and 2 o’clock with both hands to occupy them and avoid hitting my left elbow against the door. In a similar vein, the passenger must extend their arms forward and hold on to the grab bar for better comfort.
Thoughtful interior elements have been added to this version, and they are beneficial. I’m very appreciative of the glove box and sealed storage compartments. The watertight compartments kept spare gloves, hand warmers, and electronic devices dry. A brightly lit instrument panel displays our speed and engine temperature and the bright central screen aids in navigation.
Over the Miles…
Our numerous test environments offered a wide range of conditions to test the 2023 CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail. It was a blast with many turns, straightaways, descents, and climbs. Some places required caution to avoid marking trees, while others allowed us to hit the accelerator and enjoy the acceleration.
However, we didn’t have areas that required the use of the diff lock. So, we used a pile of abandoned logs to test these features and simulate their use. Consequently, its reduced ground clearance is its Achilles’ heel in these circumstances.
Adjustable Suspension: The Delicate Balance of Off-Road Comfort
We constantly heard the scraping of the undercarriage. We acknowledge that it can handle such conditions, although it’s not excellent in these particular circumstances. Fortunately, it is protected underneath by many skid plates.
At the front, there are double A-arm suspension with 10 inches of travel, working with fully adjustable gas shocks. At the rear, there’s a similar double A-arm system with fully adjustable gas shocks and 12 inches of travel.
The precision tuning is designed to absorb trails that demand responsive suspension. It didn’t disappoint, although it may not be the best on the market.
The 2023 CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail: A Versatile Gem
In conclusion, even with its shortcomings, the pure competence of a well-sorted machine like the 2023 CFMOTO ZFORCE 950 Trail is simply astounding. It’s easy to use at any skill level and offers performance limits that are nearly on par with the best naturally aspirated all-terrain quads available today.
It easily kept up with modified and turbocharged machines on technical trails. Such capability used to require taking a factory machine and adding thousands of dollars in accessories and modifications.