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The Smittybilt 17500 lb has proved to be an extremely popular high-powered winch. So much so, we decided it was time to put one to the Outdoor Chief test, to see exactly how it shapes up.
In this, in-depth review we’ll give you the complete low down, from all the vital specs, the overall performance and whether the Smittybilt is the winch you should be buying in 2020.
For a summary of our findings, check out the box below. For all the review goodness, keep on reading.
17,000 lb of power
sturdy 6.6 hp motor with a superior gearing system
Strong steel cable and hook
easy to use, remote grip operation
Lifetime mechanical warranty
Clutch can struggle to get into free spool
If the cable port breaks water gets into the system
The Smittybilt XRC Gen2 series of winches are extremely well designed and constructed tools. The 17,000 lbs model has the highest pulling-power of them all. For those that want superior performance from a machine that will last, this is the winch to buy.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the pulling power that’s on offer here. That 17,500 lb is delivered via 6.6 HP motor, which is also amphibious in design. If you run into trouble in the wet, you will have no issues.
The 3 Stage Planetary Gear System further increases the load handling ability of the winch. This is designed to provide a gear ratio of 330:1.
The winch also incorporates a 4-way roller fairlead to increase performance efficiency and to ensure the smooth operation of the winch.
In fact, so confident are Smittybilt in the construction of the Gen2 winch they include lifetime mechanical warranty. In other words, the motor and gearing systems are built to last the long haul.
Other components that would fall under this warranty are the clutch and brake system. For the former, the manufacturers have incorporated a sliding ring gear mounting for increased reliability. The clutch also has a large lever to make it easier to operate while wearing gloves.
The brake is automatic based and is housed inside the drum.
A powerful winch is only as good as the rope that is being used alongside it. On the XRC Gen 2, you get a heavy-duty steel cable that is 93.5’ long and 7/16” in diameter. Ample length for all manner of towing scenarios.
The hook is also built to withstand extreme pressures, being hammer-forged during its construction.
As Smittybilt state in their own marketing copy, the XRC Gen2 “is a complete recovery system with the muscle and reliability to bail you out of any situation!”
This clearly translates to the overall build quality, where robustness and longevity have been a clear priority.
We’ve already mentioned the oversized clutch handle that is designed for easier operation. A thoughtful approach has also been given to the remote control system.
The control handle features a 12’ lead so that you can be safely positioned to oversee the winching procedure, whilst still having full control of the winch.
This also made from durable, weather-resistant materials and shaped to fit firmly in the hand. The power/control cable is also hard-wearing and of course waterproof.
There’s no denying the power on offer with the Smittybilt XRC Gen2 17,000 lbs (it is the largest in the series). Short of attempting to pull a Heavy Hauler out of a ditch, there is very little that it cannot handle.
The winch is also extremely fast when compared to much of the competition in a similar price and power range.
The motor can get hot during high, load-bearing applications, however, very few users have experienced malfunction from components overheating.
While the 5-star opinions outweigh the lower ratings by quite a considerable margin, the comments do bring to the fore some of the issues people have had. The Clutch having trouble going into free spool being one recurring complaint.
The remote control plug outlet has also received criticism in that, if this breaks, water can get inside the winch, which of course can screw up the electrics. (Is this why they only offer a 3-year electrical warranty?)