The batteries are charged…check. Clubs loaded…check. Cigars in glove box…check. Radio set to favorite station…check. Cooler full of ice and adult beverages…check. Turn key, set level to forward, push pedal and go. A familiar ritual for anyone that uses a golf cart for transportation. And, yes, they are not just used for golf anymore. People use their carts daily to haul things, run errands, take grandkids to the pool and even for hunting in the woods. Electric and gas-powered carts have become standard equipment in our lifestyles.
So, which should you drive?
If popularity is a factor, you should look at Club Car and E-Z-GO
Both models have been manufactured in the United States since the early 1950’s. Both are available in either gas or electric models. Both have lots of add-on options and upgrades to suit your needs and comforts, but both also have major differences that could impact your buying decision. These are the two leading brands in the United States.
Starting with the basics, electric seems to be the most environmentally-acceptable selection. Electric carts produce no harmful emissions, can easily be recharged right in your garage, are quiet, promise instant acceleration and can run for 15-30 miles without recharging depending on the size of the battery pack. Gas is more popular for use in hilly conditions because of added torque and instances where charging may not be possible. Recovery is immediate as soon as more gas is pumped into the tank, versus waiting for the batteries to be charged. You should select the solution that best meets your needs, as both power sources get the job done. Now, let’s take a look at their report cards.
The Frame on a Club Car and E-Z-GO
If you live in a coastal or very humid climate, Club Car will offer an advantage. Their frame is constructed of aircraft-quality aluminum, which will not rust out or erode. When a frame deteriorates, you might as well turn your cart into an expensive planter. E-Z-GO offers a very rugged steel frame, which is likely more durable than an aluminum one, but will succumb to rust. A lot of the times, owners immediately treat their cart frame with a rust preventative after they buy a new or used E-Z-GO.
Options, Accessories, and Parts
Because many owners use their carts for more than golf, the list of available options and upgrades has grown exponentially. For the most part you can turn either cart brand into a rolling home away from home with a lot of luxury and comfort features to make your round more enjoyable. Huge stereos systems, rooftop air conditioning, custom lift kits and wheels and opulent seating are all available at a price. Generally, parts for an E-Z-GO cart are less costly, yet both brands offer great availability, either through the dealer or from after-market websites. If you want it, you will be able to find it.
Another important feature is the controller. This regulates the torque and speed of the cart and can be adjusted by a dealer’s service department. While the average speed is about 14-19 miles per hour, you can set up your cart to hit the 40 mile per hour mark (not legally of course, but some people have done it). This sounds great on the surface because you will get to your ball more rapidly. On a crowded weekend however, getting down the fairway faster only means a longer wait for the foursome in front of you to clear the fairway or green. Well, at least you can enjoy the music and beverages while you are stopped. The more amps the controller has the better the speed but high-amp controllers can take their toll on battery life, and getting six new eight-volt batteries can be costly exercise.
Other Variables to Take into Account
If you play a course with an especially tight layout, you might like the Club Car better. The steering is set up for a tighter radius with better control. The engines run strong and it is not unusual to find an owner that has had a Club Car for 20 years.
One recommendation I would make in the pursuit of finding the right vehicle is to ask your local service professional. They’ll be the one fixing your unit if it has issues, and they will typically provide you with an unbiased answer. A seasoned professional should have no issue working on either Club Car or E-Z-GO, however.
Both manufacturers have pretty short-throw selectors to change from forward to reverse, which can be hard on your back. There is a fix though, provided by a longer throw handle that can be installed with a screwdriver and can be purchased off the internet for under $30.
My recommendation is that you make a list of the things you really want from your cart and then test drive both. Most courses have either Club Car or E-Z-GO fleets, and if you test drive under actual playing conditions you can gain a better understanding of what you really need. Take note of the acceleration and the performance going up and down hills, evaluate the comfort, check the handling and balance. Then you can pay your local dealer a visit and see what features are included as standard and which add to the cost as options and upgrades. The process is a little like buying a car, but without the high pressure salespeople.