2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900 First look

2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900 First look


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We are not going to beat around the bush, this ride simply rocks! My very first push of the throttle had me screaming out an instinctive; “Yee aaah”! Designed with an all-new 3-Link Trailing Arm IRS (Independent Rear Suspension) to keep all its massive power under control, this new Polaris beast will provide the driver and his passenger with the smoothest ride ever felt in a UTV.  With never before experienced body tensing acceleration, the new 2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900 really outperforms everything else and pushes the boundaries of what this fun little platform, they created back in 2008, can really do.

When I say outperform, I mean in a Sport riding sense only. I don’t think it is entirely fair to compare it with Can-Am’s Commander, as it can’t really be considered to be in the same class. The Can-Am remains a mix of both utility and sport, still suiting a great number of people with both those needs. Still, for now anyway; whether you’re talking about the power, the handling, or the extreme suspension system, they are all very truthfully unequalled, in this segment Polaris keeps being responsible in expanding. There is simply nothing else that will keep up with it, in absolutely any off road conditions. Half a day on tough desert trails in Arizona was more than enough to figure that out!  I usually look for a spot to jump when we have a sport quad to test, not a Side by Side! Strangely enough, it came naturally and doing it safely would turn out to be very easy.

Of course, this vehicle does require a certain level of experience to safely operate at its maximum potential and does need a little more space and wide trails to truly shine.  On one occasion, I kept it full throttle over a smooth crest, because I had a clear view of the entire desert trail in front of me, and I just couldn’t believe what was happening. Hit the slow motion button here: the front of the vehicle stays perfectly levelled, as the long front A-arms reach down to try and keep the wheels to the ground. I can’t believe this! The vehicle is staying nice and straight, as I am travelling down this short dip …on a wheelie!  Somebody, pinch me! Actually don’t, if this is just a dream, I don’t think I ever want to wake up!

The new 2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900 is all about having fun, at a cool enough pace, to thoroughly and safely entertain your passenger. The amazingly capable suspension makes it much more than just comfortable. It also contributes a great deal in rendering it very safe. Trust me, the only way you can roll one of these over, is if you do it on purpose, or totally misjudge what grounds you ride on or attempt illogical manoeuvres with the vehicle operated on steep slopes. Just take it easy through the very rough stuff or on inclines, and then fly through just about anything else! Much like with the Ranger RZR-S or even the RZR-4,  this vehicle will sometimes ride smoother and better when floored, transforming many bumps in sequence, into a single obstacle with very little effect and consequence on control and stability. It’s that good!

The all-new 3-Link design consists of two extra-long radius rods and a far forward-connecting trailing arm that combine to make a lightweight yet strong system. The RZR-S, also graced with a very capable suspension system and an abundantly powerful 800 Twin with EFI, was already a formidable machine for extreme riding in challenging conditions and on difficult terrain, and I have to admit that I did not expect this particular RZR to be all that different. A little more of everything seemed like a sure thing though, I knew I just couldn’t be disappointed. I would never have thought the difference to be so imposing. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the Polaris engineers had set the bar way higher and had all the intentions of taking this RZR platform of theirs, to a whole other level. You won’t find any fancy stuff, like the intelligent key system or double level cargo box and winch mounts front and back or trendy car- like steering wheel; this vehicle has nothing utility about it. If you sat in any other RZR before, you won’t feel any difference at all, as everything is kept basic and pretty much the same. Turn the key and step on the gas, and you instantly understand why they call it: an extreme performance Side by Side!

Our hosts at Polaris obviously wanted to make sure that the extraordinary new abilities of this vehicle would be recognized as clearly superior to anything else available right now on the market. Not even their very own other RZR models, which were all also available to try, at this grand event in Phoenix, Arizona. Although this vehicle looks very much like the wonderful sporty RZR-S, it can be called an all-new model, since everything else about, it is very different. The chassis is specifically designed to maximize the high performance of the suspension, which is built to be able to fully harness the generous 88 hp output delivered by the completely new, ProStar 900; a purpose-built 875cc DOHC twin cylinder 4-stroke engine, equipped with a worry-free and performance enhancing fuel injection system. When compared with the 800 models, one of the most noticeable differences with this compact and high performance ProStar engine, is that it is turned 90 degrees.

The crankshaft runs from side to side of the vehicle, rotating in the same direction as the wheels. There is also a brand-new lighter and much more efficient gearbox tightly connected to this powerful mill. We could also talk about the drive belt, which is the toughest Polaris has ever built, and a front gearbox with higher oil capacity and beefed up components. We will come back to all of that in future issues with thorough tests of this off road wonder. We are expecting our RZR XP unit any day now and the wait is, close to unbearable!

Surprisingly enough, this means Polaris has done it again, creating another class of vehicle. So, this one has been classified by its maker as the world’s very first, Extreme Performance Side x Side.  My excitement, when first seeing it, was just as intense as when I first saw the more basic, but still, oh so wonderful trail ready RZR 800, when it came out a while ago. With the addition of this offering, the entire line seems complete, meaning Polaris has an RZR model available to the widest range of user types, and no matter how great this new XP seems to be, is doesn’t take anything away from all the other RZR models, which I had the pleasure of riding again on that beautiful, sunny but cool desert morning.

At first glance, the most obvious difference with this new RZR XP is also the one that launches it into its own new category. Easily spotted from afar, even more so if you approach the vehicle from the rear, the new 3-Link Trailing Arm rear suspension, with all its parts painted in a bright red, cranks the ride up to an astounding 13” of ground clearance and provides a huge 14” of travel. Long and obviously sturdy beams are connected to the bottom rear of the carriage section of the frame and stretch back to the wheel hubs, while two other slim arms sharing the load are connected perpendicular to the frame at the rear, and can swivel up way high when the full length of the suspension is solicited. Up front, the Dual-A-Arm suspension has 13.5″ of travel, so catching some air, although this is something we surely don’t recommend anyone doing with any Side by Side, should be among the things this cool puppy does best. Premium Fox Podium X 2.0 Shocks feature piggyback reservoir, adjustable preload and compression dampening, which make tuning the ride to your needs or preferences, a quick and simple trail side fix.

Only adding this radical new suspension to an RZR-S would have been a satisfying upgrade to most, while taking the new ProStar engine and just dropping that in the same buggy, could also have been enough to convince a lot of those already familiar with RZR coolness, and already convincing Sport Side by Side enthusiasts, in to buy one. Luckily for all of us, passionate users, Polaris engineers didn’t only want to keep the upper hand on the performance and handling side, when compared with any other brand’s somewhat sporty offerings, but rather intent on truly putting together a vehicle with a whole new level of performance, one they like to call: extreme! The truth is that this RZR in particular, only shares similarly moulded plastics with its predecessors. Everything has been re-designed to not only outperform competing models, but seemingly, to simply go as far as they could to get the maximum performance possible from this vehicle format.

Even the tires have been designed exclusively for this vehicle. The ITP 900 XCT tires have a unique directional lug pattern that offers an excellent balance of cornering and straight line traction. Nothing was left to chance; the lighting is way better also with a new set of LED headlights, which shine a bright white high-intensity beam that turns night into day, and throws light much further than conventional halogens.  Extensive wind tunnel testing was also done and drag created by the front wheel wells at high speeds was greatly reduced with a much more studied shape of the stylish lower front facia. Among most interesting of the many freshly designed parts to this heaven sent buggy, the engine. This is actually the first time an engine is specifically designed for a Side x Side. It features a 180 degree crankshaft, which means it is naturally balanced, and dual overhead cams, large valves, twin 46 mm throttle bodies that are located right next to the head, which combine to make it a high revving and acceleration-friendly package.

It red lines at a whopping 8750 rpm! It has high capacity 750 watt stator, an integrated oil cooler and a beefed up air intake system that adds an air reservoir up high between the rear side panel and the cargo box so that the engine can always draw in a breath of clean air for instantaneous throttle response. This resonator also cuts intake noise down to a minimum. There is even an extra little pre-filter, which can easily be removed and cleaned by unsnapping the miniature plastic grill covering it. This new air intake system also uses a much bigger tube and a large square air filter, which is much more efficient than the usual cylindrical filter, which used to be the norm on all RZR models. Now all of them use this new filter, which is said to provide 90% more filtering surface.

Other than the ultimate thrill ride this entire package creates, the vehicle also offers a bit more in practical little details. That makes its use and maintenance even easier than it already was. After taking a closer look, you start noticing a bunch of small, but much appreciated improvements. Some had already found their way onto other RZR models and others freshly thought up for this XP, like removable access panels in the rear cargo box, to get to things like your oil filter much more easily. You also find all the good things found in any new RZR. Those like a deeper cargo box, a practical passenger-side glove box that has 3 gallons of space for convenient, water-resistant storage. Bigger and tougher clips are now found on all side nets, better airflow up front for the radiator, and all of them including the new XP have the tilt steering with the high 10″ range of motion, which makes getting in and out a breeze. Trust me though, you won’t be noticing all these cool little details once you’re at the commands and concentrated on enjoying the most awesome thrill ride you’ve ever had. Oh, by the way, this amazing vehicle also comes in an even sweeter-looking White Lightning LE with 12″ Black Bruiser aluminum rims, painted white dash and black hood, custom two-color cut and sew White and Black seats with Red RZR emblem and custom Xtreme graphics package.

I hope the Polaris guys didn’t mind me jumping on every one of them for a huge hug!

For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Polaris Website

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