2012 Polaris Off-Road Line-up First Look

2012 Polaris Off-Road Line-up First Look


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I don’t really like having to name them as such anymore. All Terrain Vehicle is the real term and it means exactly what it says: All Terrain! In my perfect world, that would include roads. Here in the North, the roads are just about as uneven and hole filled than many of the trails I use. For the sake of following Polaris in their system of vehicle classification, I was obligated to specify “off road” in the title of this article, for a few reasons.

First, Polaris has recently acquired Global Electric Motorcars, a Company located in Fargo, North Dakota. GEB has been a leader in manufacturing electric vehicles for over thirteen years. Second, because they also offer some truly stunning Victory motorcycles. Although these offerings sound nice, our interest in Polaris is more of the trail riding kind, a field in which they’ve had quite some time to evolve and better their products. 1985 saw the birth of Polaris ATVs, I was still in high-school, totally hooked on 3-wheelers and disgusted with all of these ugly 4-wheeled machines. Who would have thought they would become the Company with most models? Along the way, satisfying the ever diversifying needs of trail riders and workers, and even inventing new ones. Never would I have even imagined feeling the need to bring one or a few friends, all in the same vehicle, out for a fun trail ride, to mingle and giggle. Now it’s become a very common need, since Polaris started their fun RZR line of Ranger Side x Side vehicles, back in 2008. For others, it could be a need to optimize work situations; making a team of workers many times more efficient, Polaris came out. People are still only just discovering the many ways their Ranger Crew model can improve efficiency, with this ability to carry six adults safely and comfortably across challenging terrain.

For the past four years, Polaris has changed the industry, with a record number of significant upgrades to existing products and a surprisingly high number of new models for such tough economic times. 2012 is a bit more of a quiet year for Polaris, in comparison to their usual pace, but still includes two new rides to further diversify their offerings, and make sure every Polaris client gets what he truly needs. More improvements across the entire line were also done, to keep making every client’s off road experience in general, a better one!

The expansion of every Ranger line has been swift and stays constant, with yet again the addition of new models, to keep giving their clients rides better suited to their own very specific needs and budgets. The Ranger Diesel was the latest addition and now the new 2012 Ranger Crew Diesel, using the same 904cc, three-cylinder Yanmar diesel engine, rubber-mounted to cancel its more shaky character, comes in with 40% more range than the gas powered model. This extremely sturdy mill also has traits that are exactly in accordance with what this vehicle is best at: rough and tough work. Low-speed torque is generous with 90% of the maximum torque output at the ready at just 1600 rpm.  It also has a powerful 55-amp alternator that gives the operator the ability to run a plow, extra lights, cab heater and fan, all simultaneously without any struggles. The Ranger Diesel Crew has a plush 9.6 in. of travel up front and 9.0 in. of travel in the rear, with an adjustable Dual A-arm suspension with two top-mounting-point choices. One for when the vehicle is hard at work, loaded with up to 1000 lbs. in the gas-assisted rear dump box, and another for a softer ride, while using it for recreational purposes. Pulling fully loaded trailers won’t be a problem, either with its standard 2 inch receiver hitch and one ton/907.2 kg towing capacity. The VersaTrac Turf Mode, switched on with the press of a button, unlocks the rear differential to protect fragile ground. Polaris engineers obviously have a good sense of what these vehicles will be called on doing, out there in the wild of nature and work sites. Whatever they didn’t need to worry about was covered by the Pure Polaris accessories team, with further inquiries on what the users will need to be snapped on and off in a jiffy, thanks to the Lock & Ride®Cargo System, and the possibilities are endless! Cargo boxes, plows, cab systems, a good amount of very cool-looking wheel and tire combos and a lot more.

With 11.5 in. of ground clearance, obstacles on the trail rarely come in contact with the belly of the vehicle, despite its lengthy wheelbase, which by nature, should require the driver to angle the vehicle to clear over logs without too much rubbing involved, but it doesn’t really ever feel like it is too long. The lengthy chassis also encourages excellent handling at any speed.

Only available in Sage Green, this new Crew features the same slide-through cab design, a sufficient amount of legroom even for a 6’3″ tall guy like me, with leaned seatbacks, tilt steering with 10 in. of travel, and On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive like the two other Crew models: the Ranger Crew 800 and 500. Everything seems to be covered, and no challenge is too large for this versatile vehicle.

The Ranger RZR line of products also gets a new member: the new value priced RZR570. A trail ready model with the new Polaris ProStar(TM) 570 engine, that the maker says offers impressive acceleration. We can’t wait to find out for ourselves! A unit is on its way up here for us to test. It should be fun to revert back to this smaller form of RZR that is just about as nimble as an ATV in tight trails. At 50 inches in width, I will be able to just throw that cute thing in the back of the pick-up and go for a fun ride at a moment’s notice, and to follow my friends straddling their quads, anywhere and everywhere. This all-new engine inspired in conception by the ProStar 900, features 4 valves, dual overhead cam and nearly 650 watts of stator output, 40% more than RANGER RZR 800. The engine transfers power to the ground efficiently, with an innovative lightweight transmission design, featuring a helical cut final drive with optimized gear geometry for maximum efficiency.

Despite the fact that it only just came out this spring, the Ranger RZR XP 900 has got many improvements done to it for 2012 units. A new rubber-isolated prop shaft reduces driveline noise. They’ve added an anti-rattle bushing on the passenger grab bar, which is actually on all 2012 RZR models. More importantly, the Fox 2.0 shocks have new knobs for tool-less compression adjustment and the front suspension geometry was revised for easier steering. Limited Edition models throw in some Bighorn tires. This, my friends, is truly the ultimate combination of power, suspension and agility. Get to know how to master all what the Ranger RZR XP 900 has to offer, and you can progress and improve your driving skills right up to competition level. That’s how fast and stable it is. The RZR 800, RZR4 800 and RZR-S 800 all get improved fit and finish in the cockpit, for reduced heat and dust inside the cab and a 33% thicker skid plate. Only the RZR 800 gets a new rubber jounce bumper in the shock assembly to improve durability. The RZR 170 is still available, with new one-piece side-nets.

Flagship of the Polaris Sportsman ATV line, the Sportsman XP 850, introduced in 2009, represented an interesting leap forward, in balancing suspension capability and power, to make one of the most high-performance Utility tagged ATV on the market. So much so, that it blurred the line between Sport and Utility, when we pushed it to its full potential. I’m not sure if a gain in power was really necessary, but we are still going to applaud this move to a new High-Output 850 Twin EFI engine, cranking out even more HP, for the Sportsman XP 850 H.O., Sportsman XP 850 H.O. EPS and Sportsman Touring 850 H.O. This 77 horsepower producing engine, translates into 20% quicker acceleration, which means riders will have to be real careful while they get acquainted with this trail beast. All 2012 models featuring the 850 engine receive a new air box combined with new throttle bodies, resulting in an approximate nine percent increase in power from prior years. That explains this newfound strength off the line.

The Sportsman Value Line got a significant makeover for the 2011 model year, so not all that much changed in 2012 for those. Still, adding new integrated storage offering 6.5 gallons of capacity is a great idea which allows the rider to stow loads of gear and still have access to it, even with items tied to the lid. Also, back by popular demand, the Sportsman 800 EFI AND 500 H.O. will be offered in Yellow.

Other 2012 models include the Scrambler, Trail Blazer and Phoenix, which will wear new White/Blue bodywork and the Trail Boss will be available in all Blue. I don’t know how much jail time the adult sized Outlaw models were sentenced to, but I hope it isn’t life without parole! I really hate to see those go. Only the smallest Outlaw family members, the 50 and 90, can still roam freely, in a less guilty-looking White/Blue dress.

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

More from Polaris on ATV Trail Rider :

Polaris ATV Models – Polaris UTV Models – Polaris ATV Reviews – Polaris UTV Reviews