I vividly remember letting out a scream of joy upon getting the wished reaction to my demands on the throttle. “Woohoo”, I think it was I said. That was a few years ago, when I first pushed the pedal in a wild-looking and even wilder performing Polaris RZR XP 900. I literally hugged a bunch of dudes that day, all of them wearing Polaris shirts.
We have this most active manufacturer to thank for bringing this industry to new heights and opening up this gratifying activity that is trail riding, to anyone and everyone with a desire to enjoy nature and life to the fullest. Polaris engineers certainly know how to improve already good vehicles, and each of them thrives to surpass their own individual expectations, year after year. They also have a knack for inventing new forms of off-road vehicles, which has resulted in the most diversified line of off-road products out there. Now, any recreational rider, or worker, regardless of age, gender, experience level or lifestyle, can very easily find a vehicle that suits them perfectly, with life-changing potential, at a Polaris dealer. This is what happens when you are part of a great team; one’s intelligent ideas bring about other ideas.
A little while back, utility quads started to feel more like high performance racing machines than daddy’s workhorse. Their abundant power would have meant nothing if not complemented with this smoothness necessary to stay on the gas, a little while longer. I remember thinking how cool it was that this was now our reality. The Sportsman XP had literally changed perception in general, of utility ATVs. Seeing another copy of your utility quad model do well in a harsh endurance race, sort of makes you feel like you bought the right machine, even if all you need is just a practical vehicle for work.
Always something new
I’m not sure which new model I should talk about first, the Scrambler XP 850 or Ranger XP 900? Many copies of both, among others, were right there available in front of us, exciting and all-new, with all of those new lines, shapes and colours, being drenched by the rain. So let’s just start with the machine I first tried.
This new all-powerful and much-improved Scrambler, is a give the people what type of machine they want. Sportsman power and handling with a fresh look that I and many of my media compadres were impressed with. It might not be the best choice for Grandpa, depending on how he feels about having chunks of mud falling down on him. As strange as it may sound, most guys and girls in my circle of friends enjoy this sort of riding. So do I. I know to like this sort of thing. The pointy fenders do catch most of it though, about as efficiently as Can-Am’s Renegade does, this new Scrambler’s obvious and sole competitor. Comparisons will be inevitable, of course, and the main question will surely be which one is more powerful, but let’s not forget that power is nothing without the numerous other factors that can make for better lap times around a huge track with any and all types of obstacles to conquer. Achieving maximum ground clearance, without compromising stability and handling at higher speeds, was one of the Polaris engineers did an awesome job with on the Sportsman XP, and it is no surprise to us that this quad is mainly a Sportsman 850 XP with a different shell. We are totally fine with that, as that model remains among the best handling 4×4 ATVs, and still among our favorites to ride, no matter what the trail conditions look like. That excellent chassis and powertrain combo is truly deserving of this new look and set of cool features, which aim to make it even more of a desirable 4×4 race winner.
The hot new Scrambler 850 H.O. is offered in both a base model in in-mold Bright White with Sachs Shocks with 9 in/22.9 cm of front travel and 10.25 in/26 cm of rear travel or a sporty Limited Edition package including, Electronic Power Steering (EPS), Fox Podium compression adjustable shocks, cast aluminum wheels, hand guards, custom cut and sew seat, front LED lights, and Stealth Black paint with a sportier graphics package. I only rode only the LE for now; I was able to get acquainted enough with it to notice a few very good features. First was the much sportier and easier to slide on seat (compared to a Sportsman). It felt just as comfortable as on any Sportsman, yet with less gripping action to the fabric of my pants. I could be quick to switch sides for efficient weight transfers, which should never be neglected because of an ATV’s heightened performance in negotiating curves in a stable manner. Adding pressure to the foot peg on the opposite side of a turn and letting your body drop on the inside should be second nature to any rider and this ride ergonomics seem to encourage this proper riding technique. As with a Sportsman, you will find plenty of room to tuck down that body weight on either side, without any obstructions. No protrusions in the plastic hurtfully banging your knee, or a gear selector in the way. There is actually a little more leg room with this front fender’s style and shape. By the way, the shifter on this machine looks really cool. The brakes are also excellent! I usually don’t like the all–wheel braking idea, but here engineers clearly took into consideration the importance of precise control of the rear wheels alone, at the foot pedal. Wheels got back to rolling again as soon as pressure was released, and I could even modulate their behavior very easily and naturally, like when riding Motocross bikes. This meant that I could control the entry angle into a turn, and then use the left side lever with two fingers and slow it right down to the desired speed for the apex. I need to warn all beginners or intermediate riders that this sort of sport style handling of the controls is reserved to experienced riders.
It is sort of a shame to lose the handlebar-mounted headlight, which used to be a trademark of the Scrambler and remains a very lovable feature on the Sportsman. It will be cool to see what different solutions people come up with for that one. My only real complaint would be that the floorboards can fill up too quickly. First thing I would do is cut some plastic, to make all the holes a bit bigger. It’s a shame to lose access to that superbly smooth and precise rear brake pedal, because of packed mud or snow.
An even harder-working and smoother riding Ranger
The all-new Ranger XP 900 is just as significant of an improvement to the Side x Side than the Sportsman XP was to the utility quad. The innovations put forward on this gem are truly outstanding, leaving others having to catch up. In all honesty, words cannot describe how really great this vehicle rides any terrain. Of course, we will talk about every new small details but for starters we think it is important that you know that only a test drive can fully divulge its greatness. The resulting feel, brought about by a multitude of refined details, is like nothing I expected. The smoothest riding, hardest working slogan has never been so true!
The most obvious changes are the body’s new squared out plastics and the headlights, which are set much further back, a bit like what Kawasaki did to their Teryx last year. These offer increased visibility, with 25 percent brighter led lights that project more than 30 percent further, adding 100 ft./30.48 meters of additional visibility. Less frequent stops for gas can be expected with an 11 percent bigger gas tank that holds 10 gal/37.85 liters and the fuel cap is now on the driver’s side. The RANGER XP 900 is available with or without EPS, in Sage Green and Solar Red or Polaris Pursuit Camo. Limited Edition models include Sunset Red and Orange Madness, both offered with or without EPS. A Browning EPS model and an Audio Edition in Bronze Mist with an integrated Audio System including two dash-mount speakers and will be sold in limited quantities.
This new Ranger XP 900 was presented to us in a spectacular fashion, chained to a medium-sized dump truck. The pretty-looking bright orange vehicle fired up with assurance and rolled in front of us effortlessly as it pulled that big load up a hill. Most of us seemed unimpressed, simply because we were already familiar with the Ranger’s strong performance for this sort of challenge. Tow hitch capacity is rated at 2000-pounds and the bed, with more hooking points and space to slip in a standard pallet, can hold up to a thousand pounds of cargo. We would soon learn a whole lot more about this impressive vehicle and all of its intelligent innovations, representing three years of hard-work for Polaris engineers.
A group of Polaris shirted guys appeared from behind the big semi, also proudly identified, and parked a bunch of these pretty orange things in front of us in a somewhat organized fashion, among hay bales. Then another group of guys appeared with windshields under their arms, all of them with that smirk of a smile. It was pretty clear, the odd-shaped tubes on the cage suddenly made sense. Two by two, they made us snap in those windshields ourselves, which took only a few seconds. Rotating two pivoting clamps on the inside and at the top, was all that was needed to create a perfect seal. I later tried the operation all alone and found it to be just as an easy task, at least for a big boy like me. Next was the rear glass, same quick and easy technique. Last step before diving-in more into this obviously advanced vehicle, was the roof. Glide the front part into the two slots, as we had to do for the two other accessories, and give the rear part a good tap down on each side. O.K.! The Ranger is ready for action, in more challenging weather conditions, like the wet ones we knew we would have to deal with for our ride the next day, in the beautiful trails surrounding the Bull Run Guest Ranch in Great Falls, Montana.
Ranger work capability has been significantly heightened with this exciting new addition to what is already the most complete and extensive line of Side x Side vehicles. First and foremost with much more power provided by the ProStar 900 engine, which more than proved itself a winner in the fast accelerating RZR XP 900. The potent mill was reworked and adapted to this vehicle’s needs. This toned down to 60 hp version of the ProStar can not only go places fast, but will also feel stronger at work than any Utility Ranger ever did. It is 20% stronger than the 800 powering its predecessor and provides 30% more electrical output. It feels very different from the ProStar engine fitted in the race-ready RZR XP 900, both in delivery and character. The torque stays on throughout the range and although it won’t throw you back in the seat, the all-new engine management system keeps it strong but smooth, right up to its top speed of a little over 80 km/h. This made to be work savvy 875cc has 54 lbs.-ft. of torque, with a top end redesigned to make it a better workhorse. Cams, pistons and head valve cover are all new, and the air intake system was totally redesigned to house those dual throttle bodies a little further from the cylinder head than on the RZR XP 900 for a less aggressive and more torque-oriented power output. The throttle felt extremely good in slow speed manoeuvering, without any jerkiness at all, which made moving the vehicle forward or back an extra inch or two, incredibly easy and smooth. To complement the potent ProStar engine, the RANGER XP 900 features a new, durable drivetrain, built to handle the generous 60hp. It uses a stronger belt, which is also better cooled along with the clutches.
The smooth and precise trait remains present at all speeds, not only at the brake and throttle pedals, but also at the steering wheel, thanks to a great number of improvements in many areas. The wheelbase of this new more rigid chassis stretches the rear wheels back 5 inches in comparison with the old Ranger and the new Independent rear suspension, with multiple top-mounting points for the shocks, uses angled A-arm pivot points to achieve the same sort of so- called Ride-in suspension philosophy first explored and proven efficient on the first Sportsman XP. This means that the rear wheels travel both up and back for a much smoother ride with less rear-end hop. It features 1 in/2.5 cm more travel than a 2012 Ranger 800 and offers 12 in/30.5 cm of ground clearance. Connecting both sides is a stabilizer bar that significantly improves stability in turns. The result is truly impressive, has the vehicle feels very well-connected to the ground beneath, at all times. It is almost too good, since the comfort level is so heightened, that some might miss the usual giggle inducing shaking of the occupants, when rolling over small obstacles in succession.
The new RANGER XP 900 offers the most storage in its class, with a much larger glove box, a new deep shelf under the dash and flipping the seat up will reveal a new under-seat storage compartment that sits over the vehicle’s battery. The unit also features a new, easier to install winch mount, a completely redesigned cockpit that fits three people more comfortably, and new center-mounted gauges so the driver can get all the information by looking only at that one easy to glance at spot.
Featuring durable, automotive-quality materials and construction, the new group of Lock & Ride accessories specifically designed for this vehicle, is packed with ingenious ideas. Most impressive on that list are all the cab accessories that snap on in a jiffy. Windshields, roofs, doors and rear panels are tucked inside of the oddly shaped new cage, locking directly into the cab frame’s precision contours, for a perfect seal. You might want to make sure you clean off all the edges thoroughly though, before installing the windshield or back glass, to ensure that nice seal. It was named the PRO-FIT Cab System and it does fit perfectly, so if you are having any problems twisting the knobs to a locking position, it can only be because some debris is stuck somewhere. Cab doors and roofs include available sound-absorbing liners and sound-dampening foam that can reduce sound levels inside the cab by up to 60% at idle, and 40% at 20 mph. It is also important to mention that noise levels are already much lower in this Ranger, because the engine is placed further back behind the seat.
PURE Polaris also has many other products that can be quickly installed all-around this Ranger. For quick and easy plow blade installation and removal, you can get the new Glacier PRO Plow System. This modular design plow system lets you choose winch or hydraulic blade lift, and manual or hydraulic blade angle. Hydraulics and winch are controlled remotely from the operator’s seat. It features a durable, cast plow frame, heavy-duty 18 inch steel plow blade to move a lot of snow, and up to 18-inch blade lift height. Available with a 4500 lb. rated pull, for all RANGER and RZR models, new Polaris PRO HD winches offer 50 feet of strong and easy to handle synthetic rope, and an aluminum fairlead with built-in auto-stop technology. It turns the winch off automatically when the pull or lift is completed and the hook reaches the fairlead. These winches also feature hand-held remote controls so the winch can be controlled away from the vehicle or comfortably seated safely in the RANGER or RZR cab. A new Lowrance GPS unit can be secured on a mounting system integrated to the vehicle dash, with a high-resolution screen that has oversized controls, so a rider can operate it even with gloves on. Pure Polaris is offering a full line of accessories including cabs, doors, boxes and specialized products for all Full, Midsize and Multi-Passenger RANGER vehicles. Skid plates, Rock sliders, Heavy-Duty bumpers, beautifully chromed wheels, you name it, and they should have it. See all of these and much more at www.purepolaris.com
The industry-leading, full size RANGER 800 EFI is back for 2013, but another interesting chassis and engine combination was created to add yet another member to the ever growing Ranger family. Available in Sage Green and Polaris Pursuit Camo with a Nuclear Sunset Orange Limited Edition model, the RANGER 800 EFI Midsize will join the RANGER 500 EFI, RANGER 400 and RANGER EV in the smaller sized Polaris SxS chassis, for those who want a vehicle the easily loads up the ramps into a pick-up truck and works better in tighter working areas and tight trail conditions. The RANGER 500 EFI is available in Solar Red, Sage Green and a Magnetic Metallic Limited Edition model, and the RANGER 400 is available in Sage Green. Last but not least in the midsize category, and also a great choice for many work applications, the eco-friendly all-electric Polaris RANGER EV, remains available in Boardwalk Blue and Polaris Pursuit Camo.
For 2013, Polaris improves and diversifies the RZR lineup once again with a new RZR 570 Trail Limited Edition with Electronic Power Steering (EPS), an Engine Braking System (EBS) and Versatrack Turf Mode for a less damaging signature. They also cooked up a very nice-looking Walker Evans Limited Edition RZR XP 900 and installed new dual rate springs on the RZR 800. Fans of the adrenaline generous Ranger RZR XP 900 will love the new RZR XP 900 Walker Evans Limited Edition with EPS. It features Big Bore 2.5” Walker Evans shocks, cut and sew seats, Maxxis Bighorn tires on Black Crusher rims and a custom graphics package. Other new features on the 900cc RZRs include easier shifting out of park, and a wet sump engine, allowing for easier oil changes, and a new rear cargo box that is flat for better storage capability.
The rest of the Polaris ATV line remains unchanged as its good old self. The only thing new for 2013: the Sportsman 90 and Outlaw 90 ATVs are classified as Y-10+ for riders 10 years old and older.
A Polaris ATV, a Side by Side, it didn’t matter, I truly loved the feeling. Despite the freakily cold and wet weather, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Montana and won’t soon forget the intense dust storm experience with our delicious apple pies flying on, the prior evening, All the models I rolled with (lots of Scrambler XP 850, quite a bit of Ranger XP 900 and a little RZR 570 LE) satisfied my need for precise control of what goes on between the ground and the few knobs on my tires working it. Steering all these EPS equipped Polaris models is easy and adds precision and speed to your control of the ride in extreme sections. The acceleration is with each, in accordance with their respective intended tasks or specialties. Power, I used to always find less than I wished for, not for higher top speed, but for torque and acceleration that could truly be used for more precise control of the vehicle’s behavior at the pedal, and maybe also helpful when faced with bigger, sometimes unsuspected challenges. The Sportsman XP had satisfied this big appetite of mine for sport style control of a Utility ATV. The improvements were for once very obvious. In my opinion, they did the same sort of thing again this time for the Side x Side segment, creating with this all-new Ranger XP 900, a machine that has the power to push others to perform, in the quest for off-road excellence. Polaris engineers have gotten better and better at surpassing themselves, and in many ways others, from one model year to the next. Keep up the great work Polaris!
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Polaris Website