When it comes to sitting down at the off-road table, Polaris has immediate seating for a party of one with the new RZR RS1 and the ACE 900 XC. Let’s see how these two interesting machines compare.

The rumors were floating around for months, with spy photos and “first-hand accounts” leaking all over the place, letting the off-road world know about Polaris’ hot-new RZR RS1 before the official unveil as January came to a close. The idea of a single-seat UTV isn’t new, as Polaris has been in the uno-UTV biz with the popular ACE lineup. With the ACE 900 XC in the stable as a higher performance option, how will it compare to the new 2018 Polaris RZR RS1? Let’s compare by the numbers, shall we?

2018 Polaris RZR RS1 2018 Polaris ACE 900 XC
Price $13,999 $12,999
Engine 999cc Twin 875cc Twin
Horsepower 110 78
Driveline/Differential High Performance True On-Demand AWD/2WD High Performance On-Demand True AWD/2WD
Transmission Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H
Wheelbase 83.0 in 67.5 in
Overall Dimensions 112 x 64 x 73.75 in 94 x 59 x 72 in
Ground Clearance 13.0 in 13.0 in
Weight 1,358 lbs 1,050 lbs
Fuel Capacity 9.5 gal 5.25 gal
Front Tires 29 x 9-14 Maxxis Bighorn 27 x 9-12; GBC Dirt Commander
Rear Tires 29 x 11-14 Maxxis Bighorn 27 x 11-12; GBC Dirt Commander
Front Suspension Dual A-Arm with Stabilizer Bar and 16 in Travel Dual A-Arm with stabilizer bar and 12.3 in Travel
Rear Suspension Trailing Arm with Stabilizer Bar and 18 in Travel Dual A-Arm and 12.6 in Travel
Front /Rear Brakes 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Triple-Bore Front and Dual-Bore Rear Calipers Dual hydraulic discs / Dual hydraulic discs, multi-disc wet parking brake
Bed/Rack Capacity 50 lbs 120 lbs

ACEs Wild

Polaris ACE 900 XC Studio

The ACE was introduced a few years ago with a 327cc engine. The platform was based off the Sportsman ATV frame geometry and was designed as a new entry-level machine to get more people off the couch and on the trail. The media members, myself included, who were on the ride liked the new concept and all of us started to imagine the platform with a little more power. We weren’t alone, as the buying public hollered for a bigger version. Next came the 570, which we found to have a good amount of power, but it was starting to push the limits of the handling and suspension with a more aggressive driver behind the wheel. Then came the initial ACE 900, which screamed right past what the aforementioned suspension and handling could take. Thankfully Polaris listened and adopted suspension components from the RZR S line to the ACE platform, making the new ACE 900 XC and even the 570 much more fun to drive.

Sharp as a RZR

2018 Polaris RZR RS1 Black

Now don’t think that the idea for the 2018 Polaris RZR RS1 came from the ACE. There may have been a little inspiration there, but the idea of taking the RZR frame and suspension and making it a single-seater isn’t all that new. There are several professional off-road racers competing in custom designed single-seaters that have been doing it for some time. The main reason to go singular is simple – it’s all about centralizing the mass. If you’ve ever driven a RZR and gone hard into a right-hand corner when you’re driving alone, you noticed the shift of the mass of the vehicle to the outside of the turn. If you’re not ready for it, it can get sketchy. Now all that mass is central with tuned suspension. This means you’re going to be able to really get on it, and that is why the RS1 is so exciting. I can’t wait to drive one.

Tail of the Tape

The 2018 Polaris RZR RS1 has the awesome 110-horsepower, 999cc Twin ProStar engine that you’d expect in this machine. The 83-inch wheelbase and the 1,340-pound dry weight mean this machine is going to rip on the trails, dunes and desert.

The ACE 900 XC rolls with the 875cc ProStar Twin-cylinder engine that pumps out an impressive 78 horses; plenty of muscle to move you – quickly. The 67.5-inch wheelbase and dry weight of 1,050 pounds means the XC is no slouch in the power-to-weight ratio arena.

Polaris ACE 900 XC Profile

The suspension systems are quite different between these two machines. The 2018 Polaris RZR RS1 operates on a system with 2-inch Walker-Evans Needle Shocks with 16 inches of travel in the front riding on dual A-arms and a stabilizer bar. Out back there is a pleasing 18 inches of travel from the 2.5-inch shocks riding on a trailing arm setup just the like standard RZR. There is also the important stabilizer bar to keep you centered. Anyone who has ever hauled the mail across some rough terrain in a RZR will appreciate the system on the RS1.

The 900 XC is no slouch in the suspension area. As the RS1 shares technology with the RZR 1000XP, the 900 XC has a lot in common with the RZR S line. Again, Walker Evans Needle Shocks get the nod, with 12 inches of travel all riding on dual A-arms, just like the RZR S. Front and rear stabilizers help with body roll, too. Both the ACE 900 XC and the RZR RS1 have 13 inches of ground clearance.

So What Gives?

A question that has been popping up ever since the first rumors of the RS1 leaked online is “why is it a RZR and not an ACE?” The answer is actually pretty simple and it’s all about speed. Hot, nasty speed. Seriously, though, the ACE line was always intended for trail riding and the gear storage and dimensions of even the 900 XC show that. It has three gallons of dry storage and an actual cargo area that can carry quite a bit of gear. The RS1 is not really designed for hauling much of anything besides your butt at a pretty good clip. The narrow rear cargo area is only rated for 50 pounds of gear.

2018 Polaris RZR RS1 Action Rear: Red Bull Global Rallycross

Both are very agile machines, with the 900 XC being narrower at 59 inches compared to the RS1’s 64 inches. The XC is shorter too at 94 inches to the RS1’s 112 inches. Price wise, the RS1 comes in at $13,999 to the 900XC’s price tag of $12,999.

Are you looking for a tight woods machine with a torquey engine and some cargo capacity? If so, the Polaris ACE 900 XC is for you. Do you want to go fast and carry not much more than a huge grin on your face? If so, take a look at the 2018 Polaris RZR RS1. You’re not going to make a bad choice.

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