2008 Polaris Ranger Crew Review

Six-seater adds to impressive Ranger stable

Story by Howard J Elmer, Apr. 15, 2008

The Polaris Ranger has been a benchmark for over a decade now and has been copied by some yet vilified by others. The reason? It’s big – but in the ATV market that too can be an advantage. For 2008 the Ranger is going with its strength and unveiling a six-seat model called the ‘Crew’ which is even bigger.

This stretched Ranger will carry six passengers and 750 lb of payload on a frame that boasts two bench seats and a dumping cargo box. The power in the Crew comes from a 700cc twin EFI engine that churns up to 40 hp through an on-demand (switch activated) AWD system that will also tow up to 2000 lb.

Obviously this is not a machine that’s going to dart around narrow trails – but it is a vehicle that is going to appeal to anyone who has to move people and gear to and from off-road sites.

I had a chance to drive the new Crew out in East Tennessee in an area that is littered with old logging roads, which are currently being rutted out by trucks dragging drilling rigs into the mountains. While these were not bush trails, this environment was where a vehicle like the new Crew would be most often used. Carrying people and cargo is what this version of the Ranger is for – and the reason I ran it around the Smokey Mountains was to see if it fulfilled that mandate.

The Crew is sprung by independent suspension front and rear with about nine-inches of travel at each corner and 11-inches of ground clearance at its lowest point. With a wheelbase of 108-inches it clears most obstacles, but it does bottom on protruding rocks and stumps. That’s where the steel and polyethylene skid plates come in. The Crew will slide over pretty much anything it can’t cross. It doesn’t sound pretty, but it works without damaging anything vital.
 
Helping to haul its 1460 lb dry weight over logs and rocks is an AWD system that works with a dual-sensing PVT (Polaris Variable Transmission) that responds to both engine rpm input and increased torque loads. This is in addition to the typical wheel slip situation that engages the AWD. What I found is that the engage/disengage of the differential was quicker and felt seamless, as the push of the accelerator in anticipation of crossing an obstacle already engaged the AWD. In effect this system does away with the need to aggressively spin the tires to engage the diff-lock, making the ride smoother.
With a top speed of 44 mph, that smooth ride is important too keep passengers and cargo in the vehicle (all positions have seatbelts). 

On the really rough stuff, or while loaded down, you may want to slow it up a bit. However, the fact that the Crew can get people to and from remote job/hunting sites quickly was not lost on me. What I did think about was storage – and not the open bed type. Instead I found that the Crew has two under-seat storage compartments. The front one has a 100 lb capacity, or 39 gal volume, and the rear one has a 25 lb capacity, or 29 gal volume. These spaces are easily accessible, weatherproof and will keep things clean, an important feature in the field. Of course, weatherproof means from the elements, but another source of moisture is water crossings. The Crew easily stays dry in up to a foot of water, but with its engine air intake at seat height the rule of thumb would be if your butt stays dry so will your engine and stowed gear.

Adding to the Ranger stable
With the addition of the Crew to the Ranger stable the number of versions now hits five and for 2008 each one also benefits from some of the improvements found in the new Crew.

RANGER 2x4
• New Dual Bore Piston Brakes w/ 30 percent more braking force
• New dash-mounted parking brake
• New 40 percent brighter headlights
• 500 Polaris engine with 30 hp
MSRP $7,999

RANGER 4x4 EFI
• New Dual Bore Piston Brakes w/ 30 percent more braking force
• New dash-mounted parking brake with shift interlock
• New 40 percent brighter headlights
• 500 Polaris engine with Electronic Fuel Injection
MSRP $9,499

RANGER 4x4 XP-Xtreme
• New Dual Bore Piston Brakes w/ 30 percent more braking force
• New dash-mounted parking brake w/ shift interlock
• New 40 percent brighter headlights
• New one-ton towing capacity
• 700 Polaris Twin engine with Electronic Fuel Injection
• Limited Edition RANGER XPs include Supersonic Blue, Turbo Silver, Pearl White and a Stealth Black Browning edition.
MSRP $10,499

RANGER 6x6
• New Dual Bore Piston Brakes w/ 30 percent more braking force
• New dash-mounted parking brake w/ shift interlock
• New headlights that are 40 percent brighter
• New 1-ton towing capacity
• 700 Polaris Twin engine with Electronic Fuel Injection
• On-demand, six-wheel drive
• 1,750 lb payload, 1,250 lb cargo capacity
MSRP $11,199

Driving up into the mountains to test the Crew I towed it on a trailer. I mention this because this ATV won’t fit in the back of your pickup (length-145-inches, width-60-inches, height-75-inches), whereas with a little bit of coaxing the smaller three-seat Ranger will.

Steering on this unit is assisted and feels firm, but don’t hook your thumbs through the spokes as it does kick back if you hit something hard and that hurts. Stopping on the crew is accomplished with an automotive style brake pedal actuating four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes with dual-bore piston calipers in front and single piston ones on the rear. For parking there is a new feature; a dash-mounted parking brake that’s connected to a dedicated, shaft mounted disc. This setup not only holds this very heavy unit better, it eliminates the potential problems that a long single mechanical brake cable typically has when it’s attached to only one wheel and the line stretches over time.

The dump box on the Crew has a capacity of 1,000 lb and it lifts easily with a pressurized shock feature. The tailgate latch can be opened with one hand and a new a self-cleaning hinge means that hauling dirt won’t jam up gate after dumping. The other function of the box is to accept a variety of Polaris accessories that are designed to lock in and out quickly and securely. In fact, the Ranger line probably has the greatest number of available accessories that cover the range of work and play. These include cargo boxes, tool racks, gun scabbards and cabs. There are also snowplows, winches and in the aftermarket just about anything you can imagine can be found. In part this fact is thanks to the success of the Ranger and its longevity – meaning its been around long enough (and probably will continue for years to come) that its made it worthwhile for aftermarket manufacturers to invest in development and build accessories that they intend to sell for a long time. 

The Crew is now available at dealers with an MSRP of $11,299.

 
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