Polaris takes working UTVs to another level
Just outside of Cascade, Montana at the Bull Run Guest Ranch, Polaris gave us a chance to spend some time with the brand new 2013 Polaris Ranger XP 900. Just to be clear, this machine is part of the Ranger segment and not the sport-focused RZR family. Though this working class off-road vehicle shares a similar name with the fantastic RZR XP 900, it offers a very different level of performance.
When the Ranger RZR XP 900 was introduced with class-leading front and rear travel as well as the crazy powerful ProStar 900 engine platform, we brushed over the idea of having that engine in a working vehicle such as the Ranger XP. For 2013 Polaris has brought our thoughts to life and placed a very similar version of the ProStar engine in the Ranger workhorse. This motor has been tuned for the Ranger chassis and gives its owners a very respectable 62 horsepower instead of the 88 offered in the RZR version. This engine also uses a single throttle body, where the RZR XP 900 came with twin throttle bodies. Don’t let this disappoint you, though, as the machine still gives its riders the thrill that should be expected in this package.
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Moving to the engine placement, we found that the engineers really thought out not only the engine dynamics but placement in the chassis as well. The entire engine and transmission are located behind the driver and passenger. This placement also gives the home garage mechanic very good access to the service items to keep the machine in top shape. The air filter, intake, CVT box and much more are literally right in front of the do-it-yourselfer and all you have to do is lift the bed to get at these areas.
Another bit of engineering brilliance comes from the bed itself, which tilts from horizontal to almost completely vertical. This allows much more room for the home mechanic to work on the Ranger XP 900. Looking into the bed you will notice the segmented dividers molded into the bed for separating loads. Also, the bed can hold a full-sized pallet! Polaris installed many little hook points for securing the loads with straps and if you get out in the field and want to break for lunch just drop the tailgate and you’ll find a great place to sit with shallow drink holders molded into the tailgate as a bonus.
Few UTVs can work as hard as the Ranger XP 900. You can carry 1,000 pounds in the bed and tow an incredible 2,000 pounds. The unit also comes standard with bright LED taillights to blast through the fog or darkness to alert anyone that you are present. As well, the bed comes with Lock & Ride fitments to give each owner the chance to add a huge variety of genuine Polaris accessories.
Polaris offers an amazing innovation with the rear shocks. The rear shocks are tilted in for general use, which is normal. However, Polaris designed the frame to have an alternate rear shock mount location for the top of the shock. Now users can choose to stand the rear shocks more vertically, allowing more weight to be added to the rear of the machine. This just blew us away when we saw it. As for suspension travel, the rear of the Ranger XP 900 will yield 9.6 inches in travel and the front offers 9.0 inches to handle the roughest terrain on any jobsite. The ground clearance on this model is a boulder-clearing 12.0 inches. Using a preload adjustable gas charged coil over shock and rear sway bar for stability, the Ranger XP 900 seems set for battle
Taking a long look at the machine we appreciated it’s sleek design. Not only does it look great, but the multi-use Ranger XP 900 was designed to make life easier for those who use attachments up front. The steep drop front nose had been moved over to get the proper line of sight for the consumer dialed in. For those that would consider a snow plow or other front-loading accessory, Polaris wanted to make sure you could actually see over the hood.
As for the cab of the Ranger, the driver has an adjustable steering wheel and a seat that will now adjust forward or back to accommodate any rider’s height. We also appreciated the center-mounted digital dash, which provides a plethora of information including gear position, speed and fuel level. The drive selection from single wheel to both rear wheels and then on to all four wheels can be quickly selected via a rocker switch just to the right of the steering wheel.
Something you may not notice unless you order your Ranger with accessory heat is the factory added vent locations and vent piping under the cab dash plastics. Talk about a forward-thinking design! As for lighting, Polaris outfitted the Ranger XP 900 with super bright LED lights to guide you through the darkness as well as let oncoming traffic on the trail know you’re coming.
Many Ranger XP 900 owners will look to add a cab topper and windshield and Polaris has made installing them incredibly simple. The roll cage has been designed using extruded steel that is formed to accept any compatible part almost in a snap-on format. This eliminates many mounting devices or even tools for installation. All you need is a partner to help lift the shield into place.
As luck would have it, our ride day was cool and often rainy. While some may have decided to stay out of the elements, ATV.com made the choice to get the Ranger out to see how it handled itself in not-so-perfect conditions.
Our first impression of the Ranger was that it is super quiet in the cab. The rear-mounted engine takes virtually all of the noise away from the occupants of the machine. The addition of the front and rear windshields made it even better to the point where we felt as if we were in a small truck cab cruising the wide open landscape. Polaris designed a very user-friendly platform.
Climbing in altitude we rode in wet, very slick, muddy terrain until we worked our way up into the more mountainous areas. The very large rocks and tight trails posed concern, but did not stop the Ranger. As well, riding in semi-dry and very rocky river beds showed off the stability of the Ranger XP 900.
The power of the ProStar 900 engine comes on very smoothly with no jerky feel. The new engine’s fuel delivery is controlled electronically under your foot pedal. Throttle-by-wire has made the transition between no pedal to creeping along to wide open almost as smooth as a car!
If we had one thing to improve upon it may be the addition of a little more side support on the upper half of the bench seat. A small bar will keep you from slipping off the edge, but if you’re sitting in the driver’s position you are not close enough to it to be able to lean on it.
Overall we would say that the time Polaris spent engineering and delivering this product to market was a great investment and a huge leap into the future of the working UTV owner. Don’t let the working look fool you, though, as this machine is an eager and capable trail runner.