Polaris makes the best-selling 4x4 ATV on the market even better
Since releasing the Sportsman 500 back in 1996, Polaris has sold over 600,000 units, making it the number one selling 4×4 ATV of all time. After 17 years of minor mechanical and a recent cosmetic overhaul, Polaris is celebrating the Sportsman’s 18th birthday in a major way. For 2014 the Sportsman 500 has grown up, with a new modern design engine fed by fuel injection. The result is the 2014 Polaris Sportsman 570; a more powerful, smoother running machine, remarkably available for its 1996 asking price of $6,499.
Certainly the biggest update to the 570 is its Pro Star 570 engine. The 567cc four-stroke mill features a high performance, four-valve, double-overhead-cam design. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s based off the engine powering the Polaris RZR 570. Polaris says the Sportsman 570 churns out 22% more horsepower then the old Sportsman 500.
Unlike the Sportsman 500, the new engine is mated to an electronic fuel injection system. This should keep the engine running strong and smooth at altitude and eliminate the need to flip a choke lever on cold starts.
Thanks to the narrower design of the 570 engine, Polaris has narrowed the machine by 3.25 inches between the rider’s legs to improve ergonomics.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Honda FourTrax Rancher
Along with the standard Sage Green, Indy Red, and Pursuit Camo models, Polaris is now offering three Electric Power Steering equipped models, available in Sage Green, Bright White and Pursuit Camo. The Bright White model we tested retails for $7,299, $1,400 less than the power steering equipped Sportsman XP 550 EPS model.
Responding to complaints about securing cargo to their smooth composite racks in the past, Polaris integrated steel tubes into the Sportsman’s rear rack for 2014. This makes attaching tie-downs, bungee straps, or ropes much easier.
All of these updates have added up to a small six-pound increase on the base model 570s from 696 to 702 pounds. Power steering adds another 11 pounds to the unit at 713 pounds.
Keeping the Good
In our previous test of the Sportsman 500 we were big fans of the full size chassis, comfort, stability, and plush ride. Polaris retained the 500’s chassis and suspension, so Sportsman 500 fans should be pleased. The McPherson Strut front suspension still delivers 8.2 inches of travel, while the dual A-arm IRS features 9.5 inches of travel.
While the engine has been swapped out for 2014, the 570 retains the same transmission configuration with high and low ranges, plus neutral, reverse, and park. The drive system allows you to switch between two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive at the flip of a switch.
All-wheel Braking remains standard with hydraulic disc brakes found at both ends. A handlebar-mounted lever operates brakes at both ends, while the foot brake on the right side operates the rear brake independently.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Can-Am Outlander 500 + Video
In addition to 1,225 pounds of towing capacity, you can haul 90 pounds on the front and 180 pounds on the rear racks. Both racks feature the same Polaris Lock & Ride anchor points found on the 500, allowing users to easily and quickly attach a number of Polaris Lock & Ride accessories. Under the front rack is a generous 6.5 gallons of semi-dry storage.
Improvements brought about by the new Pro Star 570 engine are apparent from the time you turn the key. The engine comes to life without the clunky grinding sound often emitted by the 500’s starter.
Rolling out, the vibration levels of the machine seem to have been reduced somewhat with the addition of the new engine. Cruising the trails, the higher output 570 engine is clearly less labored accelerating out of corners. High speeds could be acquired with less demand on the engine or the throttle, which will definitely pay dividends in the pulling or hauling department.
In the midrange, the 570 pulls harder racing down long straights or when you need the engine to spool up quickly for short runs at large inclines. Top-end power was also pretty impressive, with plenty of get-up-and-go for the fasted wooded trails we encountered. With more power, faster revving, and less vibration, what’s not to like about engine? It’s almost like riding a small big bore single…it runs that well.
Polaris’ PVT transmission engages smoothly and predictably, working well with the Sportsman 570’s good overall power output. While there is no engine braking system equipped, you have to give up something for the machine’s bargain retail price.
For nearly any circumstances, the Polaris all-wheel-drive system works flawlessly. Aggressive riders can leave the drive system in two-wheel drive for brisk rides where you want to pitch the rear-end out in turns. Using all-wheel-drive seemingly has no negative effect. You get light steering with two-wheel drive effort and when the rear wheels start spinning on mud or rocks, the front wheels kick in and provides the control and security of four-wheel-drive, until traction once again becomes available.
Steering remains predictable on the Sportsman 570 with little front-end push, and no nervous over steering tendencies. The addition of EPS makes the 570 less fatiguing for long rides, although price-conscious buyers who choose the non-EPS-equipped model will still find it easy to maneuver without an objectionable amount of bump feedback.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2013 Kymco MXU500i
In-spite of the additional horsepower, the Sportsman’s performance remains plush, predictable, and well matched to the rest of the machine. We remain impressed with the way the machine floats over small bumps in the trail as you cruise along. You can attack G-outs and even get a couple feet of air without feeling any harsh bottoming sensation. The front end on the XP models is perhaps a little more compliant on small chatter, but compared to most of the other machines on the market, the ride is downright supple. We noticed a little front-end dive when attacking corners (also an issue with the Sportsman 500), but the extra power of the 570 makes it easy to overcome by grabbing a handful of throttle and breaking the rear end loose. Whether you cruise along or race through the woods, the suspension works well.
Braking performance is good. If you are a fan of Polaris’ all-wheel braking, you’ll like it. Having the ability to operate the rear brake separately with the foot pedal is imperative for gnarly descants.
We were fortunate to have an older Sportsman 500 along for direct comparison. This made appreciating the 570 slimmer midsection easy. Riding both machines back to back, the slimmer 570 feels more modern and sporty, regardless of your riding style. The longer we rode the 570, the more we appreciated its redesigned ergonomics.
It’s easy to find faster machines out with better suspension and more high-end features in the ATV marketplace (including several from Polaris), but for the money the 2014 Sportsman 570 can’t be beat. It’s fast enough to keep up with almost anything in the woods, offers up one of the smoothest rides on the market with all-day comfort, and possesses excellent working capabilities at a price that is seemingly from a different era.
The 2014 Polaris Sportsman 570 is a winner and exactly what this industry needs more of – great performance at a reasonable price. Kudos to Polaris!