Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S Review Wrap Up: Yay, Nay, and the Takeaway

Ross Ballot
by Ross Ballot
Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

We just bid farewell to our long-term Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S after nine months of testing. We subjected the manufacturer’s biggest, baddest ATV to the full gauntlet of trail riding common in the Northeast, and it came back begging for more time and time again. Here are some takeaways and things we’ve learned from our time with the top-dog Scrambler.

Photo Credit: Spencer Ballot

Yay: The speed is immense

Hammer the thumb throttle at any speed and the 952cc ProStar engine rockets the quad forward, and that’s in its “Standard” mode. Toggle it to “Performance” and the acceleration is simply violent. It’s a beautiful thing, having this kind of power at one’s disposal, but it’s not for beginners.

Nay: Performance comes at a price

Holy moly is it expensive. Given, we didn’t purchase it, but this is a very pricey rig: $17,799 for the 2022 model year vehicle we tested, and though that price is unchanged even through the 2024 model year, it’s a bunch of money for a vehicle with handlebars. But hey, performance like this can’t come cheap.

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

Yay: That performance is unmatched

There is simply no better-performing four-wheel-drive ATV on sale today, and that’s not just the story when it comes to speed and acceleration. The Walker Evans three-way adjustable shocks are perhaps the best available on any quad today, and there is simply no way to go faster over rough terrain. Kudos to 14.5 inches of ground clearance, too, and 12.5"/14" front/rear of suspension travel. The ultra-wide stance helps, too, maximizing stability and cornering competence.

Seriously, we can’t stress enough how incredible the Scrambler XP 1000 S is as a performance vehicle. Polaris really went above and beyond to make this quad supremely easy to ride, an absolute riot to do so, and as good at going fast down a wide-open trail as it is crawling through a rock garden. It’s an amazing machine.

The Scrambler XP 1000 S almost wouldn't fit through the gate of the standard 6x12' U-Haul trailer. Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

Nay: The 55-inch width can be a hassle

On the trails the Polaris’ massive width is a huge pro, but in reality it’s a blessing and a curse. Many pickups have beds that simply accommodate the XP 1000 S’ width, so hauling it without a trailer necessitates a full-size truck.

Similarly, albeit rather infrequently, the width also brings with it difficulty on the trail. Usually this isn’t a problem, as most trails accommodate much wider UTVs, but occasionally you get caught off guard, such as trying to dodge between trees that you’ve successfully navigated through on narrower machines.

Nay: Prepare to get dirty

Polaris didn’t widen the fenders on the Scrambler for the XP 1000 S, so the tires sit way outside the quad’s aggressive bodywork. That means there’s nothing to stop mud, dirt, sand, rocks, or whatever it is you’re traversing from being flung at you. On one particular ride we ran the 2023 Can-Am Outlander XT 700 along with the Polaris, and our Can-Am test rider (my brother) came away effectively bone dry. On the Polaris, I was absolutely soaked, head to toe.

Photo Credit: Spencer Ballot

Nay: OnCommand AWD isn’t our favorite

As much as we try it, we still don’t love Polaris’ all-wheel-drive system as a replacement for true selectable, rider-controlled 4WD. Polaris’ method is to have the system lock and unlock the front differential as needed, based on the sensors and what the computer collectively work out, but we still prefer being able to control the locking of the front differential when extreme conditions dictate such is needed.

Given, Polaris makes this system for the masses, so they want it to be fail-proof and capable out of the box, and Can-Am also uses a system like this with its ViscoLok setups. Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki all do it better, letting the rider pick and choose when the front diff is locked.

Nay: The fuel economy is poor

Even compared to the Sportsman 1000, the Scrambler struggles to go a long distance on a tank of gas. Not that anyone buys one for gas mileage, but it’s something to note when planning longer rides.

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

Yay: It’s shockingly comfortable

Usually with extreme performance comes at least some degree of discomfort, yet that’s not the case here. The front-rear mounted parallel twin cylinder engine makes for a narrow center tunnel which means more space to shift your legs around. The seat, too, is cushy and somehow still very supportive, and the handlebars offer a good amount of adjustment should it be needed.

Nay: There’s effectively no storage

We had to create a solution for carrying gear, and still had to stash a jerry can in another machine. Polaris does include a small storage space below the taillight and one under the front plastics, but neither proved to be watertight. Dry storage comes solely by way of your own doing.

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

The takeaway: There’s nothing like the Scrambler XP 1000 S

The ride, performance, and rate at which the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S devours trails is special. More than that, the way it all comes together is unmatched. Speed has never been this easy to gather and maintain, and we happily and easily managed to do well over 100 miles in a single day multiple times on the Polaris. It isn’t perfect, but no quad is; the few things that detract from its usefulness and that at times make it difficult to handle absolutely pale in comparison with the quad’s performance, compliance, and capabilities.

The Scrambler XP 1000 S is in a league of its own, and until another manufacturer challenges Polaris for the sport-4x4 performance crown, it has the throne all to itself.

Ross Ballot
Ross Ballot

Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and ATV.com, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast and spends his free time working on and riding ATVs.

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