Dominate the Mud!
Engine: 999cc Twin
Ground Clearance: 3.5"
Tow Rating: 2,500 LBS
Seating Capacity: 6
We recently reviewed the highly refined 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000, a Utility UTV delivering a high level of performance for work or play. Incredibly plush long-travel suspension, predictable handling, and Polaris power steering do a very good job of allowing you to harness the engine’s 82hp. While the Ranger is very capable in nearly all conditions, if you want your UTV to excel in the deepest mud, do it often and last while doing so, it’s going to take a machine somewhat more specialized, like the 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 High Lifter Edition.
Polaris recently invited us down to the High Lifter Proving Grounds in Shreveport, La., to put our mud driving skills and the 2019 High Lifter Edition to the ultimate test.
What Makes It Special?
Sharing almost all of the 2019 base models updates, the High Lifter Edition features a number of changes and upgrades to make it a purpose-built mud machine. Polaris wisely partnered with High Lifter products, experts in turning ATVs and UTVs into mud machines for over two decades, to help develop the mud purposed High Lifter Editions. According to High Lifter Owner, Scott Smith, they work with Polaris on tires, waterproofing, and suspension, which he says are the three keys to building a really solid mud unit.
Building any mud machine typically starts with the tires. Polaris replaced the stock tires typically used on the Ranger with 28” High Lifter Outlaw II tires on 14” Pro Armor Buckle rims. To deal with the extra load of turning larger wheels in heavy mud, transmission gearing has been beefed up by a claimed 20%. The chain driven reverse was replaced with the tougher gear driven setup out of the RZR Turbo models. Polaris outfitted the HL Addition with the strongest drive shaft ever used in a Ranger paired with a front drive said to have the same strength and capacity as the 168hp RZR Turbo. Axles at both ends are also claimed to the strongest ever used in a Ranger.
Air intakes for the engine and clutching have been relocated high in the bed as far away from splashing water and mud as possible. All vent lines were integrated into the cab frame to keep them free of debris.
1” taller tires increase ground clearance of the 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 High Lifter Edition by ½” to 13.5” The high-arched A-arms maximize it over the widest possible area. Sharing the same bed capacity of 1000 lbs and towing capacity of 2,500 lbs with its 2” hitch receiver, the suspension has been recalibrated for the added 180 LB of dry weight on the High Lifter Edition, plus a few extra hundred pounds of mud. Suspension travel remains the same with 11” of wheel travel at both ends. Steel shock bushings were used for improved durability in the mud.
Purpose built, factory installed front and rear bumpers come standard. The front bumper is outfitted with a Polaris Pro, 4,500-pound HD which, mounted higher to keep it out of the mud. A full chassis skid plate provides protection against rocks and other debris lurking below the surface.
The interior of the 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 High Lifter Edition enjoys the same upgrades such as the display, 25% increase in seat padding, the same dry, open and pass-through storage as the Standard Ranger Crew. There are cup holders and DC outlets front and rear for passengers. Electronic hookups under the hood and rear storage box make wiring up additional accessories such as lights, and audio systems a breeze.
Half doors are a big upgrade. They both look and feel well built and offer 1” drainage slots in the bottom for quick water evacuation from the cab. They also offer automotive style door pockets.
Getting in and out and cruising the trail is far more enjoyable in the 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 High Lifter Edition thanks to its high quality doors. Much of our base model Ranger Crew testing took place during or right after a hard rain. We never got stuck thanks to the Polaris all-wheel-drive system’s constant search for traction in the wet, but we were left wondering how much more capable the machine would be with a set of proper mud tires. The Outlaw IIs performed outstandingly in the incredibly slick, somewhat hard bottomed mud we drove in, without excessive vibration in the dry for a purpose built mud tire. Forward traction and directional control were both very good, until we managed to get high centered on some deep ruts. The high and dry winch mounting location proved ideal.
We felt the standard Ranger offered enough engine performance for serious work or to have a good time out on the trail. Slightly larger and considerably more aggressive tires haven’t taken that away. It can generate wheel speed quickly in the mud at low speeds and is equally at home cruising along at higher speed. Braking feel and performance are on par with the engine and the car’s outstanding work capabilities.
The standard Ranger’s air intakes are mounted high under the hood. While testing the 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 High Lifter Edition, we had water rolling over the hood, into the cab, and right out the drains at the bottom of the doors. With its intakes mounted high in the bed, the engine never sputtered or missed a beat.
Driving an empty machine in mud that doesn’t tend to pack up a lot, the High Lifter’s 11” of suspension travel feels a bit firmer over various sized bumps, although the ride isn’t objectionably harsh. We could have reduced preload had it been an issue. We found the firmer settings a benefit impacting deep holes lurking below the surface.
Firmer spring settings on the 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 High Lifter Edition help the front and rear sway bars maintain a good level of stability in-spite of its taller tires. Banging off the sides and across ruts, the power steering does a superb job of filtering harsh feedbacks with little steering effort needed.
Compared to a mud specific ATV like the Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter Edition, while not as unstoppable, the Ranger Crew High Lifter Edition enjoys a big step forward in its capability and durability in mud and deep water with less compromise in handling performance and ride quality. With a simple tire swap, we could imagine using this machine for typical work or trail riding, while benefiting from its beefed up transmission and drive line components. We’d like to see these upgrades and the doors carried over to the standard model.
The 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 High Lifter Edition offers everything we liked about the standard Ranger Crew XP 1000 models with mud conquering capability and fun that’s been kicked up a whole bunch.