Less money and fewer features, but same great General?
We’ve had a chance to put some miles on the 2020 Polaris General Sport and see how this more affordable General compares to its higher priced siblings.
Engine: 999cc ProStar Twin
Ground Clearance: 12"
Carbo Bed Capacity: 600 lbs
Towing Capacity: 1500 lbs
The 2020 Polaris General Sport is both the newest General model and the least expensive. In recent years, Polaris has done a good job of bringing cost effective models to the market just as much as it has premium editions, and we really appreciate the depth of its lineup, especially when it comes to the General in the rec/utility segment. Not many machines on the market can work like the General can, and then play on the weekends like the General can. It’s a jack of all trades, really. But, is the new cost-effective Polaris General Sport model deserving of all the accolades?!
The General lineup is built off of the premise that you can play on the weekends and work during the week, all with one vehicle. The 2020 Polaris General Sport lives up to that mantra, and it does so with the ease and capability that the rest of the General lineup has been known for. When you first look at this Sport, you might notice the lack of LED headlights, front winch, roof and bumper you’ll find on its higher end siblings, but it has the bones that make the General so capable.
A-arm suspension front and rear (more of a J-arm setup in the rear, actually) provides the base for the suspension setup, and the General Sport includes 12.25” and 13.2” of suspension travel, respectively. The ZF Sachs shocks are definitely not a Walker Evans or Fox setup – the ride isn’t necessarily “plush” on this Sport model – but they do the job on the trails. When you ramp up the speeds on this Sport model, it does float over the washboard well, and the chassis remains very controllable. That, in our minds, is one of the best reasons to buy the Polaris General Sport – the chassis is the same as the higher end models and delivers the same control and sublime handling traits. A driver can have some serious fun with this Sport by pushing it on tight, twisty trails and being rewarded with accurate turn-in, great cornering ability, and the ability to accelerate out of the corners confidently and in the direction that you want to go.
Tires & Wheels
With this CST tire and wheel setup, there isn’t a doubt of where the chassis is going to take you. The driver has full control of the vehicle, and it tracks straight and true in every terrain that we could find. The tires do not, however, have the most forward bite in the rocky and shale-based terrain, but other than that the tires perform up to our expectations. They mate well to the standard 4WD system, which includes three different modes – fully unlocked front & rear differentials (turf mode), locked rear differential and open front, and 4WD with the auto-locking front diff. The fact that you get turf mode with the General Sport is a great feature, and it allows you to utilize this model around sensitive terrain in the work place, i.e. grass, wood chips, and other delicate surfaces. In our turning radius tests, the turf mode works perfectly and doesn’t tear anything up. The tight turning radius comes in handy when backing up trailers and tackling difficult trails.
If you’ve driven a General in the past, then this Sport model will feel very familiar in the engine and transmission department. Luckily, Polaris didn’t detune the engine to meet the lower price goal with General Sport model – this vehicle still has the same 100 horsepower parallel twin engine that comes in the rest of the General lineup. Polaris General Sport is also lighter than the rest of its siblings, coming in at just 1422 lb. With the same power and the lighter weight, you can imagine how powerful this machine feels. In our testing up at 7000 feet, we never felt like the Sport needed more power.
Whether going up vertical hill climbs in 4WD with two passengers and about 100 lbs of cargo in the bed, or running through high speed washes at a little lower in elevation, the Sport was fun to drive with this much power, always leaving a smile on our faces! It does build power nicely from way down on the bottom of the RPM range to almost all the way to the top. It’s really no wonder why this engine has been one of, if not the, all-time greatest selling engine in the UTV industry with its use in the Ranger, RZR, and General UTV lineups.
Like most other Polaris vehicles, the clutching on this General Sport is very good, but we can say that this one isn’t perfect. It’s a little jerky in High gear getting going, but that’s really our only complaint. The clutch allows the power to build nicely, and the power is always there, waiting for a heavy right foot if needed. Low gear is adequately low for rock crawling and slow speed maneuvering with a full low in the bed or a trailer hooked on the back.
The interior has always been a bright light in the General lineup, and the Sport is no exception. When hopping in the Polaris General Sport, you are treated with excellent doors that are sealed and have the ability to open from the outside or inside, giving you the ultimate convenience as a passenger. The build quality of the doors is also top notch. Once inside, driver and passenger have a commanding view out the front. The seats, while upright, are comfortable on a long days ride.
Contrary to what we usually find in other Polaris UTVs, the General Sport pedal location was actually a bit more upright than what we’d like. We found ourselves flexing our ankles quite a bit with work boots on. This would only show fatigue on a long day’s ride, and we don’t think you’d notice it otherwise.
Another issue with the interior is that our 6’3” tester with long legs didn’t have enough room to stretch out in the passenger seat – even with his body scooted all the way back in the seat, he still hit his knees on the dash (the dash isn’t the same on the driver’s side, so there wasn’t an issue there). Other than those things, the Polaris General Sport interior is a great place to be with plenty of storage options, including a glove box and deep center console (love the center console!!), plenty of space built into the dash board, and of course a couple great cup holders. The entire layout of the interior is very well designed and well executed, from the doors to the seating position to the various storage options. It’s great to see this level of functionality in a cost-effective UTV, and we have to give Polaris a lot of credit for this.
Can The Polaris General Sport Work?
One of the things that the General Sport is going to do is be a companion when working around the ranch. Again, the standard 2” receiver delivers 1500 lbs of towing capacity and the cargo bed can haul up to 600 lbs. We appreciated the standard metal tie down hooks in the bed as these came in very handy to secure our gear.
The dump bed feature is easy to operate, and it has all metal connection points to make sure that you can dump the bed over and over again without any issues. The gas shock also makes the dumping process easier, and we like the way tailgate seamlessly molds into the bed, whether lowered or secured in its upright, locking position. The tailgate could be made a bit better – we found that it needs to be “worn in” a bit to get the raising and lowering action smooth – but it does do a good job and has the ability to be removed if needed.
While we didn’t load up the trailer weight to capacity, we did find that the Sport hauls around a trailer with ease. Again, we appreciate all the different options for locking and unlocking the differentials so you can maneuver around a trailer in any terrain or ground condition.
Overall, the 2020 Polaris General Sport is a great vehicle for the price. Sure, it is lacking some features and a roof from the factory, but it has all of the essentials that make a General such a capable work and play vehicle. If you don’t need all the extra “stuff,” we’d highly recommend saving your money and buying this Sport model to handle all of your work and play needs. Plus, you can always customize this with aftermarket and Polaris accessories, especially since it comes standard with the Pulse quick-connect accessory system.