Is this the ultimate family four-seater?
The world of 4-seat UTVs is a bit complicated these days with so many options. On one hand, you have ultra high performance models, like this all-new 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP 4. You also have more domesticated, non-turbo models that don’t give you the crazy adrenaline rush but provide plenty of family fun. Needless to say, if you’re in the market for a new 4-seat UTV, the time has never been better to buy. And, one of the latest models to hit dealerships is this the Polaris RZR PRO XP 4, which has a radical redesign for 2020 and is truly a ground-up new release. How does the latest interior stay comfortable for four people? How does that all-new chassis handle the turbocharged power? And does it really live up to it’s $32k+ price tag?
Let’s answer some of those questions in our review…
Comfort For Four
Yes, there are styling updates and chassis updates, which are both what you’re going to see first when you look at the new Polaris RZR PRO XP 4. However, the inside of this 3rd generation RZR is really where I find the most improvement.
No matter where you sit in this four-seater, you are greeted with full half doors – finally! Thank you, Polaris, for making sure all passengers have full side coverage. These doors are definitely a step above what Polaris has ever offered with thick metal frames and the familiar push-button interior latches. There is plenty of room to get in and out of this RZR as the forward/aft tubes of the ROPS system are set in slightly. The seats are an all-new design that provides much better support laterally and on your lower back. The only place they are lacking is shoulder support. However, everything else about the seats are better than previous generations, even down to the seat slider, which is infinitely better than the previous generation! No more sticky seat sliders now…
If you’re in the driver or front passenger seats, you’ll immediately notice the lower seating position in this new PRO model. Even with a lower seating position, Polaris did a great job sloping the front fascia so that you still have a great view out the front of the vehicle, all around. The A-pillar is a bit further in towards the centerline of the vehicle than we’d like, but it doesn’t impede your immediate forward visibility. The plastics on the inside are all very much improved, too, with a textured, automotive quality to them. There are also plenty of storage cubbies, especially on the front passenger side where there is an additional large storage area below the center console. Two glove boxes up top give front passengers plenty of room to store valuables and other essentials. Overall, the quality has gone way up and we really like the clean appearance of the dash. More importantly, it’s a very functional layout with easy-to-reach switch gear. And you have the option to put in 10 auxiliary switches in the dash, which is really phenomenal. Those switch spots pair well with the included Polaris Pulse quick-connect auxiliary power system, which sits right under the dash. This is the by far the best auxiliary switch system on the market. It makes it so easy to add powered accessories to a RZR.
Overall, the front area of the interior is very automotive like. The one other thing that makes driver’s really confident behind the wheel is a steering system that works with you rather than working against you. The steering wheel is now telescoping so you can dial in the seating position to your exact liking. The overall steering ratio on this Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 is extremely quick, so upcoming obstacles can be avoided with literally a 1/8th turn input on the steering wheel. The weight of the power steering is also just how you want it – great on center and properly weighted through the entire rotation. It is a bit more weight than previous generations, but I think that makes it better.
As you make your way to the back seats, the automotive style fades a bit to reveal a more utilitarian atmosphere. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I do wish the designers carried a bit more of the front design cues to the rear seating area. Ingress and egress is still easy into the back seats, and the seats are positioned taller and in a bit more so the passengers have good sight lines out the front and sides of the vehicle. The utilitarian design of the back is great if you like to take your UTV on long rides, or if you like to carry extra stuff with you instead of extra passengers. The best innovation this year has to be the fold-flat seats in the back of this PRO XP 4. The ability to remove the seat backs and flip the seat bottoms forward reveals a completely flat floor to store an incredible amount of items. Truly, this is an amazing feature and something all of you adventure enthusiasts will love! We took this machine on a seven-day ride through 710 miles, and the load-flat floor in the back easily held all of our cooking gear for five guys, along with a massive cooler in the cargo bed of the vehicle. We had to add about 1.5” of preload to the rear shocks since the additional weight, along with two front passengers in the vehicle, was a bit much for this vehicle in stock form, but the additional ride height evened everything out and the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 easily carried this load. The included tie down hooks are easy to use and in convenient locations, too.
All passengers have very comfortable seating positions and areas. When we look at the full half doors for every passenger, six-point harnesses for every passenger, abundant storage areas, clean dash layout and instrumentation, great sight lines, a highly improved and thicker diameter ROPS cage system to protect all occupants, and better seats for everyone, it quickly becomes apparent that this is by far the best RZR interior ever, on so many levels.
The simple but significant chassis fact is this: the Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 is an all-new one-piece chassis design. No more bolts in the center to connect the front half and the back half together. Not only does this make the entire length of the chassis stronger, but the two front-to-back ROPS roll bars that run from the a-pillar all the way to the c-pillar are there for chassis rigidity, too. When pushing this machine through rock crawling sections that are trying to twist this chassis with stressors on opposite sides, this chassis exhibits minimal twisting compared to past models. The same rings true when you throw it into corners. There isn’t flex that you used to be able to feel when really pushing RZR models. The PRO corners and crawls confidently. You can even feel this in the washboard bumps where it just doesn’t squeak or rattle your teeth out. The connections and rigidity from front to back are all very strong.
The one glaring oversight in the “chassis improvement” department are the lower front A-arms – who approved those to be so small?! Any larger rock that you hit at speed is going to have a good chance at tearing these up. Polaris did a great job on the rear radius rods, where they included an arched and large lower radius rod right from the factory. The front top A-arm is large and in charge, but what happened to the bottom arm? Luckily, the aftermarket will have lower replacement A-arms that are much stronger and still affordable.
If we are looking at the new PRO XP lineup as a whole, the big news actually isn’t the powertrain. Usually Polaris, and Can-Am for that matter, are in an all-out war for “top dog” in the horsepower department. We applaud Polaris for incrementally increasing its horsepower number this year and keeping with the same, tried and true powertrain system. The 925cc ProStar Turbo-equipped twin cylinder engine has been a staple in the RZR lineup now for years, and it soldiers on with significant refinements that allow the horsepower output to increase to 181. As you’ll read about in a second, that is plenty of power for most mortal human beings driving this machine. The increase in power comes from several refinements, including a new liquid cooled turbo that is actually a bit bigger in size, coil on plug spark plug caps instead of remote mounted coils, a new engine head design that has a coolant line out the top for self purging (this helps keep localized overheating on hot days to an absolute minimum, especially when you turn the key off and allow the motor to sit after working hard), and a couple changes to the mounting and robust composition of the intercooler.
There are two parts of the powertrain system that are more refined than ever. First, the clutches are all-new in this new PRO lineup, from the primary and secondary clutch designs all the way out to the clutch cover itself. Polaris says these are the best clutches ever, and, in practice, this is very true. Takeoffs are smooth thanks to the larger weights and better overall design of the primary. The secondary clutch also has a shim stack under the bolt that allows you to center the belt for proper alignment, if the alignment ever gets out of whack. The secondary has also been redesigned to bring additional airflow in – not only does the clutch actually spin a bit faster than previous generations, but it also has shaping on the clutch that brings more air in and expels more air out to keep everything cool. and we can confidently say that these are the best clutches that Polaris has ever included in a stock vehicle. The design changes, along with the bearing and weight changes, all come together to deliver smooth acceleration no matter how hard you hit the throttle.
Driving the NEW Beast
There is one word that comes to mind when we strap into the driver’s seat of the Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 and take it for a spin: Refinement.
Last generation RZRs have driveline noise, they have clunks, they have rattling plastics, and you need to be checking your bolts quite often. After putting 1000 miles on this new PRO-generation of RZR, I’m thoroughly impressed by the refinement that Polaris brought to these new machines. The center carrier bearing doesn’t make any noise, even after all of these miles. During hard stops on the brakes, the driveline doesn’t chatter nearly as loud as it did in past RZR models, and the clutching is just astronomically better over the long run with this new Polaris RZR PRO XP 4. What. An. Improvement.
I’m being critical of past RZR models, but there is no doubt that we applauded them for being fun to drive – that was and still is the truth. However, we always knew that Polaris could refine its vehicles so that they would last longer and be better built to handle the abuse that we put them through in the rocks, tree-lined trails, and through the gnarly mud. Finally, Polaris has delivered with the new PRO lineup. Sure, there is still some chatter from the driveline when you lock up the brakes, but overall the driveline is significantly tighter and built with better CV joints, stub axles, axle shafts, and bearings so that the loosey goosey noises are pretty much gone. It’s confidence-inspiring when you’re in the driver’s seat.
One other pet peeve before we get into the rest of the driving impressions – how can you spend over $32,000 on an off-road vehicle not have a standard roof on it?! That is just crazy to me. The aluminum aftermarket roof we have on our Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 test vehicle is $779.99 and is worth every penny if you plan on keeping the stock cage.
Let’s talk suspension… While a Dynamix-type of suspension system has now made its way into other UTVs in the industry, Polaris has a leg up on all other manufacturers with its Fox LiveValve technology since it has been using it the longest. This experience shows, especially after you drive this latest Dynamix-equipped Polaris RZR PRO XP 4. It used to be where “Firm” mode, which is one of the 3 selectable suspension settings that you control from the cockpit (Comfort and Sport are the other settings…) was unusable. However, with some serious upgrades for this latest model year, Firm is not completely unusable, as is Comfort and Sport. As a driver, I really appreciated being able to cycle through the different suspension modes right from the steering wheel without ever taking my eyes off of the trail. The specific modes obviously work better in different terrains.
Possibly best of all, there is a red “X” button on the steering wheel that you can push and hold to activate full firm mode on all four corners. This is such an innovative feature in situations where you have a huge bump or G-out come up unexpectedly in the trail. Instead of bracing your body for heavy impact, simply press and hold the X button to activate full firm, thus soaking up pretty much any bump or hard edge obstacle in your path. Ingenious! Not only is that a great feature, but these shocks offer great compliance over big whoops or small washboard. The wheelbase helps this, too, but we are continually impressed with how smooth this Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 is over really any terrain.
The best suspension setting is “sport” for everyday riding. Sport retains the soft compliance while also ramping up the compression dampening as the shock compresses so the big hits don’t bottom out the vehicle. In either Comfort or Sport mode, the brutal washboard is literally taken away in this machine, and this just makes you comfortable and ready for mile after mile instead of feeling beat up at the end of the day. One piece of advice before we leave the suspension subject – take off the front swaybar for increased articulation and a better ride. Yes, your corners won’t be as flat as before (get used to the different handling traits before pushing it), but you’ll appreciate the better ride and increased articulation over obstacles.
As we mentioned before, the clutching is vastly improved on this vehicle with smoother starts and increased cooling. We have 1000 miles on this RZR and the belt looks brand new. That’s after some fun full throttle slides and hard driving through the whooped out desert sections in our test grounds. Some may say that the power isn’t up to par with the Maverick models on the market, but after 1000 miles in the saddle, there isn’t one place that this machine needs more power. It can keep up with everything out there and gives you a complete thrill ride. The new Turbo responds to throttle inputs quickly with minimal lag, and the transmission has an adequately low Low gear in it. It crawls easily at 3mph, and that’s what you expect out of a CVT. It does seem to rev a bit higher than previous generations when in Low gear, but that isn’t a bad thing when you’re on the trail. Driver’s will appreciate the appropriate surge in power and instant throttle response – it’s addictive!
When we take a look back at the inside of the Polaris RZR PRO XP 4, the Ride Command system is simply the best built-in GPS and instrumentation system available on the market. Polaris continues to upgrade the software with updated UI and capabilities, including the group ride function that no longer requires a cell phone. Our Ultimate model tester had Ride Command built in, and the technology paired with the included Rockford Fosgate stereo is just top notch. This also includes steering wheel controls, which make it easy to program the Polaris button for different Ride Command functions at your fingertips, along with volume buttons and play/pause. The system just works great, and the fact that you can run it, along with the stereo, with the key in the accessory position is fantastic when you’re sitting with friends at the hill.
This Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 is truly a long distance monster. You could go for days and days in this RZR and be comfortable. That’s saying something. When you couple the interior comfort, well-tuned suspension that makes the washboard virtually disappear along with the big whoops, and the incredible rear storage area that magically comes to life with the rear seats folded flat, this machine can easily handle all of your camping supplies for several days. We just did that on a seven-day adventure! The last thing to consider is the larger fuel tank, which now measures 13 gallons, and allowed us to hit 130 miles on the trail without babying the throttle. More fuel = more fun!
We installed three must-have accessories on this RZR, including: Aluminum roof ($779.99), premium convex rear view mirror ($119.99), and a spare tire carrier ($499.99). Again, the fact that this RZR doesn’t include a roof is mind boggling to us, so the accessory roof is a must have. The rearview mirror is also a must, or you can just put side mirrors on the vehicle. The spare tire carrier is built extremely well, and it pivots up out of the way so you can have access to the cargo bed. It mounts high up, which does put the weight further up, but it allows you to retain all of your rear cargo capacity. All of these are well worth their purchase price and have been trouble free for us. Installing each took us about 2.5 total hours. Not bad for these three items!
Over the thousand miles that we have put on our Polaris RZR PRO XP 4, here are a couple things that we have noticed about the machine, some good and some interesting.
- One bolt has come loose in the outer plastics, that’s it.
- The machine has needed one oil change, and everything looked great.
- The ability to remove the two firewall panels behind the rear seats to access the engine is awesome, although we do wish they had a support that was removable in the middle of these panels running vertically to support them better. Having these panels removed allows for easy servicing, as does the ability to remove the rear cargo bed with just four bolts.
- The rear cargo bed is very sturdy and such an improvement over previous designs! Again, this machine is built for easy maintenance and the do-it-yourselfer.
- We have come to really appreciate the stock tires and their grip under hard acceleration and braking.
- The outer plastics hold up better to thorns scratching the sides than previous RZR plastics, but it is still more difficult to get these plastics clean compared to higher quality plastics found on all the Japanese UTVs on the market.
- The door latches have loosened up and now rattle just a bit – it’s not annoying, but they started out without any rattles.
- Everyone that rides in this RZR with us is appreciative of the seat belts, but they all comment how the 5th and 6th point leg area restraints are a bit much and dig into your legs.
- People also comment on how great these seats are compared to the last generation, along with the overall seating position and visibility for front and rear passengers.
- One thing that everyone says is that this RZR is built way better than previous generations, and we all feel more comfortable driving this RZR at speed than before.
- Last but not least, the interior front dashboard has a great design, but Polaris needs to rethink the fasteners on the accent plastic pieces. These are starting to gap a bit and get loose over time.
- There are still a couple quality issues, but these are now easy fixes.
All in all, the big question is this… is this Ultimate edition of the Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 worth its $32,299 asking price? For the person who wants unlimited power, a sublime handling chassis, industry-leading technology, and comfort for four people, this is the machine for you. The 64” width is actually the way to go for many different terrains, so I wouldn’t even recommend waiting until the inevitable “S” version (72” wide) comes out in the PRO lineup.
If you don’t want to fork out $32k+, there are cheaper PRO XP 4 models that don’t have the suspension and interior technology built in. Based on the specs, those are going to be great options as well. However, you can’t deny the fact that the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 Ultimate comes with several features that are awesome to have on the trail.
Whatever you choose, we hope you stay safe on the trail and enjoy the ride. We’ll see you out there!