2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP Review
MSRP: Starting at $22,999
The 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP is offered in three packages – each a huge step forward for RZR quality, design, drivetrain, interior and serviceability.
Now in the third generation of the RZR platform, Polaris has really honed in on what riders are looking for when they buy a RZR. It’s not to say that past models weren’t living up to people’s needs on the trail. In fact, the RZR is the best-selling sport SXS for a reason – it just works pretty well in all terrains, and riders like you and I really appreciate that. However, Polaris is a company that isn’t going to rest – its vehicles continue to innovate.
Enter into 2020 and we have the all-new PRO platform in the RZR lineup, which has significant revisions that are eventually going to trickle down to the rest of the RZR lineup. For now, the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP is a 64” wide side-by-side that sits at the top of the RZR lineup with 181 horsepower and three different variations that fit a wide range of budgets and personal wants/needs for comfort and technology.
The RZR PRO lineup started with this 64” wide model because it is the most universal – you can take a RZR like this on trails all across the country, and it isn’t “too wide” for some riding areas at 72”. However, you can bet that an “S”, 72-inch wide PRO model is coming, likely for the 2021 model year. Polaris did its homework with the new PRO lineup, and it shows from the first time you step up to the vehicle.
The lines and bodywork are something that we have enjoyed since the unveil of the PRO – to each his/her own. The aggressive headlights, especially with all the DRL lights in the Ultimate model, really make you notice this machine on the trail. It’s true that we wish these headlights were a bit brighter with further reaching light for night time riding, but they aren’t bad. The rear lights are very bright and allow drivers behind the PRO to see that you are stopping from a mile away. The front fascia is nicely sloped down so the driver can see almost right in front of the tires. We really appreciate how Polaris didn’t put any bulges or arches in these front plastics. The flared fenders on the front and rear not only give the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP an aggressive look, but they are built better than past models with adequate reinforcing. You’re not going to rip these off on the trail with the smooth lines. The side doors are also a great improvement compared to past RZR models – they are smooth, aggressive, and, best of all, keep the outside elements out for the most part. However, why didn’t Polaris give us full doors on the 2-seat PRO model like the 4-seat model has?! That is an odd omission. After driving both, it’s worth it to have the 2-seat door fully enclosed so you don’t have dust and mud circle into the cab from the back side opening.
Making our way to the back of the vehicle, the plastics are smooth and provide an aggressive look. Again, the quality is much better compared to previous RZR vehicles, with more bracing for the plastics and better attachments. The rear cargo bed is one of the best innovations in the entire side-by-side market at this point. Not only does it have plenty of cargo space and provide very secure attachment points all around the bed (we use tie-downs on these built-in hooks for every ride, bungee cords work fine too), but the entire bed removes with just four screws. This is SO much better than the past RZR bed, and, once removed, the new PRO cargo bed gives you unlimited access to the engine, transmission, air cleaner, and all service areas in the back of the vehicle. Polaris really did a fantastic job in the PRO model by providing easy access to all service points, giving you full reign to perform at-home service with ease. Even the firewall removes easily to give you access to the front of the engine and turbo area.
Speaking of the engine, the same 925cc twin cylinder, turbocharged ProStar engine remains, but it has been revised in so many ways. Pretty much the entire engine has been beefed up and revised (including some nifty cooling ports that reduce the heat soak when you turn the engine off in hot weather), internally and externally. One of our big critiques of RZR models in the past is that the quality of the hose retainers were not the best, but that has all been fixed on this PRO model. Not that the fasteners have anything to do with the overall cooling of the vehicle. We are also happy to report that this 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP has no problem with hot weather. Our test day in the desert consisted of temperatures cresting the 102-degree mark, and the engine temp stayed right around 195 with minimal fan noise – the fan actually didn’t come on much at all, pretty impressive!
The engine is mated to the familiar Polaris PVT transmission with the following gear set: P/R/N/L/H. The transmission is consistent with what Polaris has developed in the past, and the driveline has all been upgraded from front to rear. I can tell you that, from the driver’s seat, the carrier bearing noises and traditional driveline noises that you would hear from Polaris vehicles are all but gone in the PRO model. The driveline enhancements are truly impressive, plus the PRO models get the massive Polaris front differential, which performs very well in all circumstances. The only critique we can give this driveline system is that the front differential doesn’t engage 4WD if you flip the switch at any speed over about 6 mph. That, my friends, is silly. Every other manufacturer allows you to switch the front differential from 2WD to 4WD at high speeds these days, and Polaris really should change this. I digress, the rest of the driveline, down to the axles/bearings/hubs, has so far proven to be up to the challenge of taking our abuse.
Working our way to the meat and potatoes of this review, the PRO-lineup is also greatly improved in the interior comfort and amenity department. Polaris put a huge emphasis on this next-generation interior, and it really shows. There are a ton of storage compartments, no matter which PRO model you choose. The dashboard materials are greatly improved, and so is the overall build quality of the dashboard. The mating surfaces of the dash still don’t always line up correctly, but that’s something that Polaris can work on. The overall build is better, and the “feature list” is also enhanced. Premium and Ultimate models get an industry-first telescoping steering wheel, which is truly an amazing driver feature that allows you to get comfortable in the driver’s seat like never before. The driver’s seat is another place that has seen great refinement, both in terms of adjustability and comfort. Gone are the horrible seat sliders in past RZR models – they have been replaced by smooth sliding units that won’t get bogged down in the mud. The seats are very comfortable, and we love the air channels built into the cushions on hot days. These keep the air flowing around your back, and the whole setup is just comfortable with adequate seat bottom and back bolstering. Polaris truly allows you to dial in the driving position, and it has probably one of the top driver’s positions on the market in this new PRO model. From the highly adjustable seat and steering wheel to the perfectly placed heel bump and pedals, this is truly a RZR that we were comfortable driving all day with no fatigue.
It’s true that the interior of the new 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP is truly automotive-like. The materials are better, the shifter is in a better spot, you have cup holders and storage areas everywhere, and there is plenty of room to put your accessory switches in the 10 pre-cut switch spots in the dash. The PRO model also includes the Polaris Pulse accessory system, which allows you to quick-connect accessories with the pre-wired hook up system. Polaris has dialed this in and created the best accessory hookup system in the industry – it’s fast, easy, and ready to go from the factory. All you have to do is buy the connectors from your local dealer or on Amazon. Last but not least, the passenger has a very similar, comfortable side of the vehicle with plenty of room to stretch out, along with plenty of storage (even an area in the center console!). With the new quick adjust system, the new passenger grab handle is also a thing of beauty. There really isn’t much we would change about this interior, save for the little quality things with the dash. The sight lines are all pretty good out the front, even with the revised seating position now lower than any past RZR. It’s true that you feel more “in” this PRO model than any RZR in the past, and that is a great thing. Big improvement here.
Polaris RZR PRO XP Ultimate Features
For this review, we are driving the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP Ultimate model, which is the top of the line version in the PRO XP lineup. The base and Premium models each have their own included features, and the Ultimate has the range-topping technology package included right from the factory. On the inside of the vehicle, this technology package includes the industry leading 7” glove touch Ride Command system, which has GPS mapping technology built right in, along with a full assortment of gauge displays, Bluetooth pairing, FM/AM stereo capability, and much more. If you like listening to music while out on the trail, your Bluetooth device audio or AM/FM stereo audio is fed through the standard Rockford Fosgate stereo speakers. While this standard stereo system isn’t up to the audio quality standards as the PRO XP 4 model, this audio system is plenty adequate for mid-level tunes. Audio aficionados are going to want to upgrade, but this is a great start and is included from the factory – very cool!
The technology extends outside of the cabin to the suspension. This Ultimate model has the Dynamix active suspension technology, which is paired with FOX 2.5 Podium LiveValve front and rear shocks (now with a true dual rate spring setup). The steering wheel controls, along with the Ride Command display, allow the driver to quickly and easily change the three compression modes between Comfort, Sport, and Firm. There is also an “oh-crap” button on the steering wheel that, once depressed and held down, immediately activates all compression settings to full Firm to soak up even the biggest hits. To say this is an incredible system is an understatement. Every test driver loved the ability to change their suspension settings based on the terrain and driver mentality. Cruisers love Comfort mode to soak up the bumps. Most of our time was spent in Sport mode, which does a great job of finding the middle ground between too stiff and too soft. It is a “just right” compression mode for almost any situation. And, anytime you need to have immediate full stiff compression dampening, just hold down the big red steering wheel button. Once lifted, the suspension goes back to Sport mode and you carry along, without ever stopping. This system works just as good in practice as it does in theory, and the Firm setting is actually usable with these latest calibrations.
All of these features add up to one very capable vehicle when we actually got our 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP test vehicle on the trail. Typical of RZR vehicles in the past 10+ years, the PRO XP is pretty much a go-anywhere, do anything vehicle. There is plenty of ground clearance at 14.5”, and the underside of this PRO is better protected than any past RZR with full skid plates, which are very much appreciated. You can feel the increased chassis rigidity of this RZR on the trail, too – the new one-piece design is much better than past RZRs.
Frankly, 181 horsepower is more than plenty for most mortal human beings. The same bark from the exhaust and bite from the tires is there with the PRO, and I can positively say that these 30” Maxxis Carnivore tires are a great choice from the factory. The tires pair well to the handling of the chassis by delivering enough forward bite so you’re putting the power the ground while not giving up the ability to break the backend loose anytime you want, even in 4WD on the hard pack. If you like sliding around and driving a UTV with the backend of the vehicle, then you’ll really like the PRO XP handling traits. Even the suspension is setup to do this from the factory with the tall front end (more preload). It makes the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP tail happy.
At the same time that the tail-happy driving experience is fun, I personally enjoy a UTV that carves corners just as good as it slides. And this is where the PRO XP falls a little short in the handling experience, from a driver’s perspective. The stock suspension setup, again with the higher front preload (I double checked the operator’s manual to make sure all settings were factory), makes this PRO XP a bit twitchy on the tight trails. It doesn’t rail corners as much as it bounces off the berms. The backend just doesn’t communicate with the front as well as I’d like it to do, and the mid-corner controllability isn’t where we want it to be. It should flow through the corner rather than pivoting abruptly – it’s like the front hits first, then the back hits, then you’re off to the races on corner exit. Anyways, this could probably be fixed with a little less front preload, thus bringing the front end down and making the PRO XP more of a carver. The good news is the PRO XP stays extremely flat in corners thanks to the Dynamix system and the rigid front/rear sway bars.
Just like you, we use our UTVs in more than just the corners, and the new Polaris RZR PRO XP delivers the fun in many terrains. In the rocks, the extended wheelbase, which now measures 96”, still offers great maneuverability in tight situations. The quick steering also helps here. And, especially in rocky terrain, the new clutching is spot on, allowing you to climb at 2mph, have plenty of power down low, and carry your speeds up to well past 70 mph when the going gets fast. Cruising speeds around 30-40 mph reveal that the clutch keeps this motor in the sweet spot of the power band, offering plenty of immediate power when you stab the throttle. The same can be said from dead starts – throttle response is immediate and the clutching makes sure you have full power. We have also had no issues with the belt with over 1500 miles now in PRO XP models.
In the whoops and jumps, Polaris RZR PRO XP is definitely a huge improvement compared to past RZRs. This PRO model flows through the whoops much better than other RZRs, and credit is due to the spring setup. This PRO still isn’t as good as other UTVs on the market when tackling whoop sections, though, mainly because it isn’t as confident as you get up on top. It searches for its footing a bit at speed and requires steady hands on the wheel. A bit of a spring tune could do wonders here. Jumping this PRO XP is a great experience, and you are met with smooth landings every time. The Dynamix suspension dials you in here, and you can feel the progressive compression dampening really work when you land from a big jump.
There are a couple other things that Polaris could make better on future PRO XP models. One is to put thicker lower front A-arms on this vehicle (the lowers are much smaller than the uppers). And the other is to consider offering a beadlock wheel on the Ultimate model for extra trail durability – even though we appreciate the light overall weight of this stock tire and wheel package, the durability and serviceability of a beadlock is much appreciated, especially when the rest of the industry is offering this on their premium UTVs.
The overall critique of the handling doesn’t take away from the fact that the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP is better than any past RZR in several areas. One of those is the electronic power steering, which is extremely quick, has great on-center feel with minimal feedback, and just works great, especially with the thicker, flat-bottom steering wheel. The fuel tank is also superior to any past RZR, offering up 12 gallons of capacity and much more range than before. The interior is another point to mention on this machine. Polaris took notes from other vehicles on the market, namely the X3 and the YXZ1000R, and developed a vehicle that has that low seating position that we all like, but also retains good sight lines out the front. Yes, I do wish the A-pillar was a bit further towards the outside of the vehicle, but it doesn’t impair your view. This is a machine that can rock crawl, blast desert trails, carve mountain roads, and enjoy on the trails. It is a good all-around vehicle and a vast improvement on past RZR vehicles in several key areas.
At the end of the day, is this Ultimate model of the Polaris RZR PRO XP worth the steep asking price of $28,499 MSRP? It is more expensive than any other 64” wide UTV on the market. However, no one can match the technology package that the Ultimate presents. If you like technology, it is definitely worth your money, mainly because Polaris did a stellar job at integrating the Ultimate’s technology into a UTV that can handle the gnarliest terrain out there. You can also save $4000 and go with the Premium edition for $24,499. The base model starts at $22,999.
Whatever you choose to do, know that the 2020 Polaris RZR PRO XP is truly a huge step forward for RZR quality, design, drivetrain, interior, and serviceability. Look for Polaris to expand its PRO RZR lineup to include more vehicles in the very near future.
Until next time, stay safe out there and we’ll see you on the trail!
More by Casey Cordeiro