2020 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S and Scrambler XP 1000 S: First Ride Review

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
New 55-inch ATVs offer a wider stance and more stability

Every so often, a manufacturer whips up an idea that seems so clear, so obvious that it makes one wonder why it hasn’t been followed through on before. The first wide body side-by-sides fall into that category, for example, as does the first foray into building crew cab trucks with all the comforts of a luxury car, come to think of it. The new 2020 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S and Scrambler XP 1000 S definitely fall into the “why didn’t I think of it” category.

Polaris put its Sportsman and Scrambler into the proverbial taffy puller except this time, instead of just stretching them, they’ve widened them out to industry leading levels.

2020 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S 02

Now manspreading a full 55 inches wide, these 1000cc-class ATVs ride on a 57.4-inch wheelbase, a full four-inches longer than their predecessors. This new chassis has front and rear sealed dual A-arms, arched up front for high clearance. Both the Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S and Scrambler XP 1000 S have 14 inches of rear suspension travel; the former has 11.6 inches of stretch up front, the latter has 12.5 inches. Both have 14.5 inches of ground clearance.

All this adds up to a marked difference in balance and stability, a conclusion which makes sense when one considers these rigs measure about 83 inches in length and are very nearly square with a 55-inch width and 57.4-inch wheelbase. Compare that to a current Sportsman High Lifter, an 88-inch long machine measuring 50 inches wide on a 53-inch wheelbase.

The new 2020 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S (US$14,999) is, as it always has been, tuned for work while keeping in mind that the owner will want to let loose for a bit of fun once the chores are taken care of. Three driving modes are on tap – Work, Normal, and Sport – selected by thumbing a button mounted on the left handlebar. Weighing in at 970 lbs dry, the Sportsman exhibits a planted feel as the rider opens up the taps on the 952cc SOHC twin. Given its assignment as a tool tuned slightly toward work instead of play, the throttle response in Sport mode might be considered a bit too frantic for this machine’s personality.

2020 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S 04

Its front rack can bear up to 250 lbs, so you can go ahead and strap that tool or quarter of moose to the nose of this widebody Sportsman without worry. It’ll also haul 1750 lbs and comes equipped with a synthetic rope winch rated at 3,500 lbs. With a wider chain and sprockets, the Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S receives beefed up front drive gear from the workaholic Ranger SxS, giving it the gumption to get in and out of tricky spots without its operator having to worry about parts and pieces exploding into 10,000 oily bottle caps.

2020 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S 11

Weighing 89 pounds less than Sportsman, the 2020 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S is more spry than its heavier brother. Riding them back-to-back, the weight savings are as profound as they are immediately obvious; it’s like suddenly dropping that sack of potatoes you’ve been carrying for half the marathon. The ‘Work’ drive mode has been binned, leaving two remaining drive modes that allow riders to light the wick on a very potent 952cc twin. Its exhaust note ripped across the Nevada desert and sounded like God’s own bedsheets being torn in half.

Thanks to the chassis and suspension changes, bump steer has been largely eliminated. Its 27-inch tires, nine inches wide all around unlike the Sportsman whose rears span 11 inches, send Nevada desert sand skyward in quantities sufficient to satisfy the hygiene needs of approximately six Persian cats. Walker Evans shocks soak up imperfections and, with an angry gloss black pearl paint job, the whole thing oozes confidence and menace.

For these reasons, the new Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S (US$14,999) the one your author would select from this duo. But your mileage may vary.

2020 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S 02

So who’s going to buy these things? Polaris says they’re going after the rider who’s nostalgic for the four-wheelers on which they cut their teeth as a youngster, or perhaps has a thing for motorcycles, but wants to take their adventure-seeking off road. With side-by-side levels of cash to spend, the target customer has the means to buy themselves a toy they may not want to share with anyone. The Scrambler ain’t no family ATV, as Polaris has aimed this thing squarely at the single-rider demographic. Nor is it built for work since its cargo box capacity is nominal, just 25lb front and 50lbs rear.

2020 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S 02

The success of the 55-inch Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S and Scrambler XP 1000 S hinges on whether or not the buying public cottons to its marquee feature. The width of the 2019 F-150’s bed between its wheelhouses is 50.6 inches, meaning owners of these rigs will need to get comfortable with the idea with massaging their ATV up and over the bed humps. The box itself is about 65 inches wide, so there’s no issue there. Hey, at least the thing won’t roll backwards out of the bed; think of the wheelhouses as two enormous parking chocks. Keep an eye on the width of that utility trailer you’re eyeing, though.

2020 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S 13

In the past, Polaris machines like these were simply about their shocks, style, and stickers – the three S’s. Now, it’s grown into a bonafide hellion, with the stance and stability to rip across landscape with abandon. This newfound width is a boon to the Sportsman and Scrambler.

It’s kind of obvious when you think about it.


Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 SPolaris Scrambler XP 1000 S
Engine952cc ProStar Twin952cc ProStar Twin
Fuel SystemElectronic Fuel InjectionElectronic Fuel Injection
Transmission/Final DriveAutomatic PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft DrivenAutomatic PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft Driven
Drive SystemTrue On-Demand AWD/2WDTrue On-Demand AWD/2WD
Engine BrakingStandardNot Equipped
Front SuspensionSealed Arched high clearance Dual A-Arm 11.6 in (29.5 cm) Travelsealed High Clearance Arched Dual A-Arm 12.5 in (29.2 cm) Travel
Rear SuspensionSealed Dual A-Arm Rolled IRS, 14 in (35.6 cm) TravelSealed Dual A-Arm Rolled IRS, 14 in (35.6 cm) Travel
Front/Rear BrakesSingle Lever 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Hydraulic Rear Foot BrakeSingle Lever 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Hydraulic Rear Foot Brake
Front Tires27 x 9 Duro PowerGrip V227 x 9 Duro PowerGrip II
Rear Tires27 x 11 Duro PowerGrip V227 x 9 Duro PowerGrip II
Wheel14 in. Aluminum12 in. Aluminum
Wheelbase57.4 inches (145.8 cm)57.4 inches (145.8 cm)
Dry Weight970 lbs (440 kg)881 lbs (400kg)
Length x Width x Height83.25in x 55in x 49in82.5in x 55in x 49.5in
Ground Clearance14.5 in14.5 in
Front / Rear Rack Capacity200 lb / 300 lb25 lb / 50 lb
Hitch Tow Rating1,750 lbN/A
Hitch TypeStandard 2 in RecieverN/A
Cargo SystemLock & Ride, 2 Cast Rack Extenders 4 gal (15 L) Front Dry Storage 2 gal (8 L) Rear StorageLock & Ride

1 Gal (4L) Rear Storage
LightingTriple 50w High Beam, Dual 50w Low Beam Headlights1,890 lumens Pro Armor Light Bar; Dual 65W High Beams; Dual 50w Low Beam Headlight
Electronic Power SteeringStandardStandard
Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

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