2017 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 Review

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
Fast Facts

Engine: 952cc Inline Triple

Power: 91 horsepower
Ground Clearance: 11.5 in.
Dry Weight: 822 lbs
MSRP: $11,999 (Base)
Brutally powerful ATV gets refined

From the start the Polaris Sportsman has been a force to be reckoned with, but in the model year 2017 the new Sportsman XP 1000 will make any Polaris loyal drool.

In a brief visit to the mountains of Great Falls, Mont., we had the opportunity to get under the bars of this machine for a few hours. The looks are inspiring and the feel of the powerful 952cc fuel injected engine is empowering to say the least. It was a chance encounter on a long trail that allowed us to get more familiar with the ride that Polaris says is RAD! That is short for Rider Active Design and here is how it played out for us.

Knowing the biggest displacement ATV produced by Polaris would get some much due attention, it was our goal to not only search out the key features but to try and test, if only briefly, each one. The power delivery of the Sportsman’s engine can now be modulated in three different fashions. This is what Polaris refers to as its tri-mode throttle control. Most will never realize that this is also a throttle-by-wire system either…surprise!

2017 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 Copper Front

The 2017 Sportsman XP 1000 boasts three engine modes.

The three modes of throttle control are suited for individual tasks or riding styles. This is also something, in our humble opinion, which can help even a less experienced rider get more familiar with the way a machine handles without getting the full 91-horsepower blasting away at the trails right from the get go.

Starting off with a “Work” mode we found you get a very smooth, linear power delivery and sort of a gentle introduction to the engine’s ability. This allows actual working ranchers or landowners to manage the ATV better in more sensitive areas during their work that could require more precise control. It will make the machine have better trail manners as well for the cruisers in the group.

2017 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 Bridge

“Work” mode tames the engine’s power significantly, which is ideal for less experienced riders.

Stepping up to the “Standard” setting there was even more power released to the driver, but again with a very smooth throttle delivery and smoother response from input at the thumb lever. It was at this time that we had to really get a deep breath and flip the dash-mounted switch into the “Performance” mode. Yes, you can do this on the fly, but be prepared for the fury! This little change unleashed the entire 91-horsepower of our 952cc Inline Twin right out to the rear tires. There is a slight hesitation off the bottom, but maybe Polaris intended this to keep us from losing it out of the hole. This is where all of this big boy’s power shines, but it is not for the faint of heart. Riding in 4WD or, as Polaris calls it, AWD is probably best here to help navigate trail turns with all wheels steering instead of just the rear hanging out on the corners.

2017 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 Action 3

“Performance” mode unleashes the full force of the 91-horsepower engine.

Power was not the only item on our agenda, though. Something that is very impressive is the styling of this rig. The sleek looks are surely impressive as well, but those looks are functional, too. With the redesign the looks reveal high visibility sight lines (up to 30% better, according to Polaris) that give the rider ample views of the trails both out front and to the left or right of the machine. This is important when negotiating tight or technical terrain that could impede the rider’s ability to navigate.

2017 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 Black Overhead

Polaris boasts improved sight lines with the 2017 redesign of the Sportsman XP 1000.

Take into consideration the sculpted “Dual Zone” seating that had us feeling more down in the machine’s back rather than on it and it gets pretty comfortable as a feeling of confidence was sensed during our ride. The zones separated the seating for performance cornering and then for casual riding.

Polaris even includes factory installed fender flares to keep the mud on the machine and trail instead of the driver. I would not say they did not work, but had I not slammed every mud hole on the trail as well as taken a quick trip through a creek crossing I might have stayed just a bit dryer or cleaner. Yeah, it was my fault for sure, but with the fun of “Performance” mode it was inevitable.

2017 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 Water

Not even factory-installed fender flares could keep us dry when blasting through every water hole in “Performance” mode.

Another notables in the rider’s cockpit is the digital dash with all of the serious info you need to know when you’re out on the trail. One thing that is not known or was not known to us at the time was the Bluetooth connectivity of this new dash. Holy cow, Batman, Bluetooth has invaded! The science and engineering has shot to outer space and it is only a matter of time before we have a lock and ride cell phone adaptor hookup for the cellular devices we cherish.

Moving on to more serious items, you cannot overlook the high clearance lower control arms on this machine. The clearance does not give the Sportsman more ground clearance, but instead it broadens the arch to increase the amount of space under the machine to be more forgiving when crossing huge rocks or stumps. Riding in the hills of Great Falls Montana, we were occasionally surprised by downed trees and massive boulder-sized rocks along the trail. We were able to circumnavigate these items, but just for a small test we drove right into and back out of these sections trying to find the limits of ground elevation on the Sportsman XP 1000. I have to say it was really a welcomed experience to cross over trail debris that we would have been cringing our teeth expecting a good hit under the ATV and not even get a glancing blow. Pretty impressive stuff.

2017 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 Copper Profile

Though ground clearance remains unchanged for 2017, new lower control arms clear more space under the ATV.

Let’s not forget other key items, such as the EPS (Electronic Power Steering) or the 150 watts of lighting from the headlights and handlebar-mounted light pod. The LED taillights are also very effective and can be seen forever on the trail, even on a bright sunny day! Do not overlook the massive amount of front and rear cargo storage underneath the deck of the rear racks, either. There is a combined total of up to six gallons of space under there!

As we mentioned in the beginning, the trip for us on the 2017 Sportsman XP 1000 was somewhat short, but it did give us a chance to try each of the newest features Polaris has to offer. The ride was fun and exhilarating as well as very comfortable when we actually slowed down to crawl the hills. At first glance the Sportsman XP 1000 has such a dominating look to it and the aggressive attitude of that engine brings the look to life.

Rick Sosebee
Rick Sosebee

Whether he is in Mexico covering the Baja 1000, building ATVs for local racers, or out enjoying the trails, Rick’s passion shows in his stories. Learning to wrench his own machines from his grandfather, Rick also has an undying appreciation for the mechanics of off-road vehicles. Do not let the dirt and mud fool you, though, as Rick also has a deep love for street cars.

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