Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 EPS vs. Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD
To some this may seem unfair, pitting Polaris’ Sportsman Touring 850 EPS against Can-Am’s Outlander MAX 1000 LTD; one light and airy, the other all luxurious brawn. There is a large price difference between the two, which justifies why one – the Outlander MAX – is loaded down with more horsepower and driver amenities. But for the money, whatever you want to spend, each hits its respective target audience.
These are the aforementioned companies’ top-of-their line two-up luxo touring ATVs.
If you haven’t already done so, you can read our long-term reports on the Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 ($10,999) and the Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD ($15,099). We’ve enjoyed throwing dirt at each and choosing these two mud-slingers as our weapons of choice for the 2013 riding season.
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This feature covers our evaluation and results from several months of testing, and one weekend of trashing. For this lone weekend, we had two guest test riders who shook down these two two-up ATVs over a long trail ride.
We loaded each touring ATV with fuel and all required fluids to peak levels. Then, we assured the touring ATVs had their respective OEM-supplied tool kit securely tucked away in an on-board storage box. Then, as we did in our SxS shootout, we weighed the ATVs on a calibrated truck scale to ascertain their ready-to-ride weights. Following the weigh in, we took the ATVs riding near Island Park, Idaho.
We understand two-up touring ATV weight is not as a big an issue as it is to a Sport ATV or UTV rider, but it is worth considering. At some point in your life, you’ll have to move the ATV around in a trailer, or fetch it out of some mud if a winch is not available. Also, power-to-weight ratio is an important factor to motor performance, especially when thin air meets high-mountain trail where you lose about three percent of your horsepower for every 1000 feet of elevation.
Ready To Ride Weights
|Vehicle||Wet Weight||Dry Weight||Difference||Fuel Capacity|
|Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD||955 lbs||816 lbs||139 lbs||5.4 gal.|
|Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 EPS||860 lbs||798 lbs||62 lbs||5.25 gal.|
There is a huge discrepancy on the Outlander’s manufacturer’s dry weight and ATV.com‘s wet weight; the 5.4 gallons of fuel plus engine coolant and oil should not produce 139 pounds of added weight. The difference in the dry and RTR weights for the Polaris Sportsman Touring is 850 is more in line of what we’d expect by the time oil, water, and fuel are added to the ATV.
So, the light weight award goes to Polaris. Its power-to-weight, we surmise, is better than the Outlander’s. However, we do not have manufacturer horsepower ratings for the 1000 and 850, but given difference in weight, we conclude the Polaris has the better power-to-weight in spite of its near 150cc deficit. More on this a little later.
Our guest test riders for this shootout are Troy and Stacey Scott, husband and wife.
Stacey Scott is the parts manager for mega-dealer Rexburg Motor Sports (RMS) in Rexburg, Idaho. She currently owns a Sport ATV. As a RMS employee and manager, she is required to ride.
Troy Scott is the general manager for Bill’s Bike and Run in Idaho Falls, Idaho, a high-end bicycle and triathlon dealership and shop. Like Stacey, he too owns a Sport quad.
To round out our comments from our guest test riders, Kevin Allred too, rolled in his scores and comments. As the author and coordinator for this shootout, I basically stayed away from scoring the two ATVs to remain a neutral, though I lay down my thoughts in a concluding statement.
|Two-Up ATV Scorecard|
|Scores 1=Poor 2=Good 3=Excellent||Kevin Allred||Stacey Scott||Troy Scott|
|Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD||Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 EPS||Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD||Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 EPS||Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD||Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 EPS|
|Fit and Finish||2||2||3||3||2||2|
|Vehicle Looks and Appeal||3||2||3||3||3||2|
|Driver’s Seat Comfort and Feel||2||2||2||3||2||3|
|Driver’s Foot Platforms||2||2||2||3||2||3|
|Passenger’s Seat Comfort and Feel||2.5||2||3||2||3||2|
|Passenger Foot Platforms||2||2||3||2||3||2|
|Passenger Handgrips and Feel||2||2.5||3||2||2||2|
|Handlebar Control and Feel||2||2.5||2||2||2||2|
|Transmission Shift Selector; Easy to Operate||2.5||2||2||2||2||2|
|Overall Vehicle Ergonomics||2||2||2||2||2||2|
|Can Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD Total Score||112.5||Average Score||37.5|
|Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 EPS Total Score||108.0||Average Score||36.0|
The overall scores between the Outlander MAX 1000 LTD and Sportsman Touring 850 EPS are remarkably close. Only 4.5 total points separate the two machines – an average of 1.5 points difference per test rider.
We are surprised at how close seat comfort was between the two; no two butts are the same, after all. Furthermore, as we adjusted the passenger ride suspension on each, the Air Control Suspension (ACS) with FOX Air Assist shocks on the Outlander MAX and the manually adjusted Comfort Ride Suspension on the Polaris Sportsman Touring, the adjustments for passenger weight/load did not alter how a passenger felt about seat comfort. This tells us seat padding, shape and passenger hand grips out-play passenger seat and rear suspension adjustments. We found this interesting.
We give credit to the Outlander MAX Limited for giving to the consumer front and rear bumpers, excellent rear-mounted handles, superb three-speed power steering and sweet Garmin Montana GPS. However, these goodies come at a significant cost.
If we rated the two on features alone, the Outlander would trounce the Sportsman Touring, but to keep the shootout as much apples-to-apples as we could, we rated these ATVs on driver and passenger comfort, storage and general operation feel.
With those criteria in mind, there really isn’t much difference between the two.
Kevin Allred Notes
This was more of an apple-to-orange comparison, since there is a big difference in suggested retail price. Besides all the premium goodies on the Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD, I make note of the outstanding engine braking system and very functional wraparound bumpers with grab handles. It has head-shaking power and the handling to match. A byproduct of all that 1000 power is heat – it was uncomfortable at times. Furthermore, at slow speed operation, the Outlander seemed a bit jerky trying to find the right motor speed.
Both ATVs are excellent as for their rated motor displacement; the 1000cc Outlander MAX Limitied is faster in the short haul, as it should be, being compared to an 850. However, the Sportsman Touring 850 in long runs is as fast as the Outlander.
The Polaris Sportsman 850 is incredibly easy to operate. Anyone in my family who operated the 850 Touring commented on its ease of operation, and this is a confidence-building ATV to drive. Like the Outlander MAX 1000 LTD, this ATV is arm-stretching fast. At times motor heat around the feet is noticeable, but not to the same extent as the Outlander. Polaris’ clutches are superb at delivering power to the wheels. The Sportsman 850 Touring delivers outstanding ride quality. Our only major gripe is we’d like to see a grab handle located away from the two muffler dumps.
• Outlander Max Limited has the looks • The passenger seat on Outlander is very comfortable • Outlander passenger hand grips feel a bit awkward • Sportsman is easy to steer • Notched shifter on the Outlander is a big “like” • Outlander is loaded with a long list of premium features, though the water bottle holders on the Sportsman Touring 850 are a nice plus • Large flip-up storage on the 850 Sportsman Touring is also nice
Final Thoughts from the Author
I agree with Kevin, this was an apples-to-orange comparison. Yet, both had four wheels, on-demand four wheel drive, handlebars, a passenger seat, passenger handholds, foot rests and power steering, to name but a few.
For each respective price, we fully believe the Polaris Sportsman Touring 850 EPS and the Can-Am Outlander MAX 1000 LTD deliver what customers want and need.
For me, there are a couple of improvements I would like to see. For the Polaris Sportsman 850 Touring, as written in ATV.com’s long-term evaluation, a more strategically located rear handhold. What Polaris has is inadequate and awkwardly located.
For the Outlander MAX 1000 Limited, I believe Can-Am should find a way to shelter the driver’s feet from its radiant heat. This is the same nit we had with Can-Am’s Maverick 1000R X rs. The big 1000 motor is a furnace.
As for the pluses, the Outlander MAX is a lovely beast. I admire its fine lines, its power and its traction. Furthermore, its handlebar rotation allows in-control driving. The Sportsman 850 Touring feels light and airy. It is simple to operate and for long two-up riding, no one wants to be tired.
Which would I buy? Both! Bang for buck, I can’t declare a winner. The Outlander is beautiful, tough and luxury filled, but expensive. If you want this, then you are not worried about cash flow. The Sportsman 850 Touring is more basic, but it has all you and I need; it is a canvas waiting to receive a train load of add-ons.
These two vehicles are my friends and I will not betray one for the other, for they are equal in my eyes for what they are intended for. The scores testify to that.