2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570 Review [Video]

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
Surprising performance at an attractive price

Driving around in the tight trails with a friend or family member right beside you might be something you are interested in. If so there is a self proclaimed trail capable side-by-side manufacturer to get this done in quick fashion. Polaris has taken the RZR line just a step further and we got a chance to inspect its newest addition in the beautiful state of Michigan. We traveled into the Lac La Belle part of the Keweenaw Peninsula for a day on the RZR’s edge.

When the Polaris’ 50-inch wide RZR 800 came out it revolutionized our industry in the market of side-by-side machines. This was a first of its kind for the world of off-road powersports and it has been simulated but never duplicated. The newest addition to the Polaris dominance is the mild-mannered 2012 RZR 570! This machine features much of the original RZR 800’s form, but with a new engine design and displacement for a bit more controlled trail dominance.

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2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

We tested out the brand new 2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570 in Michigan’s beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula.

Starting with the obvious, you have a 567cc four-stroke, 4-valve, dual overhead cam, single-cylinder powerplant to slingshot you and a passenger down the trails. This engine is the newest in the ProStar format, which was used in its more outrageous sibling, the RZR XP 900. This design seems to build better and more usable power to the ground in the XP 900 so we expected great things out of this 570. Having a respectable 45 horsepower, the new RZR 570 may seem like a far shot off the fun RZR 800, but as we found out it will surprise the unsuspecting passengers.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

Powering the RZR 570 is a purpose-built 567cc, single cylinder, fuel-injected ProStar engine.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

With 45 horsepower on tap, the RZR 570 feels surprisingly quick on the trails.

Being fuel injected the RZR 570 gets a good breath of air and fuel for quick starts and clean power. The air is drawn in via a side vent at the rear bedside. This means cleaner air before filtration to keep as much debris from clogging the paper air filter as possible. If you should need to check or change the air filter, however, it is easily accessible through the center of the bed by opening the engine hatch. This is also a great space to service some areas on the engine.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

The RZR 570 strikes a very familiar pose, despite some significant chassis changes.

Putting the power to the ground is also handled by the same new light compact transmission that handles the high horse power in the RZR XP 900. That means reliability at its finest as well as a rugged design for those flat-footed drivers. Gear selection is also the same as the RZR 570’s older siblings with park, reverse, neutral, high and low. If crossing rough terrain is in the forecast then you just flip a switch on the dash to engage the front differential and get RZR’s AWD (all wheel drive) system to do the work for you.

Not seeing much difference just yet between the RZR 800 and the RZR 570? Well Polaris has changed a couple of things as far as the chassis goes but you’ll have to look close at the rear of the machine to notice. The new engine and transmission meant that Polaris engineers had to develop a new rear section into the design of the framework. This starts just behind seats all the way out to the exhaust. That’s the only real difference between the RZR 800 and the RZR 570 chassis. The bed on the rear of the RZR 570 is also a single piece now instead of having removable sides.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

Twin sway bars help the RZR 570 stay flat under hard cornering.

Rolling on tough Maxxis tires the RZR 570 gets the same 10 inches of ground clearance as the 800. The suspension travel may also be a concern for the discriminating buyer but have no fear it is also the same as the original RZR 800. The front will flex its muscles with nine inches of travel, while the rear provides 9.5 inches of cushion. With twin sway bars, one front and one rear, the RZR stays flatter under hard cornering and more stable.

The 2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570 is eight pounds lighter than the RZR 800, tows and hauls the same weight and only loses a zero to 35mph test by two tenths of a second. And its MSRP of $9,999 ($1,300 less than the RZR 800) means it’s priced to get your attention as well.

We had received the information about the RZR 570 a few months back with the rest of the general public and instantly red flags started flying in the why’d-they-do-that department of our brain. It didn’t seem reasonable to install a smaller engine in an already stellar machine, but Polaris had done it so it was up to us to figure out for ourselves if we could love it. Flying into Hancock, Mich., we could see many hundreds of acres of pristine trails as well as Lake Superior. We would be riding over 85 miles of trails with the Keweenaw ATV club and we couldn’t wait to get to it.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

The Keweenaw ATV Club has a very picturesque trail system.

As we strapped into the very familiar cockpit of the RZR 570 the excitement was building. A twist of the switch revealed a quick-starting, fuel-injected four-stroke powerplant and when the engine was good and warm we were off into the wilds of Michigan.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

Once we strengthened the preload on the shocks, the RZR stopped bottoming out and offered great handling.

While the takeoff of the RZR 570 lacked a little in comparison to the RZR 800, it seemed to us as the day wore on that the 567cc engine could possibly have more usable power. This is where the fun began. The first few miles we noticed that the shocks were set on the softest settings and this is possibly why the belly of our new RZR suffered across the rocks and semi-rough terrain. Even though the engineers had added a new thicker skid plate system to the RZR 570 we decided to strengthen the preload up just a bit to handle the combined weights of our video genius Chris Blanchette and myself. This made all the difference in the world as to how our machine responded and although we lost a little comfort we kept the machine from bottoming while still maintaining great handling.

Controlling this machine is very easy and not one time did we feel like the machine was driving us. In fact, the new RZR 570 seemed to handle a bit better than its RZR 800 counterpart. If we were to add anything to the steering on this machine it might just be a simple steering dampener to sweeten the already impressive package.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

We were very impressed with the handling of the RZR 570 – maybe more than with its big brother.

Rocking through the gear selection is easy and efficient. The clear fact that the RZR 570 is a mountain goat in reverse was proven time and time again as we had to go to and fro to capture photos and video around Lake Superior. The new transmission design performed like a champ each and every time. Top speed on the machine is, well, up for debate. But we can tell you that around 56-57 mph you’ll find the rev limiter and with a good tailwind you can reach almost 60 mph…not that we encourage that sort of thing.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570

Though we were skeptical, we came away believers in the new RZR 570.

So what’s it all worth, you ask? The low entry price of $9,999 makes it worth every penny and if you want a ride that we bet could give its own sibling, the RZR 800, a run in the tight stuff we would put our money on the new RZR 570 from your old friends at Polaris.

Related Reading

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR 570 Preview

2012 Polaris ATV and Ranger Lineup Preview [Video]

2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900 Review

2011 Polaris RZR S 800 Review

2010 Polaris Ranger RZR 800 Review

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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