2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 Review [Video]

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee

As the model year 2011 wrapped up there had been several indications that Polaris still had a trick or two up its engineering sleeves. This would be evident when a well-planned leak gave thoughts of a high flying, well suspended and powerful off-road adventure machine built for four to many Internet search engines. We had the evidence in hand when we arrived in Parker, Ariz. early in January.

Polaris chose Parker not only as the location for the press introduction of the new RZR XP 4 900, but also the site for the Best in the Desert Parker 250. This racecourse would be our testing ground for another amazing machine built by Polaris. We had an entire day to ride and test the newest RZR, but before we get into the ride lets look at the details.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

When you look at the RZR XP 4 900 you will immediately see many key features we came to know on the two-seat version of this machine. The stance of the new RZR is very close to the original XP 900 from the front, but as you step just off to the right or left you will notice the 107.4-inch wheelbase that makes this chariot perfect for an additional two seats. This wheelbase not only lends itself well to the seating, but it adds additional stability to the high-powered chassis. You will also notice that the rear seats are just a bit higher than the front, which gives the passengers a better perspective on what they are in for. Climbing into the rear of the machine you will find very comfortable Cut & Sew seats with the same anti-cinch seatbelts found up front to keep the shoulders of your rear passengers happy as well.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 Action

From the front the RZR XP 4 900 doesn’t look all that different that it’s two-seat brother.

Keeping the RZR XP 4 900 off the ground is the same class-leading suspension that was introduced a year ago on the two-seat XP 900with only one exception – the shocks. On the new four-seat XP 900 you will find Walker Evans shocks that are both compression and preload adjustable. As well, the rear shocks are a bit larger to accommodate for the extra load of two more hillbillies. The front shocks have a 2.0-inch body and help generate 13.5 inches of travel, while the rear shocks are 2.5 inches for added oil volume to help control the heat that generates from the incredible 14-inches of rear wheel travel and added weight.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 Action

The ProStar 900 engine offers an incredible amount of power for those with a heavy right foot.

Powering the 2012 Polaris RZR4 XP 900 is the ProStar 900 engine. This massive four stroke twin cylinder powerplant has taken the off-road community by storm as it produces a tremendous 88 horsepower. This engine was designed to be not only solid as a rock but to give the driver and his victims something to smile about. With dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, the combustion chamber is alive and begging for fuel, air and ignition. The dual throttle bodies feed the fire like a stoker tends his firebox and with the volume of air and fuel coming into the 875cc platform there’s bound to be loads of fun.

The transmission that is connected to the ProStar 900 engine is also the same as last year’s XP 900. The bulletproof transmission is not only light and compact, but it expertly transfers the power delivered from the CVT belt via the engine to usable ground-pounding torque. This gearbox is specially designed to accept the high spike loads that will be experienced when running hard through rough and very uneven terrain.

The RZR XP 4 900 also comes with On-Demand true all wheel drive for the crawler in you that needs to get home by going over the mountain instead of around it. This will make those tough mountain passes not so tough. When you have a machine like this that travels fast and handles the surrounding terrain like a trophy truck, Polaris knew there had to be some tough links between the driver’s right foot and the ground beneath the tires.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 Action

Even with all four seats full the RZR XP 4 900 feels like a powerhouse.

We had the great opportunity to drive the Limited Edition version of this fine machine. The LE comes with a change of clothes (graphics and colors) as well as electronic power steering and Maxxis Big Horn tires for the rough stuff. This made the rocks and g-outs a little more manageable for the tough area where we rode. You see, we actually had the day to ourselves on the Parker 250 racecourse, or at least parts of it after it had been thoroughly thrashed by the race drivers in the previous days. This was another genius plan by Polaris to get our attention as to how well the machine handled and the comfort under power at higher speeds.

The details are incredible, but with a full two days to scope out the terrain before we rode the RZR XP 4 900 the anticipation was killing us. Monday morning the sun brought us to a windy and very cool ride location where Polaris had brought out a fleet of the new steedsto chase over 20 editors through the desert. The line of RZR XP 4 900s seemed endless, but in the Liquid Silver LE models we finally found the ride for our team to cruise in for the day. Polaris had planned out a ride that would take us many miles out around the desert area and into places like Cienega Spring. This ride would let us feel the true power and agility of the newest RZR.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 LE

It’s only when you see the RZR XP 4 900 in profile that you can appreciate how long it is.

The first thing we noticed was the immediate response from the engine. Although it had lost just a touch of pep, primarily due to the extra weight and length of the machine, it was exactly what I had envisioned when looking back at our two-seat XP 900 at home. The power of this new engine platform is spot on. Power is delivered without fail to the rear wheels. If we ever noticed a sluggish feeling of no forward momentum, a quick glance over our shoulder revealed the rear tires screaming for some kind of grip! It is very easy for any fan of drifting to fall in love with the RZR XP 4 900 as in two-wheel drive the rear of this machine is at your mercy. To put it simply, this engine rocks!

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 Action

The Walker Evans shocks soak up all but the nastiest bumps, though we did find the stock settings a bit soft with four people on board.

The electronic power steering was a huge benefit as it gave us free pass after free pass by reducing g-forces from nudging local rock formations. This EPS also made controlling the RZR XP 4 900 very comfortable and it inspires confidence in the type of terrain where we had been riding.

To get a sense of what the RZR XP 4 900 would be like with all the seats full, we loaded up our test unit with four editors. The Walker Evans shocks seemed to be set a bit soft from the trailer so we adjusted the compression up just a little to see if the harsh bumps would fade just a bit. The conclusion we had made was that quite possibly we needed just a bit more preload or a heavier spring instead. Although we were able to bottom the machine, it was most certainly under high speed in the roughest terrain. As far as the handling of this Polaris goes, it was incredibly stable and seemed to perform better at higher speeds. The extra length really lends itself to more controlled flight through really whooped out sections of the trails.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 Action

Polaris has thrown down the gauntlet when it comes to multi-passenger performance machines. Will anybody pick it up?

Overall the RZR XP 4 900 ran flawless all day and the only trouble we had was a flat tire on the right rear. It is amazing how fast and hard the rocks in the desert can bite through 6-ply hard sidewall rubber.

This isn’t just another innovative and exciting machine from Polaris. It seems to us to be part of a well-constructed plan to conquer the world of off-road Side-by-Side powersports fun. Nobody has this area covered quite like Polaris.

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900 Specs
Engine Type:4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Fuel System:Electronic Fuel Injection
Transmission/Final Drive:AutomAtiC PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft
Drive System:On-Demand True AWD/2WD
Front Suspension:Dual A-Arm Walker Evans 2″ body (comp adjust/res.) 13.5″ (34.3 cm) Travel
Rear Suspension:Trailing Arm Walker Evans 2.5″ body (comp adjust/res.) 14″ (35.6 cm) Travel
Front/Rear Brakes:4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front and Rear Calipers
Front Tires:27 x 9-12; ITP 900 XCT
Rear Tires:27 x 11-12; ITP 900 XCT
Wheels:Cast Aluminum
Wheelbase:107.4 in.
Dry Weight:1,390 lbs
Overall Size (L/W/H):134.4 in. x 64 in. x 77 in.
Ground Clearance:12.5 in.
Fuel Capacity:7.25 gal.
Bed Box Dimensions (L/W/H):23 in. x 38 in. x 10 in.
Box Capacity:300 lbs
Payload Capacity:900 lbs
Cargo System:Lock & Ride
Lighting:White LED, High/Low
Instrumentation:Digital Gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Tripmeter, Hour Meter, Clock, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi-Temp/Low-Batt Lights, Coolant Temp, DC Outlets (2)
Colors:Indy Red, Liquid Silver (LE)
MSRP:$17,999 ($19,499 LE)

Related Reading

2012 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 4 900 Preview

2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900 Review [Video]

2010 Polaris Ranger RZR 4 Review

2012 Kawasaki Teryx4 750 4×4 Review [Video]

2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i Review [Video]

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.

More by Rick Sosebee