Polaris Industries

First Ride: Polaris’ New All-Electric UTV Has Some Serious but Silent Grunt

First Ride: Polaris’ New All-Electric UTV Has Some Serious but Silent Grunt

If you own a hobby farm, ranch or huge tract of hunting land somewhere, you need an off-road utility vehicle. Whether it’s hauling hay to the horses, checking fences or getting to your favorite fishing hole, these compact, go-anywhere four-wheel drive vehicles are a must-have tool for any property owner. And if you want a UTV that will let you tread lightly on your land, take a look at the battery-powered Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic.

The Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic is more than the current Ranger XP with a battery and electric motor replacing the gas engine and fuel tank. It has been reengineered specifically for electrification. “We didn’t just want to hop on the electric bandwagon,” says Chris Hurd, director of product planning for Polaris, “We wanted to produce the best Ranger we’ve ever built.”

The 2023 Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic. 

Rob Utendorfer, courtesy of Polaris.

The first thing you’ll notice when looking at the Ranger XP Kinetic is the lack of a grill. Because there’s no need for a radiator, designers restyled the front end to be a little cleaner and a lot more contemporary. There’s still a big bash plate up front, and the XP Kinetic comes with a winch as standard equipment. One of the other nice features on the front is accenting LED illumination that runs between the headlights and doubles as a state-of-charge indicator. When the UTV is plugged in, the light bar progressively fills as it charges.
The back features a tilting cargo box, measuring 3 feet x 4.5 feet and with a depth of 12.5 inches, that can hold up to 1,250 pounds of mulch, gravel or gear. The fully independent double A-arm suspension is a retuned version of that found on the gas-powered Ranger XP, with adjustments made to handle the extra 355 pounds and lower center of gravity resulting from the electric power-train configuration.

The Ranger XP Kinetic features two trim levels, Premium and Ultimate, the key difference being a larger battery in the latter (14.9 kWh versus 29.8 kWh). Regardless of which you choose, the permanent magnet AC electric motor delivers 110 hp and 140 ft lbs of torque, which Polaris claims is twice the grunt of any gas-powered utility on the market. That output allows for a towing capacity of up to 2,500 pounds with the two-inch hitch receiver.

The tilting cargo box, measuring 3 feet x 4.5 feet and with a depth of 12.5 inches, can hold up to 1,250 pounds. 

Rob Utendorfer, courtesy of Polaris.

Range on the Ultimate specification is estimated at 80 miles, which will vary depending on temperature and use. Accessories are powered by a separate 12 volt battery so there’s no loss of range when it’s sitting idle. In addition, there’s a pre-wired 110 volt, 15 amp outlet in the box to allow you to run equipment, a radio or other accessories in the field.
Behind the wheel is where the electric Ranger really differentiates itself from the rest of the Polaris lineup, which includes the General and RZR variants. Throw the long shift lever into high, stab the throttle and prepare to take off like a rocket. There’s a long-range gear, but in our test it wasn’t needed, even up the steepest hill we faced. We were able to crawl up at low speed, stop halfway and start again with excellent traction. Thanks to the lower center of gravity, the XP Kinetic corners confidently. We kept it in four-wheel drive for most of our run through fields, over rocks and on tight trails in the woods. Thanks to the 14-inch ground clearance, there was never a concern about bottoming out. Also of little concern are the elements, as the Ultimate trim includes weather-treated seats and the whole interior is water resistant—including the electronic panels—so you can just hose it out after a day in the dirt.

Throw the long shift lever into high, stab the throttle and the Ranger XP Kinetic takes off like a rocket ship. 

Rob Utendorfer, courtesy of Polaris.

Yet the best part about the Ranger XP Kinetic isn’t the performance, it’s the silence. Being able to glide quietly between the trees, hear the birds and know that the vehicle isn’t pumping carbon into the air—all of that makes the experience even better. It’s something land-owners will really appreciate since they won’t have to worry about a noisy gas engine startling their horses or bothering their neighbors. You can also run it in your barn without having to worry about the exhaust fumes.

The suspension has been retuned to handle the extra 355 pounds and lower center of gravity resulting from the electric power train. 

Rob Utendorfer, courtesy of Polaris.

There’s a big technology upgrade on the Ranger XP Kinetic Ultimate as well. Polaris has developed a connected system called Ride Command Plus that enables you to sync data to your phone with an app in order to locate your Ranger, know how much charge it has, check on the vehicle health and share your rides with other users or friends on social media.

Polaris also has a partnership with the charging company Qmerit to help owners add a J1772 level-2 home charger which can refill the battery in three to five hours, depending on the model package. Available now, the 2023 Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic starts at $24,999 and $29,999 for the Premium and Ultimate versions, respectively.
Click here to see all the photos of the 2023 Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic. 

The 2023 Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic. 

Rob Utendorfer, courtesy of Polaris.

First Ride: The 2022 Polaris General XP 1000 and RZR Pro XP Seriously Raise the UTV Fun Factor

First Ride: The 2022 Polaris General XP 1000 and RZR Pro XP Seriously Raise the UTV Fun Factor

Originally designed with light-duty farm work in mind, side-by sides have, over time, transformed to become some of the most capable factory-produced off-road vehicles that money can buy. Now, Polaris has brought us to ERX Motor Park to drive that point home.

Located in Elk River, Minn., ERX plays host to a number of different short-course, off-road series throughout the year, and the Amsoil Championship Off-Road UTV races are some of the most well attended events held at the facility. It’s a testament to how widespread the appeal of these machines has become, and with that popularity comes the necessity for manufacturers to expand their lineups to ensure that no potential rider is left behind.

It’s through that lens that we gazed upon the 2022 Polaris General XP 1000 Trailhead Edition ($26,699) before rolling out on the course. Offered in both two- and four-seat configurations, it comes packing a 100 hp, four-stroke two-cylinder engine hooked to a passively variable transmission (PVT), along with 30-inch Pro Armor Crawler XG all-terrain tires and high-clearance suspension with Walker Evans Velocity Series shocks. The latter provide 14 inches of travel at both the front and rear.

The 2022 Polaris General XP 1000 Trailhead Edition. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

It’s a combination that makes short work of just about any trail you can throw at it, but the General isn’t a one-trick pony. This is, ostensibly, the jack-of-all-trades for Polaris and, as such, there are creature comforts like a 7-inch touchscreen with GPS navigation as well as a Group Ride feature that allows riders to keep track of the other members of their party (even outside of cell range). There’s also a Rockford Fosgate audio system which, along with Group Ride functionality, comes standard on the Trailhead Edition. A substantial amount of focus is placed on actual utility, too, as evidenced by the large rear dump box that boasts a 600-pound payload capacity, in addition to the heavy-duty winch and the vehicle’s 1,500-pound tow rating.

The General’s 7-inch touchscreen display. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

“This is one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry,” notes Dave Elia, product director for General. “It’s a performance vehicle that you can have a lot of fun with, but it’s also comfortable on the trail, and it’s versatile—if you need to do some work, this is ready for it.”
Its duality proves to be a knife that cuts both ways. It takes very little time to acclimate to the controls, and the General’s upright seating position allows for excellent outward visibility in any direction. But while the 999 cc engine is fairly spritely, folks who are used to turbocharged mills may eventually find themselves wanting a bit more.

The 100 hp General’s upright seating position allows for excellent visibility in any direction. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

Designing a multitasker like the General is ultimately an exercise in compromises, and those trade-offs typically make their presence known in outlier-use cases—like during repeated laps on a UTV racing circuit. The General is up for all of it, but because of the relatively soft suspension tuning for increased trail comfort, and the utilitarian steering rack, it feels more in its element at a moderate pace on the trail with the tunes bumping rather than flying over jumps and counter-steering out of banked corners on a circuit.
But for those who value the latter above all else, there’s the RZR Pro XP ($21,999). Sitting at the top of Polaris’ performance UTV totem pole, this one is laser focused on the riding experience. Its 14.5 inches of ground clearance and trailing-arm rear suspension—which delivers up to 22 inches of suspension travel—will make owners of even the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon feel inadequate. And the RZR’s 181 hp, 925 cc turbocharged engine delivers almost twice as much grunt as the General’s power plant.

The 2022 Polaris RZR Pro XP. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

You sit low in the cab, strapped in tight to aggressively bolstered buckets by a race-style harness system. At speed, the boosted mill provides as much forward thrust as we’re brave enough to call upon from the loud pedal, and the quick-ratio steering rack is responsive and direct, but it’s the suspension that impresses us the most.

The 181 hp RZR Pro XP features 14.5 inches of ground clearance and 22 inches of suspension travel. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

RZR Pro XP examples outfitted in Ultimate trim ($29,499) score Fox 2.5 Podium active dampers at all four corners. Similar to adaptive suspension systems found in contemporary sports cars, these shocks react to throttle inputs, steering angle, accelerometer information and other data in real time to improve stability. There’s three options for baseline firmness—Comfort, Sport and Firm—which can be selected via the touchscreen, and there’s also a big red “Oh Sh*t” button on the steering wheel that allows the driver to instantly set the dampers to their firmest setting. Think of it as a failsafe against bottoming out in case you suddenly realize that you’ve carried a little too much speed off of that last jump.

The RZR Pro XP has occupants strapped in tight to aggressively bolstered buckets by a race-style harness system. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

Try as we might, though, we can’t get the RZR Pro XP to beg for mercy; it’s truly at home at a place like ERX. The General held its own pretty well, too, and choosing between one or the other ultimately comes down to personal priorities. Still, if given the option, we’ll always prefer the one with the “Oh Sh*t” button.

Learn more about Robb Report’s 2022 Car of the Year events taking place in Napa Valley here and in Boca Raton here.

Polaris’s Newest ATV Adds Sporty Performance to Your Next Off-Roading Adventure

Polaris’s Newest ATV Adds Sporty Performance to Your Next Off-Roading Adventure

Earlier this year, Polaris proved that its three-wheel Slingshot could actually deliver supercar performance and comfort while turning plenty of heads. Now, the company is returning to its outdoor roots with a new four-wheel ATV.

Polaris’s latest model, the 2022 General XP 1000 Trailhead Edition, is an off-roader designed to bring even more performance and fun your next camping trip. Available in either a two- or four-seat configuration, the open-wheeler is jam-packed with all the features you need to have some fun off the beaten path.

2022 General XP 1000 Trailhead Edition 

Polaris

The new model is based on the brand’s General model. That ATV is an ultra-capable all-rounder, but Polaris saw room for improvement. Their solution? Take its many abilities and turn them all up to 11. The newest member of the line immediately slots in at the top of the range, and goes further and faster than any General model before it.
Like the previous top-of-the-line General model, the XP 1000 Deluxe, the Trailhead Edition is powered by a peppy ProStar 1000 four-stroke DOHC twin cylinder engine with an electric fuel injection system. Mated to an automatic transmission, it can generate 100 hp, more than enough to whip through the forest with ease. That ride will also be smoother thanks a set of Walker Evans Velocity Series shocks and 30-inch Pro Armor Crawler XG Tires. Other off-road-friendly upgrades include a sport bumper in front, a 4,500-pound HD winch with a synthetic rope, LED headlamps and a 11-inch light bar from Pro Armor.

Polaris

Because you probably don’t want to spend all your time behind the wheel of your ATV, Polaris outfitted the vehicle with an adventure bed rack and a 600-pound capacity dumping cargo box. That means there will be plenty of room for all your gear and more. When you are driving, the Ride Command GPS System will keep you from getting lost no matter how far you wander, while a powerful Rockford Fosgate Stage 3 audio system will allow to soundtrack your adventure.
The General XP 1000 Trailhead Edition starts at $26,699 for the two-seat model and $28,899 for the four-seat model. Whichever configuration you choose, some serious off-road fun awaits.

First Ride: The 2021 Polaris RZR Trail S Is the Most Approachable UTV We’ve Tested

First Ride: The 2021 Polaris RZR Trail S Is the Most Approachable UTV We’ve Tested

When it comes to off-roading, overlanding and the adventure lifestyle in general, mainstream accessibility has, by the very nature of these activities, not been in the equation. Historically, these are incredibly niche pastimes and sub-cultures, but that is beginning to change. In the past few years, and especially since 2020, this shift is evidenced by the latter’s increased coverage, product spotlights and targeted content filling social-media news feeds.

However, while the bar for entry has been significantly lowered across the board, the world of recreational UTVs (utility task vehicles) still skews heavily towards hardcore enthusiasts. It might not look like it at first glance, but the RZR Trail S is part of the Polaris brand’s first big step in appealing to a larger audience.

Test-riding the 2021 Polaris RZR Trail S in Pennsylvania. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

The spiritual home of recreation UTVs is the American southwest. Wide-open deserts and generously sized trails mean that high-powered, insanely wide machines rule the roost, and catching big air is almost always in the cards. That is not the RZR Trail S.
The RZR Trail S, which I recently tested in the heart of Pennsylvania, is a machine best suited for narrow forest trails. Polaris’s new entry-level model doesn’t have trophy truck power figures or the dimensions of a mini monster truck, and I’m very thankful for the lack of both.

The Trail S 1000 Premium is priced at $17,799. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

With a 60-inch width, a 79-inch wheelbase and 100 hp on tap, the RZR Trail S 1000 Premium—one of three variants in the line—is not just capable, but surprisingly approachable for newcomers to UTVs, full stop. The brightly colored Polaris Blue example I rode has an aesthetic that’s reminiscent of the more extreme, performance-oriented end of the UTV spectrum, but the other two versions come in more subdued white and gray liveries. Visuals aside, it’s what’s under the plastic that makes the Trail S so user friendly: the power train and suspension.
The 999 cc twin-cylinder engine has just the right amount of output for tight gravelly trails with the occasional boulder field and log crossings. It never wants for power, while the Walker Evans needle shocks make the Trail S 1000 Premium more manageable and tame than any other entry-level UTV I’ve piloted.

This is a machine suited for tight forest trails. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

The well-sorted suspension setup underneath makes a night and day difference, especially off-road. Baseline UTVs of old always seemed to put ride quality far down on the list of priorities. Even if it was a compromise to keep the price down, that approach put novice riders at a dangerous disadvantage. It meant a harsher ride and, more critically, less control. UTV’s have a notorious reputation for being unwieldy beasts at times, and subpar shocks and springs are no help.

Whether dancing down a gravel trail at 55 mph or crawling over rocks and logs in a creek bed, the Trail S feels just as capable as it is user-friendly. Its narrow width, short wheelbase and tight turning circle make traversing the usual obstacles and tight tree gates a breeze, and much less intimidating—exactly what the UTV market needs if it wants to lure more of the newfound adventure crowd.

Thanks, in part, to Walker Evans needle shocks, the Trail S 1000 Premium makes the terrain easier to tame. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

Of the three versions in the new Trail lineup—the Trail S 900 Sport ($15,499), Trail S 1000 Premium ($17,799) and Trail S 1000 Ultimate ($19,499)—the Trail S 1000 Premium is a perfect blend between the other two offerings. Having experienced the Ultimate trim’s Ride Command and sound system in the past, I didn’t miss those options on the Premium, though I can understand the desire for the upgrades. The tougher choice is between the Sport and the Premium.
After putting the Premium through its paces, I’m not convinced the extra power of the bigger engine is necessary. And it’s not like the S 900 Sport was given a raw deal on suspension—it uses Fox 2.0 Podium shocks, which were considered a serious upgrade for top-tier models not that long ago.

Traversing the usual obstacles and tree gates is a breeze due to the vehicle’s narrow width, short wheelbase and compact turning radius. 

Photo: Courtesy of Polaris Inc.

As far as building a novice-friendly machine, however, Polaris knocked it out of the park with the Trail S 1000 Premium. Whether or not the growing adventure-curious crowd takes a liking to the plastic, super-motocross vibes it still carries is a different story. Regardless, if and when those new to the world of UTVs do make the jump, the Polaris RZR Trail S line is where they should land.

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