Polaris RZR XP 4 1000- Test Hot
Ever since Polaris decided they should shake up the Side-X-Side market with their first RZR sport UTV, owner’s have been flocking to their local dealers in search for the latest and greatest RZR Side-X-Side to roll out of Polaris’ factory door. Why have these RZR’s become so popular? Simply put – because of their rider-focused design.
Recently, we had the chance to sample this rider-focused design in the undeniably huge dunes of Glamis. The sand dunes here are infamous for their giant bowls, steep razor backs, and nasty witch’s eyes that come out of nowhere. All of these elements combine to make one great environment to test a machine and the will of a driver pushing said machine to it’s limits in these unforgiving conditions. Our adventures proved to encompass all of these environmental challenges, as the dunes were freshly rutted after the summer visitor hiatus.
The Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 was introduced several weeks ago as an accomplice the already venerable 2 seat XP 1000. Known for their undeniably awesome driving habits, Polaris’ line of RZR vehicles has evolved over the years to include a plethora of different models, some made for the casual desert enthusiast looking for a comfortable cabin with good powertrain and suspension options, and others that include the highest horsepower in the Side-X-Side industry – also known as the RZR XP 1000, 2 and 4 seater. Our goal with this day of testing was to see just how well the 4 seat XP 1000 could handle the dunes with it’s 107 horsepower and room for 4 full-sized adult riders. Would it still be able to live up to the RZR’s heritage of great handling UTV’s? Can you really feel all of those 107 ponies? Let’s find out….
First impressions of this vehicle ran around us like a dog chasing its tail. Immediately we noticed just how long this 4 seater is! Still, it’s not as long as the Maverick Max or Wildcat 4 seater, but compared to other 4 seaters in the RZR lineup, this XP 4 1000 is a beast of a vehicle. It sits at an overall length of 146 inches, which makes it just able to fit on a 13 or 14 foot trailer. For those of you who have garages in your toy hauler trailers, you might be stuck buying a 1000 two-seater because of its shorter overall length. Even with that long wheelbase, the new XP 4 is stylish with its new bodywork and sleek lines. We really enjoyed the mean-looking front end, and the back strikes a nice balance between form and function with the newly shaped LED taillights and the plastic covers for the exhaust and rear fenders.
Next up, we opened the new doors (Kudos to Polaris for passing up the nets on this vehicle! Big improvement!) and took a splat in the newly retooled seats. These seats offer greatly improved lateral support when comparing them to other Polaris products, and we found them to provide good support while riding in the sometimes-rough sand dunes of Glamis. While they were well bolstered, we wish Polaris would have included some kind of bracing in the seat to make it not so flimsy. But I guess that’s what the aftermarket is for. Glancing up from the seats, we found that the newly formed dash has a pleasing layout. Compared to the RZR 900 dash, we think the 1000 dash doesn’t place the switches (4 wheel drive actuator and the light actuator) in as convenient of a spot, being that these are placed behind the steering wheel from our vantage point (I’m about 6’3” and enjoy the adjustable steering wheel to be placed lower than the center of my neck). Although this was a minor setback, we still appreciated how the clean layout was easy to read and the always-awesome RZR instrumentation showed the vitals of the RZR in a clean and easy to use display.
From the front vantage point, we made our way to the rear seats to see just how comfy the third and fourth passengers could be. As I mentioned, my body frame is about 6’3” and 175 pounds. My long legs usually cramp my core up into the seat and limit my stretch in most off road vehicles, especially those with back seats. Like the front seats in the 1000, the seats themselves are very supportive. Unlike the front seats, the rears are cramped with legroom except if you hug the front seatbacks with your legs. While this works, it isn’t comfortable for very long and I found myself hitting the sides of the front seats with my knees. Polaris did include padded strips on the back of the front seats to guard against knee scrapes and such, but those will only work if you’re a shorter person, i.e. kiddo size. Also, we like how the back seats are now encapsulated by easy-opening doors, but found that the lower seat bases make for a cumbersome process when entering and exiting the vehicle with the plastic foot wells. All gripes aside, the back seats are perfect for the kids in a family. Just remember that as they get older, your toys collection might have to grow.
Onto the fun part! After we had our initial evaluations engrained into our heads, we took this beast of a UTV for a drive. To set all the wondering aside, we’ll answer your bewilderment will one simple word… YES! Yes what? Yes, this RZR drives like it’s on rails! In a good way of course… The first thing you notice is how much power this 1000 power plant really develops in all parts of the RPM range. The mid range to the top end is where this mill really makes a ton of power. We appreciate how Polaris was able to flatten the torque curve on this ProStar engine, and we felt as if we could either lope around the dunes or push this engine HARD whenever the right pedal was begging for a little more attention. The EPS (Electronic Power Steering) on this machine was superbly calibrated for dune riding. While the steering wasn’t the lightest we have felt in the UTV market, this EPS system struck a nice balance between firm and soft steering feels, and we really enjoyed it in all situations. On-center feel was great with no wandering tendencies, and the harder you pushed the machine the better the EPS was modulated for high speed turns. The only thing that kept us from going faster and faster was a little twitchiness in the overall handling of the XP 4 1000. We aren’t sure if this is because of the larger tires, longer wheelbase, different swaybar, shock settings, or a combination thereof, but this RZR seems to dip it’s outside wheel substantially when thrown into corner and it makes the handling feel as if it wants to twitch on you and make you correct the vehicle on a consistent basis. It isn’t a bad thing all the time, just something that you have to get used to. We were able to quickly correct any sideways action with a little steering input and modulation of the throttle. Unfortunately, too many test vehicles suffered belt failure at the press launch, and we hope this isn’t a continued problem when the XP 4 1000 goes on sale. Yes, we pushed our vehicle fairly hard at points, but I was never at the “full throttle” limit of this machine. At the end of the day, I fried a belt going up a moderate hill climb at about half throttle. Other editors fried 3 belts in one day. We’re not sure what this is from, but one of the Polaris service techs told us that they are using the same belt on the 2 and 4 seat 1000 vehicles. From what we have heard, people have already bought these 4 seaters and haven’t had experienced any problems. After checking with Polaris, they said that our units had not been properly broken in. Per their media specialist, "Over the period of time at Camp RZR we logged more than 500 demo rides and approximately 2,500 miles of dune riding and we had only one belt failure." So, in essence, it sounds like proper belt break-in procedures are essential with these new 4 seaters. Which brings up a good article topic, we'll have an article on proper belt break-in procedures in the near future.
During our ride time, we also played with the shock settings. The stock Walker Evans shocks, which help dampen the 16 inches of front travel and 18 inches of rear travel, provide great suspension modulation in the sand. The owner can also adjust the shocks with their 16-position compression clickers, which mimic those found on the 2 seat RZR 1000. We like how the stock settings felt in the rear because we could jump this 4 seater with ease. Minimal kickback was felt upon takeoff, and we felt like we landed on a pillow. It was awesome! The front was the same way while jumping, but we were initially bottoming out when navigating hard G-outs. We ended up alleviating this by backing the clickers all the way out (softest setting) to get our base clicker measurements, and then turning the compression clickers “in” 10 clicks to obtain a stiffer ride. This small and super-fast adjustment was all it took to dial in our suspension, and we managed to do this while blasting through the dunes! Kudos to Polaris for partnering up with Walker Evans Racing and providing their consumers with top-notch suspension equipment.
Lastly, we mentioned how the tires might help this RZR get its “twitchy” feeling during duning, but we think the tradeoff is well worth it. These 29” Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires are top-notch meats, and we love seeing these tires on stock machines. Also worth mentioning is the fact that, with this all-new tubular chassis on the 1000 RZR’s, Polaris has seemed to address many of the flexing and weak points on their previous frame designs. We appreciate the fact that Polaris is taking great strides to keep the quality of their machines at such a high level, and we are extremely excited to see what kind of RZR innovations are coming out in the future.
Until those future products hit our eyes, let’s focus on the RZR XP 4 1000 because of it’s amazing capability, comfort, and great “fun-factor”. Will Polaris sell a ton of these new machines? Definitely. Will they continue to make it better? Heck yes. And will we continue to see new Polaris UTV’s that break the market wide open? We sure hope so.
In the meantime, go check out the Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 at your local dealer. It’s a very capable vehicle, and one that we think is worth checking out if you are in the market for a $20k + Side-X-Side. (MSRP at press time is $21,999)
Until next time, be safe in the OffRoad jungle!