2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo S Review- A Sand Slinging Good Time
2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo S Review- A Sand Slinging Good Time
The Polaris RZR lineup has enjoyed many great years of success behind a strong lineup of off-road vehicles, and, as a company, Polaris continues to push the technology and development of their new vehicles with each passing year. It was no surprise that 2018 brought about more new models in the RZR lineup, and perhaps the most celebrated model was the XP Turbo S. Recognized as Polaris’ first foray into the ultra wide 72” market, the XP Turbo S also unveiled a host of updates and improvements over other super sport UTV models from the manufacturer. This vehicle is tailor made for the sand and desert terrain all over the world, and we had to take up the opportunity to drive it at this year’s Camp RZR event in California’s Glamis sand dunes. As you can imagine, this sand dune mecca provided us with the perfect place to put 168 sand-slinging horsepower to the ground for a “Good Time”!
The front bumper and full doors are accessories from Polaris, but everything else about this RZR XP Turbo S is stock and mean looking. No wonder they call it the “Beast”.
Look close and you’ll see the rearview camera under the Polaris logo on the back. Plus, how much cooling do you need for your clutch? Hose size is on FLEEK!
While many features carry over to the XP Turbo S from the standard XP Turbo models, like the 168 horsepower engine and CVT transmission, bucket seats, rear cargo bed, and wheelbase of 90 inches, there are many components on this vehicle that are essentially all-new. There aren’t too many tweaks to the geometry of the chassis, but it is beefed up with more bracing and stronger components overall when compared to previous generations. Basically, it is built to handle the extra load of that 72” wide stance.
No changes to the bed for this RZR, however the XP Turbo S has one more downtube to secure your cargo to, if needed.
Speaking of the 72” wide stance, every part of the suspension components were strengthened to handle the extra width of this machine. When you first walk up to the Turbo S, you notice how much larger the suspension parts are in diameter. The a-arms and rear trailing arms have additional cross bracing for increased strength. Plus, on the outer perimeter sits massive 32” tires from the factory. Fun fact: this RZR is the first UTV on the market to come stock with 32” meats, and these are in the form of ITP Coyote 8-ply tires mounted on 15” wheels.
3.0 Fox Livevalve shocks in the rear are massive, bump-absorbing shocks. The stock spring rates are finally better on this machine than all previous RZRs, giving the occupants a more supple ride at slow speeds. The Turbo-equipped engine still puts out 168 horsepower.
Suspension components on this RZR are bigger in every way. The rear trailing arms are gusseted and feature bigger connecting radius rods, too.
Even the front a-arms are braced better and feature larger diameter tubing. The inner attachment points are larger as well.
Like the RZR RS1, the Turbo S comes with Polaris’ all-new front differential that is larger in every way. It not only looks larger, but driving this machine lets you know that Polaris put in some extra R&D time into this differential – it is smooth and noise free, a very welcomed addition to this vehicle. Engagement is very smooth and positive as well. Overall, all of the powertrain in the Turbo S feels more buttoned up than previous RZR vehicles – it is smoother, has less rattles, and feels like the fit and finish has definitely improved.
32” ITP Coyote tires feature deep lugs and a flat profile with a large sidewall, even on 15” wheels. These are probably great for the dirt, but the flat profile and tight lug spacing make this tire somewhat unpredictable in the dunes, with less traction and forward bite than we’d like.
Especially on the inside, the fit and finish is noticeably better than other RZRs. The entire dashboard is better laid out with the large central 7” Ride Command screen right where you want it, along with the centrally positioned accessory switch spots (pre-cut for easy installation) and center storage box. The Ride Command system is best-in-class for providing occupants with glove-touch control over GPS navigation, digital instrument readouts, app control, phone pairing, and more features. While the digital dash for the driver, a la General, is a very nice touch and gives you loads of information right in your line of sight, it doesn’t fit quite right in the dash. At least for my taller frame (6’3”), the top of the steering wheel was constantly blocking the dash from my line of sight. It was more annoying than anything. Despite my issue with line of sight, I’d still rather have this dash mounted in the vehicle because of its clear readout and analog instruments. The passenger glove box is still deep and can hold plenty of items for your trip, plus there is a new compartment in the upper section of the passenger dash made to hold items. While this extra storage space is welcomed, I found it to be quite cumbersome to use because of the tiny opening. It’s good for gloves and bandanas, but that’s about it.
Yes, the Sparco flat bottom steering wheel is a great addition to this vehicle. Although it can’t be mounted any lower, we wish that the great new instrument cluster was mounted just a bit lower in the dash.
Having 4 extra accessory switch spots is a welcomed addition to this vehicle, especially with plug-and-play accessory integration. Also the Ride Command display is top notch!
The seats and remaining interior items are the same from past RZR’s. Lateral bolstering is good with these, but the seats need more length to the bottom cushion and a slightly more laid back (just a few degrees, not much) positioning. And, unfortunately, Polaris hasn’t changed the seat base in this vehicle, so sand and mud will still make this seat difficult to slide for adjustment. Yes, I’m not being too easy on this machine, but consider the fact that the rest of the industry has learned from the RZRs classic shortcomings and innovated faster than the RZR at this point. The Turbo S is a great step forward, but Can-Am and Honda (new Talon) have far better seats than the RZR at this point, and the Can-Am interior, while not full of digital nannies like the RZR, has more storage and a better seat slider and seating position for most people. Some don’t like the laid back position of the Can-Am, but they built in a vertical adjuster, too, right into the stock vehicle. Innovations like these, while small, are what Polaris is lacking, and we hope they innovate further in the coming years.
Thank you, Polaris, for equipping this vehicle with 4-point harnesses from the factory! We hope the next year’s XP Turbo S has improved seats as these are showing their age in the RZR lineup.
Where the Polaris lacks in some of the refinement of the vehicle, they definitely put their hard work into the handling and suspension of this all-new RZR. The Turbo S suspension is LIGHT YEARS better in the stock suspension department than the comparable RZR XP Turbo Dynamix edition was last year. Both of these machines feature Fox’s Livevalve technology with push button shock adjustments available to you right from the interior, but the XP Turbo S really puts those adjustments to good use because this machine has better spring rates and valving right from the factory. Kudos, Polaris, for allowing Fox to work their magic on these stock shocks!
This chassis a blast to drive with a very planted and secure feel, even when ripping up corners at speed. Quick EPS steering makes little adjustments easy when in sharp turns like this, too.
2.5” diameter Fox Livevalve shocks are found up front (19” travel), and massive 3.0” Fox Livevalve units are found out back (25” of usable travel). All 4 corners feature piggyback reservoir oil cooling for better performance over prolonged abuse. In real world usage, the Comfort mode is still just that, comfortable in the chop and slower speed duning areas. We left it in this mode and really noticed how the primary softer springs smooth out the ride and still keep the vehicle balanced. Sport mode is the money setting, giving you a stiffer ride but much better progressive dampening throughout the entire shock stroke when hitting sharp G-outs and transitions in the dunes. The same would go for open trail riding and woods riding where the Sport mode would be the mode to use most of the time when you are driving hard through corners and using all of the 168 available horses. And then there’s Firm mode, which like the previous Dynamix edition RZRs, is just about unusable in most circumstances. Unless, however, you jump huge distances or come up to a very steep dune transition at high speed – flip the switch and the suspension instantly firms up to take the hit. It’s a revelation in the dunes to be able to flip that switch in an instant and get the suspension to respond! This also works great for rock crawling as the Firm mode settings increase the internal compression dampening to the point that the shocks hold themselves up, giving you more ground clearance for clearing obstacles.
Flick the dash-mounted suspension switch to Firm to easily soak up flat landings such as this. Having the power to adjust the suspension on-the-fly is such a rad feature.
Yes, the new styling is great and very distinctive, a feature we like. Yes, the new interior is more refined and modern, giving you the utmost in technology available in the UTV industry today. Yes, the powertrain is smooth and powerful for any situation, whether you are climbing massive sand hills, or just enjoying a stroll through the trails. These are all great features of the Turbo S, but why do really buy the Turbo S? Especially since it costs a whopping $28,199 MSRP?!
Even at almost full bump like this, the RZR XP Turbo S tracks straight and soaks up the biggest of hits with well tuned Livevalve.
The reason you do is because of how the sublime chassis handling characteristics mold together with the suspension characteristics of this machine. No where else in the industry can you get on-the-fly adjustable suspension from the inside of the machine, and the way the suspension molds together with the 32” tires and the driving dynamics of this RZR is something that you can’t get anywhere in the industry. The RZR XP Turbo S carves corners and remains predictable in them. It can be jumped for seemingly endless feet and feel predictable in the air. It can launch up the biggest sand dunes with effortless forward motion. And, when you really want to wake the chassis up and do some racing, then you can easily have tons of fun as the quick power steering and maneuverable chassis give you endless smiles.
With 168 horsepower, the XP Turbo S doesn’t feel like it needs any more power in the dunes. Acceleration is quick, very quick in fact, and the engine feels like it is directly connected to the wheels with excellent throttle response and clutching for the dunes.
So, yes, the RZR XP Turbo S is an expensive machine. It does also have flaws, mainly where the other machines on the market have passed it up in terms of features and refinements. But the $28k+ price tag is justified first, if you can afford it, and second because no other vehicle on the market offers this much technology packed into a UTV. Plus, the driving dynamics are unlike any other. Would I buy it? If I had the extra money, sure I would, because the pitfalls are all things you can fix on this vehicle. Stay tuned as we test more items on this vehicle, including those sand tires you see bolted up...
Some people have asked us, “Does the Turbo S have enough power to pull wheelies?” You be the judge…
There’s nothing quite like a sunset dune run to wind down the day, or as we like to say, “live it up”!