Driving The Polaris General XP- First Ride Review
Driving The Polaris General XP- First Ride Review
I am a sucker for a good all-around side-by-side. I am all for some “sport” in a side-by-side, but a good rec/utility is where it is at for my real world lifestyle. In recent years the line between a sport, recreation, and utility side-by-side has begun to blur with off-roaders wanting the power of a sport SxS, the ride of a recreation SxS, and a little utility SxS sprinkled into the mix. Guess what? I am here for that.
2021 Polaris General
12.25" Front Travel & 13.2" Rear Travel
12" Ground Clearance
No-one was more excited when Polaris introduced the General a handful of years back. It had the power of a 999cc 100hp engine, the ground-clearance and suspension travel of a RZR S, an appointed cab, tilting-bed, and actual doors! I thought I had found my personal ultimate side-by-side. Then I was able to get a General for several months. Yes, it had all those great features including real doors, but the ride was more on the Ranger side than the RZR side. Tackling trails, hauling, and open fire roads, the General absolutely shinned like a diamond, but throw rocky trails into the mix and the ride was on the rough side. Even after some suspension adjustment clicking, the ride was rough on real rocky trails. It was at that point I figured out the General was not my ultimate side-by-side after all. Enter the General XP.
2021 Polaris General XP
14" Front Travel & 14" Rear Travel
13.5" Ground Clearance
When Polaris rolled out the General XP I didn’t get it. Yes, a wider suspension with more travel should offer up a better ride, but would people who want a 64-inch wide side-by-side go for a General? Then, on a recent Polaris trip I was able to hop into a General XP. The result was not only a completely different view of the General in ah… general, but with a completely different view of the General XP.
Yes, there is a lot to like about the General XP. The cab with full half-doors is plush and extremely comfortable, complete with storage space everywhere. The engine is powerful at 100HP, and the tilting cargo bed on the back will haul 600lbs, but for me it is all about the suspension. The General XP has a width of 64-inches as compared to the General at 60-inches. Those four inches make a significant difference to the ride. Suspension travel is at 14-inches on all four corners with ground clearance coming in at 13.5 inches, which is an additional 1.5-inches compared to the General. The goodness of the General XP happens in all of these suspension numbers, and it was in all these suspension numbers that I had my “ah-haw” moment.
I dig the Matte Military Tan color, and I drove this exact General XP.
Getting behind the wheel was exactly what I remembered, but starting down the trail is where things changed for me. Very quickly after getting into the trails and hitting the very first trail whoop is where I crashed through into the reality of the General XP's ride being a different experience all together. The General XP glided over trail bumps with a completely different comfort level than my previous experience, as even hard hits to the suspension just disappeared into the ether rather than being transferred into the cab. The additional four-inches didn’t translate into the General XP feeling bulky on the trails. It was very nimble with turns seeming to happen very naturally between my turning the wheel, the vehicle responding smoothly, and the throttle being dialed into the engine’s power rather perfectly. The dance between the power, suspension, steering, and driver input was nothing short of impressive. Out in the open while following a RZR Pro XP, I was able to get into legit whoops while having my foot further down on the throttle. Even at 30 MPH the General XP took on decent whoops without getting out of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I was not keeping up with a RZR Pro XP on the whoops, but the General XP stayed comfortable at higher speeds in whoops than I would have ever thought possible. Not only did the vehicle perform much better than I could have expected, but I had a bunch of fun and didn’t want to stop riding. That says a lot.
Both the balance of the vehicle and the ride are what I am most impressed with on the General XP.
The one thing I didn’t get to do in the General XP was tackle some real rocky trails, which takes me back to what I wasn't thrilled about in my first experiences with the General. I can easily say from my experience with the updated suspension on the General XP that it would do much better on the rocky trails with the additional suspension travel. Throughout my time aboard the General XP I was able to get a feel for how the suspension performs, and I have no doubt, and I mean none, that rocky terrain would be handled much more delicately than my past experience. It makes me happy to think the General XP might just be able to truly fulfill its roll in my mind as a a true all-around side-by-side which can handle both the rolls of sporty play and utility work.
In retrospect I am wowed by the fact the General XP seems to have struck such a balance in the way all of its systems come together for such a naturally feeling driving experience. My time aboard the General XP was a lot of fun, and I mean true smile-on-my-face fun. While my impression had been the General was more of a recreation/utility side-by-side, the General XP has redefined that for me to say it has more of a sport side to it, and that opens this vehicle up to many more possibilities of where it can excel. With that additional travel we can talk sand dunes, high speed desert roads, and even some rock crawling in Moab. All of this plus some fun trail exploration, hunting, and hauling around the ranch. It seems like the General XP is filling a niche in the market of actually performing like a jack-of-all-trades kind of sporty recreation/utility side-by-side, and that would be just fine with me.