2013 Polaris Ranger XP 900 First Ride 0

Someone forgot to tell Polaris that work side-by-sides aren’t supposed to be tons of fun to drive. The RZR line of sport UTVs is all about ripping it, but the Ranger lineup blends recreation with utility. It isn’t that Polaris portrays the new 2013 Ranger XP 900 as an awesome trail rig, but it turns out that the latest premium SxS is a blast to ride and a major force around the ranch.

We rolled up to the Bull Run Guest Ranch in Great Falls, Montana to try out several of the new 2013 machines from Polaris. Once we saw the lineup it was clear that the Ranger XP 900 is the cream of the crop for this model year. The 900 is poised to replace the Ranger 800 as the ultimate work/recreation UTV available from the American company. Polaris has become a definite lodestar for the side-by-side market with sales figures that trounce the competition. Much of that success is due to the Ranger models and this new machine boosts performance and refinement from tip to tail.

Polaris absolutely dominates the UTV market, spurred on by robust sales of its RZR and Ranger lineups. The new Ranger XP 900 delivers practical functionality with fun performance.

Polaris absolutely dominates the UTV market, spurred on by robust sales of its RZR and Ranger lineups. The new Ranger XP 900 delivers practical functionality with fun performance.

As the name suggests, the XP 900 uses essentially the same ProStar engine found in the RZR XP 900, which is a known ass-kicker. Engineers took the 875cc high-performance platform and tweaked the top end to make it a more usable workhorse. The cams, piston and head valve cover are all new, and the intake and is reworked to accommodate dual throttle bodies (RZR has single). Polaris also addressed the CVT belt and clutches to handle the more linear torque curve. A new Engine Management System (EMS) tunes the mill and the exhaust is redesigned as well. The engine is also now a wet-sump design (same for the RZR model). The Parallel Twin engine is claimed to produce 60 horsepower and 54 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are significantly lower than the 88 hp and 56 lb-ft of the RZR ProStar, but it’s how the power is applied that makes the most difference.

Hard work and towing requires torque from all rpm, not just impressive peak numbers. Polaris assures us the torque curve on the Ranger is virtually flat, and it feels that way from the very comfortable and adjustable seat. There is no big surge and acceleration is smooth regardless of how hard the gas pedal is pressed. Full-throttle launches toss up some roost but generally feel underwhelming for a 900. However, attach something to its 2000-pound-capable tow hitch or start filling the 1000 pounds of available payload in the bed, and the Ranger digs in and starts yarding. We yanked a massive log across the fields and watch as the 900 towed an actual dump truck over flat terrain and up a slight grade. The pulling power is impressive, and we were still able to get the unloaded XP up to around 50 mph on the digital speedo before running out of terrain.

Ride quality is also notably good. Polaris lengthened the wheelbase to 81 inches (five inches longer than the 800) and increased the torsional rigidity of the chassis by a claimed 100 percent. How does making it stiffer provide a better ride? Less flexing allows the suspension to function properly with the steering geometry. The five-position preload adjustable Sachs shocks offer 10 inches of suspension travel and 12 inches of ground clearance. They soaked up everything we pointed at on the muddy Bull Run terrain. The chassis and cab also squeak less. Granted, our units were brand new, but we didn’t hear a single squeak. And speaking of quiet, the exhaust note is pleasantly muffled. We tested with a roof and rear window in place, making for the quietest overall ride we’ve experienced.

The transmission consists of Park, Reverse, Neutral, Low and High. There is no parking brake. Drivers can choose between 2WD in turf mode (which is really only 1WD), 2WD locked differential or On-Demand AWD. Braking is handled by hydraulic units on all four wheels. The front two calipers are dual piston.

The XP 900 utilizes a similar Parallel Twin to its RZR cousin, with the 875cc mill benefiting from a host of upgrades.

The XP 900 utilizes a similar Parallel Twin to its RZR cousin, with the 875cc mill benefiting from a host of upgrades.

Considering how strong it performs and how enjoyable it is to drive, what impresses us most is the attention to detail, storage capacity and ease of maintenance. Polaris has made numerous design features that make the XP easier to live with and create a better interface with the machine. The airbox, oil fill, transmission, engine, belt and shocks are all accessible under the dump bed. Common fasteners are used throughout (13mm, 15mm and T40) so there’s less wrench juggling. The fuel cap is now on the driver’s side as well, so it’s easy to pull up to the gas pumps and fill the truck and XP on the trailer without having to jockey around. No more having to load backward or test your trailer skills in small parking lots. The hydraulic-assisted bed has divider slots built in so that the owner can cut a 2×10 board to length and drop it in. It also has integrated tie-down points and cup holders.

The Lock & Ride design is phenomenal, especially on the cab. The windshield, roof and rear window each required less than a minute to install with two people. I installed a Kawasaki Accessories roof and windshield on our Teryx Project and it took an enormous amount of time by comparison, especially the windshield. Polaris also has a long list of other products that can be quickly installed around the vehicle. Once the driver slips into the adjustable 60/40 bench seat (only adjustable on LE model), the steering wheel position can also be set within a 10-inch range. The passenger seat lifts to reveal a large storage tub, and the same goes for the front hood. The battery is accessible underneath the driver’s seat. Designers also built a glove box on each side of the cab and included a row of under-dash storage that spans all the way across. Switching on the headlights reveal a 25 percent brighter shine from the dual LEDs. The light pattern extends 30 percent further and Polaris says it’s an extra 100 feet of visibility.

The XP 900 has some lofty goals to supplant the popular Ranger 800 as the workhorse of the Polaris UTV lineup.

The XP 900 has some lofty goals to supplant the popular Ranger 800 as the workhorse of the Polaris UTV lineup.

The Ranger XP 900 is targeted at surpassing the Ranger 800 as the premier work UTV from Polaris. Considering the wide range of applications where this side-by-side excels, it’s easy to see how that can happen. Polaris reps say that the target consumer for this Ranger is a multi-acre land owner – someone who has room to host livestock or agriculture and might also hunt. After taking the Limited Edition XP for a spin around Bull Run it’s clear that it knows its customers. We cruised through expansive pastures, checked water levels in the creek and stopped by the barn. The base model retails for $12,999. Polaris customers are going to be able to repair and maintain their equipment much easier than previously, and it’s extremely usable in multiple environments. Owners get a hard-working ranch vehicle that’s way more fun than some of the competition when it comes to a hunting trip or trail ride.

2013 Polaris Ranger XP 900 LE Specs:
Engine Type: 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder
Displacement: 875cc
Fuel System: Electronic Fuel Injection
Cooling: Liquid
Transmission/Final Drive: Automatic PVT H/L/N/R/P; Shaft
Drive System: On-Demand True AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode
Engine Braking System / Active Descent Control:Not Equipped
Front Suspension: Dual A-Arm 10.0″ (25.4 cm) Travel
Rear Suspension: Dual A-Arm, IRS 10.0″ (25.4 cm) Travel
Front/Rear Brakes: 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front Calipers
Parking Brake: Park In-Transmission
Front Tires: 25 x 10-12; 489
Rear Tires: 25 x 11-12; 489
Wheels: Stamped Steel
Wheelbase: 81″ (206cm)
Dry Weight: 1,360 lb (618 kg)
Overall Vehicle Size (L x W x H): 116.5 x 60 x 76 in. (296 x 152 x 193 cm)
Ground Clearance: 12″ (30.5 cm)
Seat Height: N/A
Fuel Capacity: 10 gal (37.9 L)
Bed Box Dimensions (L x W x H): 36.5 x 54 x 11.5″ (93 x 137 x 29 cm)
Front/Rear Rack or Box Capacity: N/A /1,000 lb (453.6 kg)
Payload Capacity: 1,500 lb (680.4 kg)
Hitch Towing Rating: 2,000 lb (907.2 kg)
Unbraked Trailer Towing Capacity: N/A
Hitch/Type: Standard/2″ Receiver
Features:
Cargo System:
 Lock & Ride
Lighting: 55W low/ 60W high, LED Tail
Electronic Power Steering: Available
Instrumentation: Digital Gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Tripmeter, Hour Meter, Clock, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi-Temp/Low-Batt Lights, DC Outlets (2)
As the name suggests, the XP 900 uses essentially the same ProStar engine found in the RZR XP 900, which is a known ass-kicker.

As the name suggests, the XP 900 uses essentially the same ProStar engine found in the RZR XP 900, which is a known ass-kicker.

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