2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 First Ride 0

14_polaris_RZR_XP_1000_headerOne-upmanship is the name of the game in the side-by-side world, with each manufacturer trying to outdo the competition with more power and better suspension. Every model year the technology and engineering marches forward with new models that seem to render the last batch of high performance rippers obsolete. But how much further can the envelope be pushed before the prices and speeds are just too much for the average Joe. Polaris seems intent on taking it to the limit, and its latest RZR, the $19,999 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000, might be the machine that is the first to bump up against that ceiling.

The 2014 RZR XP 1000 is a whole new machine from the ground up. It’s bigger, faster and better suspended than any RZR that has come before. Even the most extreme, race-modified side-by-sides from a few years ago couldn’t match the specs offered up by the XP1000. It’s clear this new RZR is the king of the hill even before getting behind the wheel. 107 horsepower, 18 inches of travel, 13.5 inches of ground clearance and a MSRP of $19,999. The numbers are impressive in every way.

We headed to Parker, Arizona to find out if the numbers don’t lie. Polaris set us loose for the day on sections of the Best in the Desert Parker 425 racecourse. That right there shows how much confidence the Minnesota manufacturer has in the XP 1000. Not much is harder on equipment than desert racing and that is effectively what we did for the day.

The power on tap from the 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 is unlike any other side-by-side out there.

The power on tap from the 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 is unlike any other side-by-side out there.

From the first stab at the gas pedal, it was clear that the power on tap from the XP 1000’s ProStar powerplant is on an entirely new level. The bottom-end grunt that is put to the dirt through the PVT transmission is eye opening. There is so much on tap right from the get-go that you either spin the tires in the loose dirt or get pressed deep into the seat when the traction is good. The power continues to build just as strongly through the mid-range and finally tapers off at the top-end. I’ve never driven a stock machine with so much speed and power on tap. For the first time in a side-by-side, I actually say that this is fast enough. I was never left wanting more.

Throttle response is snappy and along with the strength of the powerplant, breaking the rear end loose in both 2- and 4-wheel drive is easy at just about any speed. And when things go sideways, you’d better be ready. Due to its abundance of suspension travel the XP 1000 has more body roll than previous models, even with a new, larger sway bar. When the weight rolls to the outside of the corner, the rear suspension squats on the gas and lifts the front inside wheel. At first it can be unsettling for a novice driver, but after a few times you adjust your comfort level and driving style. Just don’t expect to jam it into a berm like you would with a slower and lower machine. Respect the power, speed and wheel-travel and all is good.

The 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 flies, both on the ground and off.

The 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 flies, both on the ground and off.

And, wow, does the RZR XP 1000 have wheel-travel. Up front the 2-inch Walker Evans piggyback shocks stroke through 16 inches, and at the rear massive 2.5-inch units give 18 inches of travel. Just for comparison, the RZR XP 900 has 13.5 and 14.5 inches front and back. Both ends are adjustable for preload and compression, but the stock settings are just about perfect. After slamming through some seriously deep whoops we stopped and added four clicks of compression damping to counter some bottoming of the chassis with two butts in the seats. No other changes were needed for the rest of the day. This RZR just eats up anything you point it at. It is complaint in the small stuff and can handle huge jumps with ease. Although there is no option for rebound damping adjustment, the rear end doesn’t kick up unless the suspension is slammed hard into a steep-faced obstacle. Most of the time it is well controlled and confidence inspiring.

Polaris’ Electronic Power Steering makes tight turns and rock trails a dream. Not once did we experience any kickback to the wheel, and the response is quick. One small criticism is that the front-end feel is slightly numb in comparison to non-EPS machines. The trade-off is quite worth it, however.

Braking performance from the four-wheel disc brakes featuring 248mm rotors and dual piston calipers is spot-on for the speed and weight of the XP. Pedal feel is very positive and the wheels do not lock prematurely. When they do lock, the rear does first allowing the front wheels to continue slowing the machine.

The new cockpit feels slightly larger than the XP 900 and the switchgear, gauges and layout is similar, yet is of higher quality. The glove box is significantly larger and the second center box features a handy smartphone holder. Honestly when I read about this feature I wrote it off as a gimmick, but it is my favorite user feature on the dash. The clear screen allows for you to use your phone as a navigation device.

The addition of half doors to the XP could be the most useful non-performance improvement. No longer do you have to fight with the silly netting and clips when getting in and out of the side-by-side. Opening and closing is easy and secure, thanks to its solid slam latch. I will say that a full door would have been better as roost off the front wheels can enter the opening below the door.

Driver and passenger comfort has also been improved with the new seats. Under-seat sliders allow for easy forward and back adjustment of both the deeply bolstered seats. In the corners they limit side-to-side movement, giving the driver more control. Not to mention they are some of the most comfortable OEM units out there.

The 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 has, without a doubt, raised the bar for performance side-by-sides. It is truly the first UTV that requires the driver to be aware of how much power, suspension and handling is on tap and to drive accordingly. It’s an intense experience that even the best drivers will find satisfying. We’ve entered a new era in side-by-sides, one that will take talent and willpower from the one behind the wheel. I can’t wait for what comes next, but for now the XP 1000 is more than enough.

The 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 is powered by a 107 horsepower ProStar Twin.

The 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 is powered by a 107 horsepower ProStar Twin.

2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 Technical Specifications:
Engine:  4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Displacement: 999cc
Fueling: EFI
Transmission: Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H
Final Drive: Shaft
Front Suspension: Dual A-Arm Walker Evans 2″ Needle Shocks (comp adjust/res.) 16″ Travel
Rear Suspension: Trailing Arm Walker Evans 2.5″ Needle Shocks (comp adjust/ remote res.) 18″ Travel
Front/Rear Brakes: 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front & Rear Calipers
Front Tires: 29 x 9-14; Maxxis Bighorn
Rear Tires: 29 x 11-14; Maxxis Bighorn
Wheels: Cast Aluminum
Wheelbase: 90 in.
Dry Weight: 1,379 lbs. (claimed)
LxWxH: 119 x 64 x 73.75 in.
Ground Clearance: 13.5 in.
Fuel Capacity: 9.5 gal
Bed Capacity: 300 lbs.
Bed Dimensions: 28X22X7 in.
Lighting: White LED, High/Low & Red LED Tail / Brake Lights
Instrumentation: Digital Gauge: Speedometer, Odometer, Tripmeter, Tachometer, Coolant Temperature, Volt Meter, Hour Meter, Service Indicator, Clock, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi-Temp Light, Seatbelt Reminder Light; DC Outlet
MSRP: $19,999

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