Polaris RZR XP 4 Long-Term Test Report

5 Things We Love About This Machine

Published in the April 2013 Issue April 2013 Powersport News Ryan Harris

Polaris is on a winning streak. Since the first Ranger RZR was released in the later 2000s, the company has struck hit after hit with vehicles like the RZR S, RZR4 and RZR XP 900.

For 2012, Polaris released the RZR XP 4 900 and satisfied the masses searching for the ultimate party buggy. What’s more fun than railing desert washes with three of your buddies?

We spent the summer with a Liquid Silver LE edition of the RZR XP 4 900—equipped with electronic power steering (EPS). And after rides in Montana, Arizona and a few places in between, here’s what we liked.

Long wheelbase. If the XP 4 is meant for the open roads and desert terrain (which it is … at 64 inches wide, it’s nowhere close to being a 50-inch trail machine), then a longer wheelbase is going to make it better than the two-seater XP. The XP 4 has a 107.4-inch wheelbase compared to the standard XP 900’s 81.4 inches. Those extra two-odd feet bridge bumps, smooth out chatter bumps and slow the pitch and yaw on big rollers. That long wheelbase is so significant when it comes to ride quality that Polaris went so far as to turn the XP 4 into the ultimate 2-seater desert runner—the 2013 Jagged X.

Room for the family. We picked up an XP 4 mainly so we could bring the whole family along for the amazing scenic rides we’re fortunate enough to enjoy on side-by-sides. Its four comfortable seats keep kids and adults alike happy for the duration of a 70-plus-mile ride. There is enough leg room in the back seat for a 6-foot-tall adult. And the seatbelts and grab bars provide a secure environment. It’s a great vehicle for the wife and kids to cruise around in at Moab while the crazies are out jumping off rock ledges and crawling razorback trails.

Lots of power. There’s not much the XP 900 powerplant can’t handle. Sand dunes? No problem. Loaded with butts in all four chairs and a cooler strapped to the bed, the XP 4 900 gets up and down and across the dunes like you’d expect an $18k UTV to. In fact, despite its size and weight, the XP 4 900 out-powered many competitor vehicles through the dry sand at Idaho’s St. Anthony Sand Dunes. On the dirt, the XP 900 shines. Its power comes across very smoothly and is not the kind of hit that makes this UTV tiring to drive. It’s as smooth putting around a slow trail as it is ripping wide-open down a straightaway.

Electronic Power Steering. If you haven’t driven an EPS-equipped RZR and can’t afford to upgrade … don’t drive one. The EPS system takes absolutely all the effort out of steering this long, wide, four-wheel-drive UTV in tight, rocky terrain. Where we would be manhandling the wheel with two hands on our non-EPS two-seater XP, we were cruising through with barely a finger on the wheel of the XP 4 with EPS. We recommend spending the extra cash to get the EPS version if you have the option.

Durability. Without fail, someone during the week will ask us why not just get a Jeep instead of something like this 4-seater RZR XP 4. Our response is simple—the Jeep wouldn’t take the abuse we throw at the Polaris. Not that a Jeep isn’t tough … it’s just that we can drive the RZR like an off-road rock racer and expect it to bounce on through the other side. We’d beat the living snot out of an on-road “off-roader” in these situations. We can rally a shelled-out gravel road on the RZR, slide it sideways and dive off the shoulder, jump a rock ledge that kicks the rear end up and sideways, blitz through a muddy wash without letting off the gas and without worrying about leaving the axle on the ground somewhere along the way. We’ve been running Polaris RZRs with this kind of tough love every year since the first RZR 800 came out. They’re tough and the RZR XP 4 900 is no exception.

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