Work OR Play? Or Both? Can The Ranger 1000 Do Both?

March 2020 Feature Lane Lindstrom Web Exclusive

In an effort to be really practical, sometimes we have to evaluate our purchase decisions. Sometimes we don’t like to do that kind of heavy lifting.

So let the new Polaris Ranger 1000 do it for you. Nice segway, right?

Back to being practical. When you’re looking at buying a new side-by-side, many of us have to ask ourselves, “What do I need this vehicle for? Work or play? Or both.” Say you need a side-by-side that is a capable worker and also allow you to play some.

That rules out any kind RZR, which as we all know, is purpose built as a high performance side-by-side. The Polaris General is a good option but, in our mind, it leans a little more toward being a sport-rec vehicle than a rec-utility.

So next in line is the Ranger, which is offered in a variety of sizes and trims from small cc engines to 1000cc powerplants and from basic models to ones with all sorts of bells and whistles.

Say Good Bye To The 900

But what you won’t find in the Polaris Ranger off-road lineup is any vehicles with a 900. They’re gone and being replaced with a bigger lineup of 1000-class side-by-sides. Billed as the next generation of the XP 900, the Ranger 1000, which should not be confused with the XP 1000, is capable in its own right of work and play.

When we first test drove the new 3-person Ranger 1000 last year in the woods of Minnesota, we remember this thought that kept coming to our mind, “Man this Ranger is a lot of fun.” When you scan the specs and read any literature Polaris has written about the Ranger 1000, you would think it’s definitely more geared toward working folks than those who are strictly in it for the fun.

When Polaris first introduced the Ranger 1000, one of the marketing lines it used said, “… purpose built for farmers, ranchers, hunters, multi-acre homeowners and recreation off-road riders.”

That’s not necessarily the order we would put its uses. “Man, this Ranger is a lot of fun.” But we get it. First, the Ranger 1000 was built to work, but when you have a little spare time to hunt or fish or just explore the trails, it can do that too.

After our initial test drive of the Ranger 1000 EPS and Ranger 1000 Premium in the Minnesota woods we offered three quick takeaways:

1)      While the Ranger XP is still the king of the hill when it comes to the Ranger lineup, the new Ranger 1000 and Ranger 1000 Premium are breathing down its neck. They have many of the same features and DNA of the XP.

2)      The cab is so much more rider- and passenger-friendly. Lots of storage and six—count ‘em six—cup holders. Nicer seats. It’s easier to get in and out of. Lots of storage—including under the seats. It is just a nicer feeling cab.

3)       The 1000 has just that much more get up and go than the Ranger 900. It’s a SOHC design with 61 hp and 55 lb. ft. of torque.

Even after digging a little deeper on the Ranger 1000, those are still three good takeaways.

Why Not Just Buy The XP 1000?

But the question arises: “If I’m already going to go big with a 1000, why not just go with the top-of-the-line XP?”

That’s a fair question and one we’ll try to tackle by making some comparisons. Before we get to that, though, let’s make a brief comparison of the Ranger 1000 and its glitzy sibling the Ranger 1000 Premium.

For starters, what are you getting for the additional $2,000 MSRP price tag of the Ranger 1000 Premium vs. the Ranger 1000? You get an adjustable driver seat, electronic power steering (although you can upgrade your Ranger 1000 to get EPS for an additional thousand bucks), different and taller tires and aluminum black Xcelerator 2.0 wheels compared to the stamped steel wheels on the Ranger 1000. Still one other difference is the Premium model gets a stout steel front bumper whereas the base model comes with a plastic front fascia. The seats on the Ranger 1000 are vinyl, not the cut and sew material found on the Premium model.

Now on to the Ranger 1000 vs. Ranger XP 1000, which was first introduced a couple of years ago. The following chart shows the differences between the two. If a feature, say like the transmission/final drive, is not listed, it’s because they are identical or nearly identical between the two vehicles.


Ranger 1000

Ranger XP 1000 Premium

MSRP (starting at)



Engine Braking System



Engine Type

4-stroke SOHC twin cylinder

4-stroke twin cylinder DOHC


61 hp

82 hp

Estimated Dry Weight

1,429 lbs.

1,565 lbs.

Fuel Capacity

11.35 gallons

11.5 gallons

Ground Clearance

12 inches

13 inches

Overall Vehicle Size (LxWxH)

120x62.5x76 inches

120x62.5x77 inches

Adjustable Driver Seat

Not equipped



4-inch LCD Rider Information Center

Dual-sweep Analog Dials with 4-inch LCD Rider Information Center

Other Standard Features

Polaris Pulse Electrical System (3 position)

Polaris Pulse Electrical System, Premium Cut & Sew Seats

Electronic Power Steering

Not equipped


Front Tires


27x9-12 Maxxis MU511

Rear Tires


27x11-12 Maxxis MU52


Stamped Steel

Aluminum Black Xcelerator 2.0

Front, Rear Suspension Travel

10 inches

11 inches

One other fairly big difference between the Ranger 1000 and XP 1000 that isn’t included in the chart are the drive modes (performance, standard and work) available on the XP 1000 that you don’t get on the Ranger 1000.

As with any vehicle, and back to our opening statement of making practical purchasing decisions, the consumer has to decide if the extra $4,100 of features is something you need or just want. 

The XP Amenities Are Nice, But …

Certainly, in some situations, the extra horsepower would be handy and maybe even necessary. The same goes for the ground clearance, which is due in part to the taller Maxxis tires on the XP 1000. We’re big fans of EPS so even if we didn’t go with the XP 1000 we would get the Ranger 1000 with EPS. EPS just makes so much difference in the handling and feel of the vehicle, to us it’s a no brainer. The drive mode option on the 1000 XP is a fun feature as well.

Having said all that, we’re still big fans of the Ranger 1000. We started the day riding the Ranger 1000 EPS and then moved to the Ranger 1000 Premium later in the day. Before we slid into the seat it was hard not to notice the newly redesigned front end, which includes the hood, headlights and grill. Once in the cockpit (made easier by five additional inches of entry and exit clearance), you notice the roominess of the three-person cab, ALL the cup holders (six in all), the increased storage space (including under the driver’s seat) and comfier seats. The seats have 25 percent more padding.

We have no complaints about the ride from either a comfort or “seat of the pants” perspective. The trails we rode we’re overly rough or technical or resemble a mud bog but the Ranger 1000 cruised right along and gobbled up any sort of obstacle we could find.

The all-new ProStar 1000 engine was smooth and quiet. The claimed 61 hp was all we needed the day we rode but we didn’t tow any trailers or carry anything in the bed so we were using it more recreationally than we would be if we were working. The core of this 1000 engine is the same as what’s found on the XP 1000 but the top end is different, hence the SOHC on the Ranger 1000 vs. DOHC on the XP 1000. To complement the engine in this platform, the all-new Pro PVTi clutch system and wider belt work in concert to help Ranger 1000 perform well at slow speeds. In fact, as it was pointed out to us, one of the purposes of the Ranger 1000 is to make it easier for ranchers and farmers and use this vehicle at low speeds, say like 10 mph and less.

Later, after our rides, we did a walk around of the vehicle with Anna Abbott, Ranger product manager, and Chris Hurd, Polaris director of product planning.

Abbott (easily) removed the front grill to show how easy it is to access the radiator to clear it of debris or mud when necessary. She also touted the 25 percent more protection offered by the front bumper on the Premium model as well as pointed out all the aftermarket accessory (winch, plow, etc.) mounting points available on the 2020 model.

We can easily see ourselves cruising to our favorite fishing, hunting or camping spot with the Ranger 1000. It’s not like we’d turn down an XP 1000 if it came our way, but for the money and amenities offered on the Ranger 1000 (all three trims), we’d be thinking we made a smart purchase decision.

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