When a manufacturer decides to jump into the sport side-by-side segment it might be a little like swimming with the sharks.
The competition is fierce and sometimes bruising.
The sport side-by-side waters are getting increasingly crowded (and about to get more crowded this fall) and while that segment is extremely popular the big fish (shark) in that pond has been the Polaris RZR, both in terms of units sold as well as the sheer number of different vehicles offered.
The waters just got more crowded as Polaris added a new class—the Pro XP—with three new RZR models to choose from.
As Polaris RZR marketing manager Evan Schendel pointed out during the media unveil in the Nevada desert this past July, Polaris is not replacing any of its current RZR models with the Pro XP lineup but adding to the mix of options. Those three are the RZR Pro XP, RZR Pro XP Premium and RZR Pro XP Ultimate.
After seeing, sitting in and driving the Pro XP across the Nevada desert we think it’s safe to say Polaris will still be feeding on other sport side-by-sides to stay on top of the food chain.
What causes us to say that? Five things in particular.
1) Speed We could start with some other nifty feature on the Pro XP but hey, these side-by-sides scream fast so it’s No. 1. It’s not just the speed of the new Pro XP RZRs, it’s also the responsiveness of the vehicles when you press the throttle. All three models come with a now water-cooled and larger turbo that is silky smooth (read: no lag at all) that gives the 925cc parallel twin ProStar its Polaris-claimed 181 hp.
We experienced that power in two different situations. First was racing across the desert on rock-littered and sometimes off-camber trails and then again with Ronnie Anderson on a short course at SpeedVegas.
Both situations gave us a little different feel for the power and the ride. Schendel pointed out that the ProStar in the Pro XP was specifically tuned to excel in the 20-50 mph range, a spot where most riders will be using the engine’s power. We pushed our RZR Pro XP past the 50 mph mark in the desert so don’t be thinking that’s the top end of the power, but during our desert ride we did spend much of our riding time in that range due to the conditions and terrain. In the desert were plenty of washes that ran across the trails. We tested the brakes plenty when approaching those washes but it was coming out of the washes or other indents in the trail that we felt the power come on strong. And there were some long straightaways where we could wind it up and let it rip.
2) Crowing About The Cockpit Picking our second most favorite aspect of the Pro XPs was a little tougher. The ride is great as are some other features we’ll get to, but we can’t remember being more comfortable in a RZR cockpit than we were in the in the Pro XP.
The new cockpit—which has four additional inches of width and six inches of length—is better than anything Polaris has created to date. It’s roomier, which means you can move around more. The seats are 2.5 inches lower in the chassis and six inches farther back (thanks, in part to the longer wheelbase) and that gives the feeling of sitting in and not “on top of” the side-by-side. There’s more storage (the lack thereof in other RZRs has been a gripe of ours for quite a while), thanks in part to a larger glove box, latching center console and dash compartment.
The dash is new and looks sharp, the passenger grab handle is redesigned and easier to use and adjust and doesn’t have any play (or rattle) like the T handle. The flat-bottom steering wheel not only tilts but has an industry-first telescoping adjustability (Premium and Ultimate models). There are new four-way sport seats that tilt and slide further to create an adjustable driving position along with 6-point retractable harnesses for both the driver and passenger (harnesses are in Premium and Ultimate models).
The gauges are easy to read.
3) Beefy If you’re going to put some big horsepower into a vehicle, you have to beef it up in key places so that the motor doesn’t outrun the chassis or drivetrain. Polaris did just that. The axles are eight times stronger, the transmission is 39 percent stronger and the front drive is three times stronger.
The frame is one piece (no bolts) and the skid plate offers full coverage. There are new clutches that are based on a roller system rather than sliders which, Polaris claims, helps increase belt life by two times. The open cut system of the clutch feeds more air flow to the internal components and sheaves which is one reason the belt can stay cooler and last longer.
4) This is unique to the Ultimate model but Ride Command and DYNAMIX 2.0 are still awesome and even easier to use with buttons on the steering wheel. That includes the DYNAMIX “X” button (or oh sh*t button), which, when pressed, sends the shocks into full firm mode in a fraction of a second.
The 7-inch display on Ride Command still offers a glove-touch display. There’s built-in GPS, mapping, Bluetooth and USB Smartphone connectivity and AM/FM and weather radio. DYNAMIX is paired with Fox 2.5 Live Valve Shocks and allows you to change shock settings literally on the fly. And those are changes you can feel immediately. Both Ride Command and DYNAMIX are fun to use and provide a whole other level of interaction with a RZR.
5) Options This may not be a groundbreaker or maybe isn’t “worthy” of its own section but we like that there are three trims in the Pro XP lineup.
Here they are:
RZR Pro XP – base model. Width is 64 inches, wheelbase is 96 inches and the ground clearance is 14.5 inches. It comes stock with 2-inch Walker Evans Needle (with 16-position adjustable clickers) shocks in the front and 2.5-inch Walker Evans Needle (with 16-position adjustable clickers) in the rear. 30 x 10-14 Maxxis Carnivore tires front and rear.
RZR Pro XP Premium – Comes with all the features of the Pro XP plus premium paint, LED accent lighting package, 6-point retractable harnesses and telescoping steering wheel. Shocks are the same as the Pro XP.
RZR Pro XP Ultimate – Comes with all the features of the Pro XP Premium plus DYNAMIX 2.0, Fox Shocks, Rockford Fosgate premium audio, Ride Command 7-inch glove-touch display.