Machinery Chatter
Dan Miller Progressive Farmer Senior Editor

Tuesday 08/28/12

New Vehicle From Polaris

At slight risk of exaggeration, Polaris well may have staked out new territory with the rollout of its new, full-size, 2013 Ranger XP 900. Capable of towing 2,000 pounds and hauling another 1,000 pounds in its pallet-sized cargo bed, this 60-hp side-by-side is a potent off-road challenger to compact pickups, perhaps even to work-style trucks -- especially in getting to work in hard-to-reach, remote places of the farm and ranch.

The new Ranger 900 has a stronger and stiffer chassis, 10.6 inches of front travel in its suspension and 10 inches of rear travel. (Photo courtesy Polaris)

Polaris went back to the drawing board for this vehicle. The Minnesota manufacturer spent three years designing the Ranger XP 900, putting effort into engine performance and power delivered to the wheels, improved stability, and driving range. It invented a nifty new, cab system that can be installed in minutes. In a win for the guys in the style department, customers may notice Polaris gave the 900 a bit of a sporty cut -- but not too much.

Polaris introduced its new line in mid-August at the 14,000-acre Bull Run Guest Ranch outside Cascade, Mont. In addition to the 900, the company rolled out a new midsize Ranger 800, with electronic fueled injection (EFI), as well as a new Scrambler XP 850 H.O.

Polaris says the Ranger 900 is its quietest Ranger, ever. That's due in large part to the placement of the engine back, under the cargo box. The placement gives operators easy access to the engine and removes a source of heat from the crew's bottom sides.

Polaris tuned its ProStar 900, electronic fuel injected, liquid-cooled engine to produce high torque at low-RPMs. Engine and transmission are bolted together, reducing the horsepower lost in other configurations. The Ranger XP 900 features a new drive train to handle the unit's higher horsepower.

In low gear, the Ranger 900 tops out at about 25 mph. In high gear, 50 mph seemed about right for the Montana terrain. Interestingly, the 900 features an electronic throttle. There's all manner of geeky technology behind this automotive-style feature, but for performance it means smooth and responsive acceleration. It does not produce that herky-jerky feel drivers may encounter over rough terrain working a pedal mechanically linked to the throttle. The fuel tank is 11% bigger, now 10 gallons, and is mounted on the driver's side of the vehicle for convenient refueling.

The Ranger 900 represents improvement in handling. The 900 has a stronger and stiffer chassis, 10.6 inches of front travel in its suspension and 10 inches of rear travel. The wheel base is five inches longer, moving the tires farther out onto the corners. Ground clearance is 12 inches. These are design features that safely take the 900 out to surprisingly rough terrain -- successfully climbing over rocks this driver would have never tried without the encouragement of a Polaris guide. The 900 has a nice, controlled downhill feel, too.

Polaris hit a walk-off home run with its Lock&Ride Pro-Fit Cab System. Installation of the laminated safety glass windshield, poly roof and rear glass panel required two people and a couple of minutes, but no tools. The three pieces snap directly, and tightly, onto the contours of the 900's frame. The front glass has a gasket for excellent sealing. It's a vast improvement over its older cab systems. That is an assessment coming from Polaris employees, themselves. The three pieces cost $1,350. Close fitting, steel-frame doors are available, too, and come with a power window option. Completely enclosed, Polaris says the Ranger 900 is 40% quieter at 20 mph than other models.

The crew seat, and a driver's side adjusting seat in LE models, are more plush than past models. Polaris says it is responding to requests from buyers who are a few years older than customers who buy its sportier models. The crew compartment is blessed by ample storage space under the dash -- and with legroom -- deep-pocketed cup holders and all sorts of storage space under the seat. With the $1,000 electronic power steering option, the steering is geared to be easy even with the snowplow attachment on the front. The 900 has tilt steering. The cockpit instrumentation is located in front of the driver. The driving view, front and back, is clear of obstructions.

There is one concern. The Ranger 900 has a large, high-performance radiator up front. During one ride, I noticed heat washing up over the hood or coming through the cab's front panel. While a side-benefit in winter, the amount of heat became pretty uncomfortable on that August day. When I asked a Polaris representative about it, he suggested the windshield option would divert the heat.

Polaris equipped its XP 900 with a high capacity battery and new starter for 30% more electrical power to run multiple accessories at one time. The dash includes two, 12-volt outlets. The electrical system supports well an optional 4,500-pound winch and cab heater.

The Ranger XP 900 is sold in Sage Green, Solar Red and Pursuit Camo. The base price difference between the 900 XP and Ranger 800 EFI is $1,600. Value and performance go to the Ranger XP 900.

Ranger XP 900: $12,999. Ranger XP 900 Browning Limited Edition (power steering, factory winch, matte black rims, driver's seat adjustment, custom Browning seat with Buck Mark decal, Pursuit Camo, gun scabbards): $15,799

For more information on the full lineup of 2013 Rangers, Sportsman ATVs and the "fun-to-ride-with-bit-of-work-capability-thrown-in" RZRs go to: <>/… .

Posted at 9:08AM CDT 08/28/12 by Dan Miller
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