Polaris Ranger XP 900 LE review

By: Shane Solomon, Photography by: Rachel Pratt and Shane Solomon

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Polaris continues to lead the world in innovative designs for the UTV market and the all-new Polaris Ranger XP900 LE is no exception…

Polaris Ranger XP 900 LE review
The Polaris Ranger XP900 LE is looking set to surpass the Ranger 800 as the premier work UTV from Polaris.

You'd better call the top dogs at Polaris UTVs. Someone forgot to tell them farm workhorse side by sides aren't supposed to be buckets of fun to drive. It isn't that Polaris portrays the new Polaris Ranger XP900 LE as an awesome UTV trail rig, but it turns out the latest premium UTV is a blast to ride and a major force around the farm.

Myself and our intrepid Farm Trader Ed Rachel rocked up to a little farm on the outskirts of Tauranga recently to try out the new 2013 Ranger XP 900 LE from Polaris. The 900 is a worthy successor to the Ranger 800 as the ultimate work/recreation UTV available from the American company. Polaris has become a definite player in our fair country for the side by side market, with more-than-impressive sales figures. Much of its success is due to the Ranger models and this new machine boosts performance and refinement from tip to tail.

As the name suggests, the Polaris Ranger XP900 LE uses essentially the same four-stroke, twin-cylinder engine found in the more recreationally-orientated Polaris RZR XP 900, a known ass-kicker. Engineers took the 875cc high-performance platform and tweaked the top end to make it a more usable workhorse. The cams, piston and head valve cover are all new, and the intake is reworked to accommodate dual throttle bodies (RZR has single). Polaris also addressed the CVT belt and clutches to handle the more linear torque curve. A new engine management system (EMS) tunes the mill and the exhaust is redesigned as well. The engine is also now a wet-sump design. The parallel-twin engine is claimed to produce 60 horsepower (44.7kW) and 73.2Nm (54lb-ft) of torque.

 

Polaris Ranger XP 900

Hard work and towing requires torque from all rpm, not just impressive peak numbers. Polaris assures us the torque curve on the Ranger is virtually flat, and it feels this way from the very comfortable and adjustable seat. There is no big surge and acceleration is smooth regardless of how hard the gas pedal is pressed. However, attach something to its 2000-pound-capable tow hitch or start filling the 1000 pounds of available payload in the bed, and the Ranger digs in and starts hauling.

Ride quality is also notably good. Polaris lengthened the wheelbase to 2057mm (127mm longer than the 800) and increased the torsional rigidity of the chassis by a claimed 100  percent. How does making it stiffer provide a better ride? Less flexing allows the suspension to function properly with the steering geometry. The five-position preload adjustable Sachs shocks offer 254mm of suspension travel and 305mm of ground clearance. They soaked up everything we pointed them at on the hilly terrain. The chassis and cab also squeak less. Granted, our unit was brand spanking new, but we didn't hear a single squeak - and speaking of quiet, the exhaust note is pleasantly muffled. We tested it without the super handy clip-in windows, doors and roof and, despite being open to the environment, the noise from the pipe wasn't stock-scatteringly loud. The reason the new XP900 is so quiet is the engine placement. The entire engine and transmission are located behind the driver and passenger, not under them as in other UTVs. Not only does it mean a much quieter ride, this placement also gives the home garage mechanic very good access to the service items to keep the machine in top shape. The air filter, intake, CVT box and much more are literally right in front of the do-it-yourselfer and all you have to do is lift the bed to get at these areas.

 

Transmission

The transmission consists of park, reverse, neutral, low and high. There is no parking brake on the XP 900. Drivers can choose between 2WD in turf mode (which is really only 1WD), 2WD locked differential or on-demand AWD. Riding around the paddocks in turf mode didn't generate the kind of grass-ripping roosts you'd get on some ATVs or other side by sides - in fact, it didn't matter how hard I turned, the ground remained unbroken, something that's sure to be a winner if you don't want to rip up that precious grass growth. Braking is handled by hydraulic units on all four wheels.

The front two calipers are dual piston. Something to get used to is the two-foot braking technique Polaris's New Zealand national sales manager Anton Giacon instructed us on. Coming up to a particularly curly-looking drop off, simply chuck the XP 900 into low and AWD, and ease down the hill with your left foot over the brake and your right foot just giving the throttle a light touch, and the engine acts as a brake, slowing the progress significantly. Very cool.

Considering how strong it performs and how enjoyable it is to drive, what impresses us most is the attention to detail, storage capacity and ease of maintenance. Polaris has made numerous design features that make the 900 easier to live with and create a better interface with the machine. The airbox, oil fill, transmission, engine, belt and shocks are all accessible under the dump bed. Common fasteners are used throughout (13mm, 15mm and T40) so there's less wrench juggling. The fuel cap is now on the driver's side as well, so it's easy to pull up to the gas pumps and fill the truck and XP on the trailer without having to bugger about. The hydraulic-assisted bed has divider slots built in too, so the owner can cut a two-by-ten board to length and drop it in. It  also has integrated tie-down points and will  take a pallet.

 

Ride

The Lock & Ride design is one of the stand-out features of this side by side, especially on the cab. The windshield, roof and rear window each require less than a minute to install with two people. Polaris also has a long list of other products able to be quickly installed around the vehicle. Once the driver slips into the adjustable 60/40 bench seat, the steering wheel position can also be set within a 254mm range. The passenger seat comes up to reveal a large storage tub, and the same goes for the front hood. The battery is accessible underneath the driver's seat. Designers also built a glovebox on each side of the cab and included a row of under-dash storage spanning all the way across, as well as cup holders for that morning smoko coffee.

Switching on the headlights reveals a 25-percent brighter shine from the dual LEDs. The light pattern extends 30  percent further and Polaris says it's an extra 100 feet of visibility.

 

Ranger XP 900 price

The Ranger XP 900 UTV is looking set to surpass the Ranger 800 as the premier work UTV from Polaris. Considering the wide range of applications where this side by side excels, it's easy to see how this can happen. Giacon says the target consumer for this Ranger is the larger landowner with a range of farming equipment, all the toys and perhaps a penchant for hunting. The top-line Ranger XP 900 LE, as we've tested here, will retail at Polaris dealers throughout the country at RRP$23,474 excl GST, the base model not yet slated for the Kiwi market. Polaris customers are going to be able to repair and maintain their equipment much easier than before, and it's extremely usable in multiple environments. Sure, the price might seem a little steep, but owners get a super handy, hard-working farm vehicle that's an absolute blast to hoon around the paddocks and backcountry on.

Polaris Ranger XP 900 LE EPS Specs

Engine type

Twin-cylinder, four-stroke

Displacement

875cc

Fuel system

Electronic fuel injection

Cooling

Liquid

Transmission/final drive

Automatic PVT H/L/N/R/P, shaft

Drive system

On-demand true AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac turf mode

Suspension

Front: dual A-arm 25.4cm travel; Rear: dual A-arm, IRS 25.4cm travel

Front/rear brakes

Four-wheel hydraulic disc with dual-bore front calipers

Tyres

Front: 26x10-12; PXT; Rear: 26x11-12; PXT; Aluminium wheels

Wheelbase

206cm

Dry weight

618kg

Ground clearance

30.5cm

Fuel capacity

37.9L

Bed box dimensions
(L x W x H)

93 x 137 x 29cm

Payload capacity

680.4kg

Hitch towing rating

907.2kg

polaris ranger xp 900 seats Roof, windshield and doors can be added without tools, thanks to an almost snap-on format design. polaris ranger xp 900 seats
Front view of Polaris Ranger xp 900 With the XP 900 in turf mode, there’ll no more chewing up the pasture, even if you’re accelerating hard. Front view of Polaris Ranger xp 900
polaris ranger xp 900 UTV The Ranger XP 900’s parallel twin engine is claimed to produce 60 horsepower and 73.2Nm of torque. polaris ranger xp 900 UTV
Seating on polaris ranger xp 900 both the steering wheel and driver’s seat are adjustable. Seating on polaris ranger xp 900
Wheel base of polaris ranger xp 900 UTV Uphill or down, the Ranger XP 900 will easily manage the rugged, steep hillsides permeating our backcountry farms. Wheel base of polaris ranger xp 900 UTV

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