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2017 UTV Evaluation: Polaris Ranger XP 1000

When we gathered up seven of the leading UTVs for the 2017 Successful Farming Ultimate UTV Evaluation, I had some notions going in on how all the machines would do, having spent time in them beforehand. While I was surprised at what I still learned from doing the tests side-by-side with all the machines, I have to admit that I wasn’t too surprised with the newest Polaris Ranger, the XP 1000. I’ve spent a lot of time in Rangers over the years, and Polaris is definitely doing something right, which earned the Ranger top marks in the evaluation.

In 2017, Successful Farming magazine conducted its third extensive UTV evaluation to provide you with information about how UTVs perform in ag applications. During the evaluation, we put seven of the newest utility vehicles through four rigorous tests

No replacement

There’s an old saying around the off-road press community that there is no replacement for displacement. The Ranger brought the heat with a 999-cc., 80-hp. twin-cylinder engine that was easily the most powerful of the machines tested. However, the power delivery was so smooth, it didn’t seem like you had more power than the other models, when, in fact, you did.

The deceptive power delivery was all part of the plan from Polaris. The company used an all-new digital throttle assembly for 2017 that has three modes: work, standard, and performance. On the trails during the unloaded tests, the performance mode earned the Polaris top scores. When you stomped on the gas in performance mode, you felt every bit of those 80 ponies. The Ranger scored five out of five on acceleration and ease of maintaining a constant speed, and an overall unloaded score of 30.1 out of a possible 35. The only area the Ranger did somewhat poorly in was ease of shifting. The shift lever took some time to break in.


Get a load

Of course, you’re not just buying a UTV to go ripping down the trails. How does the Ranger XP 1000 handle work? This was another place the Ranger shined, taking top scores for all of the loaded tests. When talking about working the machine, we ran three separate tests, each designed to test the limits. The half-loaded test ran half of the maximum capacity in the cargo bed. As expected, the Ranger nailed this test. Was there even 500 pounds in the box? That’s half the Polaris’ 1,000-pound capacity and you wouldn’t know it was back there. The fully independent suspension soaked this up with no issues.

So what happened if you maxed the capacity out? Could the 10 inches of suspension travel handle the load? The answer, as you may expect, was yes. We had to bump up the compression on the shock springs in an effort to reduce the sag from the load. We noticed the weight back there this way, but not overly so. The weight hurt the 12 inches of ground clearance some, but not much. One of the major things in the Ranger’s favor was how quiet it was. The engine noise was low, which was excellent considering how much power was on tap. But the attention to detail in the whole machine was really impressive. Not much squeaking and other noises came from the machine when really working it hard.

Towing a trailer with the maximum amount of capacity on it was easy, as well. Again, there was 80 hp., and the work mode of the throttle let us have all of those ponies with the benefit of a limited throttle and no wheel spin. The power steering was light, even under a full load and with the trailer. Engine braking was good as long as the RPMs were up some. The disc brakes held very well and handled everything we threw at them.


In the end

Overall, the machine was highly impressive and it took many top honors. The cab was the most comfortable, scoring a 26 out of 30 points for general observations such as comfort. In my opinion, the seatbelts were the most comfortable in the industry. All of the controls were handy to use. The shifter, as was stated, was stiff at first, but it broke in in a short amount of time. The steering responsiveness will take some time to get used to if you’re used to a quick-handling machine. The steering was slow compared with a sportier machine (like a RZR), but you’re not going to use a RZR for working much. You can work the Ranger hard and turn around and have a lot of fun with it, too. That made it a winner.

Derrek Sigler is an ATV/UTV journalist and was one of three evaluators during the UTV testing.

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