The 2012 Polaris RZR XP900 absolutely blew me away. Never have I driven a stock Side-by-Side (SxS) that possessed such incredible balance and capability.
An 88 hp Pro Star engine and transmission allows this monster to angrily claw at the ground, pouncing forward over every type of terrain. The RZR XP900 can easily reach speeds in excess of 65 mph. I drove this machine faster than any SxS I’ve ever tested, and remained in complete control over rocky, technical terrain.
And if the engine is the heart of this machine, then the suspension is the soul. With 13 inches of ground clearance and 14 inches of suspension travel, the RZR XP900 can fly over two-foot deep whoops at full throttle, rock crawl through the gnarliest terrain known to man, or claw through the mud like some prehistoric mud-creature.
The RZR XP900 excelled during a “demo run” this summer at the 2012 Fishers ATV World Reunion. Countless ATVs and SxSs struggled to drive over a quartet of giant Euclid tires and a ragged rocked garden. I convinced my friend—who is 6 feet 6 inches tall—to ride shotgun with me, and we literally leaped the RZR XP900 over this portion of the course; the tires barely even touched these obstacles. And just for the heck of it, we climbed over a junk car in a friend’s auto salvage yard. In case you’re wondering what possessed me to try this with a SxS, it would be a be waste of time to go into any explanation deeper than, “Why not?”
The On-Demand True AWD worked effortlessly and autonomously. When engaged, power is transferred to the front wheels only when rear wheel slippage is detected. However, I only engaged the AWD when I absolutely needed it because part of the RZR's XP900’s charm is its ability to drift through corners in 2WD; navigating directional changes with the throttle and brakes rather than just the steering wheel.
Ergonomically, the RZR XP900 cabin is as comfortable as any of the other RZR models, since they are all essentially identical. The cabin is narrow, so big honkin' gangly fellas like myself might bump shoulders with similarly sized passengers. The interior is pretty basic. Other than an AWD switch, tilt steering, an analog/digital gauge cluster, and a grab handle, there's not much else to discuss. However, I would like to mention the super bright LED lights that make night riding safe and fun.
The rear storage bed accepts Lock N' Ride accessories, as well as many other aftermarket accessories. On numerous occasions, I strapped an Ogio Honcho bag, which is actually engineered to work on a rear ATV rack, into the cargo bed. I was pleasantly surprised how well the bag fit and worked.
Purchasing the RZR XP900 to haul yard debris would be an enormous mistake. I was surprised by how well this SxS did as an adventure rig. After my son's first ride in it, it was tough to convince the little bugger into choosing any other machine for our father/son rides.
Many of my friends that hunt are also avid off-road enthusiasts. It’s no secret that a huge market exists for SxSs that are outdoorsman-friendly. On the flip side, the market for machines better suited for pure, adrenaline-inducing fun continues to grow in leaps and bounds. If your dreams are chock full of Sass’s poised to plow snow or accompany you on a whitetail deer hunt, there are much better choices. However, if a day full of fun guaranteed to make grown men scream like my four-year-old daughter is more your style, there is currently no better SxS on the planet to do this than the RZR XP900.
The only improvement I can think of would be the addition of Electric Power Steering (EPS), which Polaris has available. My biggest concern is that when I inevitably test the EPS model, I may fall helplessly in love and be forced to dig into my wallet and make that machine my own.
2012 Polaris RZR XP900 at a Glance
- The 88 hp Pro Star engine and transmission package is close to perfection.
- Engine sound is intoxicating and performance is exhilarating.
- Long-travel suspension sucks up every bump, no matter the size or speed.
- Powerful brakes stop the RZR with authority.
- On-Demand AWD system makes this machine nearly unstoppable.
- Stock ITP tires are surprisingly puncture resistant.
- Access panel to gain access to the engine simplifies maintenance.
- 13 inches of ground clearance
- We drove over a car with our demo...how cool is that?
- Wish the demo model was equipped with EPS because the steering effort at low speeds is elevated on tighter trails.
- Seats would be much better if they could be adjusted without using tools.
- It may be too wide if your local ride spot only has narrow trails.
- Trying to convince your wife you need this machine to plow snow may earn you a beating.