Field Test: New Polaris Ranger XP 900 SXS

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I’ve been a big fan of the Polaris Ranger for many years, especially the 2012 Ranger XP 800 EPS I’ve been using for the last six months. Polaris’ marketing slogan, “Hardest Working Smoothest Riding,” mirrors my own impression of the Ranger lineup. Rangers have earned a legendary reputation for their work ethic because of their muscle and capability. Yet, somehow, the Ranger also manages to deliver a sporty and comfortable ride, despite its utilitarian nature. The completely redesigned 2013 Ranger XP 900 is better than any previous Ranger ever built, period. With more power, additional comfort, enhanced safety, better efficiency, and new design features the Side-by-Side (SxS) market has never seen before, the 2013 Polaris Ranger pushes the evolution of the SxS to the next level.

Key Features:
• Pro Star 900cc engine: Genetically similar to the RZR XP 900, in Ranger XP 900 form the Pro Star delivers 60HP in an efficiently designed package. This means more power gets to the rear wheels than any Ranger in history.
• Engine location moved under bed: The new engine location keeps all of the noisy and hot parts out of the cab, providing a more comfortable driving experience for the occupants.
• On Demand True AWD with Turf Mode: when wheel slippage is detected, power is automatically transferred to the front to restore traction. Turf mode allows the rear differential to unlock, providing a tighter turning radius and less damage to grassy areas.
• Hauling and Towing: With a 1,000-pound bed capacity and a 2000-pound towing capacity, the Ranger has plenty of capability to get the job done.

Even before I saw the new Ranger during the unveiling at Polaris’ R&D facility in Minnesota, I could tell by the exhaust note that it housed a version of the Pro Star twin cylinder shared with the RZR XP 900. With 60hp, the Ranger XP 900 pulls harder than the previous 800cc engine. The engine doesn’t have the neck snapping power it does in the RZR XP 900. Instead, the Ranger’s 900 Pro Star is tuned to be more civilized with gobs of torque.

The engine is more powerful than the previous Ranger 800cc twin. However, the added performance comes from a more efficiently designed engine and transmission package rather than from simply adding more brute horsepower. The Pro Star engine and transmission is more compact and is actually bolted together, unlike previous Rangers. Since the engine and transmission are bolted together as one unit, inefficiencies in the driveline that robbed previous Ranger models of horsepower are now eliminated.

The Ranger XP 900 is not only more powerful, it’s actually much quieter. With the engine mounted under the tilting cargo bed, the heat and noise can be isolated from the cab. This was immediately noticeable within the first mile I drove the new machine.

I watched the Ranger XP 900 drag a gigantic fallen tree and several farm implements during a demonstration and there was no doubt the XP 900 is more capable than ever before.

• New Pro Star 900 has great power, torque, and reduced vibration.
• With the engine now located under the bed, the interior is noticeably quieter and cooler than previous Rangers.

• The Pro Star in the Ranger XP 900 makes 60HP, while in RZR 900 trim it makes 82HP. Buyers will have to rely on aftermarket companies to uncork the Ranger XP 900’s full potential.

Key Features:
• Redesigned Chassis: The chassis is stronger and has more torsional rigidity than previous generation Rangers. This eliminates creaking and groaning from the chassis, which plagued previous generation Rangers.
• 5-inch Longer Wheelbase: The longer wheelbase makes the Ranger more stable, yet still retains a very tight turning radius.
• Electric Power Steering (EPS): steering effort is greatly reduced with EPS. With added weight on the front like a heavy plow, EPS makes the added girth nearly imperceivable.
• 12-inch ground clearance: Allows the pilot to drive the Ranger over obstacles rather than into them.
• 10.6 inches of front travel and 10 inches of rear travel: The most travel ever offered on a Ranger also delivers the smoothest ride, even on rough, gnarly terrain.

The new Ranger XP 900 chassis is phenomenal. One look at the new cage design and Polaris’ goal of increasing structural rigidity becomes obvious. From the driver’s seat, the ride is smoother, quieter, cooler, and has less vibration. Essentially, it’s better in every aspect.

The Ranger XP 900 was surprisingly sporty. With the bigger engine on board, I was more motivated to put the pedal on the floor and see how well the Ranger could stretch its legs. On one section of trail we tackled a section with small whoops. I fully expected to Ranger to get squirrely, but the suspension sucked up those better than any utility type SxS I’ve ever driven.

The EPS is awesome and feels very natural. In fact, on rough roads the Ranger steers easier and has less feedback through the wheel than my Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road.

• The stiffer chassis makes a huge difference in ride quality. Gone are the days of creaks and groans coming from the chassis.
• The suspension provides a very smooth ride over all types of terrain.

• No Crew Cab model…..YET

Key Features
• Pro Fit Cab: Revolutionizes the often painful task of installing and removing a cab. Now, this arduous task can be done in literally minutes.
• Adjustable Driver’s Seat (LE Model): Allows drivers of all sizes to fit comfortably in the cab.
• Redesigned Cargo Box: Has more tie down points, an easier to operate tailgate, and the ability to fit a pallet.
• Under Seat Storage: Previous generation Rangers had the engine located under the seat. With the Pro Star 900 now located under the bed, a huge amount of storage space is now located under a new flip-up seat design.

• Pro Fit Cab makes all other cab systems laughable. Yes, it’s that good.
• The adjustable driver seat is functional and very comfortable.
• Additional storage under the seat creates a cavernous stowage space.
• The cab, especially when enclosed with a cab, feels like a compact pickup truck.

• None

Key Features
• Common Fasteners: Polaris finally listened to consumers and is now building the new Ranger XP 900 with common fasteners. If you’ve ever worked on a Polaris in the past, this should add a giant smile to your face.
• Organized routing of wires and hoses: Looking at the Ranger engine bay, everything has a place. Hoses have molded routing channels, wires have a definitive location, and the wiring conduit even has markings where zip ties should be placed.
• Speed Key: This excellent safety feature limits the speed and performance of the Ranger by simply using a separate key. This isn’t new to the industry, but it is new to the Ranger line.
• Well Designed Air Box: The Ranger filter keeps the dirty side of the air filter down. So, when servicing the filter, debris falls onto the ground instead of into the air box.
• Multiple Pro Fit Cab Enclosure Versions and Options: Even better than the new Pro Fit cab are the a la carte options you can choose when ordering your own. With multiple windshields made of plastic or automotive glass, multiple door models, options like power windows, and even a heated cab option, the Pro Fit cab is a great enhancement.
• Magnetic Accessory Winch Stop: It’s tough to know when your winch is at the end of its rope, so to speak. Polaris integrated a magnet into their accessory winch that stops the winch in the perfect spot every time.

The Ranger has always been rugged, but it fell short when it came to providing that feeling of refinement. The 2013 Ranger XP 900 erases that reputation with a new level of sophistication than ever before. The new interior is very comfortable, with added legroom and seat comfort. What impressed me most was the attention to detail on this new Ranger. The interior is automotive quality, both in design and performance. Polaris’ research showed that many owners do their own maintenance. So, the common fasteners, organized wires and hoses, and this added attention to detail will be a crowd pleaser for do-it-yourselfers.
• Polaris is finally using common fasteners on the Ranger XP 900
• Speed Key is an inexpensive safety enhancement that I hope they incorporate into other models.
• The new Ranger is designed with ease of maintenance in mind, making it possible for do-it-yourselfers to save cash maintaining the machine themselves.

• Offer a winch as standard equipment.
_Final Thoughts
It’s very cool to see a company like Polaris continue to push the industry into new directions and markets. The amazing Pro Fit cab system is the perfect example of this school of thought. In recent years, I’m thoroughly impressed with Polaris’ vision as a company, as well as the quality of the products they continue to release. The 2013 Polaris Ranger XP 900 is a stellar example of American ingenuity and inventiveness. I can say without reservation, Polaris knocked the redesign of the new Polaris Ranger XP 900 out of the park.

See more photos of the Polaris Ranger XP 900 SXS here.