First Look: Polaris Xpedition ADV
We got to test drive this high-capacity, fully enclosed side-by-side
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If a classic overlanding vehicle, like a tricked-out Toyota 4Runner, and a traditional side-by-side had a love child, it would look something like the Polaris Xpedition ADV. The brand-new, off-highway vehicle has features that overlanders are used to, like power windows, air conditioning, Bluetooth, rooftop tents, and tons of stowage space. But it’s also designed to take on tight trails, rugged terrain, and access backcountry places that you wouldn’t normally be able to reach in a truck. It’s capable of hauling five passengers and 600 pounds of gear. I had the opportunity to get a first look at the new vehicle, taking it 110 miles into the Arizona backcountry on a press event. Here’s how it performed.
Polaris Xpedition ADV 5 Northstar Specs and Key Features
- Heat and air conditioning
- Lockable full doors with power windows
- Tip-out windshield with wash and wiper and rear hatch
- Ride Command+ with a 7-inch display
- JBL Trail Pro 4100 audio
- Front and rear cameras
- Tilt and telescoping steering
- 140a alternator charging system
- 114 HP ProStar 1000 Gen 2 engine
- FOX Podium QS3 with position sensitive spiral technology
- High clearance dual A-Arm with stabilizer bar
- 14 inches of ground clearance
- 30-inch Pro Armor Crawler XP tires
- On-demand true AWD/2WD/VersaTrac Turf Mode
- 200+ mile fuel range
- Polaris HD 4500 LB Winch
- Front bull bumper and full coverage skid plate
- ProFit sport roof and interior liner
- Lock and Ride MAX cargo system
- Rhino-Rack storage
- Fold flat and 60/40-split flip-up rear seats
- Price: Starting at $44,999
- Seats: Five
Pre-loaded with over 1,000,000 miles of mapped trails, Ride Command allows you to create waypoints, locate any group ride members, and communicate with other Ride Command vehicles without cell-service. You can see any stops, destinations, and other group ride vehicles clearly on the 7-inch display screen map. It’s convenient and safer to alert other drivers when to shift into low or warn followers of obstacles via this off-line messaging system without having to stop and exit the vehicle. The route planning and sharing will also be useful after your trip is over to share beta with other drivers.
Polaris engineering program leader, Dustin Bakker, told me the reason the Xpedition ADV has such a smooth riding experience is the suspension design. The vehicle has brand-new FOX QS3 shocks that work with the dual A-Arm suspension to provide a smooth ride. Combine this with the high clearance and 30-inch Pro Armor Crawler XP, and you’ve got a vehicle that won’t beat you up on a rugged trail. The three driving modes are comfort, standard, and sport; each are throttle mapped for varying terrain and riding experiences.
Pack your fishing gear, camping supplies, hunting equipment, roof top tent, coolers, mountain bikes, kayaks, and more. The Lock and Ride MAX cargo system, fold-flat rear seats, and Rhino-Rack bed or roof rack allow you to pack up the Xpedition ADV for any adventure you can think of. With a 1,160-pound payload capacity and 2,000-pound hitch towing rating, you can bring everything and the kitchen sink. The storage capacity on the Xpedition ADV is incredible, even if all five seats are taken.
Driving the Polaris Xpedition ADV
Behind the wheel of the Xpedition ADV, I was honestly disappointed with how smoothly the vehicle conquered rocky obstacles and sudden drops into washes. It was my first time driving a side-by-side and I was ready for a more challenging ride, lurching through and hurdling over harsh terrain. However, for the first 10 miles, the Xpedition ADV felt as comfortable as driving my own all-wheel drive compact SUV along a dirt road. The Lock and Ride Max cargo system keeps a cooler, spare tire, or whatever else you pack up from shifting during the ride. However, the 142-pound Polaris rooftop tent on top of an already over 6-foot tall vehicle made me feel tippy on tight turns, and it turns out my suspicions weren’t unfounded.
After 40 miles of dusty turns, bumpy washes, rocky climbs, and open backroads, I did some unintentional durability testing on the new machine—and rolled it while cruising down a hill.
My helmet, seatbelt, and the roll cage did their jobs and I climbed out unharmed. The windshield cracked but the side windows surprisingly remained intact even after rolling over rocks. Polaris engineers used another Xpedition ADV’s winch to right the vehicle and, after popping an air filter and back panel back into place, Polaris staff were able to drive the vehicle out with nothing more than a cracked windshield, dented sides, and detached side mirrors.
I should probably note here that the other drivers on this trip didn’t have any issues rolling vehicles. Also, I was impressed by the safety features, durability, and winch capability of the new machine.
I was a passenger in the Xpedition ADV for the rest of the trip, which featured an intense rock crawl. The vehicle ascended the tight, rocky corridor with surprising ease. On the winding road that followed, the Xpedition ADV cornered smoothly.
I was still able to sleep in the Polaris rooftop tent that night at camp, but it did bend slightly in the rollover meaning the platform wasn’t as flat as intended. The mattress is comfortable but firm. Polaris says there is room for three, but more than two adults wouldn’t be comfortable.
Final Thoughts on the Polaris Xpedition ADV
The air conditioning, Ride Command+, Bluetooth audio, and other luxury features are great, but the real draw of the Xpedition ADV is its ability to take you and your gear deep into the backcountry. While any overlanding vehicle can execute a mild climb and carry your hunting equipment, it can’t fit everywhere. The Xpedition ADV is going to tackle the tight turns, crawls, and tough terrain.
You can get a ton of gear and passengers places that most vehicles can’t go. However, this side-by-side isn’t as lightweight and sporty as you might expect a traditional SXS to be. Especially with a 142-pound rooftop tent, you’ll have to be mindful of the Xpedition ADV’s 2,790-pound dry weight. This also means if you’re filling the Xpedition ADV to the gills with gear and riders, you’ll need to be more cautious. While no one wants to flip a side-by-side, you’ll be even more disappointed if your pair of $5,000 mountain bikes are hanging off the hitch during a rollover.
But with smart packing and thoughtful driving, this comfortable and spacious side-by-side can haul you and your gear to a dream destination. The Xpedition ADV excels as a family-friendly way to reach beautiful and desolate areas to bike, kayak, camp, hunt, or fish.