From the first time we drove the Polaris Ranger over 10 years ago, we were in love with it. Even as a 500, it was sporty enough to race down the trails and tough enough to tackle work duties. Fast-forward a decade and the Ranger has evolved just as fast as the rest of the UTV market. For 2013, the top-of-the-line offering in the sport utility segment for Polaris is the Ranger XP 900.
In stock trim, this Ranger has the smoothest power and plushest suspension on any dump-bed-equipped machine. In the cockpit, there is seating for three, tons of storage opportunities and loads of other useful features. That fact doesn’t mean we can’t make it even better.
Polaris has done an excellent job incorporating storage opportunities bumper to bumper on this model. From the huge payload limits (1000 pounds) and Lock & Ride bed features out back to the multiple dash pockets and a large under-seat storage box, anyone needing more storage might be considered greedy. Call us what you want, but if we can have more, we’ll take it.
So for this project, we started at the very back. To get the very most out of the already large cargo box on the Ranger, we opted to install a Polaris bed extender ($199). This useful product will not only help you haul larger items with the tail gate open, it easily flips into the bed and acts as a divider to help secure smaller items too.
We found this product to be most convenient around our mountain cabin, hauling big loads of firewood, bales of hay or other larger items. Tucked in as a divider, the product can separate things like dirty gas cans from things like tents and sleeping bags. The bed extender is made out of strong steel tubing and installs in seconds using the Lock & Ride ports. The divider has its own tie-down points, too, if extra security with straps is needed. You can order the Polaris bed extender at www.polaris.com
, or pick one up at a local Polaris dealer.
The next storage item we installed also makes carrying items in the Ranger bed more convenient. It’s a UV-resistant, plastic, waterproof box called a Saddle Box from Moose Utility Division for $80. The box holds more than 3 gallons of loose contents and has a lockable steel latch.
To install the box, you simply drop the box’s molded pegs into the Lock & Ride holes in the dump-box bed rails. Gravity and a little pressure will hold them in. And if you want, you can lift the box off and take it with you off the machine. In this box we carry all manner of items, such as tools, snacks and other things we might want quick access to. The boxes are easy to open and reach when standing next to the bed of the Ranger. All Moose products are available at any Parts Unlimited dealer. To see more of their cool products, look up www.mooseutilities.com
In this arena we installed four different products; three we know we will use, and the other we hope to never need. First, we covered the entire underside of this Ranger with aluminum skid plates from Ricochet. These plates are 3/16-inch thick and are cut out of strong 5052 H-32 aluminum. The entire kit we installed comes complete with front and rear A-arm guards, a front bash plate and a four-piece underbelly protection.
Each section installed easily using the same Torx-style fasteners that the rest of the machine is put together with. We like when an aftermarket manufacturer takes those little details into consideration. So with the Ricochet products, you could actually use tools from the onboard tool kit to do the install.
What is even cooler is that we had our A-arm guards anodized orange to match the Orange Madness color scheme of our Polaris. The anodizing only adds $40 to the total $899 price tag. If that price is a little steep, you can order the A-arms guards ($179) or the belly pan ($725) separately.
You do get what you pay for with these skids. The front guards not only protect the lower A-arms from being dented and scratched, they protect the CV boots as well from being punctured by sticks and tree branches that you might have to plow through on the trail. Under the machine, the belly pan was well thought out, with extra drain holes and a removable access panel in the rear that allows you to service the engine without making a mess. And, the front bash plate keeps you from making a mess of the frame up there. If you want to replace your stock or aftermarket skid plates or A-arm guards, give Ricochet a call at (866) 273-1197. Or, view their entire catalog online at www.utahsport
The protection item we hope we never have to use is the fire extinguisher mount from Off-Road Solutions. If we do happen on a small fire we can help with, the ORS quick-release mount will be there to serve. The product is a billet-aluminum piece that mounts either with hose clamps or billet clamps onto any part of the roll cage you feel is the most convenient. Since this Ranger has the modular-style (not round) roll cage, we had to use hose clamps to perform the install. It fit perfectly on the cross brace at the rear of the cab. If you need to access the extinguisher, all you have to do is quickly pull the nylon lanyard connected to the pin and extinguisher and it’s ready to use. The bracket and billet clamps sell for $192. Fire extinguishers are sold separately. If you want to use the quick-release portion and install it using hose clamps, the mount only sells for $71. The mount can also be used for other lightweight, slender items such as small shovels and flashlights. Check out all of their innovative mounting ideas at www.quickrelease
mount.com, or call and order a mount directly at (901) 231-5071. Be sure to tell them Dirt Wheels sent ya!
To protect the occupants sitting inside the Ranger cab, we called on Extreme Metal Products and ordered up a plastic roof and half windshield. The $155 Lexan wind deflector helps direct cold air right over the occupants’ heads. For mild temperatures, it’s about all you need to keep from freezing. Windchill temperatures get low pretty quickly when you are driving at 50 mph, so we have found a little air deflection will go a long way.
Another asset of the EMP half windshield is its quick straps. These small rubber straps make installing or removing the product a snap. All you do is set the windshield on top of the dash and rest it against the front roll-cage bars, then you stretch the four straps around the two front roll bars and back to the rubber posts at the base of the straps. We found in really dusty, warm conditions, we use the fast straps to easily move the windshield out of the way and secure it to the back of the cab. This allows air to flow through the cab rather than circle inside of it.
We topped off the cab with EMP’s large plastic roof. This two-piece roof completely blocks the sun’s rays or rain from above. To mount the roof, a small bracket has to be bolted to the top of the roll cage first. Then, a half-dozen bolts and nuts secure it in place. All hardware is included. The $200 price is very affordable compared to the $500 premium roof that Polaris sells for this model.
The final product supplied by EMP was their 4 1/2- by 8-inch, convex rearview mirror. Using simple thumb screws and two strips of double-sided tape, the mirror quickly attaches to the upper front cross member of the stock cage. The mirror gives it about a 200-degree view of everything behind and next to you when you are moving forward or backing up. This $40 product is so user-friendly and affordable, we think they should be standard equipment on every UTV. For all Extreme Metal Products, call them at (800) 262-2768, or buy directly from www.extrememetalproducts.com
.TIRES AND WHEELS
To take care of our rolling armor under this project Ranger, we installed a tire and wheel package from STI. Not that the stock equipment is bad, we just wanted something stronger and with a little more curb appeal. Our Limited Edition Ranger XP 900 is a good-looking machine, and we think chrome wheels make it stand out even more. Those wheels are STI HD1s, measuring 14 by 7 inches, and they sell for $86.95 each. The tires we mounted are STI’s Black Diamond XTRs. They have a tough six-ply rating and aggressive lugs. We went with 9-inch-wide meats up front ($131.95) and 11-inch-wide tires in the rear ($141.95). STI sells this tire and wheel combo as a package as well with a substantial savings. That combo price is $911.60. You can find an STI Tire and Wheel dealer at www.stitires.com
We are now on our way to building another perfect project machine. This 2013 Polaris Ranger will become the ultimate work and play vehicle. We plan on installing a winch, bumpers, lights and a few trinkets that we still have in mind. Most likely we will not touch the motor during this build, but there are plenty of hop-up kits available for it. For example, HMF has already developed an exhaust system for it that gives it a racy sound, a few extra horsepower and saves a bunch of weight. In part two we will also let you know how well the components are holding up, as well as share some stories about the fun times we are having in the Ranger. Stay tuned. q
Ricochet (866) 273-1197
Off Road Solutions (901) 231-5071
Pure Polaris www.polaris.com
EMP (800) 262-2768