2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 4 Seater
Most businesses are traveling a conservative course at the moment and not taking big risks. In a similar vein, most are not spending big on research and development. That is not the plan at Polaris. We can imagine that the boardroom transcript at Polaris reads something like the script from the old Pinky and the Brain cartoon: “What should we do today? The same thing we do every day—try to take over the world.” We tend to get myopic and only see Polaris as a maker of ATVs and UTVs, but with electric vehicles, Victory and Indian motorcycles and snowmobiles, perhaps Polaris is eyeing the world. It almost seems like we get weekly announcements of new Polaris models, so it’s no surprise that there is nothing conservative about the Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 EPS. It isn’t like Polaris really needed to create an all-new four-seater UTV. The company already had, and still has, the RZR 4 800 and the RZR 4 900. The 900 in particular remains an able competitor for the Can-Am Maverick Max 1000 and the Wildcat 4 1000. It’s almost like Polaris wasn’t interested in even letting the competition appear to have an advantage over “Big P.”
BIGGER AND BETTER
Of the three Polaris RZR four-seaters, the 800 has 12 inches of travel, is 60.5 inches wide and sits on a 107.4-inch wheelbase. In contrast, the 900 four-seater has 13.5 inches of front travel, 14 inches of rear travel, the same 107.4-inch wheelbase, but is a full 64 inches wide. The XP 1000 has 16 inches of front travel, 18 inches of rear travel and shares the 900’s width of 64 inches. But with a 117-inch wheelbase, the 1000 is almost 7 inches longer. Previously, the Can-Am Max seemed long at nearly 114 inches at the wheelbase and heavy at 1547 pounds, but the longer XP 4 is 1596 pounds. Some of that wheelbase was added for handling and stability, but a byproduct is more room in the passenger compartment.
Polaris selected double A-arms in the front for the new XP 4, and there is trailing-arm independent suspension in the rear. Like the 800, the XP 4 uses Walker Evans shocks, but the 1000 is upgraded to the 16-position-adjustable needle shocks. The term “needle shocks” means that the shock body has a large needle mounted inside. It isn’t shaped like a sewing needle, but more like a center punch. As the shock nears the end of the travel, the needle slides into the hollow shock shaft. That closes off the free bleed through the shaft. That forces the oil to pass through the shock piston and valve shims, so it greatly increases the damping at the end of the stroke. As a result, the shock travel can be set up for smooth, supple action, but still have good bottoming resistance. The 16-position adjusters make it easy to dial in the right ride with any set of passengers. Polaris suggested that we go two clicks stiffer for each added passenger.
Larger-than-normal 29-inch tires on 14-inch rims, rather than the 27-inch tires on 12-inch wheels that the RZR 900 uses, aid the suspension in eating terrain. The 29-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 radial rears are an inch narrower than the 27s on the rear of the 900. Helping direct the front tires is Electric Power Steering (EPS). EPS is quite welcome on a car as large and powerful as the 1000. Even when we were plowing the front hard in the dunes, the steering required little muscular input.
A major advantage to the new larger chassis is a new, roomier passenger cabin. It is nicely appointed with four quarter doors. They open with one hand and latch solidly. The front seats move on tracks for different-sized drivers (and passengers), and all the seats have added bolstering and are covered with material with Dryseat technology to shrug off water. Polaris expects you to get the XP dirty and wet. It even has clean-out drains in the floor. There are LED floor lights on both sides of the passenger cabin, two cup holders and a 12-volt outlet. The nicely shaped steering wheel has 10 inches of tilt adjustability. A new center storage box has a cell-phone holder, and there is a larger glovebox. Driver and passengers have footrests, and the passengers have hand-holds for when the going is rough.
DOWN TO BUSINESS
For our initial testing session in the Imperial Sand Dunes (Glamis), we had two drivers of substantially different height, and both were able to settle into the cockpit or the passenger seat easily. The sliding seat and tilt will make for quick transitions. We like having the partial doors as well. They open easily and closed solidly. Three-point retractable seat belts secure all occupants, and they have a sliding anti-cinch clip. Visibility out of the car is fine in the front, but in the rear it is a little dependent on the size of the driver and passengers. Can-Am feels it is worth the change in the center of gravity to raise the rear passenger seats for backseat visibility. Polaris respects performance, so all four seats are mounted as low in the car as practically possible. We had no complaints. Passengers of the XP 4 1000 spend a lot of time with their eyes squeezed tightly shut, so it isn’t an issue.
As you take off, the CVT snaps in solidly and pulls hard with no hesitation. Even with the weight of the XP 4 and two passengers, acceleration is strong with no lag or hesitation. In the dunes, the car rips through, but keep in mind that you will not climb anything you see. Paddles will help, but still, the 107 horsepower pushing 2000 pounds (loaded) does not make you king of the sand dunes. We aren’t sure, though, that we wanted paddles. For any UTV, the belt is the weak link. Yes, it is supposed to be sacrificial to save the transmission for extreme loads, but when we were driving hard, we started to smell rubber, so we backed off and let everything cool down before hammering the throttle again. You have to mind the belt temps no matter what terrain you’re in, especially with a four-seater. You don’t want three people mad at you when the belt fails. They won’t help push, so remember to take it easy and cruise through the soft stuff. We also recommend carrying an extra belt in any UTV, and make sure you have the tools and know-how to change it.
When you are hammering the throttle, the performance is more than satisfying; it borders on addictive. The handling is generally light and pretty neutral. It is a long car, and it doesn’t want to slide much in the sand. The front will push through significant roost, but you don’t really hang the rear out in the breeze. For sure the car turns well when there is actual dirt for the tires to grab. The brakes are up to the task of slowing this much power down when you need to.
Polaris claims more ground clearance than the Can-Am. We could drag it crossing sharp sand transitions, but it wasn’t an issue in the dunes. It never even hinted that it wouldn’t drive on through. We were frankly impressed with how well the RZR handled air time. We launched it a few feet in the air in the dunes, and it always settled back to earth nicely. Like any UTV, keeping the front end from dropping takes planning and throttle, and with the long car that trait is obvious. Still, it’s much better than we expected from a car like this.
Anyone knows that there is no smooth way to get out of the popular gathering areas at Glamis. On the fast and rough sections of the transfer sections, the XP 4 was happy between 50 and 70 mph in the whoops. On the harder desert trails, the XP 1000 can hit 80 mph—wow. Through all the rough we encountered, the car does an admirable job of taking the abuse without handing it off to the passengers. We played with the compression damping, and the two-clicks-per-passenger rule seemed pretty close; we could certainly tell a difference when we stiffened up the shocks.
We doubt that many folks will buybthe XP 4 to ride around alone. Onbthe other hand, if we were alreadybconsidering a two-seat XP 1000, thebextra $2000 (10 percent) cost to get thebfour-seater seems like a slam dunkbfor drivers with fairly open terrain.bPerhaps if there were a lot of tightbwoods it would make more sensebto get a two-seater. Load the XP 4bfull of passengers and it shrugs offbthe weight. It still handles fine, ridesbgreat and accelerates at a pace thatbthrills everyone in the machine, allbthe while you are in fairly luxuriousbsurroundings with plenty of comfort.bShopping for a four-seater has neverbbeen more fun.