ATV TEST: 2020 POLARIS SCRAMBLER XP 1000 S
Bring out the big gun By the staff of Dirt Wheels
We affectionately address Polaris’ 2020 Scrambler XP 1000 S as the “Beast.” It has set new standards in the ATV world. Polaris decided to take an existing sport 4×4 platform, strengthen it, widen it and add more suspension travel. It boasts 89 horsepower from the ProStar engine, and jaws drop at its massive appearance. They may also drop for its hefty $14,999 price tag. We will let you decide if the price is worth the Scrambler XP 1000 S pure-sport experience.
MEAT & POTATOES
Let’s face it, we all just want to know about this new suspension setup that pushed the wheels outward to an insane width of 55 inches. The aftermarket creates kits that will offer similar benefits to Polaris’ new suspension setup, but Polaris didn’t just slap new arms on the Scrambler XP 1000 S. The chassis has been refined and redesigned with 31-percent -larger main-frame tubing. They enhanced the strength of many other points on the frame, including where the suspension connects.
The front A-arms are now high clearance and arched with 12.5 inches of travel. To put that into perspective, the Scrambler 850 has 9 inches of travel. The rear suspension has 14 inches of mind-blowing travel from newly designed dual A-arms. Both the front and rear systems come with a stabilizer/sway bar to improve performance. Walker Evans shocks come on many different Polaris models, but those on the XP 1000 S are impressive. The shocks are high- and low-speed compression adjustable. They also have rebound and spring preload adjustability with a dual-rate coil design and crossover rings.
Polaris’ Scrambler 850 sits at 48.6 inches in width, while the new S is 55 inches wide. We aren’t aware that the new 12-inch aluminum wheels have more offset than previous years, which means the new width is solely based off of longer suspension arms. Polaris claims that they designed out any wheel scrub as the suspension travels through its stroke, along with eliminating bumpsteer through their ProSteer design. Electronic power steering is a standard feature on this machine, and it needs it. The Scrambler’s newly gained width means it has heavier suspension components, and the wheels are positioned further away from the center of the ATV. The new Duro Power Grip II tires are 27 inches tall, which is an inch larger than previous years. That means more weight, and it all adversely affects steering, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if you swung a leg over this beast.
We aren’t quite sure what fuels the human need for glorious power and speed, but Polaris doesn’t disappoint in that department. The ProStar 952cc single-overhead-camshaft, four-stroke engine is a parallel twin-cylinder design. Electronic fuel-injection fuels this gas guzzler from a 5.25-gallon tank. The engine didn’t receive any changes for this model aside from a centrally mounted exhaust system. However, there is also a new happy button on the dash of the Scrambler that offers two power settings: it is “so fast” and “yee-haw”! Honestly, we kept the Scrambler in full power mode, because the lower power mode didn’t seem to change much of the engine characteristics. Plus, since the switch isn’t on the handlebar, it’s inconvenient to operate while riding.
Inside the transmission are much stronger gears and other upgraded components to better handle the stress from the new suspension and tire setup. The gear pattern remains unchanged with high and low forward gears, neutral, reverse and park. All are controlled by a shift lever on the right side of the gas tank that we wish was gated.
The previous Scrambler front differential was switched out with a RZR XP 1000 version that increases strength by 15 percent. They also took the half shafts from the RZR and added them to the S. Apparently, the rear differential didn’t require any updating. All four wheels are still shaft driven, and Polaris’ OnDemand all-wheel-drive system works all too well with the Scrambler. The thumb-throttle housing was changed to include a new switch that selects two- or all-wheel drive.
FIT FOR FLIGHT
The 2020 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S is no string bean. It weighs in at a hefty 881 pounds dry. Add coolant, oil and a full tank of gas, and you’ll end up over 900 beastly pounds. That is over 100 pounds heavier than the Scrambler 850. Stopping all of that weight are four hydraulic disc brakes controlled by a single lever on the left side of the handlebar. The rear brakes can be actuated separately via a foot pedal on the right side. In order to get the handlebar up where Polaris felt it worked best, they designed in a 3-inch-tall adjustable handlebar riser. The bar is comfortable, and it comes equipped with handguards in stock trim. The centrally mounted dash holds the gauge that gives many readouts, including engine temp, speedometer, hour meter, tachometer and much more.
Resting below the digital gauge is a set of switches. One toggles between the two power modes, while the other turns on the new 1,890-lumen, 11-inch ProArmor LED light bar mounted on the front of the Scrambler. The engine kill/run switch is mounted to the left side of the handlebar, with a switch that turns the dual headlights on. Low beam pumps out 50 watts, while high beam pushes 65 watts of power. The ProArmor light bar outshines both standard headlights.
No, the Scrambler XP 1000 S is not a workhorse, and utility is not in its bag of tricks. Strangely enough, it does have some cargo-toting abilities. The rear rack can have up to 50 pounds strapped down to it, while the hood can hold 25 pounds. Towing is not an option according to Polaris. The front bumper has been redesigned with a cool new look, and the black and red colorway that Polaris dubs “Black Pearl” is sinister-looking.
TAME THE BEAST
Polaris considers the Scrambler line their sport ATV segment. If you have fallen under the thought process that only straight-axle sport quads are in fact “sport quads,” then you have yet to ride this beast. In fact, we only switched the S to AWD when needed, because it has so much power and width that it slides corners like a straight-axle racer. Once the feeling of “this thing is massive” goes away, the Polaris actually acts light and very maneuverable. The touchy EPS takes care of that. It is true, the bumpersteer is virtually nonexistent with the ProSteer system, but Polaris could tone down the EPS input a bit at high speeds. We managed to swap the rear end in some deep whoops, because the steering is overactive at times, but it is most often very buttery smooth.
The suspension system will make your jaw drop with plushness we have never felt on a stock ATV. It gobbles up chop like it isn’t even there, while plummeting through rough in full control. A ground clearance of 14.5 inches helps the Scrambler navigate deep ruts and large rocks. It doesn’t dive too hard into corners, and if it acts in a way you don’t enjoy, the Walker Evans shocks are very adjustable so you can tune them how you want. We did have to knock down the high-speed compression setting a bit until the shocks wore in and our testers got used to how the machine handles.
The 55-inch width is the next best improvement over suspension travel. We could throw the S into corners sideways without worrying much about tipping it over. Yes, it is still a big 4×4, but it is so composed in its actions that we are blown away with its ability to rip through terrain. Downside? Well, you can’t fit it onto 50-inch-wide designated trails, and it is happiest with room to spare. The power output is massive. Sure, the Can-Am Renegade has two more ponies—big deal. You don’t even need the full 89 horsepower the XP 1000 S has to go fast. It has an explosive bottom end that just soars through the rest of the rpm range. When in AWD you can feel how strongly the wheels pull when the OnDemand system transfers power to them.
We enjoyed playing with the output so much that we quickly learned how thirsty the parallel-twin engine can be and almost ran out of go-juice during the photo session while deep into the trails. It might be a great idea to strap spare fuel to that rear cargo rack in the future. The rider area feels similar to previous Scramblers. Width is mainly down low by your feet with a slim “gas tank” between your knees. Polaris knows how to make a seat comfortable, and the hump at the rear of it helps keep you on the S when the going gets rough. We would like to have a raised footpeg on the Scrambler or at least a more aggressive floorboard. A machine that can operate as fast and aggressively as it does requires more foot traction.
Finally, our last gripe is the braking. You feel the 100-plus pounds of weight over the 850. Polaris uses Duro Power Grip II 27×9-12-inch tires on all four corners. They have great traction while going forward, but they don’t aid in slowing the machine down that much. The only way to solve that could be better rotors and pads or a big brake kit, but that might require 14-inch rims for clearance.
PUT TO REST
There is no doubt that this is a one-of-a-kind 4×4 sport ATV. It is the widest ever produced from a major manufacturer, and it has more suspension travel than we have seen before. The power is explosive and its capabilities are impressive, unless you like to ride tight trails. If you have $14,999 burning a big hole in your wallet and you want your friends to be jealous of your new monster quad, go to your local Polaris dealer and pick one up. You can also go to www.polaris.com to check out their impressive ATV and UTV lineups, which are full of any kind of 4×4 machine you could dream of.
2020 SCRAMBLER XP 1000 SPECS
Engine SOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, twin-cylinder
Bore x stroke NA
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 5.25 gal.
Transmission Automatic CVT
Final drive Shaft
Front Dual A-arms w/ 12.5”
Rear Dual A-arms w/ 14.0”
Front Dual hydraulic discs
Rear Dual hydraulic discs
Ground clearance 14.5”
Curb weight 881 lb.
Front 25 lb.
Rear 50 lb.
Towing capacity N/A
Colors Black Pearl