2021 POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S

Busting rules and definitions...

 By the staff of Dirt Wheels

With a wide and stable chassis, plenty of suspension and massive horsepower, the Sportsman XP 1000 S gobbles roads and sand washes.
  • A Look at the 2021 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000S  SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S.  Fast and furious combined.

As we inspect the photos from readers of ATC90s and other early three- and four-wheelers, it is hard to conceive the massive and muscular 2021 Sportsman XP 1000 S growing from those tiny, underpowered, and unsuspended machines. The 2002 Polaris 250 Trail Blazer weighed in at 461 pounds, and it looks (and felt) positively spindly in comparison. None of the new twin-cylinder 4×4 quads is light. The current Sportsman XP 1000 is right at 800 pounds. The far more imposing and almost 4-inch-longer XP 1000 S is 970 pounds! That is about 25 pounds less than a 50-inch Polaris RZR 570 UTV. This is truly the monster truck of 4×4 quads. With a track width of 55 inches, the S is just over 7 inches wider than a current XP 1000 4×4 quad! It shatters the boundaries of 4×4 suspension travel, power, ground clearance, track width, and price at $14,999. In fact, in some areas, it may technically not be an ATV. In many places, quad trails are limited to 50 inches. California’s quad-friendly Hungry Valley SVRA has 50-inch posts at the beginning of every quad trail, and the XP 1000 S couldn’t fit on a single one.

It was a real disappointment to find that the Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S was excluded from some of our favorite ATV trails.

2021 POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S

MACHINE

The regular Sportsman XP 1000 is a powerful and impressive quad at 90 horsepower with suspension travel equal to a Yamaha 700 Raptor sport quad. The Sportsman 4×4 is 3 inches wider than the Raptor, but the XP 1000 S is roughly 11 inches wider than a Raptor and over 7 inches wider than the Sportsman XP 1000. We aren’t sure that it is currently legal in many ATV race organizations.

To reach these Hulk-like proportions, Polaris started with a main frame constructed with 31-percent-stronger tubing. To that it added wider suspension arms, and the fronts are arched for maximum clearance. The Sportsman XP 1000 S has the same (15-percent stronger) front differential and half shafts as the Ranger 1000 UTV. Polaris beefed up the transmission to make it 25-percent stronger. Polaris’ Engine Braking System (EBS) and Active Descent Control are standard on the Sportsman version of the S.

Situations where you would have to be cautious with a normal quad are a piece of cake with the Sportsman XP 1000 S.

SUPERB RIDE

The rear suspension is supposed to eliminate scrub, avoiding the rear track moving in and out as the wheels move through the suspension stroke. Lengthening the suspension arms naturally extends the travel. The XP 1000 S has more suspension travel than any production quad we know of. 

While there are drawbacks to the width, we didn’t uncover any negatives to the ample suspension or the Walker Evans 2-inch shocks. They come with compression and rebound adjustment and dual coil springs with threaded preload adjustment rings. The ride quality is ultra smooth and controlled. Bumps that rattle quads go virtually unnoticed.

When 55 inches of track width doesn’t let you straddle a rut or gully, you won’t worry at all about riding the camber.

  2021 POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S

The’ Pro-Steer design features a dual pitman arm and drag-link setup that claims to eliminate bump-steer and minimizes feedback to the handlebars. The variable-assist electric power steering is smooth and nearly effortless. Usual hits to the wheels don’t wrench the bar from the rider’s hands, and the EPS senses when you are riding faster, slower, or steering input has increased.

The 6-ply, 27-inch-tall Duro PowerGrip V2 tires on 14-inch aluminum wheels must help. They look massive, but the normal Sportsman XP 1000 has 26-inch tires on 14-inch rims, so the difference is not great there. The 1000 S has 14.5 inches of ground clearance. The combination allows a smooth ride in chop while also soaking up hard hits, tackling deep ruts, crawling over boulders, and avoiding getting stumped by trail junk.

The Walker Evans Racing shocks work very well. They have adjustable preload, compression and rebound. We like the center exhaust and standard hitch.

WHO DOES IT FIT?

An upright and comfortable riding position is welcome for taller riders. Short folks will find the cockpit quite spread out. The handlebar is swept rearward, which makes turning the machine comfortable while in a sitting position. It looks like the headlight needs to be removed to reposition the bar, but that is not the case. Nuts under the bar clamp allow you to move the bar position quickly and easily. Standing is natural, but the machine is wide with the combination of the engine and CVT between your feet. The thumb throttle is wide and easy to use. The Sportsman XP 1000 S has three power modes, and we employed them to dial down the response for tricky sections.

Polaris utilizes four hydraulic disc brakes on the S, but they are actuated by a single handlebar-mounted lever that engages the front and rear brakes at the same time. A foot-brake pedal activates only the rear brakes. The brakes are strong, but the initial bite is somewhat numb. We would like more initial bite and less lever effort. We rarely use the foot lever.

The headlight and instrument pod includes a 12-volt power outlet and this handy port to plug in a battery tender. Great idea!

2021 POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S

POWER FOR WORK OR PLAY

Connected to the 89-horsepower engine is a CV-style transmission that comes with high and low forward range, neutral, reverse, and park. These are easily selected by a stick-type shift handle.

Though we like locking front differentials, we rarely miss having one on the Sportsman S. It has On-Demand all-wheel drive. When you select four-wheel drive with the right-side handlebar switch, the computer feeds power to the front wheels to pull you out of difficult situations when it senses the rear wheels slipping. No doubt this is part of the reason the steering always feels so light and easy.

The last position on the 4×4 selector switch engages the Active Descent Control. This, in concert with the strong engine-braking system, utilizes all four wheels to slow the Sportsman down with the compression from the engine. The system really works, and you can feel the front wheels engage and slow you down like the rears are doing from the EBS.

The Engine Braking System does exactly what Polaris states—it makes for smoother deceleration. There isn’t a coasting feature, so it is engaged at all times.

Despite being long and wide compared to other 4×4 quads, the Sportsman XP 1000 S feels nimble and responsive on the trail.

GOT WORK?

The Sportsman XP 1000 S is a super-fun machine to ride, but it works just as well. There are front and rear cargo bins, and large and effective front and rear racks. The front handles 200 pounds and the rear a whopping 300 pounds, though max payload (cargo weight plus the rider) is 715 pounds. Rider weight over 215 pounds cuts into what the racks can safely handle. Towing is rated at a whopping 1750 pounds—more than many small automobiles!

Our time with the 2020 Sportsman S was limited, but we have more experience after having the first the Scrambler 1000 S and the 2021 Sportsman 1000 S in our possession. It is an amazing machine. Many two-track trails have been impacted by UTV traffic, and the wider tracks cause a normal quad to bounce back and forth across the center of the track. Not the Sportsman S; it is perfectly at home on UTV two-tracks. When the trail drops on one side, gets cambered or requires straddling a rut, the wide stance keeps the machine completely calm. The steering is effortless and feels like it has a built-in stabilizer.

All of the handlebar switches are multi-functional. The handlebar pod with headlight works well in concert with the normal headlights.

2021 POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S

This is a giant 4×4 quad. In some ways, it hides the weight extremely well, thanks to the supple suspension and light steering effort. And, it never feels sluggish with 89 ponies on tap, but we always keep the actual weight in mind. We don’t charge large whoops with abandon. It will probably handle it, but we prefer to keep things well under the limits. We found it great to be on top of this quad, but we don’t intend to find out what it is like to be under it.

It is easy to let the Sportsman S eat rough terrain and rocks. We made that easier by rarely selecting the Performance mode on trails. This suspension is amazing in sheer ride comfort and wheel control. The almost 15 inches of ground clearance and the 55-inch track width let you ignore trail obstacles that would stump other quads. We also rarely employ rear-wheel drive.

The brakes are smooth yet strong with enough hand pressure. We would welcome more braking power, more traction feel, and less hand effort. We did get the Sportsman S on some tight trails, but it was a disappointment that we couldn’t get on some of our favorite designated ATV trails.

Polaris arched the suspension A-arms for great clearance. The hidden winch is handy, and there is ample light for night rides.

2021 POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S

CONCLUSION

Before you buy, you must investigate whether local trail regulations will allow the Sportsman S on your ATV trails. Finding that it wouldn’t fit through the gates for our favorite trails was an inconvenient drawback. On the other hand, open trails that we have avoided due to UTV-width two-tracks are a breeze. The same was true in snow ruts we encountered. We loved this machine in the desert and on trails where it fits. It dominates sand washes, so we still want to roost some dunes. The performance is as massive as the machine, and the suspension is stunning, but the size provides an entirely different ATV experience. The price is substantial as well. If it fits in your truck/trailer and on your trails without flattening your bank account, grab one.

If you are interested in checking out Polaris’ 2021 lineup of ATVs and UTVs, go to www.polaris.com or go to your local Polaris dealer.

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From the side, the front end of the Sportsman XP 1000 S looks extended, but it doesn’t feel odd while riding. We like the Orange Madness color scheme.

SPECS 2021 POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 1000 S

Engine ProStar SOHC 4-stroke twin cylinder

Displacement 952cc

Starter Electric 

Fuel system EFI

Fuel capacity 5.25 gal.

Transmission Automatic CVT

Final drive Shaft

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Sealed, arched high-clearance dual A-arm/11.6” travel

Rear Sealed dual A-arm rolled IRS/14” travel

Brakes Single-lever 4-wheel hydraulic disc with hydraulic rear foot brake

Tires:

Front 27×9 Duro PowerGrip V2

Rear 27×11 Duro PowerGrip V2

Length/width/height 82.5”/55”/49.5”

Ground clearance 14.5”

Wheelbase 56.8”

Dry weight 970 lb.

Rack capacity:

Front 200 lb.

Rear 300 lb.

Towing capacity 1750 lb.

Colors Orange Madness, Ghost Gray

Price From $14,999

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