UTV TEST: 2023 POLARIS RZR TURBO R ULTIMATE
Fully loaded and ultra-refined - By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Even though it had a price advantage over the Pro R, we actually questioned the purpose of the Turbo R. At least we did until we drove both. The Turbo R’s proven 925cc twin is quick, useful and effective. For a 74-inch-wide car the Turbo R feels nimble yet stable and planted in the rough and on cambers. It is a great package with effortless power and amazing suspension and handling.
2023 POLARIS TURBO R 2-SEAT
Usually, the majority of our UTV driving and testing take place in the desert regions north of Los Angeles—from Mojave up to Mammoth Lakes. We picked up our 2023 Polaris RZR Turbo R Ultimate two-seater down south on the endless sands of Glamis! Adding to our interest we had our 2022 Turbo R 4 Ultimate and a RZR Pro XP 4 Ultimate along. Over the course of two full days running through the dunes we developed a solid opinion of the 2023 Turbo R in addition to comparing the three machines. We also put time in a Pro R two-seater.
Our test days came right at the end of our long-term test session with the Pro XP 4 Ultimate and Turbo R 4 Ultimate. As a result of the many miles and hours in those four-seaters, we consider the Turbo R to be the most versatile machine in Polaris’s Wide Open lineup.
THE GOOD STUFF
The primary components that differentiate the Turbo R (and Pro R) from other Polaris models are the wider 74-inch track, front and rear suspension arms welded up from steel stampings, the latest “DV” version of Polaris’ Dynamix suspension with Fox Live Valve shocks and a lower low-gear ratio in the high/low gear case. The Turbo R also gets updated five-lug-wheel flanges with more robust modular (automotive style) wheel bearings; these are sure to be strong and long-lasting. Pro Armor five-lug wheels are paired with 32-inch Maxxis Rampage Fury tires.
The Turbo R and Pro R rolling chassis are similar but not identical. We’d like to see the Turbo R get the Pro R’s locking front differential and the separate rear differential not integrated in the transmission. In a first for Polaris, the front shocks mount to the lower A-arms. That is made possible by a bowed lower shock clevis that passes the front drive axles through. Both the Turbo R and the Pro R front suspension is identical with the same travel. The Pro R has a 2.1-inch rear-travel advantage and more electrical power, but when we compared the cars, we didn’t feel those numbers added a measurable advantage.
In some ways the 64-inch-wide RZR Pro XP is a closer comparison. Both machines have the same wheelbase and powerplant, as well as interiors that feel the same. The Pro XP has a 200-plus-pound weight advantage but has 5.25 inches less suspension travel in the front and 2.4 inches less travel in the rear. It also has tires 2 inches smaller and four-lug hubs compared to the 5-lug hubs on the Pro R and Turbo R.
That Turbo R’s weight difference is worth the cost if you drive where the 74-inch track width will fit. That is 10 inches wider than the Pro XP, and the added stability is immediately and constantly apparent on all terrain. Less obvious on the specs page, the Pro XP Dynamix system is significantly less sophisticated than what comes stock on the R models.
Price-wise, comparing two-seat Ultimate models, the Pro XP is $33,199 while the Turbo R is $35,299. In that price range the $2100 difference isn’t that significant. The Pro R is $5400 more than the Turbo R.
The chassis and suspension are truly impressive. The Turbo R has a one-piece chassis built from 2-inch tubing, a fully welded roll cage and strong tapered joints where it meets the chassis. The chassis and cage are claimed to have doubled the torsional stiffness. That means that the chassis is far more resistant to twisting.
Rear MaxLink trailing arms mount Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass shocks. MaxLink is a bar that extends from the rear knuckle through the trailing arm. In front it mounts to the frame inboard from the trailing-arm pivot. It keeps the rear wheels from “toeing in,” regardless of where the rear suspension is in its 22.4-inch travel.
Robust three-piece sway bars are mounted front and rear. High-assist EPS is mounted to the quick-turn steering rack. Pro Turbo Ultimates have tilt and telescoping adjustment, while other versions have only tilt.
SMARTER SMART SUSPENSION
Polaris’ Dynamix smart suspension improves every year, and this DV version has a high level of suspension sophistication and performance. Dynamix DV takes input from vehicle sensors and computers to continuously adjust both rebound and compression damping independently up to 200 times per second. There are four suspension and steering modes that monitor input to make the ride as smooth as possible and keep the wheels in contact with the ground.
Past Dynamix had compression damping adjustment only, with comfort, sport and firm modes. Each mode began as a percentage change on compression that was constantly adjusted on the fly. Polaris added the red “X” panic button to the Pro XP steering wheel that maxes the compression damping, and the Turbo R still has it.
Now there are Comfort, Race, Rock and Baja settings to choose from, in addition to the red button. Each setting isn’t necessarily stiffer, but has specific damping and EPS settings to help the car handle terrain and driving options. Coming up on a gnarly whoops run? Baja mode provides a high dynamic ride height, increased shock isolation and a nose-high pitch to help you float from crest to crest. It’s the setup for fast and rough desert terrain.
Rock mode gives you high-compression damping to maximize ride height. According to the Dynamix screen, the car displays the side and lengthwise angles and stiffens the shock(s) with the most load. You can feel the difference if you select the Rock setting on a camber. The car seems to level out. It is amazing technology in action.
For Track mode, the power steering has increased steering input, providing you with better feel for the front wheels’ connection to the terrain. Suspension settings provide a low, flat stance ideal for twisty trails and desert hardpack.
Comfort mode is aptly named on the setting we used the most often. It lowers compression and rebound damping to maximize comfort and turns up the power assist for easier steering. Crossing rolling terrain, the Turbo R feels like it is floating, allowing little of the terrain surface to reach the passengers.
In all situations the Turbo R is so capable that the driver must use good judgment. In most cars you can count on the terrain limiting the speed, but there isn’t a lot that forces this car to slow. Determining proper and safe velocity for the situation falls on the driver.
WHAT ABOUT THE POWER?
The Turbo R’s 181-horsepower, 925cc, parallel-twin engine has great response at low and mid rpm. It doesn’t have the high-rpm rush of some cars, yet in technical driving it is controllable and more refined than more muscular powerplants.
Ride Command has always been far more than a simple GPS, and it continues to add features. The system continues to improve and impress. We’ve said it before and stick by it: Ride Command is a persuasive reason to buy Polaris. Ride Command (RC) literally puts the controls right at your fingertips, with Dynamix controls on one side of the steering wheel and infotainment controls on the other side in addition to the touchscreen. RC lets you keep track of a ride group with innovative GPS technology, monitor suspension and ride settings, or sets the playlist to blast through the 400-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.
For 2023 there is Ride Command+ that integrates your smartphone into Ride Command more than ever.
Polaris designed the Pro Turbo cabin to enhance legroom and comfort. One drawback: the Turbo R is a tall machine and not easy to climb into. It has six-point harness-type seat belts. There are two lap belts, as well as two belts angled forward that pull across the thighs to keep you in the seat. All six latch with a single seat-belt buckle.
HOW IT WORKS
Handling on the two-seat Turbo R is what we’d call “cut-and-thrust.” It is quicker turning and more agile in comparison to the Turbo R 4. It has a playful, quick, energetic feel that is a lot of fun. It takes less space to transport (a huge deal for most people) and is at a slightly lower price point.
If you have never had the opportunity to drive a Turbo R Ultimate with the Dynamix “DV” (Dual Valve), you are missing out on one sweet ride! The computer interacts the suspension settings with steering, braking and acceleration inputs, and is making thousands of valving changes per minute resulting in one of, if not the best rides you’ll ever experience in an “off the showroom floor” car.
A lower low-range ratio is one of the big updates to the drivetrain. It is much lower than the XP Pro’s transmission, and it slowly and easily crawls up anything on the trail or up the steepest ramp into the hauler.
Getting in and out of this machine takes more physical effort than, say, hopping into a General or a Pro XP. The interior is comfortable, and the bed is large enough for essentials but not large enough for a spare tire. Budget for a tire rack. We found the Turbo R to be a great trail machine, as well as a lot of fun in the dunes! It only requires a few basic accessories to be ready for anything off-road.
For more information, look at www.polaris.com.
2023 POLARIS RZR TURBO R ULTIMATE
Engine 4-stroke, DOHC, twin-cylinder turbocharged
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 12 gal.
Transmission Automatic PVT
Final drive Shaft
Front Lightweight boxed dual A-arm with 3-piece stabilizer bar and Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass with electronically controlled compression and rebound/22.25”
Rear Boxed trailing arm w/ toe link and high-clearance radius rods with Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass with electronically controlled compression and rebound/ 22.4”
Front Dual hydraulic discs w/ 3-bore calipers
Rear Dual hydraulic discs w/ 2-bore calipers
Front 32×10-15 8-ply Maxxis Rampage Fury
Rear 32×10-15 8-ply Maxxis Rampage Fury
Ground clearance 16”
Dry weight 2013 lb.
Payload capacity 730 lb.
Cargo bed capacity 300 lb.
Towing capacity N/A
Colors Orange Madness, Matte Onyx Black