ATV TEST: 2023 POLARIS SCRAMBLER XP 1000 S
2023 POLARIS SCRAMBLER XP 1000 S ATV REVIEW
You simply don’t sneak by unnoticed on the 2023 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S. One of our first outings was at the sand dunes with four die-hard sport quad guys. They wouldn’t leave it alone. “It looks like a UTV with a handlebar!” Or, “I’m scared of that thing!” and “It costs how much?” For each skeptic, it took a three-minute ride to change their tune: “Everything about this quad is so smooth and effortless!”
Just claiming it’s stable is not enough. Truthfully, we felt the mode of the beast was a comfortable one on the big 1000 S. Especially if you are used to normal-sized sport quads, long and wide is an understatement. There actually is some truth to the claim that it looks like a UTV with a handlebar, though, because it does utilize the RZR XP 1000 front differential and half shafts.
Whatever you think about the larger scale, its size makes for one of the most stable and fun machines in its class—if there is a class for such a beastly quad. With the 55-inch width, the Scrambler XP 1000 S and the Sportsman XP 1000 S are literally in a class of their own. Both of the S-models have no class in a number of states. That includes California, so testing required serious driving. They are too wide to meet the definition of an ATV, yet they have no roll cage to make them UTVs.
Its size, combined with one of the most useful powerplants out there, makes this unique-looking quad special to us. We could see the value in the life of an outlaw.
BIG, GOOD & THE UGLY
At 55 inches wide and 57.4 inches long, the stance invites aggression and provides exceptional performance in nearly all conditions. In one area it is unsurpassed. Riding two-track routes established by UTVs can be a handful on any 48-inch quad. They want to leap back and forth across the center hump. The Scrambler S isn’t bothered at all by UTV ruts in dirt, sand or even snow!
That 14.5 inches of ground clearance proved to make it a fun, technical quad as well. The quad weighs 881 pounds, which tempers the enthusiasm of a wise pilot, but it makes it stick to the ground exceptionally well.
A full 12.5 inches of front suspension and a massive 14 inches of rear suspension travel from the Walker Evans three-way adjustable shocks in combination with the massive ground clearance provided grin-worthy articulation through fields of boulders. We found ourselves tackling rock sections that normally we would only try with a roll cage around us.
Most people see this machine and immediately think it’s some sort of modified race quad. Admittedly, it has a bit of a conceptual, aggressive and perhaps flamboyant look when you compare it to most sport quads available. We were far from hesitant to be seen on this wild-looking Scrambler. It is, after all, a sport quad and could even be a threat on the GNCC race circuit. That is, of course, if they let you enter. Most race organizations have rules for quad classes, and they frequently limit ATVs to 50 inches or less. Winding through tight trees has its drawbacks when you’re 55 inches wide, but through rough off-camber and rock sections, the Scrambler is calm, planted, confidence-inspiring and almost immune to typical cambers. It is one of the most fun sport 4×4 quads we’ve ridden.
TOY NOT TOOL
Don’t expect to do a lot of work with this machine, because that’s not what it is designed for. It comes prewired for a winch. Our test Scrambler came with a Polaris branded winch already installed, an accessory we highly recommend considering this beast weighs north of 900 pounds with a full tank of gas. The rear rack is rated for up to 50 pounds, while the hood will handle 25 pounds.
The Scrambler is powered by a 952cc, four-valve, parallel-twin-cylinder engine with single overhead cams. Two power modes, including standard and performance, can be selected just in case you’re that one rare person who doesn’t want all the available power. If you do want all the power, you’ll notice it’s easy to tame it when riding. Having it on the headlight/display module out of reach of your thumb makes it an even less appealing option.
Acceleration is extremely linear and like what we’ve come to expect on modern four-strokes, except with its own personality. More power is available than most people need, but we don’t feel it has the violently aggressive punch some other 1000cc machines have. It is easy to hang on, too. We would even say the power delivery is far less fatiguing over the course of a long ride or race.
Engine braking is a feature that is missing. Truthfully, it took no time at all to get used to riding without it. It just adds to the performance feel of the whole package.
On the other side of the coin, the engagement of the power from idle is soft. Even just rolling around at 5 to 10 mph the machine is quiet and soft-sounding. That is very nice for when you need to be less annoying while leaving camp, rolling through a neighborhood or facing limited traction. Then, as you engage more thumb throttle, it opens smoothly into beast mode, and it really barks when it does.
SUSPENSION DESIGN AND HANDLING
The 2023 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S retained its fully independent suspension platform with arched dual A-arms in the front for maximum clearance and dual A-arms in the rear. Top-level Walker Evans shocks and 12.5-inch front and 14-inch rear travel are features positively amplified by the wide and long stance. Nonetheless, the stock tune on the shocks, along with the three-position-adjustable compression damping, makes riding life a dream no matter what the conditions. And sure, you can adjust for specific conditions—harder or softer—but we mainly left the adjuster knob in the middle position, which seemed to work well for us everywhere we rode.
We made sure to get fast and rowdy on the Scrambler, pushing in very hard through corners, and it always felt planted. It will obviously do better than most quads it terms of clearance and stability, but we especially like how comfortable it is at lower speeds. Some quads demand more speed to settle in and be comfortable, where this machine does a fine job in many circumstances.
Since the 1000 S is bigger in every direction and heavy, it has a truly comfortable ride. It’s amazing how safe we felt at high speeds over rocky roads. Electronic power steering did help with that. If we hit a rock with one wheel, it was easy to correct with the handlebar.
As heavy and big as the quad is, it doesn’t feel like a handful compared to narrower, lighter quads. We had to back off at times because we were getting too comfortable going way too fast. You could say the 1000 S is in a class of its own in many ways.
Mounted near the bottom of the digital gauge are two switches. One toggles between the two power modes. The other turns on the 1,890-lumen, 11-inch Pro Armor LED light bar mounted on the front of the 2023 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S. That’s on top of the dual 65-watt high beams or, if you choose, a dual 50-watt low-beam headlight option selected with the usual switch near the left grip handle. The Pro Armor light bar itself looks aftermarket but is standard and brighter than both standard headlights. You can also choose different levels of assisted electronic steering.
You’ll get a 12-volt power plug, as well as pre-wiring for hand or thumb warmers. The handlebars can be adjusted with different angles forward or backward and, of course, the height can be adjusted. We like how the mounts are exposed, making for easy adjustment. The choice to put handguards on is always welcomed, particularly when they are as rugged as these stock Polaris guards. You’ll be thankful for them if you are riding through brush or the woods.
Despite being one of the most powerful quads available and looking as racy as it does, the Scrambler XP 1000 S is friendlier than you might think. It’s an inspiring machine to ride because it is so forgiving and comfortable. However, don’t take its power for granted, because there’s loads of it. The 1000 S can comfortably ride through, around or over things most ATVs would struggle with. That puts it in a league of its own.
2023 POLARIS SCRAMBLER XP 1000 S
Engine SOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, twin-cylinder
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.