Polaris called its best-selling Sportsman 500 4×4 ATV a “value” model, and for 2014, it’s a 570 and a vastly better value. Its big news for 2014 is the new fuel-injected engine sourced from the RZR 570 UTV. With roughly 70 more cubic centimeters of added displacement, boosting power a full 20 percent (to 44 horsepower), the new powerplant is a bonus. And you have to figure that an engine designed to push around a UTV is going to last forever dealing with 300 pounds less. Motivating an ATV should be a snap. Now consider this: The electronically fuel-injected (EFI) engine is not the only major upgrade, and that the price of the base-model Sportsman 570 is $6499 and you have a genuine bargain. How much of a bargain? The 570’s ancestor is the 500 H.O., and it cost $6499 in 1996! You get EFI, upgrades and eight years of inflation for free!
The Sportsman 570 is the first time Polaris has offered Electric Power Steering (EPS) on a value model, and the steering feature bumped the price of our 570 EPS to $7299, but that still makes the Sportsman 570 a deal. We don’t see anything about the new 570 Sportsman that will tarnish that long-standing best-seller label. It does seem a little odd that the Sportsman 570 with the new engine is a value model when the up-market Sportsman 550 EPS is $8699. The 550 is an up-market model that looks pretty close externally, but it uses a different chassis with double-A-arm front suspension and has a motor that is turned sideways in the chassis, so the crankshaft and transmission output shaft run parallel. The 550 engine layout is efficient for a 4×4, but Polaris uses the 570 engine in many different models, so the sheer numbers make it cost-effective.
NEW SKIN, SAME BONES
From the side, the overall look of the Sportsman isn’t much different, and that makes sense since the chassis under the bodywork is largely unchanged. But as soon as you straddle the 570, you notice a difference. The midsection of the machine was narrowed over 3 inches to make it slimmer and more comfortable to ride. The change is most noticeable while standing, where the machine is narrower between your knees, and your feet are happy that the body changes allowed engineers to make the floorboard area wider and longer.
The machine is just as comfortable while you are seated. Aside from integrating with the new bodywork, the seat feels pretty much the same, but the two-up touring model of the Sportsman 570 uses a one-piece seat like the Victory Vision. The Vision is the long-distance touring model of the Polaris motorcycle line, so it should be a great perch for two riders.
We found the look of the 570 aggressive and rugged. The large fenders did a great job of keeping mud and water off of the rider. While Polaris was working on the bodywork, it made the 6.5-gallon front storage box stronger and more functional. Hopefully you won’t need to deal with it often, but the electric terminal box is mounted in the front storage box, so getting at the fuses is a snap.
Above the bodywork are newly mounted plastic-decked steel carrying racks. At points, the rack’s steel frame is exposed to give more and stronger tie-down points. Most ATV rack systems are rated for 199 pounds for both racks combined, but the Sportsman is rated for 270 pounds, broken up to 90 in the front and 180 in the rear. The standard hitch is rated at 1225 pounds towing, but the machine is rated for 1786 pounds.
Polaris didn’t feel the need to change the actual chassis, since it remains thoroughly effective. There is 8.2 inches of travel via a smooth-riding and responsive MacPherson strut suspension in front and 9.5 inches of rear travel provided by a double-A-arm independent rear suspension (IRS) system that provides great ground clearance. Polaris claims 11 inches of clearance, and we gave it a test in very rocky terrain; we rarely heard the skid plates make solid contact.
By sheer sales volume, Polaris has taken some really unique control set-ups and made them mainstream. The CVT transmission adapted to ATVs from the snowmobile world is now close to standard in the industry for utility machines—no matter how sporty they are. And since your right hand is busy with the thumb throttle, Polaris mounts the hand-brake lever to the left side of the bar and linked it with all four wheels. There is a foot brake as well for those who prefer that.
Overall, the braking works very well. It is different if you are switching from an Asian machine, but it is easy to adapt to. There is a lock on the brake for parking, but it doesn’t get much of a workout. The CVT (Polaris calls it PVT) transmission has a park function that secures the machine well. The shifter also selects reverse, neutral, high and low.
TRAILS AND WORK
We were fortunate to do our testing at the Rock Run recreation area in Pennsylvania, and that gave us a true variety of terrain that included some water, mud, steep climbs and descents, logs, roots and, as the area’s name implies, plenty of rocks. There were tight woods trails and a few roads that would be a natural in Baja. No matter what terrain we selected, the 570 was more than up to the task. You light the 570 like a car; turn the key on, then turn it a little farther to start. The new EFI is extremely well-sorted, and the engine dropped right into a smooth idle that signaled it was ready for action. Pull the shifter into one of the forward gears and you are ready to go. You select 4×2 or 4×4 via a switch near the right grip. Even when you are in 4WD, power to the front wheels is on demand. Polaris calls it true AWD. It automatically engages all four wheels when you need more forward traction and reverts back to 2WD when you don’t. As a result, the steering is light and the infamous 4×4 pull is minimized. And with the EPS on our test unit, we never had a hint that the front pull was fighting the steering. At just over 700 pounds dry, the Sportsman is no lightweight as ATVs go, but this engine was designed to haul a 1000- to 1100-pound UTV. Smooth yet energetic engine performance and very good CVT tuning mean that performance is brisk but always supremely controllable.
If you are looking for a throw-dirt, wild-slide radical wheelie machine, this isn’t it. Polaris designed the Ranger to be fun for recreation, easy to ride and control, and supremely convenient for hunting, fishing, camping and work. For those goals you want power, not crazy wheelspin. Where the trails at Rock Run were damp, the traction was like grease on concrete, but the Sportsman fought for grip and won. We did manage to find some boulder fields that were able to confound the suspension, but those areas would pummel any machine with four wheels. For any normal terrain surface, the ride is supple yet controlled. The new slimmer body and roomy floorboard area welcome standing riding, but the seat and suspension generally don’t require that you stand. Riding seated doesn’t abuse you until the ground is pretty choppy.
HOME SWEET HOME
If you should be having so much fun (or work) that you must ride into the night, the 570 is willing. Ignition output is up 40 percent! The larger ignition is required for the EFI, but Polaris made sure there is power for the three 50-watt headlights, plus plenty to run any of the Polaris accessories.
As a 500, this model accounted for a third of all Polaris ATV sales, and the added power, electrical capacity and improved ergonomics are all reasons for the 570 to sell even better than the 500 ever did. If you want a great-performing 4×4 that is put-it-in-drive easy, the Sportsman 570 is the one.
2014 POLARIS SPORTSMAN 570
Engine 567cc, liquid-cooled DOHC,
4-valve, single-cylinder 4-stroke
Bore x stroke 99.0mm x 73.6mm
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 4.5 gal.
Starting system Electric
Final drive Shaft
Front MacPherson strut/8.2″
Rear Dual A-arm IRS/9.5″
Front 25 x 8-12
Rear 25 x 10-12
Front Dual hydraulic disc
Rear Dual hydraulic disc
Wheelbase 50.5 inches
Ground clearance 11.0″
Seat height 33.7″
Total rack capacity 270 lb.
Towing capacity 1786 lb
Curb weight 713 (dry) lb.
Colors Polaris Pursuit Camo,
Indy Red, Sage Green, Bright White
While riding in the Pennsylvania woods, we quickly came to appreciate the light steering, nimble handling and able engine that the Sportsman 570 combines into a formidable 4×4 package.
Even when the going was fairly smooth, Rock Run had buried rocks that tested the independent suspension. We applaud the suspension for the smooth action and for the generous ground clearance it provides.
If you have a downhill long enough that you have sustained periods of closed throttle, the CVT eventually disengages. A blip of the throttle will restore engine braking, but we generally just relied on the powerful brakes.
We liked the Bright White color of our test unit and were pleased that it showed so little dirt and wear during our testing.
The Polaris 570 single-cylinder engine is a little gem with loads of nice features, including the spin-off oil filter and an effective counterbalance system.
The slimmer riding position is very welcome. Riders who grip the machine with their legs may feel heat from the exhaust through the plastic. If you wear tall boots and knee guards, you may not feel any heat at all.
You can access the roomy front storage area even if you have equipment strapped to the front rack. We wouldn’t want to try it with the full 90 pounds of capacity used up, though.
Polaris pioneered IRS for ATVs, and it remains a great idea that offers great suspension and amazing ground clearance.
Polaris has swapped to an A-arm front suspension on some of the other 4×4 platforms, but the MacPherson-strut system still offers a supple ride and good travel numbers.
As much as we liked our white test unit, the Polaris Pursuit Camo is pretty awesome. The camo surface is extremely tough.