LONG-TERM TEST: POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

Living with it four ways By the staff of Dirt Wheels

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POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

Have you ever looked at the prices of cutting-edge, high-performance UTVs and wondered, “Exactly what factors motivate a guy to pull the trigger on one?” Specifically, we are thinking of the Polaris RZR Pro XP Ultimate.

We had an initial test of the machine where we went to a strange area and spent a good deal of time in the machine, but not where we could experience different types of driving. Now we have driven the Pro XP at our usual haunts, carved up the dunes at Glamis, and gotten it out rock crawling.

Plus, we have lived with it, and we are loving it. We thought that we would add the perspective of a friend who actually paid retail for one and now has enough time on it to know whether he made a smart purchase or not.

We got on this slippery rock area to play, and we found that the new engine tune requires careful throttle control for smooth climbing.

 POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE…

Our buddy Gibbs is mostly a long-term dirt bike guy with one of the latest 300cc, fuel-injected two-strokes in the garage. He has also dabbled in water-cooled three-wheelers, 4×4 quads, and Rhinos. His first sport UTV had a paddle-shifted manual transmission. The main reason for changing machines was a desire for a transmission with a low range for added versatility, and, as long as he was trading brands, why not go for more performance? Which leads us to his Pro XP. According to him, “Not only is it fast (very!), it is user-friendly. My wife didn’t like driving while dealing with the extra workload of gear selection. She thoroughly enjoyed piloting the Pro XP and felt more secure doing so. The wife says that it is as easy to drive as her 4×4 quad.”

It is a good thing that the stock wheel feels great. With the stereo and suspension controls built in, you won’t want to change it to an aftermarket unit.
A nice bumper and effective and cool-looking lights are standard on the ultimate. A front camera is an option, but the Ride Command system is ready for it to be installed.

The Pro XP has an updated, ProStar, 925cc, parallel twin-cylinder, DOHC engine. Engine tuning, a larger water-cooled turbo, and improved heat dissipation and engine cooling jumped the horsepower from 168 to 181. Turbo engines are thirsty if you keep your foot on the throttle, so the new 12-gallon fuel tank is a welcome update. Knowing that owners are constantly adding electrical accessories, Polaris added a 900-watt stator, then made it easier than ever to tie into the wiring.

These latest Live Valve shocks work better than ever, but the rear springs will coil-bind if you add weight to the rear. Polaris is sending owners new rear tender springs.

 POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

Gibbs and his wife love the operation of the CVT and enjoy the operation of the high and low range. While shopping, they were happy to hear the transmission was strengthened by a claimed 39 percent. The gears are much stronger, and the transmission and clutching have been tuned for the standard 30-inch-tall tires and increased horsepower. In addition to high and low range, the transmission features a neutral, park, and reverse. The CVT has increased ventilation to run much cooler, which aids belt performance and lifespan. Polaris incorporated roller pucks in the primary clutch rather than metal sliders to displace dirt rather than attract it. The bolts holding the CVT cover on now stay with the cover.

Polaris came up with a whole new RZR with the Pro XP Ultimate. It has a robust chassis, high-tech smart suspension and it carves turns like crazy.

After using the transmission as a major purchasing motivation, Gibbs had some comments: “The transmission was one of my main reasons to go with this car. I found out early that you must be completely stopped when shifting from low to high range or vice versa—oops! Low range is recommended for driving under load at speeds below 20 mph. There’s less heat on the belt and stress on the motor. It also lets you take your time to easily creep up and over rocks with light throttle settings. The high range gets you down the road; how fast do you want to go? I do wish that it had a parking brake.”

With 181 horsepower out of the engine, aggressive Maxxis Coronado tires and great suspension, the Pro XP Ultimate was a blast when we rode it at Glamis. We didn’t miss paddle tires.

 POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

HOT SEAT…

Polaris has spent a lot of effort since the 2016 RZR Turbo, keeping heat out of the cab. According to Gibbs, “The designers did a great job of keeping the heat out of the driver and passenger area, even though the radiator is located upfront. Owners of first-generation YXZs will know what I’m talking about here.”

There are other reasons besides the lack of engine heat to spend time in the Pro XP cab. We agree with Gibbs on his new car: “The seats are well thought out and comfortable. The ‘channels’ between the cushions allow for a bit of air to circulate under the occupants. I never felt hot, even though it was around 95 degrees during the rides. Both the driver and passenger seats can be set to three different angles of recline (standard, 5 and 10 degrees) and are easily and quickly removable.

“I found the six-point harness with retractable shoulder belts to be secure and very adjustable. They offer ease of movement (you can lean forward) and lock solid when braking or bouncing via an inertia device. They make getting strapped in quick and easy with a single car-type seatbelt buckle.

“The 7-inch touchscreen information center gives you an easy-to-use GPS system, along with AM/FM/Bluetooth audio, group-ride communications, and even a very handy back-facing camera that works at night, too!

“There are three separate storage compartments with closing lids, and one storage nook with a net next to the passenger’s left leg on the center console. The top-center compartment has USB port access for electronics, while the larger glove box has ample room for goggles and personal items. The armrest compartment between the seats has a 12-volt power plug.”

We’ll add that the touchscreen allows control of a down-facing front camera, the built-in stereo system and shows you the suspension performance in real-time.

Gibbs enthused, “The tilt and the telescoping steering wheel is an awesome feature! How did I ever live without this? Steering response and feedback feel spot-on, with the computer actually interacting with the shock settings in turns and at speed. There is also a red panic button on the right side of the steering wheel that, when depressed, instantly sets the compression damping to full stiff. I now use this feature constantly. Drive with the suspension in comfort mode, and when you come upon a G-out or a set of hidden whoops, mash the button.”

With the added power and suspension travel, don’t fear that the Pro XP only works in the fast rough. It still has what it takes to handle technical trails and conditions.

 POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

STRENGTH IN SUSPENSION

Polaris built the Pro XP line to handle hard and abusive driving while being comfortable and smooth. This 64-inch-wide model (measured from the center of the tire to the center of the opposite tire) has a wheelbase of 96 inches—that is 6 inches longer than any previous two-seat RZR. Added length translates to increased stability and smoothness at higher speeds. Polaris designed the Pro to have a sharp turning radius of 18 feet. The wheel travel has increased an inch at each end in comparison to Polaris’ other 64-inch RZR models. The front dual A-arms are high clearance and strengthened through gusseting. They offer 17 inches of wheel travel. Rear trailing-arm suspension travel is 20 inches. Both front and rear systems have stabilizer bars.

The RZR Pro XP Ultimate comes with Polaris’ Dynamix 2.0 electronic compression-controlled Fox 2.5 Podium internal-bypass live-valve shocks on all four corners. The driver can select comfort, sport, and firm modes with steering-wheel-mounted controls, which is new. Dash-mounted controls are normal on other Dynamix machines. The Pro XP firm mode was reduced in stiffness to be more usable, but pressing the “X” button on the wheel will temporarily stiffen the shocks to the limit. It allows the car to suck up a big hit on the trail. The Pro XP and Pro XP Premium versions of the RZR run Walker Evans Racing 16-position-adjustable needle shocks that are not electronically controlled.

So far we have spent time in four Pro XP Ultimate cars, including the one we have had long-term. In each case, we were impressed with the suspension. In the dunes, the car is smooth and comfortable with ample bottoming resistance. Our initial outings with the Pro XP were in Nevada in diabolically rough and rocky terrain. We have never felt any other suspension that made that part of Nevada fun and easy. On our usual desert loops, this latest version of the Dynamix system is fantastic. Early on, we found the “X” button hard to remember and use, but now we love it.

Playing in the sand with the Pro XP is a blast—literally, a sand blast. You can easily feel the power difference with the new engine specs.
Past RZR seats haven’t been universally loved, but the Pro XP interior is much improved. The Ultimate has our very favorite 6-point retractable seat belts that are safe and comfortable.
Suspension parts are arched for clearance and built for performance and longevity at both ends. The tire carrier and trunk are nice, but with tools, they add 140 pounds to the car.

 POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

THE OWNER SAYS…

“Out of the box, there is little to complain about. I had heard of prior model years having quality, fit, and function problems, and other than the springs, I really haven’t experienced any issues. Here are some quick observations: The power is controlled, and there is plenty. I like to go fast, and this machine delivers! So far I really haven’t held it wide open for any length of time, just short bursts. Make sure you’re pointed in a safe direction. Remember, with great power comes responsibility!

“Even on dry, loose desert two-track, this car feels connected. Slides are predictable, and the car never gave me the feeling that it was about to do something beyond my control. When initiating a turn, it instantly responded with no hint of front-end push. Bump compliance, even though the tender springs weren’t optimal, was amazing, and I have to reiterate about that magic panic button; it could save your bacon!

“Even though it is advertised as a 64-inch-wide car, I measured 67 inches from outside to outside the tire. It fits inside my 25-foot toy hauler, but barely!

“Bottom line, these machines are a big chunk of change! Overall, I am really impressed with this machine. Even though I haven’t logged too many hours in this car yet, I can confidently say that I made a wise purchase! The style of the XP Pro line is a step above earlier RZRs. The power is outstanding, and I’ll leave it stock.

“The Ultimate version of the Pro comes with a 400-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system controlled through the touchscreen and steering-wheel controls. The Ride Command system has been updated to increase ease of use, and GPS tracking is the best it has ever been. It will still work in places that have no cell service.

“There is just one problem. We frequently ride as a solo car, so we carry tools and a spare tire in the back. All told, I have 140 pounds in and over the bed area. The rear tender springs are coil-bound before we even get in the car! Polaris has contacted me and said that it has a fix for the shock springs. With the weight I carry over the rear suspension, I am planning on personalizing the spring rate and ensuring that I have the best-quality springs on the car.

“Still, I am impressed with the car. It has surpassed what I expected. It is shocking the technical sections that it makes feel easy, and I am still learning what it can do. When I started shopping, I had very different machines in mind, but what I learned guided me this way, and I have no regrets.”

In general, the looks and style of the RZR Pro XP has been well-received. It has more legroom, improved seats and many nice features. Ray Gibbs added cargo boxes and a spare to his.

SPECS: 2020 POLARIS RZR PRO XP ULTIMATE

Engine Twin-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, turbo induction

Displacement 925cc

Starter Electric 

Fuel system EFI

Fuel Capacity 12 gal.

Transmission Automatic CVT

Final drive Shaft

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Dual A-arms w/ 17.0”

Rear Trailing arm w/ 20.0”

Brakes:

Front Dual hydraulic discs

Rear Dual hydraulic discs

Tires:

Front 30×10-14

Rear 30×10-14

Length/width/height 126.1”/64”/71.7”

Ground clearance 14.5”

Wheelbase 96”

Curb weight 1773 lb.

Payload capacity 740 lb.

Cargo bed capacity 300 lb.

Towing capacity N/A

Colors Indy Red, White Lightning

Price $28,499

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