The first true overloading UTV By Cain Smead / @cainsappetite4adventure

Only days after Polaris announced the all-new Xpedition adventure machine, we were able to take a 125-mile test drive from Mesquite, Nevada, to the Whitmore Overlook at the north edge of the Grand Canyon. Test driver Cain Smead (@cainsappeitite4adventure) has been on this trail in several vehicles in the past, so this would be a great trail to compare the machine to others like it. Our test vehicle for the day was the four-door model in Ultimate trim priced at $35,999.



It uses the Gen2 ProStar engine with a twin-cylinder, self-venting head capping off 999cc. Power is transferred to all four wheels through a CVT system with a locked, limited-slip, Turf-mode-equipped rear end. Up front, the differential is the same as what you would see in the Turbo R or RS1. You can run it open for 2WD action or torque-sensing 4WD. There is not a true on-command front-differential lock switch.

Specific power coming from the engine can be controlled by a three-position toggle switch. It’s labeled Sport, Standard and Comfort. This system has been used on the Sportsman ATV, the Ranger, as well as the Pro R. Other manufacturers are adopting the technology, too. What it does is manipulate the throttle-by-wire system. In Standard mode, the machine accelerates as expected, so when you press the throttle it goes. When you press the throttle in Sport mode, the throttle input basically gives you more than expected, so the power “feels” sporty. Comfort is like Crawl or Work mode, so throttle input is mellow or lazy. Polaris says, this is a good Cruise or Rocky Terrain mode, but since it does limit power, it’s not necessarily a “Rock Crawl” mode.


For a 2000–3000-pound machine it’s great. It’s better than expected and very exciting to drive. Click it over into Sport mode and the vehicle wakes up and is more of a blast. We would compare it to any other 1000cc normally aspirated rec/Ute machine. It’s not the fastest but definitely not the slowest, either. It’s right on par with a Kawasaki Teryx4 KRX4 1000. It races from corner to corner quickly and offered a fun ride. Without wind noise, in the enclosed HVAC model we tested you do hear the motor noise and it stands out. According to our decibel meter, the top reading was at about 7500 rpm at 93 decibels, but it averaged 89.

While this machine is not targeted at the high-performance RZR buyer, this is still a sport machine and fun to drive down just about any trail. We were able to feel the electronic governor kick in at 70 mph on a wide, graded road downhill. Going up that same trail, we would see 50–55 mph. We drove the Xpedition hard for the 125-mile trip. We were on and off the throttle and pinned at times. That kind of aggressive driving we did liked to use up fuel. In the end, we made it right to the 90-mile mark before the low fuel light came on. We toned it down after that and were able to get another 20 miles out of that tank before we had to refuel. That being said, Polaris’ claim of a 200-mile range from the 12.5-gallon tank was not reached by us. Sure, if we were at cruising speed and loaded down with more people and gear, we might have been able to reach that 200-mile range.

The Xpedition was surprisingly capable in rough terrain. The big 2.5-inch shocks do a great job masking the vehicle’s overall weight while providing a smooth ride.


Here’s another section of the vehicle that was very surprising. The 14 inches of front- and 15 inches of rear-wheel travel was tuned very well by Polaris and Fox. It’s plush yet very forgiving. Right at the start of our ride we dropped into a rocky wash, and where we thought we would find the limits of the shocks, we didn’t. The long wheelbase of our four-door unit would soak up ordinary trail obstacles way better than expected. Small drop-offs of around 12–18 inches could be hit at speed with no ill effects. Rock-covered trails were also attacked at an aggressive pace, and the machine drove through with total control.

If you didn’t know the machine had 2-inch front and 2.5-inch shocks out back, you would think they were much larger. They are very forgiving on the hard stuff but plush everywhere else. We ended up cranking the QS3 adjustment to full stiff just to see if we could get the machine to sway less. It helped, but we liked the plushness of the middle setting better. This vehicle would certainly lend itself to an iQS system or perhaps Live Valve. However, the suspension system works great without any of that extra expense.

Polaris did invest in a much stronger A-arm setup on all four corners. The system is way beefier than a Ranger or General; in fact, the entire chassis is. The ROPS has a larger version of a Pro Fit cage. The shape is the same, but it has more material and more flat areas, which also lends itself to better window sealing.

The legroom length is ample and similar to a General; however, there is more width, and the dead pedal is at a better spot on the floorboard. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes.


It’s a marshmallow to drive. Our test vehicle was the Xpedition XP, full-cab-equipped NorthStar Edition. It had an accessory roof rack and rooftop tent that together weighed about 150 pounds. The sway was managed by two beefy sway bars that did a great job keeping all four tires planted on the ground. Once you get used to the body roll and how to set up for corners, you could actually wheel the five-seater like some sport machines. It doesn’t corner or slide as good as a General, but when the trail turned rough or rocky, the Xpedition would outshine a General. We can’t say it dances over the bumps or rocks, because it really feels like the tires stay firmly on the ground. Those Pro Armor tires set at 14 psi front and 18 psi out back took a beating. We weren’t nice to them whatsoever, and they clawed over everything. We thought this vehicle was going to need a 10-ply tire, but it did just fine with the 30-inch 8-plies. Although we didn’t try it, we think you could fit a 32-inch tire under the machine without any rubbing. Although we didn’t scrape unexpectedly anywhere, a little more ground clearance would be welcome.

It’s super easy to wire up accessories, thanks to a big bus bar and large pass-through grommets for the wiring. Additionally, there are nine empty switch blanks on the dash to operate your new gadgets.


Okay. Polaris uses the same brake setup as is found on the rear of the RZR Pro R. The calipers are two pistons, and the rotors float on the same five-lug unitized wheel hub as on the Turbo R and Pro R. Up front, however, the hubs have the Pro R five-lug pattern but are not a unitized hub. We drove the Xpedition as aggressively as we could and never suffered brake fade or had issues with the braking performance. The stock brakes slow the big machine down very well. As for engine braking, we can’t feel much deceleration when you let off the throttle in high range. Also in low, the clutches would freewheel unless you tapped the throttle slightly.


The five-seat ADV model is roomy enough to sleep in. While Polaris touts its pass-through cargo area, the fold-down seats allow you to haul large items in the four-door ADV model; we would rather forgo the $2000 rooftop tent investment and sleep inside the machine. If you also remove the front seats (which require tools), a pair of 6-foot-tall people could actually lie flat and sleep inside the machine. 

Up front, the floorboard is incredibly roomy. The driver’s-side dead pedal is very far forward, and there is tons of room for the passenger to position their feet on a side foot rest or stretch out in the middle of the floorboard. The doors open and close nicely, and they don’t rattle when you go down the trail. Since the seats are bolted in, they don’t rattle, either. We only had one mysterious clunk sometimes when we tapped the brakes and turned the steering wheel. We checked everything and couldn’t find anything loose or saw anything to worry about. That steering was super light, and the ratio was perfect for this type of machine. 

Forward of the steering wheel and under the hood, you will find a big bus bar ready to accept more accessories, and there’s a pass-through grommet to route your wires through and connect them to the switch panel.

It’s interesting to note that this machine uses the same five-lug wheel-bolt pattern as the RZR Turbo R and Pro R. However, the front is a standard powersports hub, and the rear uses a stronger, automotive-style unitized hub.
To access the top of the engine on the Xpedition’s XP model, you can tilt the dump bed. On the ADV model, which does not have a dumping bed, there’s an access panel in the bed for this task.


The switches and gauges are well laid out, and there are plenty of cubbyholes and boxes for smaller items. For larger items there is a glove box and a locking center console. That center console also has a USB and 12-volt charging outputs available, as well as guide grooves to pass cords through. The steering wheel is the same shape and look as the high-end RZR; however, it is plastic without a rubber overlay. Under the dash in the center of the cockpit, you will find a giant 10-inch JBL subwoofer, as well as speakers on and under the dash. The audio is outstanding in the Xpedition. Polaris tells us it’s tuned primarily for the occupants inside the car, not for blaring outside when parked at camp or on the trailside. Either way, it sounded great to us.

The back seat is just as roomy as the front. Unfortunately, there are no air ducts or vents in the back portion of the cab, so it does get a little warmer in the back, but it’s still more temperature controlled than outside. We can imagine people will probably tint the windows, especially if they use their machine on open trails away from trees and shade. We already wish the windshield had a strip of tint along the top 20 percent of it.

The EPS unit, steering rack and front differential are similar to what is found on the RS1, Pro XP, Turbo R and Pro R. However, unlike the Pro R, there is no positive-locking front differential, but the torque-sensing system Polaris uses these days works very well.
This is the same Gen 2, 999cc engine that is found in the RZR XP. The heat shielding over the exhaust (top) makes it difficult to adjust the shock compression on the rear passenger side.


If you have been waiting to get a heat- and air-equipped sport side-by-side, then there is no question that this is your best choice. Is your riding partner telling you they don’t want to ride in the dust or “it’s too hot, it’s too cold”? This will change their mind in a minute. The cab is not impervious to dust. After a long group ride, we did start to see dirt settling on the interior panels of the machine. We even had a few drips of water sneak through the top seal of the windshield. But, we had no reason to complain since we were completely dry, and some of our group got soaked and were covered in dirt in their open-cab machines.

Is it better than the General? The interior, power and suspension are, so yes, it’s better. The General does have one offering that’s $5000 less than the Xpedition, but it is bare-bones basic and is the polar opposite of what is available for the Xpedition. Whether you want heat and A/C or a fully enclosed cargo area like the ADV version offered, the Xpedition is a high-end machine that offers a high-end, clean and comfortable driving experience whether you ride alone and want to trail ride with your buddies for the day or camp out of a machine for a weekend or longer. It can handle it and more. We can’t wait to see how people customize and use the Xpedition to travel on extensive expeditions or just to cruise their local ride area. Either way, we know they will be doing it in cool (or warm) comfort. Furthermore, we can’t wait to get out on some camping trips of our own in an ADV model this summer and let you know what we think of it.


Engine 1000cc, Gen 2 ProStar, two-cylinder

Transmission CVT auto

Final drive 4WD, 2WD, Turf mode

Fuel capacity 12.5 gal.

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Dual A-arms w/ 2”, Fox QS3/14”

Rear Dual A-arms w/ 2.5”, Fox QS3/ 15”

Brakes Hydraulic disc f/r

Tires 30×10-15 Pro Armor Crawler XP

Length/width 2-door, 122.5”/64”/74.9”; 4-door, 152.5”/64”/74.9”

Wheelbase 2-door, 87.5”; 4-door, 117” 

Ground clearance 14”

Curb weight Base XP, 2041 lb., Northstar ADV 5, 2790 lb.

Colors Green, grey, blue, orange

Contact www.polaris.com


Xpedition 1000 XP Premium $28,999

Xpedition 1000 XP Ultimate $31,999

Xpedition 1000 XP Northstar $38,999

Xpedition 1000 XP 5 Premium $32,999

Xpedition 1000 XP 5 Ultimate $35,999

Xpedition 1000 XP 5 Northstar $43,999

Xpedition 1000 ADV Premium $29,999

Xpedition 1000 ADV Ultimate $32,999

Xpedition 1000 ADV Northstar $39,999

Xpedition 1000 ADV 5 Premium $33,999

Xpedition 1000 ADV 5 Ultimate $36,999

Xpedition 1000 ADV 5 Northstar $44,999

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