Living big and doing it all By the staff of Dirt Wheels

The large tires help the Trail Boss deal with sharp bumps and ruts. They boost the ground clearance and enhance the traction in all sorts of conditions. They look cool, too.

According to Polaris, the Ranger is the best-selling UTV of all time.  The new POLARIS RANGER XP 1000 Trail Boss should, therefore, also be a best seller for Polaris as well.

As easy as it seems to be for Polaris to sell Rangers, you might think the company could just take it easy. But, they don’t think so. Despite a complete redesign in 2018, for 2021, Polaris came up with a number of improvements for the Ranger XP 1000.

In addition, a number of variants of the standard Ranger XP 1000 are available. The one that caught our attention was the Ranger XP 1000 Trail Boss. Who doesn’t want to be the Trail Boss? As a bonus, it is available as an open cab or as a NorthStar.

The NorthStar is the pinnacle of UTV luxury with a full cab, windshield wiper and washer, power windows, Ride Command, stereo, and in-cab heat and air conditioning! That lengthy list of standard features boosts the price, but they make work or play off-road a comfortable pleasure. We opted to spend time in the lighter, less-expensive open-cab version.

Even though the Ranger Trail Boss is set up for trails, it looks at home covering ranch land looking for more work that needs doing. It can carry plenty to keep you working.


In 2018, Polaris completely redesigned the Ranger XP 1000, and in the years since, many of those changes have trickled down to the Rangers with other power trains and displacement.

In particular, Polaris’ ever-popular, perennial best-selling XP 900 was replaced with the Polaris Ranger 1000. Both the XP 900 and the Ranger 1000 are powered by a single-overhead-cam engine, while all XP 1000s have a more potent, free-revving dual-overhead-cam engine.

Even with the major changes in 2018 to reduce in-cab heat and noise, an entirely new look to the body and a Ranger-first one-piece frame, the Ranger platform and the XP 1000 in particular have not been stagnant.

Polaris, working with input from actual owners, made a number of changes for 2021. UTV buyers want more premium features. As such, some 2021 Rangers have LED headlights and some very nice interior and exterior finishes.

The changes are not all about style and comfort. There is an all-new 30-percent-stronger front drive that now has metal spragues in the diff instead of the plastic ones that Polaris used to use.  A new frame surrounding the front differential is 15-percent stronger with a new design.

The differential is mounted with two large rubber-isolated mounting bolts through the side. Formerly, the front diff was mounted with four bolts from the bottom. The frame is stronger around the front-suspension mounting area as well.

There is plenty of mud on the trail and on the tires, but there is no mud tossed up on that clean white bodywork. That is just one of the facets of this machine that we appreciate.


Changes to the clutching have pushed the CVT service interval to 6000 miles. That recommendation is double what it was in 2020. In addition to other refinements, Polaris added fins to the backside of the clutch for more airflow.

Look at the standard features on a modern car or truck and you will see that the automotive industry is changing, with owners demanding more tech and convenience.

The same is happening in the UTV market. The Trail Boss NorthStar comes with Ride Command, but it is an option on the open-cab Trail Boss. Ride Command provides audio, back-up camera, GPS, and Plow mode.

If you have Ride Command and a Polaris winch, Plow mode automatically drop the plow when you shift to low-range forward, and when you select reverse, it automatically raises the plow for faster and easier snowplowing.

The dash and controls are decidedly basic, though the interior does boast ample storage places and options. It is definitely comfortable enough to handle ordinary uses.


Polaris claims the Trail Boss Edition open-cab and NorthStar models are the most capable Ranger models. Both have new LED headlights that put out 90-percent more light than normal halogen headlights. The bodies are painted, and they have full skid plates underneath. Mechanically, the Trail Boss comes stock with Automatic Descent Control (ADC)-controlled engine braking and load-leveling rear suspension. You can load the Ranger bed up to the limit of 1000 pounds with no loss of ride height or ground clearance.

A switch on the dash enables three-mode throttle control. We did play with the modes, and it was nice to have the option of fine-tuning the power delivery. In work mode, throttle control eases enough to let you totally relax and still manage fine control.

As well-equipped as the Ranger Trail Boss is, some fans may want to add some electrical components. Manufacturers are doing a great job enabling this, and the Trail Boss has a six-position Polaris Pulse bus bar to make additions easier, cleaner, and safer. A high-capacity charging system provides plenty of electrical output to power heavy-duty accessories and lighting.

We can see why a person would like the mesh nets for doors. For work or hunting, they make sense for fast trips in and out. For sport use, we would like a solid door.


The design of the Ranger suspension returns with 11 inches of travel front and rear. Ground clearance is up to 14 inches, thanks to arched A-arms and 29-inch tires instead of the 27-inch tires found on most of the Ranger models.


Despite no real engine changes for 2021, the Ranger 1000 has no apologies to make for its performance. It has plenty of power, yet still is completely smooth, controllable and effective. As a result, there was no need for Polaris to change the engine specs.


There is semi-bench seating for three with seat belts, though you will hope that the middle person is slim for long treks. The seats are comfortable and nicely padded. The dash and interior are set up well with cup holders designed to accept mugs with a handle.

There are two glove boxes on the passenger side and under-seat enclosed storage on the driver’s side and in the middle. The area under the passenger seat is open for storage, and the floor has a molded-in ring suitable for a 5-gallon bucket.


With the 2018 redesign, we could describe the machine as sleek, elegant, or even classy, but not really tough or sporty. The Trail Boss’ 29-inch tires add that inch of ground clearance, but they make this a Ranger that looks rough and ready for some aggressive trail use.

Especially with the larger tires, the suspension does feel like there are more than 11 inches of travel. We were able to push the pace harder than we typically drive a utility machine in complete comfort and confidence.

It handled angled roots, logs, and ruts without bouncing the people inside. The Ranger is as wide as machines in this class go at 62.5 inches, so the stability of our open-cab model was fine on cambers.

The heavier NorthStar likes a little more care across camber and when snapped into sharp turns. The open-cab model is quicker to respond to throttle and steering inputs, and it just has a lighter feel.

The upright seated riding position is comfortable and will accommodate folks over 6 feet tall, but there is no way for them to stretch their legs out. Our ride was in the woods, and we rarely had clearance issues.

We had trails that didn’t leave much room for the car between trees, and it handled the tight, narrow conditions well. It steers tight corners well, but the steering wheel takes a lot of movement.

You feel that going quickly on trails, but it needs the slow, controllable steering for work, towing, and slow, tight trails. We know that the Ranger can handle the ranch, the farm, or the construction site equally as well as it tackled recreational trails we drove.

Wide rear tires, a tough and reliable hitch, wide tires, and arched A-arms all help the rear when the trails get slick from hard dirt or wet mud.


You can see that the middle “third” seat is smaller and less roomy than the two outer cut-and-sew seats. The seat belts will work just fine for most users.


A solid front bumper, LED lights, Maxxis tires and cast-aluminum 14-inch wheels keep the front end ready for work or trails. The steering is light and accurate at low speeds.


This is a proven and reliable engine. Only Ranger XP versions have the 82-horsepower dual-overhead-cam engine. It is powerful compared to the SOHC Ranger 1000.


The Ranger has understandably always been a great seller. In the Trail Boss, Polaris has a Ranger that can handle the job but has a tough look that gets a sport enthusiast dreaming of camping, working and hunting. We are certain, because it had that effect on us!

Polaris’ new Ranger XP 1000 Trail Boss is a well-equipped machine with excellent performance for work or play. It is the most aggressive-looking Ranger we have seen. 


MSRP $18,999 (starting price)

Engine type 999cc liquid-cooled DOHC, twin-cylinder four-stroke

Fuel system Electronic fuel injection

Fuel capacity 11.5 gallons

Starting system Electric

Final drive Shaft

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Dual A-arm/11.0” travel

Rear Dual A-arm IRS/11.0” travel


Front 29×9-12

Rear 29×11-12


Front Hydraulic disc

Rear Hydraulic disc

Wheelbase 81.0”

Length/width/height 120”/62.5”77”

Ground clearance 14.0”

Payload 1,920 lb.

Towing capacity 2,500 lb.

Curb weight 1593 lb.

Color Cold White

To see a cool UTV Video check out this radical RZR Play Toy:



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