By the staff of Dirt Wheels
2022 POLARIS RZR TRAIL ULTIMATE
Anybody could judge by the styling, size, track width and basic dimensions that the 2022 Polaris RZR Trail is a descendant of the early 50-inch RZR 800. It doesn’t actually share much in looks, performance, mechanical sophistication, and overall style and polish. We’d say that the Trail shares the spirit of that early machine credited with creating the sport UTV craze. There is no disputing that the current RZR Trail has close to double the power of the original RZR 800. Everything about the ride feels more robust and better engineered than an early 800.
We don’t actually have that much recent experience with the 50-inch Polaris RZRs. Frankly, we hadn’t pushed to have a loaner, since a 50-inch width is rarely required for California trails. Our open conditions favor wider machines with more suspension. Polaris confirmed that the 2021 major refresh of the Trail’s look and ergonomics has sparked far more interest in the RZR Trail line. We share that interest and grabbed the first chance we got to put a few miles on one. The reality of the ride experience delivered all that the modern new look promised.
WHERE IT COMES FROM
While the RZR Trail Ultimate shares a spiritual connection with the original RZR 800, it has a much closer physical and performance relationship with the popular 50-inch RZR 900. Owners embraced the RZR 900 platform for reliable and potent power, capable suspension, and outstanding agility. It had many happy customers.
Like its predecessors, the new Trail is light and narrow with a short wheelbase. This is one 50-inch that fits almost anywhere. Those traits make it nimble, and the short wheelbase lets it get around tight corners without multi-point turns. Any 50-inch machine will get you through the gates protecting 50-inch trails, but, in most cases, the trails after the gates are narrow, tight and twisty. What good does it do to pass the gate if you can’t enjoy the trail?
Polaris didn’t see any need to update the chassis and drive line. The 900 has a great reputation, and its 75 horsepower seriously propels this small and relatively light machine. Motivating a mere 1300 pounds doesn’t stress it. For ’22, Polaris did add Turf mode to unlock the rear differential on the Premium and Ultimate models. That is handy and appreciated on delicate surfaces. Turning doesn’t result in a track in the terrain surface, and it doesn’t leave black marks on your driveway, either.
2022 POLARIS RZR TRAIL ULTIMATE
EMBRACING A MODERN WORLD
In 2021 most of the Trail models got a completely new look. The exception is the ultra-light and basic RZR 570 Trail that keeps the older styling. For the other Trail models (50- and 60-inch), Polaris added the far sleeker front end from the now-discontinued RZR Turbo S, fitted a new hood, as well as the dash from larger RZR models. The team also designed unique-to-the-Trail doors and rear fenders to look smooth and modern.
Cockpit room is maximized by the new doors. These hard half doors are standard on all of the 900cc and 1000cc Trail models. The RZR Trail, RZR Trail Premium and RZR Trail Ultimate in 50-inch and the RZR Trail S 900 Sport, RZR Trail S 1000 Premium and RZR Trail S 1000 Ultimate are only available with these new doors, and they are exclusive to the Trail line.
Added cab room from the doors are not the only changes to the driving accommodations. The seat is in the same location, but the steering wheel is smaller and D-shaped. Having a flat on the bottom of the wheel makes it easier to slide into and out of the driver seat. Taking lessons learned with the Turbo S and the Pro XP, Polaris lowered the steering column and moved the wheel position closer to the driver.
The point is that your shoulders stay planted in the seat when your hands are on the wheel. Polaris was looking to give the driver confidence and comfort for long trail days. Our driver is over 6 feet tall. The car looked so small that it looked questionable for a tall driver, but it was surprisingly comfortable. We were able to drive the compact machine easily.
HOW IT WORKS
The whole RZR Trail package has a sleek, rich and polished feel to it. Look at the photos of the 2022 RZR 570 Trail and you will see the improvements. Changes to the look continue with a new cage with smoother lines over the top of the car. For the first time on the Trail, the rear of the cage flows naturally into the rear bumper structure. This design offers excellent rear protection. In addition to the boosted protection, the cage and bumper combo allows more cargo room and storage options with the small vehicle and compact bed area.
It isn’t just that the new RZR Trail has a more refined, automotive, finished look. Our Trail Ultimate has factory Ride Command and high-end audio for the first time. Since the front end comes from the RZR Turbo S, the Trail also gets LED accents and headlights for the first time. Between the two you get excellent lighting for driving after dark, as well as allowing people to see you in the daytime with the accent lights.
Polaris made an effort to point out that while wider cars are not capable of traveling on 50-inch trails, a 50-inch machine can easily handle wider trails. They have a clear point when they say the RZR Trail has “unrestricted trail capability.”
While that narrow, 50-inch track opens possibilities, it does have limitations in other areas. Restricting the width of the machine also limits that total wheel travel that you can get using A-arm suspension. That is one of the reasons that the RZR Trail redo didn’t make changes to the suspension travel. It was already at or close to the limits of the chassis footprint. In spite of having a modest 10 inches of wheel travel, we were more than impressed with the suspension action. No doubt much of the credit goes to the impressive quality of the standard shocks for our Trail Ultimate. While the RZR Trail and RZR Trail Premium come with basic Sachs twin-tube shocks with no damping adjustment, the Ultimate is fitted with Fox 2.0 Podium X shocks with threaded preload rings and external compression-damping adjustments. That is a huge step up in shock quality, and you feel it in ride comfort and control on the trail.
2022 POLARIS RZR TRAIL ULTIMATE
RIDE AND DRIVE
Polaris calls the RZR Trail “the most comfortable, best-handling, quickest-accelerating and purpose-built 50-inch trail side-by-side in the industry.” Our test was somewhat brief, and we didn’t have the competition along to compare. From memory, though, we aren’t prepared to argue with that claim. As we mentioned, we questioned the available cab room for tall drivers, but then found it fully adequate, though compact. The driver’s seat is adjustable with a handy lever. Apparently, it is possible to adjust the passenger seat as well, but that requires using tools.
Like all RZR versions except the Pro XP, the new design’s lightly bolstered cut-and-sew seats have a little movement and flex in the seat frame. Some drivers dislike the feeling, but we find it saves the passengers from some abuse in the rough. The new seats and the repositioned tilt steering wheel do make for a comfortable cab. Between the travel and the 26-inch tires, we expected to feel more terrain abuse inside the cab. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised how comfortable the ride was with the Fox shocks.
We were equally pleased with the handling capabilities. Some 50-inch cars don’t provide confidence that you can push ruts or corners without risk of tipping the car. In contrast, the RZR Trail felt pretty normal. We were driving in a group of RZR Pro XPs with advanced long-travel suspension and 181 horsepower, and the RZR Trail Ultimate felt right at home with it larger, brutish siblings. It was happy to slice easily through the tightest areas without being unsettled in the rough or rutted turns.
THE PERFECT LINE
One section of the test loop had a left/right/left-corner combination that tortured the larger cars. Four-seaters had to tiptoe through to avoid multi-point turns. The same section left the RZR Trail with a choice of lines and no drama. Another section was a fast downhill two-track that abruptly transitioned to a climb. In the Trail we dragged the rear portion of the skid plate and bottomed the rear suspension. It wasn’t bad, but we heard and felt it.
Next time, though, we were in the Pro XP with greater clearance, longer travel, larger tires and more sophisticated suspension. We dragged the rear skid on the Pro XP as well. We did not expect that, but it raised our estimation of the Trail.
2022 POLARIS RZR TRAIL ULTIMATE
We were testing on a private riding area, and few of the routes and trails showed up on the Ride Command GPS screen, but it did have enough detail to know that we appreciate the features the package offers. It has a center-mount, integrated, 7-inch glove-touch display. It allows you to plan and track rides, to share with friends, discover new trails with GPS navigation, and keep your group in sight with Group Ride. With Ride Command, other Ride Command machines in the area show up on the GPS screen. With Group Ride, you can designate who is your group and select a group leader as well.
For a tight-trail machine, the rear-camera feature is very handy as well. It kicks on in reverse, but you can use the tough controls to keep it engaged to watch for others in the group. The Trail Ultimate does not come stock with a down-looking front camera, but it is set up for one, and the unit can integrate it.
With the RZR Trail Ultimate, Polaris has pushed through a barrier. Past 50-inch machines have had a decided base-model loss-leader feel to them. It was as if product planners felt any 50-inch machine would only justify a certain price point. Part of that thinking is driven by regulation. Some 50-inch trail systems are also weight-limited to machines under 1000 pounds. The basic Trail 570 is under 1000 pounds, and it costs $10,999. With more luxury and far more features, our Trail Ultimate is roughly 1300 pounds. Every one of those pounds add comfort, convenience, protection or added performance.
This is a good-looking, comfortable machine, and even though we don’t have too many 50-inch trail systems, California does have some. This machine has us thinking, and tallying, where those trails are. It is that fun to drive.
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SPECS: 2022 POLARIS RZR TRAIL ULTIMATE
Engine type 4-stroke, DOHC, twin cylinder
Transmission Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H
Final drive Shaft
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 9.5 gal.
Ground clearance .11”
Estimated dry weight 1297 lb.
Front Dual A-Arm with stabilizer bar and Fox 2.0 Podium X shocks/10”
Rear Dual A-arm with stabilizer bar and Fox 2.0 Podium X shocks/10”
Front 26×8-12” PXT
Rear 26×9-12” PXT
Front Hydraulic disc with dual-bore calipers
Rear Hydraulic disc with dual-bore calipers
Bed capacity 300 lb.
Towing 1,500 lb.
Colors Ghost Gray
Price Starting at $17,999