POLARIS ACE 900 XC
— Testing a fast fun machine — By the staff of Dirt Wheels
We spend many thrilling and fun miles piloting Polaris machinery, and it is always tough to choose a favorite. Each Polaris ATV and UTV provides enjoyment for different uses. It wasn’t until the Ace 900 XC was released that we truly knew which Polaris topped the list for pure enjoyment! It’s too powerful for its own good, has long-travel suspension that is wide and stable, and did we already say it’s got too many ponies under the cargo bed? It has 78 of them, in fact, and while that may not seem like a large number, we imagine it feels similar to stuffing a V8 engine under the hood of a little Mazda Miata that generally holds a four-cylinder! We had to tone down our grins to provide an accurate test of the 2018 Ace 900 XC without the continuous mention of how fun it is to drive. The single-seater UTV slides in sideways in Polaris’ lineup at a starting price of $12,999.
PLENTY OF PONIES
This 2018 model is exactly the same as 2017, so it is just as powerful and has the same amount of torque down low. The four-stroke vertical twin is liquid-cooled and electronically fuel-injected. The displacement is 875cc, and the dual-overhead-cam design shares two camshafts that run across the top of both cylinders to control the intake and exhaust valves.
The ProStar powerplant’s 78 horsepower gets transferred through its fully automatic continuously variable transmission. The accessible gears are high and low in forward drive, neutral, reverse and park that are changed via a stick-style, non-gated shifter on the right side of the seat. Polaris utilizes their On-Demand all-wheel-drive system that can be changed from two-wheel drive to AWD by pushing a dash-mounted switch. The front differential remains unlocked until the system senses the rear wheels spinning or losing traction, then the front diff will engage and provide the traction needed. This system is proven and works well in all types of off-roading situations.
Walker Evans Racing provides the shocks to a lot of Polaris UTVs, which naturally means they continued to do so for the 2018 Polaris Ace 900 XC. The front suspension is a dual-A-arm design that offers 12.3 inches of wheel travel. The WER clicker needle shocks used on the XC come with compression and spring-preload adjustments. The shocks have a dual-rate-spring setup that assists with making the ride smoother. One spring handles the heavier hits well, and the other tackles the slow-speed chop
The independent rear suspension of the Ace is also a dual-A-arm design with 12.6 inches of usable wheel travel on each side. The Walker shocks on the rear have the same features as the fronts do, except they have remote oil reservoirs.
CARVING THROUGH TRAILS
Polaris puts a lot of focus on comfort in their machines. The cockpit is roomy, the seat is supple and the seating position is spot-on. Taller riders can fit in the Ace easily with what feels like more legroom than a RZR, especially for the left foot. The seat is adjustable forward and back. We would like to see more of a bucket-style seat that holds the driver in place better. Since this machine is fast and sporty, we feel like we slide around on the seat frequently. The steering wheel is able to tilt up and down to suit the driver, and the seating position is upright. The dash comes with a Bluetooth-connectable instrumentation gauge to provide all the needed readouts. Polaris included latching quarter doors to help protect the driver, along with a color-matched roll cage.
The XC comes stock with electronic power steering. EPS makes life easier when you are shredding trails of any form. Steering action is quicker with EPS, and you don’t feel as much input from the trail when you ride through rocks, sand, ruts and other rough sections of trail. Polaris designed their power steering with Variable Assist, which means that the computer changes the characteristics the faster you drive the machine, so it won’t be twitchy at higher speeds.
The Ace 900 XC has usable standard features for trail riding and some light utility work. There is a 3-gallon-capacity front storage bin that has a water-resistant sealed lid, which doubles as a cargo rack. There is also a rear cargo bed that sits over the engine. The bed can handle over 100 pounds of weight, and there are Polaris Lock & Ride features built into it. Altogether the Ace offers 360 pounds’ worth of cargo-holding capability. Strangely enough, there is a rear 2-inch hitch receiver on the 900; however, Polaris recommends that you don’t tow with the machine.
TOO MUCH FUN
When we first drove the XC, we were timid with it because, when you give it a heavy foot, the rear end squats, torque pulls you back into the seat, and the steering gets light and quick. The power is abundant, and torque on the low end is stronger than the pull through the whole range. Eventually, we began to trust how the machine works and reacts to throttle and steering input, and then the fun never stopped until each of us, reluctantly, passed the Ace to the next driver.
The shocks and long-travel suspension give the Ace a supple and stable ride. We increased the compression a few clicks in the front and rear for higher-speed driving so it wouldn’t bottom out as easily. When cornering, we find it best to do so while easy on the throttle or even trailing throttle. The 900 front end is light while under power, and that lessens steering action and traction. While the 27-inch GBC Dirt Commanders do a great job of hooking up in most types of dirt and terrain, there is only so much they can manage when you throw a lot of torque at them. We learned how to set up for turns with the XC, and then it worked very well.
When charging hard through whoops or hitting jumps, we noticed that the Ace likes to buck the rear end. You can tune some of this out through shock adjustment, but realistically a longer wheelbase might be the only solution to truly solve the problem. That would affect transport, though. The Ace 900 XC barely fits in a long-bed full-size truck, but it does fit with the tailgate closed. We imagine that had a lot to do with the final wheelbase number.
The ground clearance is a healthy 13 inches, and to stop the machine, there are hydraulic disc brakes on each corner that are very strong.
Polaris dropped a new bomb recently with the release of their RZR RS1. We thought that they would have kept the single-seat action to the Ace lineup, but the RS1 is the width of a two-seat RZR XP 1000 but only has one seat with the power of the XP 1000’s engine behind it. Lucky for the Ace 900 XC, the RS1 won’t be able to fit in a truck bed and on certain riding trails that only allow a max width of 60 inches. The XC starts at a price of $12,999 and is extremely fun.
If you want to take off onto the trails in a machine that only you can ride in, we would instantly direct you to the Ace 900 XC. That is until we fully test the RZR RS1 and see how fun that new single-seater is! Go to www.polaris.com to check out their full line of ATVs and UTVs.
2018 POLARIS ACE 900 XC
Engine Twin-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke
Displacement 875cc Bore x stroke 93mm x 73.5mm
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 5.25 gal.
Transmission Automatic CVT
Final drive Shaft
Front Dual A-arms w/ 12.3″
Rear Dual A-arms w/ 12.6″
Front Dual hydraulic discs
Rear Dual hydraulic discs
Ground clearance 13″
Curb weight 1050 lb.
Payload capacity 575 lb.
Towing capacity N/A
Colors Velocity Blue