2018 RZR XP TURBO DYNAMIX
— TESTING THE TOP UTV FROM POLARIS —
The “Big P” has been on top for too long to let the Can-Am Maverick X3 go unanswered, and every sport UTV enthusiast has been wondering what Polaris’ response would be. Polaris didn’t fight back with a wider machine or longer travel, but added the 2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo Dynamix to their lineup. Dynamix is a level above the 2017 XP Turbo by combining nearly everything found on the Ride Command system combined with Fox/Polaris’ computerized smart suspension that adjusts automatically and on the fly to suit conditions and speed.
In 2017 the RZR Turbo boasted a slew of improvements in steering ratio, brakes, cooling, suspension, engine reliability and belt-case breathing and venting. With all those upgrades one year ago, the list was smaller for 2018, even for the Dynamix. To transform the RZR to the Dynamix, Polaris swiped everything but the speakers and front camera from the Ride Command models and upgraded to a 900-watt alternator to run the extra electronics like the dedicated ECU for the Dynamix suspension, the Ride Command 7-inch touchscreen, backup camera and the electronically controlled shock adjusters. Sorry, guys, the new alternator has two regulators, so it isn’t a bolt-in upgrade for the older machines.
An ECU that Polaris calls the Suspension Control Module (SCM) monitors inputs from seven sensors, an accelerometer, a gyro and GPS input 200 times a second to know how to electronically adjust the suspension on the fly. The sensors are from the machine’s steering position, vehicle speed, pedal position, vehicle orientation and other factors. The shocks adjust electronically in 40 milliseconds (0.04 seconds) from full soft to full stiff. A three-position switch on the dash lets you select basic settings for the Fox 2.5 Podium Live Valve shocks. Choose from comfort, sport and firm. Most drivers will never need any setting but comfort, since the shocks electronically stiffen as needed.
HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE
Basically, Fox removed the click adjuster and replaced it with the electronic adjuster, but it has a range roughly double that of the Fox and Walker Evans shocks that come on other 2018 RZR models. Because it is electronic, and selected inputs control when and what is adjusted on the suspension, Polaris was able to make the actual shock-damping settings softer than any production RZR has ever been and stiffer than it has ever been. The actual logic and algorithms in the Suspension Control Module (the brains that make it work) are the work of Polaris engineers.
The SCM is located just below the Ride Command screen, so it is close to the vehicle’s center of gravity. This computer works with GPS input to know where the vehicle is in space and what it is doing, what angles it is rolling to and how fast it is getting there. That’s how the computer knows that you are jumping or knows that you are counter-steering.
Inside the unit is a three-axis accelerometer keeping track of the longitudinal, lateral and vertical accelerations of the chassis. There is a three-axis gyro keeping track of the angle of acceleration, so it knows yaw (waggling side to side), pitch and roll. The gyro knows you are jumping but not whether you are climbing or descending. Basically, the inertial measurement unit inside the SCM is what comes in smart bombs and in cell phones to let you play interactive video games.
At this point it does not know if you are driving on an off-camber. This technology is adapted from the automotive industry, so it currently doesn’t have that capability. Cars use this technology for fuel economy and safety, not for 50-foot tabletops. Sport mode bumps the damping up 30 to 40 percent over the comfort setting. Setting the control switch to firm maxes the shock damping at 10 for all four shocks. It is an ECU, so it can be re-flashed for updates, and you can re-valve the shocks to make changes, but the only electronic user adjustments are the three settings.
TECHNOLOGY IN ACTION
The first trick you will get used to is braking. Tap the brakes and the front shocks stay stiffer for 1.5 seconds. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to start tapping the brake before any large ditch or bump. You don’t need to ride the brake through the terrain feature; just tap it and stay on the gas. You can really slam single impacts with control. You soon miss this capability when you get back in another car.
When you turn, the outside shocks stiffen to reduce body roll. Since this feature doesn’t rely on steering wheel position alone, it knows when you are counter-steering for a slide and keeps the outer shocks stiffer. When you accelerate hard at over 95-percent throttle, the rear shocks stiffen up to reduce squat. Then there is any combination of those inputs. Hit the brakes and turn, and it is going to really stiffen up the outside front corner.
Speed affects damping as well. Drive under 20 mph in comfort mode and the suspension screen will show all zeroes, since the suspension is still operating with the free-bleed and the shock valving has not come into effect. As the speeds increase, the numbers will start to go up as the car needs more damping to control body roll. No matter what suspension mode you are in, if the car is in the air for more than a quarter of a second, all four shocks go to full stiff for a nice landing. It stays stiff for half a second, then returns to the selected suspension setting. So you can be in comfort, hit a jump and, right after the landing, hit choppy bumps, and the suspension is set for all of those conditions.
As soon as you start driving, you feel that the system is good and that it reacts instantly, but it is rarely obtrusive in any negative way. One of the features of the Ride Command screen in the Dynamix is a real-time display of what the shock settings are. It is fun to watch, but soon you trust it and stick to the speed/tach or GPS displays. The display we are talking about is the Ride Command 7-inch glove-touch display screen. It has the Dynamix visualizer screen we mentioned, digital instrumentation, GPS, mapping, Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity, GoPro control (sadly, GoPro not included), AM/FM and weather radio. It also allows in-vehicle communications and lets you integrate Ride Command apps like Group Ride, Follow the Leader and Ride Stat Tracking. Even pedestrian functions are available like speedometer, odometer, trip meter, tachometer, coolant temperature, volt meter, hour meter, service indicator, clock, gear indicator, fuel gauge, hi-temp light, seatbelt reminder, fault code display and outside temperature.
DRIVETRAIN AND SUSPENSION
The Turbo Dynamix has another suspension difference for 2018 aside from the Dynamix electrical smart suspension—the 2017 (or the 2018 Fox Edition) featured Fox 3.0 rear shocks and 2.5 fronts, but the 2018 Dynamix has Fox 2.5 shocks at all four corners. We can only assume that the change has to do with compatibility for the Dynamix system.
Even though Polaris says that the actual shock settings at the low end are softer than ever, we initially felt that they were stiffer. Subsequent comparisons with our 2017 Turbo 4 proved that was true. Even factoring in the inherent smoothness of the long-wheelbase four-seater and suspension with over 1000 miles on it, there is a difference. The 2018 likes to be driven much harder. In deep whoop sections we switched to sport mode, and control is great. Even when you are turning with whoops, the Dynamix system stiffens the outside shocks and keeps everything in control like never before.
Engine performance is stellar at all rpm levels. We love this motor’s delivery and sheer output. It has brakes that are easily capable of handling the speed and power as well. We mentioned that combined inputs boost the damping. Hard turning and braking did show a little chatter in certain conditions, but otherwise the Dynamix system works great. Our machine came, thankfully, with a clip-on plastic roof from Polaris, but that is not standard. We did some rock crawling and found the machine excelled there as well.
The 2018 RZR XP Turbo Dynamix feels light on its feet, nimble in turns and works extremely well as a package. It has the viewing angle ahead of the machine that we love, easy enter/exit, good comfort and massive engine performance. With the Dynamix system, the handling on fast terrain and the suspension action feel far more Can-Am-like. It will be very interesting when we get the two machines head to head!
2018 POLARIS RZR XP TURBO DYNAMIX SPECS
Engine ProStar Turbo H.O., 4-stroke DOHC, twin cylinder, turbocharged
Fuel system Electronic fuel injection
Fuel capacity 9.5 gal.
Starting system Electric
Final drive Shaft
Front Dual A-arm w/ stabilizer bar and Fox 2.5 Podium Live Valve w/ bottom-out control/16″
Rear Trailing arm w/ stabilizer bar and Fox 2.5 Podium Live Valve w/ bottom-out control/18″
Front 29×9-14 Maxxis Bighorn
Rear 29×11-14 Maxxis Bighorn
Wheels Black cast aluminum
Brakes 4-wheel hydraulic disc w/ triple-bore front and dual-bore rear calipers
Wheelbase 90 inches
Ground clearance 13.5″
Payload capacity 700 lb.
Towing capacity N/A
Dry weight 1500 lb.
Colors Black Pearl