Comfort, capable, comfort, fun, comfort By the staff of Dirt Wheels
From the very first time we saw or, more accurately, rode in the General 4, we were fans. Even though the suspension travel was on the modest side as far as sport machines go, it is on the generous side for recreation utility models. And then there is that cab. Great seating, comfort and an interior fit and finish that are as refreshing as it is unexpected in the UTV world. Now, with the General XP models, Polaris has super-sized the General (two- and four-seaters) to a full 64-inch track width and boosted travel to 14 inches. The XP models don’t replace the narrower and somewhat more trail-oriented regular, non-XP General models. The XP 4 1000 Deluxe is not just a new General but, in most respects, a vastly improved one.
ROOM FOR FOUR
One change that was vital when Polaris created the four-seater was a 32-inch increase in wheelbase. Changes in suspension stretched that to 34 inches over the original General two-seater, so the total wheelbase is 115 inches. To put that in perspective, our 2018 Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 had a 117-inch wheelbase. Because of the 600-pound capacity dump bed on the General XP 4, the overall length is 150.2 inches, while the RZR is 146 inches. Most of those inches were added to the cockpit to make it a fun place for four people to ride in comfort. Well-designed, cut-and-sew, premium bucket seats; customizable instrumentation; and easy cab access highlight the cab area. Rear passengers are not an afterthought. The rear is claimed to offer the most elbow and knee room available for rear passengers. We don’t know about that claim, but our 6-foot passengers reported that the rear compartment was comfortable and that visibility was good. They entered and exited the suicide-style (open to the rear) doors easily. Obviously, the front cabin is even nicer. All of the seats are supportive, solidly mounted and feel secure. The driver’s seat is adjustable, and we feel it’s a step above a RZR seat.
There are convenience items, like storage compartments and front and rear cup holders. We also like the fact that the General has fully molded interior door panels, center consoles front and rear to act as elbow rests, and secure passenger hand-holds. The front passenger has a hand-hold on each side. In the rear there is a full bar across the car. All of these features work with the tall doors. We sampled the driver, passenger and rear seats with two couples aboard. We can give the cab appointments and seats a thumbs up.
The combo sweep/digital instrument cluster moves with the tilt-adjustable steering wheel. The digital and analog gauge indicates vehicle speed, engine rpm and standard trip information. The center digital gauge can be configured and features an auto-adjusting backlight that can switch from red to blue.
On the XP 4 Deluxe there is the additional 7-inch Ride Command display in the center of the dash. It displays rear camera, GPS and much more. The rear camera is automatic in reverse, but you can select it via the Ride Command control buttons to watch for riders in the group who are trailing you. Some of the “much more” of the Ride Command include control of the five-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo system that is built into the General. There are large speaker pods below the dash on both sides of the car in the front, but they do an admirable job of staying out of the leg area. You can use a playlist from your phone, or listen to over-the-air radio if there is reception.
We played the stereo some, loved the rear camera, and found the built-in GPS amazingly effective and intuitive. We were testing in the Mammoth Lakes area, and we hadn’t been on the trails in over 20 years. We found our way with GPS and, even better, retraced our steps easily. We did find that a few trails shown on the GPS simply didn’t exist on the ground, but that was rare.
PLAYFUL WORK POWER
As nice as the space-age electronic features are, much of what we like about the General is related to internal combustion. The 100-horsepower, 999cc, parallel-twin engine has plenty to recommend it for work or play. That engine is claimed to be the most powerful recreation utility motivation in production. The power is why the General is rated for 1280 pounds of total payload in addition to the 1,500 pounds towing capacity. It delivers broad torque throughout its rpm range with 65pound-feet of torque to haul, pull and play.
General XP 4 changes added a whopping 200 pounds to the machine compared to the 60-inch General 4. Among the changes are larger and heavier tires. In our case, for much of this test, we added 800 pounds of passengers, tools, cameras and gear. We were also between 7,000 and 9,000 feet of elevation. All of those factors adversely affect the power. The power is somewhat muted compared to the 60-inch four-seater. Overall response remains crisp, and the clutching lets the General handle technical driving in style and control. At altitude, fuel economy didn’t seem as efficient as we remembered.
Despite a full cabin, altitude, climbing and soft-terrain conditions, we had no belt issues. We were able to put 20 easy miles on the XP before we got serious. That makes a huge difference in belt life.
DRIVETRAIN AND SUSPENSION
Many UTV owners stay in AWD in trail situations. With a long-wheelbase car, it doesn’t make sense to us to stay in 2WD to encourage the car to slide around. In AWD the General automatically reverts to 2WD until there is some rear-wheel spin. Then all four wheels are powered. Even though we rarely use it on trails, VersaTrac—a third drive mode, sometimes called Turf mode—unlocks the rear differential for easier tight turns that won’t tear up grass and reduces tread marks on your driveway. In addition to the effective AWD system, the General has a generous amount of wheel travel for a recreation utility machine at 14 inches front and rear. Damping is handled by preload- and compression-adjustable Walker Evans Velocity Series needle shocks with piggyback reservoirs. The long wheelbase further aids in smoothing the ride. Non-XP Generals come with 27-inch tires on 14-inch wheels, but the XP has cast-aluminum 15-inch wheels with 30-inch Pro Armor Crawler XG tires.
A tire-size change that large also smooths the ride. Interestingly, all four tires are the same size, but the front tires have a different tread pattern and lug spacing than the rears. Regardless, the tires work well in a wide variety of conditions and wear equally well. Walker Evans’ shocks are quick and reactive for a machine with 14 inches of travel. The ride is smooth, it handles G-outs nicely and the ride feels nicely level without excessive body roll in turns.
In addition to our local trails and work around a staffer’s rural property, we enjoyed our trip to the Sierras. Conditions ranged from quite tight for a four-seater to smooth and fast roads. With all of the seats full, it isn’t the happiest in steady whoops, but it handles most impacts well. We expected more feedback from the many roots that cropped up on the wooded trails in the Sierras, but it was rare that those inherently sharp impacts passed more than mild notice to the cabin.
Some sections of road and trail were literally cobbled with rocks, and bumping the speed up a little helped the ride. Whenever there were stops, all four passengers exited the XP quickly and easily to grab photos or check out the views.
We carried our heavy bag with both tools and spares, as well as a hard plastic case with camera equipment in the bed. Tie-loops in the bed floor let us strap everything in with light-duty tie-downs, and nothing moved or bounced no matter the terrain. Inside the car we had the option of storing our stuff in the glove box or the capacious cubbies under the center armrests.
We had a two-seat car along, and while it was more at ease in the tight trees, we didn’t come across anything that the longer General was not capable of. When it was used on the rural property, the drivers all noted how smooth riding and driving the XP 4 is. On the rural property, the ability to unlock the rear differential was prized more than when we were on the trail. Since we just tested the 60-inch General two-seater last month, it was easy to notice that the ground clearance is notably better on the XP despite being a four-seater.
When you are making quick transitions, you do feel the longer machine, but we were never bothered or hindered by it.
Testing the General XP 4 1000 Deluxe has done nothing to change our minds about the General having our favorite stock interior layout and feel. Having the 64-inch track and longer suspension travel are a bonus as well. In almost every way, the XP 4 is more capable and polished than the standard 60-inch General 4. The single drawback is the weight increase, but much of the ride and handling improvement is directly attributable to parts that boosted the weight. Even at a price a mere dollar short of $25,000, the four-seater is an attractive package. Sure, you can buy a lot of sport performance for the same money, but not with the utility you have with the dump bed and roomy interior.
2020 POLARIS GENERAL XP 4 1000 DELUXE
Engine 4-Stroke DOHC twin cylinder
Bore x stroke 93 mm x 73.5 mm
Fuel system Electronic fuel injection
Fuel capacity 9.5 gallons
Starting system Electric
Final drive Shaft
Front High-clearance dual A-arm w/ stabilizer bar, 14” travel, Walker Evans Velocity series shocks
Rear High-clearance dual A-arm w/ stabilizer bar, 14” travel, Walker Evans Velocity series shocks
Front 30×10-15 Pro Armor Crawler XGF
Rear 30×10-15; Pro Armor Crawler XGF
Brakes 4-wheel hydraulic disc w/dual-bore front and rear calipers
Ground clearance 13.5”
Payload capacity 1280 lb.
Towing capacity 1500 lb.
Dry weight 2,058 lb.
Colors Stealth Grey, Matte Navy Blue