UTV TEST: 2021 POLARIS GENERAL XP 4 1000 FACTORY CUSTOM EDITION
Finally, a General for the west By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Our history with the Polaris General has been a long and pleasant one. From the first two-seater we gelled with the combination of sporty power, nimble handling, a bed for work, a tow hitch for convenience and an interior we love to spend time in. A long-wheelbase four-seater did nothing to hurt our opinion of the General line. Then, with the 2020 General XP and XP 4, longer travel and a wider stance made us even happier. Now, in the second year, the General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition joins the line. The normal General has always struck us as a great companion for hunting or mountain trails, a machine comfortable in tight woods.
With the introduction of the wider, long-travel General XP 1000 models, we could see the General as happy in more varied conditions and uses.
WAY OUT WEST
While any General XP has the goods to handle more open spaces like the western U.S., the XP 4 Factory Custom Edition is the first one truly aimed at the western buyer. Polaris stopped short of a name like “Desert Edition” or some such. Compared to the last General XP 4 1000 Deluxe we tested, the Special Edition has a little more color, a stitched steering wheel, a roof and beadlock rims. There are also updates to the Ride Command GPS system—it has more features. The standard Rockford Fosgate stereo is capable of significantly more volume. It also comes stock with a small but effective light bar mounted to the front bumper.
ALL THE GOODIES
Like all of the premium General models, the Limited Edition has cut-and-sew premium bucket seats, customizable instrumentation and easy cab access. Rear passengers are treated to what Polaris claims is the most elbow and knee room available for a back seat. Our 6-foot passengers found the rear compartment was comfortable and that visibility was good. Rear passengers easily enter and exit via suicide-style (open to the rear) doors. The front cabin is even nicer, and it is entered via normal doors. All of the seats are supportive, solidly mounted and feel secure. The driver’s seat is fore-and-aft adjustable, and we like the forward visibility that the upright position provides.
A friend had labeled this car as the “Desert Limo,” and we have to agree. This is also a fantastic family buggy, too! One driver commented, “After even the longest of rides, I could not get the grandkids out of the back of the car. They could not get enough of it. If you are having game-boy-obsession problems with your kids, this could be good therapy.”
For convenience there are storage compartments and cup holders front and rear. Among our favorite features are the General’s fully molded interior door panels, and front and rear padded center consoles that offer storage and double as armrests.
The front passenger has a hand-hold on each side instead of a center-mount T-bar. A cab-width bar acts as the rear passenger’s hand-hold. All these handy features work well with the tall standard doors. We tested every seat and did a fair amount of testing with two adult couples filling the seats. This is one of favorite four-seat cabs. Again, our test drivers agreed, “Ergonomically speaking, the seats, both front and rear, are very comfy. You could spend all day in the rear seats with no complaints. The steering wheel has a nice tilt function, and when combined with the excellent doors, getting in and out of this machine is far easier than the ‘stretch’ maneuver required to enter most sport models.”
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 Special Edition there is a 7-inch Ride Command display in the center of the dash. The more we experience Ride Command, the better we like it. We mostly use the rear camera and GPS display functions, but there is much more. Rear camera is automatic in reverse, but you can select it via the Ride Command control buttons as a unique video rear-view “mirror.” 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 but unobtrusive speaker pods under the dash on both sides. Use a playlist from your phone, or listen to over-the-air radio if there is reception.
We were testing on strange trails in southern Utah, and we found the GPS a true comfort and very informative. We were able to find routes with GPS and, even better, effortlessly retraced our steps.
PLAYFUL WORK POWER
As we said at the beginning, the General’s 100-horsepower, 999cc, parallel-twin engine is spicy enough to double as a sport powerplant. At the same time it is smooth and flexible enough for work. That 100-horse engine is claimed to be the most powerful production rec utility power-plant. As a result, the General is rated to haul 1280 pounds of total payload (that includes passengers) in addition to towing 1500 pounds.
One of our test riders compared the General to his RZR Pro XP, “The 999cc, non-turbo engine runs surprisingly well. It is very user-friendly and responsive. In stock trim it has plenty of power and climbed hills that a four-seat machine with a dump bed really shouldn’t attempt anyway, but it’s nice to know you have the power to do so.”
In the transmission department, the low-range mode will do a great job of crawling down steep hills without needing to use the brakes too much—good stuff!”
IT’S A BIG BOY
As nice as the General XP 4 changes are, like longer-travel suspension and a wider stance, those additions are responsible for adding 200 pounds to the machine compared to the 60-inch General 4. The XP also has larger and heavier tires. For much of this test, we added 800 pounds of passengers, tools, cameras and gear.
DRIVETRAIN AND SUSPENSION
We got some unique feedback from a Polaris Pro XP owner who needed a capable machine for putting up a memorial for a riding partner who had passed: “I had the opportunity to borrow a four-seat 2021 Polaris General Factory Custom Edition model for a weekend that I had been planning up in our local hills. I was looking for a four-seat rig with a dump bed, and the General fit the bill.
“Of course, when I first looked at the machine, my first thoughts were, ‘Wow! This thing is long, it has no turbo and not much suspension compared to my current ride; it can’t be that much fun.’ And then I drove it.
“Until you have taken one out for a ride, you really have no idea about how good or versatile this machine really is!
“Okay, so you can’t smash whoops at 50 mph, but it was never designed to do that. In all other types of terrain, it does amazingly well. In fact, in a tight, twisty sand wash, a friend with a much wider two-seat sport model had a tough time keeping up. Yes, it is a long vehicle, but it is much more agile than you would think. It took all but the very tightest turns with no problem.
“In my opinion, the brakes are outstanding. The pedal feel is excellent, and they don’t require too much leg pressure. At the same time they are impressively strong.
“The steering is light and responsive with good trail feedback at all speeds. This steering combined with the non-intimidating but ample power and the fantastic brakes make for a very user-friendly machine. In fact, the wife enjoyed driving the General more than her own machine.
“I put the winch and towing capabilities to the test. On one of the trails we encountered a rather large tree that had fallen across the path. Other drivers were simply turning around and going a different route. The winch on this rig had absolutely no problem pulling the dead and burnt tree off the trail and out of the way. That is a nice and handy capability to have available!
“On this outing, I also had the opportunity to tow a small trailer. I would guesstimate the weight of the trailer and its contents to be around 800 pounds. We towed the trailer, while the General had four passengers. We went up and down some rough two-track trails that were steep and rock-strewn. The General had no complaints. It felt like it could have hauled a much heavier trailer.
“I also used it to pull a heavy drag (in low range of course) to clean up our camping site and make a short road through our property. For comparison, my personal Yamaha Grizzly 700 with new tires (a very capable rig in its own right) could barely move this same drag.”
The General has a generous amount of wheel travel for a rec 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 XP has cast-aluminum 15-inch wheels with 30-inch Pro Armor Crawler XG tires.
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 quite 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.
Some sections of road and trail were literally cobbled with rocks, and bumping the speed up a little helped the ride. On the rural property, the ability to unlock the rear differential was prized more than when we were on the trail.
Testing the General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition was a genuine pleasure. We spent time rock crawling, trail searching and handling work projects. In every case it was simply stellar with our favorite four-seat cab.
2021 POLARIS GENERAL 1000 FACTORY CUSTOM EDITION
Engine 4-stroke DOHC twin cylinder
Bore x stroke 93mm x 73.5mm
Fuel system Electronic fuel injection
Fuel capacity 9.5 gal.
Starting system Electric
Final drive shaft
Front suspension High-clearance dual A-arm with stabilizer bar, 14” travel, Walker Evans Velocity series shocks
Rear suspension High-clearance dual A-arm with stabilizer bar, 14” travel, Walker Evans Velocity series shocks
Front tires 30×10-15 Pro Armor Crawler XGF
Rear tires 30×10-15; Pro Armor Crawler XG
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