UTV TEST: 2022 POLARIS RZR PRO R 4 ULTIMATE
A step up to the line or a step over it? By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Most companies grow increasingly cautious as they expand, but Polaris is a global powersports giant, and it shows no sign of starting to color inside the lines. In a world where expected engine displacements are 250, 450, 500, 750 or 1000cc, Polaris has built engines that are 330, 425, 570, 925 and now almost 2000cc. Instead of making its products fit expected parameters, it seems to actively promote machines that avoid expectations or “conventional wisdom.” With Polaris, you learn to expect the unexpected. You can see this capricious marketing in products like the street-legal Slingshot three-wheeler, the RS1 single-seat UTV, and the 55-inch-wide Sportsman and Scrambler S 4×4 quads. The only corporate constant we see is, “Build fun stuff people want to buy.”
The latest Polaris to smash the current engine-displacement parameters is the RZR Pro R with an engine that is double the displacement of any previous big-bore UTV. In all its iterations, the Pro R is wider, more powerful and extra in your face than any previous mass-produced UTV. The Pro R is literally in a class of its own.
RZR Pro R’s ProStar Fury is the most powerful engine ever put into a production side-by-side, and the massive power dominates first impressions. It produces 25 horsepower more than the 2022 Can-Am X3 RR’s 200. The RR is a 900cc intercooled turbo engine, and the Pro R has a naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
The Can-Am Maverick X3 Max X RS Turbo RR Smart-Shox is the RZR Pro R 4 Ultimate’s closest competition in the market. Being 500 pounds lighter, the Can-Am has approximately 9 pounds per horsepower, while the heavier Pro R has roughly 10 pounds per horsepower. The Can-Am RR is crazy fast on top, but the Pro R is crazy fast at every throttle opening and rpm. It seems to burst away from a turn or a standing start.
Even being generous to current normally aspirated UTV engine power claims, the Pro R’s 225 horsepower is up 100 horsepower over the nearest NA competition. More important, there is no reason that it shouldn’t be the most reliable high-performance sport UTV engine. Those power numbers are not at all extreme for a 2-liter four-cylinder.
Polaris’ ProStar Fury engine is double overhead cam with four valves per cylinder. It is rated at 152 pound-feet of torque, and the redline for the 1997cc engine is 8500 rpm.
Polaris replaced the 2.4-liter General Motors Ecotec engine in the Polaris Slingshot street-legal sport three-wheeler with its own 2.0-liter engine in 2020. A version of that Slingshot engine is what powers the Pro R.
The RZR Pro R’s engine differs from the Slingshot with a lighter crankshaft, lighter flywheel, different cams, high-compression pistons and an oiling system designed to keep the engine from starving when the car is on radically angled terrain. It has an aluminum closed-deck block with steel liners, a forged steel crankshaft, forged connecting rods and cast-aluminum pistons with low-friction coatings.
“Closed deck” means the top of the block is solid, with openings for the cylinder bores, coolant, oil and cylinder-head bolts rather than having the water jackets open to the head surface. Closed-deck blocks have more head-gasket surface and can handle more cylinder pressure.
Before the engine even made it into the Slingshot, Polaris tested for over 7000 hours of dyno time and more than 1.5 million on-road test miles. Compared to the Ecotec engine, the ProStar Fury 2.0 saved 65 pounds, makes more power with 400cc less displacement and revs without going flat on top. Without turbocharging it should run cooler and more easily meet off-road emissions standards.
Polaris increased the electrical output with a new external, belt-driven 1700-watt, 140-amp alternator to power plenty of accessories.
The ProStar Fury engine has three throttle modes that adjust throttle sensitivity—Sport, Rock and Race. They are selected with a three-position switch on the dash. We rarely used anything but Rock with its controllable initial throttle response. Even Rock mode provides tire-shredding power and acceleration. Sport offers more snap with rpm that builds more quickly, while Race hammers right off the bottom. Race made it hard for us to modulate the power smoothly if there were any bumps preventing gentle and precise initial throttle actuation.
Pro R’s CVT employs a wider, longer belt, bigger clutches and better airflow to deliver what Polaris claims is the longest belt life ever seen on a RZR. Long belt life is a great asset on a machine this powerful. The inline four crankshaft is oriented front to rear in the chassis rather than side to side like the Pro XP’s 925cc parallel twin. As a result, the CVT case runs across the machine. Plastic bulkheads with quick-release fasteners behind the seats (rear seats on our Pro R 4 Ultimate) must be removed to access the belt.
That larger CVT and its location are not the only driveline changes. For the first time in a RZR the rear differential is not part of the transmission. A stronger, larger-diameter hollow drive shaft connects to the front differential. A torque limiter protects the front differential from sudden shocks if the front wheels suddenly hook up after spinning. For the first time Polaris has a welcome differential lock for the front.
As eye-opening as the engine performance is, it doesn’t take long for the suspension and handling to equally impress! Polaris started with a stout one-piece chassis built from 2-inch tubing and a fully welded roll cage that uses tapered joints for added strength where it joins the chassis for a claimed two-time increase in torsional stiffness. In the front are huge, smooth and swoopy boxed-steel A-arms that look more like a metal sculpture than rough and ready off-road parts. The arms are welded up from stamped sections to keep them light yet strong. Polaris made the lower A-arms even stronger than usual and mounted huge Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass shocks to the lower arms rather than using typical upper-arm mounts.
An interesting bottom-shock clevis allows the beefed-up front axles to pass through. The top A-arm can be lighter, and the huge shocks are mounted lower, so they don’t stick up through the hood and affect the driver’s line of sight.
In the rear are equally impressive MaxLink trailing arms utilizing the same construction style and mounting more Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass shocks. MaxLink minimizes bump-steer with a patented through-arm rear toe link. It has a bar that extends from the rear knuckle through the trailing arm. In front it mounts inboard of the trailing-arm pivot. It is designed to keep the rear wheels from “toeing in” regardless of where the rear suspension is in its 24.5-inch travel.
Mostly we know that the suspension works fantastic in the rough. The substantial travel soaks up whoops, and the Pro R 4 tracks like it is on rails. No doubt the RZR Pro R 4’s newfound torsional rigidity, 133.5-inch wheelbase and most-in-class 74-inch track width also contribute.
Further control comes from three-piece sway bars front and rear. Both center torsion bars are straight with heavy-duty splined ends that attach to robust aluminum arms. Up front the high-assist electronic power-steering motor is mounted directly to the quick-turn steering rack. All the Pro Rs have tilt wheel, and our Ultimate has tilt and telescoping adjustment.
The suspension and drivetrain employ enhanced axle shafts and knuckles, and unitized hubs that add durability and simplify maintenance. Another first is Pro Armor five-lug wheels, which are paired with 32-inch Maxxis Rampage Fury tires.
We were instant fans of Polaris’ first Dynamix smart suspension and are continually impressed with its constant improvement. Our RZR Pro R 4 Ultimate Dynamix DV has the even more sophisticated suspension. Like previous Dynamix iterations, DV takes input from the vehicle and terrain to continuously adjust internal shock settings. Unlike previous versions, DV adjusts both rebound and compression damping independently. Dynamix DV includes four new suspension and steering modes that monitor input from driver and machine to adjust the suspension up to 200 times per second to make the ride as smooth as possible and keep the wheels in contact with the ground.
Past versions had compression damping adjustment only, and modes were Comfort, Sport and Firm. With the Pro XP, Polaris added the red “X” button on the steering wheel that instantly maxed the damping control. DV has four suspension modes that are combined with EPS modes. There are Comfort, Race, Rock and Baja settings to choose from. None of the Dynamix DV settings felt especially stiff, but they combine rebound and compression adjustments differently to suit conditions and the setting.
The Ride Command display (that is combined with Dynamix) has a screen that shows what the suspension is doing. It is so sensitive that you can see a difference in the settings for the uphill shocks if the car is stopped on a mild side slope!
Ride Command continues to improve and impress. In our minds it is now one of the prime reasons to buy Polaris. Ride Command (RC) literally puts the controls right at your fingertips with Dynamix controls on one side of the steering wheel and infotainment controls on the other side. RC lets you keep track of a ride group with innovative GPS technology, monitor suspension and ride settings, or sets the playlist to blast through the 400-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system. Ride Command is so sophisticated that it almost deserves its own test. GPS is the most basic function it offers.
OTHER STUFF WE LIKE
With our four-seater, the rear seats fold flat to make room for storage with tie-down points. Inside the front and rear full doors is stadium seating with comfortable bucket seats and six-point harness-type seat belts. The front shoulder belts are retractable, and we love that. There is lots of storage in the cab, plus the cargo bed. With a car this potent, good brakes are a must, and the Pro R has them. This machine throws a lot of dirt, and strategically placed mud and rock guards really seem to protect the shock shafts, CV boots and paint on the rear suspension.
We routinely started in the Comfort suspension mode and counted on the red X button on the wheel to handle big dips and impacts. At an easy pace on rolling terrain the Pro R 4 Ultimate feels like it is floating on air. Every so often a jagged rock or edged rain rut passes a shock through the wheel, but the Pro R feels absolutely rock solid in the rough. Even when you are turning through whoops, the suspension and sway bars keep the car level and controlled.
If the pace is up and the whoops are bigger, we opted for Baja or Race settings. Then, we ended up relying on the red button less. Cornering is very flat and planted for such a tall, long-travel car, but the turning radius is wide. Count on doing Y-turns if you need to turn around on a trail.
It takes a roomy riding area with lots of clear vision to allow standing hard on the throttle no matter what power setting you select. The Pro R throws a lot of dirt and rocks, and we could see wear on all four tires after 50 miles! The power is addictive, and it is hard to refrain from mashing the throttle and reveling in the acceleration. Even in whoops it jumps from a standing start to 40 mph instantly. On the downside, we got in the 10-mpg area during our rides.
We headed for some rock crawling and picked a vertical rock slab in sand with a sharp transition. Without diff-lock, the car would have dug a hole when the rear wheels hit, but the Pro R 4 crawled right up, no big deal. It helps that Polaris has made low range vastly lower than in the past. It is such a jump from low to high, we worry that owners won’t bother to drop into low range when climbing or lugging under 20 mph. The high-clearance rear radius rods were welcome in the rocks as well.
In addition to the standard level of performance and cab comfort, Polaris has more than 70 accessories for the new models, including cages, roofs, windshields and storage. Polaris also created three product collections—Desert, Dune and Rugged Trail.
This is an amazing machine, and one that truly sets a new standard in UTV performance. It can cover terrain in a serious hurry. We hope that the premium price (and common sense) will see Pro Rs in the hands of experienced drivers. A car this powerful should stay with safety-minded folks. With this suspension, you can’t trust the terrain to moderate your speed. It will be up to the driver to keep velocity in check, but nothing will reduce the sheer exhilaration and smile factor.
2022 POLARIS RZR PRO R 4 ULTIMATE:
Engine Inline 4-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 12.3 gal.
Transmission Automatic PVT
Final drive Shaft
Front Lightweight boxed dual A-arm with 3-piece stabilizer bar and Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass with electronically controlled compression and rebound/22.25”
Rear Boxed trailing arm w/ toe link & high-clearance radius rods with Fox 3.0 Live Valve X2 internal bypass with electronically controlled compression and rebound/24.5”
Front Dual hydraulic discs w/ 3-bore calipers
Rear Dual hydraulic discs w/2-bore calipers
Front 32×10-15 8-ply Maxxis Rampage Fury
Rear 32×10-15 8-ply Maxxis Rampage Fury
Ground clearance 16”
Dry weight 2480 lb.
Payload capacity 900 lb.
Cargo bed capacity 300 lb.
Towing capacity N/A
Colors Azure Crystal, Stealth Black
Instrumentation Ride Command 7” glove-touch display: digital instrumentation, GPS, mapping, vehicle-to-vehicle with group ride, follow the leader & messaging, Bluetooth & USB smartphone connectivity, AM/FM & weather radio, in-vehicle communications capable with optional Sena headsets, Rockford Fosgate premium audio (including 2 tweeters, 2 front & 2 rear speakers, and external 400w amp) dual-sweep analog dials w/ 4” LCD rider information center: user selectable blue/red backlighting & brightness, programmable service intervals, speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip meter, clock, hour meter, gear indicator, fuel gauge, coolant temperature, voltmeter, service indicator and codes, seat belt reminder light, gear indicator