WIDE OPEN: Best Christmas ever

By Joe Kosch

Manufacturers have spoiled adult UTV owners with wave after wave of exciting new models. Adult drivers expect mind-blowing new machines and features every year. Things haven’t been so great for youth drivers. Polaris spiced up the youth UTV scene in recent years with the Ranger 150 and the single-seat Ace 150, but the Ace 150 has been discontinued for 2022. Hisun, Massimo and SSR also offer some good youth machines. The real dilemma has been the huge gap in style and sophistication between adult and youth UTVs. The 2022 Polaris RZR 200 changes that. For young drivers fortunate enough to get one, this could be the best Christmas ever.

Kids and parents can’t resist a cool-looking UTV, and the RZR 200’s RZR Pro XP-like styling is by far the best I’ve seen in youth UTVs. It’s completely up to date and accurate, right down to the small doors, which are a nice step up from the old RZR 170’s basic side nets. Like many features on the RZR 200, the doors don’t just look good, they’re also safer.

The RZR 200’s fully independent suspension is another area where this new machine’s design is a lap ahead of most other youth UTVs. Many youth UTVs, including the popular RZR 170, have single A-arm front suspension. Single A-arm allows more camber change, as it responds to bumps better than the double-A-arm suspension. The RZR 200’s double A-arm front suspension is much more like what big UTVs use, and it has seven inches of travel. That is two inches more than the RZR 170, and more than most other youth UTVs. The RZR 200 is also the first youth UTV to use independent rear suspension, and it’s a big-UTV-like trailing-arm setup with 7 inches of travel. Most youth UTVs use a fairly crude solid-axle/swingarm suspension with the weight of the engine and transmission on the swingarm. All that unsprung weight is not the best for performance or ride quality. More ground clearance is another benefit of independent rear suspension, and the RZR 200’s long-travel suspension and large 24 inch tires give the machine 10 inches of ground clearance—a huge number among youth UTVs.

Power means fun on any size machine, and the RZR 200’s 180cc engine should keep the machine’s performance similar to the 169cc 170’s, even though the RZR 200 is 203 pounds heavier. Most parents are more concerned with making sure a youth machine’s power matches their young riders’ skill levels than how fast it goes. No youth UTV is better equipped for that than the new 200. Polaris’ Ride Control governs the machine through the Ride Command app to enable speed limiting, geo-fencing and Helmet Aware technology. Geofencing sets and controls ride boundaries and speed limits within and outside of the geo-fenced area. Helmet Aware technology allows users to preset the vehicle’s controls when the Helmet Aware beacon is in and/or out of the vehicle display range, preventing the vehicle from starting without helmets being worn. The RZR 200 EFI comes with two helmets, a Helmet Aware beacon, a safety flag and a training DVD.

The new RZR 200’s interior was upgraded to a big-UTV level also. Both seats slide to adjust rather than just one adjusting or needing to be bolted to a new position. The steering-wheel angle adjusts with a simple thumb screw rather than requiring tools. Instead of a sticker that looks like a speedometer on the dash, there’s also a real, working instrument display with speedometer, engine rpm, gear position, odometer, trip meter, voltage, engine temperature, engine hour interval, youth Ride Control speed-limiting indicator, geo-fencing indicator, and Helmet Aware indicator.

Amazingly, Polaris didn’t stop there. The RZR 200 has LED running lights, and there’s even a battery charge port in the dash to make maintaining the battery easy. For the first time in years, young drivers may have a Christmas as exciting as the adults.

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