Polaris UTV Product Reviews

Polaris RANGER XP 900 Rock Crawling Review

Polaris Ranger XP 900 Rock Crawling Review

Rock Crawling in a Polaris RANGER XP 900
2014Polaris Ranger XP 900 Deluxe in the rocks

RANGER XP 900 is Built to Work Hard

The RANGER XP 900 is perceived by most to be a work machine, and it does know how to get work done. The ProStar 900 engine churns 60 horsepower with class-leading torque giving the RANGER XP 900 the ability to tow one ton and haul 1000 lb.   The RANGER XP 900’s cargo box can fit a pallet and is compatible with Polaris Lock & Ride accessories so it can tackle any hauling project thrown its way.

In stock trim, our RANGER Deluxe is well suited to help with chores around our alpaca ranch. We haul firewood, compost, hay and tools all over the ranch as part of our daily chores, but we know that the RANGER is capable of stretching its legs out on the trail or even in the dunes like we did at Sand Mountain with our last RANGER demo unit.

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Stock RANGER XP 900 on 26″ tires

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RANGER XP 900 with 30-inch tires

Fitting 30-inch Tires

I figured that we should go a step further with our new RANGER Deluxe and see if we could set it up to rock crawl. Now just about any UTV can crawl in the rocks for a bit, but without solid ground clearance and adequate underbody protection, the vehicle would be damaged in a heartbeat. I tend to take care of my demo units better than my own UTVs, so the last thing I would want to do is dent or scratch the RANGER unnecessarily.  So the first thing we need to do is figure out how to stuff 30-inch tires on it. The way the RANGER is designed up front, there is no way to get anything larger than a 27-inch tire without having the tires rub. I decided to go with DragonFire Racing a-arms that move the tire forward 2 inches along with DragonFire ProSpec shocks by Elka Suspension. With these changes, 30-inch tires now fit, and the Elka shocks make for a better ride in the rough terrain.   I opted for The 15-inch Hexlr beadlock and 30×9.50R15 MOTO Hammer tires available through Polaris Dealers.

Factory UTV UHMW Skid Plate
Factory UTV UMHW Skid Plate and Rock Slider

UHMW Skid Plate

The underside of the RANGER isn’t really designed to take the punishment found on rock trails like the Rubicon or Moab, so I turned to Factory UTV to get us setup with UHMW protection.  OEM skid plated are made from hard plastic that can typically deal with light use on the trail and around the ranch, but the material is not thick enough and does not cover the entire underside well. Factory UTV uses 3/8″ or 1/2″ UHMW sheets to cover the entire underside of your UTV. The UHMW slides over rocks instead of sticking like aluminum, and unlike aluminum, UHMW has a memory and returns to orignial shape after impact. Since our RANGER isn’t a race vehicle, and will spend more time working on the ranch than on the Rubicon, I opted for 3/8″ on the skid, and then added rock sliders to protect the edge more.

RANGER XP 900RANGER XP 90030x10R15 Moto Hammer Tire on Hexlr Beadlock WheelRANGER XP 900

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Playing in the rocks at Prairie City SVRA

Putting it to the Test

With these changes in place, my son and I headed down to Prairie City SVRA for a test run. Now you have to remember that the RANGER XP 900 does not have long travel suspension like the RZR XP 1000. With 10 inches of front and rear wheel travel, it can’t really compare to the long-armed 16″/18″ on the XP 1000 in head-to-head rock crawling. So while it is much easier to attack more challenging obstacles in a RZR XP 1000, you have to pick your lines more carefully with the RANGER.

The challenge when rock crawling, it to keep all four tires in contact with the ground so traction is retained.  Ground clearance is key here. The 30″ Moto Hammer tires are a great size for rock crawling.  They increase ground clearance over stock by a few inches which allows the RANGER to navigate tougher obstacles without spending all the time on the skid plate.

The stock front a-arms on the RANGER are situated where anything over a 27-inch tire will rub, so the DragonFire forward swept a-arms are the key component that make enough room for the big rubber.The factory RANGER XP 900 skid isn’t up to the task of rock crawling.  It does not cover the complete underside, and is on the thin size for anything serious.  Factory UTV’s UHMW setup not only covers the entire underside, but it is thicker and more durable. Plus we added rock sliders for additional protection on the edge.  I wouldn’t even consider playing in the rocks without it.

As a side note, the Elka Suspension shocks aren’t necessary when installing the new a-arms, but they sure are nice.  Normal ride quality was more plush, and they can handle g-out situations better than stock.

The RANGER XP 900 has great power and very smooth throttle response that make it easy for rock crawling. I did not feel the CVT belt slipping at all during my test run. With the more upright seating position, the RANGER XP 900 has great visibility over the hood. I was trilled with the performance and with a little more suspension travel, the RANGER would be hard to stop.

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Can it Still Perform on the Ranch?

The increase in ground clearance is a good thing while doing work. Keeping the skid plate off the ground helps keep the RANGER moving. Larger tires do impact how the vehicle accelerates and brakes, but not enough to make a huge dent in the RANGER’s ability to haul and tow.  Ideally, we would adjust the clutch to optimize the gearing for the larger circumference. We probably won’t tackle that since this is a demo unit.In addition to more ground clearance, larger tires move the floorboard and seats up off the ground as well making it not as easy to get in and out. No big deal for the majority of users.One item that does make an impact in maneuverability has to do with the a-arms.  In order to sweep the front arms forward by 2-inches, steering stops were added to keep the wheels from hitting the shock mount. This in turn increases turning radius. No a big deal on trail rides, but in some work situations a three-point turn is required.

Polaris RANGER XP 900 Deluxe
On the trail with our RANGER Deluxe

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Polaris RANGER Deluxe takes on the Rubicon Trail

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Rock Crawling Double Sammy – Sand Hollow Sate Park

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Bryce Canyon OHV Trails

More RANGER XP 900 Deluxe Photos:

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