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Polaris Ranger XP 900 Dune Review

2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900 at Sand Mountain, NV
2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900 Sunset Red LE at Sand Mountain, NV

By Jon Crowley, UTVGuide.net

After attending the Polaris Industries 2013 Model Introduction this summer where the new RANGER XP 900 was unveiled, I was pretty impressed with this new vehicle. Polaris just didn't stuff a RZR XP 900 ProStar™ 900 engine in a RANGER XP 800 chassis.  The 2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900 is a completely new, ground-up design.

The RANGER XP 900 features a ProStar™ 900 engine that is specifically designed for work applications. It features 60 horsepower and pumps out incredible, class-leading torque and pulling power. To demonstrate the power of the new RANGER, Polaris used it to pull a dump truck.  And not just on flat ground, but also uphill!

2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900 pulling dump truck
2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900 pulling a dump truck at the media event in Montana

In addition to the new engine, Polaris stretched the wheelbase by 5" and moved the engine from between the seats to under the box for a quieter ride. In addition, the all-new, durable drivetrain is built specifically to handle higher horsepower. It features the strongest belt ever in a RANGER, plus powerful cooling for belt and clutches.

After leaving the media event, I could not wait to get my hands on a demo unit.  I didn't have to wait long.  In September, I got a call from Placerville Polaris that a 2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900 Sunset Red LE was ready for pickup. in addition to all the great standard features, my new LE also had:

  • 12" Black Xcelerator rims with PXT tires
  • Integrated driver's adjustable seat
  • Turbo silver painted front and rear suspension springs
  • EPS

I quickly put it to work around our property hauling wood pellets and using it for a fence project. The RANGER XP 900 has a 1000 lbs. bed capacity and is well suited for work.

2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900 2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900

Then in mid-October, I started to make plans with Dave Kuskie from Fullerton Sand Sports to head to Sand Mountain for Halloween weekend. I was planning to bring my new 2013 Polaris RZR XP and figured I could bring another machine with me as well. Although the RANGER XP 900 is primarily a work, the thought of seeing how it would do with the additional power sparked my interest. I made the decision to make it an XP 900 trip, RANGER and RZR!

I wanted to see about adding sand tires to the RANGER XP 900.  The bolt pattern is the same as the RZR 4-156, but the new RANGER uses a larger stud than before.  The new stud is a M12x1.50 fine thread which is larger than the RZR.  I decided the best way to handle this is to use a set of tires that are mounted on OMF Performance billet center beadlocks.  I took the centers and drilled out the smaller lug size to 31/64" which is just a tad over a M12.  And thankfully the RANGER can still handle a 12" wheel without a problem. Got it all done and the sand tires fit just right! 

Polaris RANGER XP 900 with Paddle Tires Polaris RANGER XP 900 with Paddle Tires
Tires from Fullerton Sand Sports mounted on OMF Performance billet center beadlocks

After arriving at Sand Mountain, I unloaded the RANGER and RZR, grabbed Dave Kuskie and headed out in the dunes.  After a few still shots, I asked Dave if he wanted to see if it would make it to the top. We buzzed over to the hill and started up the hill. First thing you notice if you are at all familiar with the RZR XP is the different tone the RANGER makes. The RPM range seemed lower to me and the exhaust is quieter.  About a third way up the hill, it was obvious that we weren't going to make it, so I turned around and headed back to camp.

Polaris RANGER XP 900 at the top of Sand Mountain
At the top of Sand Mountain

I was a little bummed. But the paddle tire guru Dave told me that I needed to check air pressure before trying again. He was right.  I had no idea how much air I had in the tires and should have adjusted before heading into the dunes.  With beadlocks, you can run a lower air pressure which can really help the car stay on top of the sand while going up steep hills. I know people that have run as low as 3 PSI just to get up to the top of Sand Mountain.  The trade-off at the low pressure is you sacrifice when you corner hard.  The tire is much less stable in the turns and starts to fold in hard turns. I dropped to 6 PSI on all four corners and headed back up.  It was like I had a whole new vehicle.  Really amazing how it just pulled harder all the way to the top.

With the power to get to the top under our belt, we headed out into the dunes for some riding. I tossed the keys to Dave so I could get behind the lens and he went right to work. Watching the RANGER in action it was hard to remember that I had driven it loaded with 900 lbs. of wood pellets just a few weeks earlier. It is pretty obvious that it isn't as sporty as the RZR XP, but I was thoroughly impressed with how well it did.

Polaris RANGER XP 900  2013 Polaris RANGER XP 900

With 10 inches of front and rear wheel travel, the suspension did a great job soaking up the hits from the jumps. The shocks also provided for a soft ride across the chop of the torn up dunes.

The 60 inch width of the RANGER made it feel very stable and predictable on side hills.  And with the STU Razor Blaster tires up front helping to steer on steep inclines was a breeze.

I am a big fan of power steering in  UTVs and the factory installed EPS on my Polaris RANGER XP 900 Sunset Red LE did not disappoint.  More powerful at slow speeds, but not overbearing at high speeds.

The power was adequate for the dunes, but not nearly what you would feel in a RZR XP.  At 1,360 lbs, the RANGER is 170 lbs. heavier than a RZR XP, and although it has a ProStar engine, it is geared  for working with more power and drivability at slower speeds. If you come from a RZR XP background, the sooner you sink that into your brain, the better off you'll be!

RANGER XP 900 vs. RZR XP 900
Our two Polaris XP 900s

 Polaris RANGER XP 900  Polaris RANGER XP 900  Polaris RANGER XP 900

I had a great time driving the RANGER XP at Sand Mountain, and I am happy that I decided to bring it along. If I was going to buy a vehicle for pure sport, the RZR XP is much better suited.  But if I needed to do work, but still get out and play hard, I would seriously consider the new RANGER XP 900.

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