Polaris Ranger XP 900 Dune Review
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 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
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.
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!
Tires from Fullerton Sand Sports mounted on OMF Performance billet center
After arriving at
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.
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.
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!
Our two Polaris XP 900s
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.