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Polaris RZR 800 Review

Long Travel Polaris RZR
Polaris RZR 800 EFI with aftermarket roll cage, doors, bumper and long travel kit from Fireball Racing

It has been rumored for months as the Ranger's "Evil Twin", but now it is the real deal. The RZR stands for "Razor".... As in Razor sharp side-by-side.

 The all new Polaris Ranger RZR. It is smaller, lighter, and faster than any side-by-side currently on the market. It is incredibly responsive with lots of power provided by a twin cylinder 800 EFI engine, low center of gravity and front/rear anti-sway bars.

Looking at the RZR head-on, it looks very tippy, but from the side you can see the lowered seat placement and a longer wheelbase which will help keep it on four wheels.

     
KMS Performance was kind enough to let us take their brand new Polaris RZR out for a test drive while at the UTV Rally in Moab, UT. The power was smooth and would spin the back tires on loose soil.  The throttle was a bit twitchy.  A heavier throttle spring may help there. The RZR did not feel narrow or small with two of us in it.  Climbed up some decent rock areas with ease. And it accelerated up to top speed real quick.

Polaris Ranger RZR 800   Polaris RZR 800   Polaris RZR 800   Polaris Razor

Polaris RZR 800 - Instrument Panel - Dash   Polaris RZR 800 - Passenger Grab Bar

Polaris Ranger RZR 800 Overview & Specifications

Electronic fuel injection

The RZR is powered by an 760cc EFI even-firing, twin cylinder engine that is mounted sideways behind the seats. The electronic fuel injection system constantly and automatically compensates for changes in altitude, pressure and temperature, making the RZR extremely reliable no matter where the rider chooses to go. In addition, the need for re-jetting after upgrades like high flow intake and exhaust systems should be eliminated (may need a EFI fuel controller to take full advantage). There are some reports that this engine puts out 40+ horsepower!

Polaris Ranger RZR - EFI Engine
RZR's 760cc EFI twin cylinder engine

The good news is the 760cc EFI engine is not new to Polaris (also used in the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI) so reliability in early models should be better.

Power delivery is a bit twitchy.  Since the RZR is fuel injected, the throttle isn't really moving anything in a carburetor like the Rhino.  A stiffer feel to the pedal would be nice.

Power-to-weight

The dry weight of the Polaris RZR is 100 lbs. less than the Rhino. With a larger engine (800cc delivers 30% more horsepower than the Rhino) and EFI, the RZR's power-to-weight ratio is reportedly 44% better than a Rhino. It also reaches 35 mph 26% faster than a Yamaha Rhino.

The RZR also has the highest top speed of any currently available side-by-side.

A stock RZR can make it to the top of Sand Mountain, NV.  Stock Rhinos can make it about one-half way up the hill.  Big difference in power.

Size

At 102" long, it is almost a foot shorter than the Yamaha Rhino (113.6). Not enough room for people to turn it into a four seat UTV. At 50" wide, the RZR is narrow enough to be used on most ATV trails. Although the RZR is shorter, it actually has a longer wheelbase by almost two inches.

The RZR is 4 1/2 inches narrower than the Rhino.

Side-by-side Comparison: Rhino vs. RZR vs. Prowler
Rhino vs. RZR vs. Prowler

Polaris Ranger RZR Dimensions - Wheelbase, Length, Width
The RZR is smaller than the Rhino in every dimension except wheelbase.

Polaris Ranger RZR is 50" wide so it can fit on ATV trails.
Polaris Ranger RZR is 50" wide so it can fit on ATV trails.

Another nice part about the length of the RZR at 102 inches is you can load it sideways on a trailer and still be legal on the road. The Rhino and Prowler are too long to sit sideways and still be within the maximum width of 102 inches. The RZR will also fit in the back of a truck much easier than a Rhino.

Center of gravity

With the traversally mounted engine placed behind the seats, Polaris was able to lower the seats by at least 7 inches to that the Rhino & Artic Cat. The lower center of gravity will help stability and responsiveness. Polaris thinks this is such and advantage they have a patent pending.

Polaris Rnager RZR - Lower Seat helps center of gravity
Seat position helps lower center of gravity.

Weight bias is about 45 percent to the front and 55 percent to the rear.

Suspension features - More travel out of the box

The Rhino sports 7.3 travel front and rear. The Polaris RZR has 9" of front wheel travel & 9.5" of rear wheel travel.

Polaris Ranger RZR - Suspension
The RZR independent rear suspension
has 9.5" of wheel travel.

The rear suspension is an "Rolled" Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) System that is canted backwards so as the wheels travel up, they also travel backwards to help absorb some of the shock. Polaris calls this feature "recessional wheel travel. 

The RZR is also the only side-by-side that is available with a front anti-sway bar. Front and rear anti-sway bars make the RZR more stable in hard cornering. We need to take a look at how easy it is to disable the anti-sway bar for rock crawling type use where the bars limit off-camber wheel travel. The front sway bar is pretty weak in the dunes.  If you want to jump at all, I would recommend removing the front sway bar.

The 2009 RZR S has much better suspension.  12" of travel.  60" wide.  Fox Podium shocks.

2009 Polaris RZR S with Factory Long Travel, Fox Shocks and Maxxis Bighorn Tires
2009 RZR S

All Wheel Drive

Polaris equipped the RZR with an all-wheel drive (AWD) traction system.  The AWD is enabled or disabled via a dash-mounted switch.  When enabled, the RZR senses wheel slippage and automatically engages the AWD.  Then when traction is no longer needed, the system automatically reverts back to 2WD. In the dunes, I find it is more fun to run in 2 wheel drive.  But I did find that the RZR would climb steep hills farther in AWD.

Leg minders

And it looks like Polaris did their homework and learned from Yamaha's mistake. They include nets and deep foot wells to keep your legs in the vehicle during a roll-over.

Polaris Ranger RZR - Leg Nets  
The RZR comes with nets to keep legs inside the UTV. This is a pre-production version.

Polaris RZR - Leg Nets
This is the production version. The leg nets are there, plus another net that overlaps and goes higher.  Not overly user-friendly. And doesn't help with the RZR's overall appearance either.

Exhaust

Polaris RZR Exhaust   Polaris RZR Exhaust
Since the engine sits sideways, the exhaust exits right near the passenger fender.  Not the greatest location. Aftermarket exhaust manufacturers will have to make a similar bend, so don't expect this to be fixed with a new pipe.

And the exhaust "heat shield" will touch your plastic and melt it.

 
The exhaust also melts the plastic behind the passenger seat. This was fixed for 2009 models.

Radiator Plumbing

Polariz RZR - Radiator Hose Routing   Polariz RZR - Radiator Hose Routing
The radiator hose routing seems a bit sketchy.  This hose runs right next to the passenger side front shock.  It can easily touch the coil spring.

Seats

Polaris RZR Seats
The RZR seats are better than the Yamaha Rhino, but are still a bit stiff. They are pretty thin so aftermarket seats will be tough to fit without losing leg room.

Seat Belts

The Seat belts can be a bit sensitive when trying to retract the belt on un-level ground. Moving to level ground seems to help. Best solution is to swap to an aftermarket four-point harness.

Air Filter

There have been problems with the air filter letting debris into the engine. New aftermarket air filter setups will help cure this, but hopefully Polaris will come out with a fix for this problem. There is a TSB on all units made before August 2007.  Check with your local Polaris dealer to see if the TSB applies to your RZR.  Newer units have had some adjustments to help seal the intake, and 2009 RZRs are much improved.

  Polaris RZR Air Intake

 

Polaris RZR Air Intake  Polaris RZR Air Filter


 

Tilt Steering Wheel

Polaris RZR Tilt Steering Wheel   Polaris RZR Tilt Steering Wheel
Tilt steering from the factory is a nice addition, but the wheel does feel a bit flimsy.

"Roll" Cage

Polaris RZR Roll Cage   Polaris Ranger RZR Roill Cage
The factory "roll" cage definitely has a case of the uglies.  The roll cage material sounded real thin when you tap on it with your fingernail. I would quickly invest in an aftermarket cage to increase safety and appearance.

Leg Room

Polaris RZR Leg Room   Polaris RZR Leg Room
I am 6' 1" and the RZR it was a bit tight for me. I would be more comfortable with a bit more space.

Bed

Polaris RZR Bed
The bed on the RZR is very small, but setup to use Polaris lock and load type tie downs.

The good news is the bed is very lightweight which helps keep the overall weight of the RZR low.

Ground Clearance

     Polaris RZR Skid Plate Damage  Polaris RZR Skid Plate Damage  Polaris RZR Skid Plate Damage  Polaris RZR Skid Plate Damage
Photos used with permission

Ground clearance of the RZR is advertised at 10" vs. 12" for the Rhino.  In reality, it is lower than 10" and hangs up on lots of trail obstacles. Also a bit low in the dunes when crossing ridges.

I think that the low ground clearance is probably the biggest negative to the Polaris RZR.

The 2009 RZR S (long travel RZR from the factory) has a much improved 12.5" of ground clearance. 

Frame

Polaris RZR Frame
Photo used with permission

Polaris RZR Frame is a little on the "light" side.

Emergency Brake

The RZR does not have a separate emergency brake.  On the RZR, the parking brake is automatically engaged when the vehicle is in Park. A separate e-brake would be nice to have.

Hitch

The RZR has a Hitch Towing Capacity or 1500 lbs, but don't expect to tow that much. The receiver cannot handle any tongue weight.  I towed a wood splitter (very little tongue weight) a short distance and bent the receiver mount.

Rear Differential

The rear differential on the RZR is always locked.  It would be nice to have a selectable locker for tighter turning and so you don't tear up the lawn.

Aftermarket Parts Availability

Aftermarket parts manufacturers have embraced the RZR and lots of parts are now available with new stuff coming out all the time. PURE Polaris also has lots of parts & accessories available.

Whip Flag

The RZR roll cage does not have any provision for a whip flag. Plan to add a whip flag mount if you are headed to the dunes.

Rear View Mirror

The RZR does not come with a rear-view mirror.

Clutch


Clutch modifications are very easy o the RZR.

Electrical Charging System

Stator Output: Idle ~310W, Max ~475W.

If the voltage level is outside of the ranges defined below for more than 6 seconds consecutively then the battery warning will illuminate on the gauge.  The 4 ranges are setup as follows:

  • 0 10 RPM                    10.5V (engine not running)

  • 600 1800 RPM:          11.0V

  • 1801 2999 RPM:       11.4V

  • 3000+ RPM:                  11.4V

* RPM range below 600 can be attained during engine cranking at startup.  This range is not looked at.

The biggest issue with the electrical system of the 2008 RZR is the location of the voltage regulator under the driver's seat. With no airflow, the regulator can easily overheat and shut down. The 2009 RZR has moved the regulator up in front of the radiator.  There is a harness kit available for 2008 RZR so you can relocate your regulator up front and help solve this issue.

2008 Polaris RZR Voltage Regulator
2008 Voltage Regulator is under the driver's seat.

RZR S - Rectifier has been moved to improve cooling
The 2009 Polaris RZR Voltage Regulator is up front by the radiator.

Production Polaris RZR Photos:

         Polaris RZR

      Polaris RZR Rear A-Arm  

Polaris Ranger RZR 800 EFI

Available colors are green and red. The Polaris RZR is now available at Polaris dealerships, with an MSRP of $10,299.

Links:

Aftermarket Parts & Accessories:


Roll Cage and Doors from PDS Fabrication

Polaris RZR - Long Travel Kit, Bumper, Roll Cage from LoneStar Racing
Long Travel Kit, Bumper, Roll Cage from LoneStar Racing


Polaris RZR racing in the Baja 500 - DragonFire Racing


Polaris RZR racing in the BITD Vegas to Reno - Jagged X

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