|2012 Polaris RZR 570 Review and Trip Report
Like many in the UTV world when I got news of Polaris new 2012 UTV, the RZR 570 I was a bit skeptical. I began to run all sorts of questions through my mind to try and justify this release. Did we really need another 50 RZR, especially one with less power? My next thought was, who would buy this? Why wouldnt they just buy the 800? If they had their kids in mind then like most other segments Polaris has that covered with their child friendly RZR 170. So just who would want a 50 RZR with less power than what they already offered?
Being based in the southwest and off-roading primarily in the open deserts of Southern California my whole teenage and adult life I have been subconsciously brainwashed into thinking that I need POWER and SUSPENSION to have a good time when off-roading. Polaris has filled my and many others need for power and suspension multiple times over and in consecutive model years starting with the Polaris RZR-S 800, then RZR-4 800, and now the ultimate UTV, the RZR XP900. So when I got my press pack that said the new model for 2012 was a smaller version of the smallest UTV they already make (RZR 800 50) I was a bit bewildered.
To begin to understand the release of the 570 I had to first step outside of my personal preferences. I had to abandon my pre-conceived notion that bigger is better. To this day, despite all the hype surrounding Polaris other top selling UTVs, their #1 selling recreational UTV continues to be their first, the RZR 800 50. Yep, thats right! The original 50 RZR model continues to dominate the market and so it only makes sense that while Polaris has been feeding us sport minded riders all we could ever want, they take a step back and offer their core customers another option. But still, who would want this and why would Polaris spend the time to create it?
I wasnt alone in my quest to understand the thought process behind the RZR 570 and Polaris knew that. So a short time after Polaris released the RZR 570 they sent us our invitation for a press ride that would be held on the Keweenaw Peninsula located in Lac LaBelle, Michigan which is in the Upper Peninsula, otherwise known as the U.P. of Michigan. Jon Crowley of UTVGuide.net and I would be scheduled to make the trip together, as we have done many times over now. Unfortunately for Jon his trip would end right where it would start, as his flight would be cancelled the morning of his scheduled departure. Due to the remote location of where we were going there would be no other way to get there in time. So while Jon turned and headed home I was in route to the U.P. where I would meet up with all of our other media friends. My inability to wrap my mind around the RZR 570 still abounded and the tight travel plans didnt help me get too excited about the press intro. Plus I was thinking how could Polaris possibly top our 2011 model year intro in Montana where we were able to test and drive the entire lineup of Polaris Off-Road Vehicles and ATVs in a setting like no other? How could they top the introduction of the industry shifting Polaris XP900 where we would be the first to test and drive this new powerful machine? Well let me start by saying this. Not only did they top Montana in terms of ride location and scenery, they produced a big time over achiever in the RZR 570 which made it ALMOST as fun as the XP900 to drive!
Upon our arrival to Lac LaBelle, MI and the Lac LaBelle Lodge Store & rentals, we were presented with our cabin room keys and itinerary for the weekend. A gift of custom Polaris bath towels were given to each of us along with some Polaris branded RZ Masks! We all like gifts of course! Mind you, about half of us, mainly west coast guys, didnt arrive to the lodge until midnight, so we were all ready for bed. On our way to the cabins we noticed a shop of sorts opened up with a couple of men standing around a large piece of hanging meat. I assumed it was a deer so before heading to bed I grabbed my camera and approached to snap a couple of pictures. Upon them greeting us and inviting us in we quickly noticed this was no deer, it was a freshly hunted Black Bear that one of the gentleman had shot just hours previous. By the time we had arrived it was skinned and trimmed and ready for the freezer. Right then I knew we were in a glorious part of the country as the men explained to us that they had seen multiple bear and deer in the same area we would be riding in the next day.
As we awoke on ride day I stepped out of my cabin only to realize I was sitting lakefront in one of the most beautiful areas I had ever been in. The entire area was surrounded with fall and autumn colors, leaves falling and fresh, clean, cool air. After a quick breakfast we proceeded to Polaris semi trailer where we would officially be introduced to the new Polaris RZR 570 and also be educated on how our ride day would go down. A dozen or so Polaris employees greeted us and trail guides from the local Keweenaw ATV Club were there as well. A host of brand new RZR 570s surrounded us and upon looking at the cut-away model they had on display it was clear to see that this wasnt just a scaled down model of the 50 RZR 800 but rather a brand new platform.
For Polaris this was just as exciting a project as any. This was a new kind of challenge. They are currently dominating the sport and recreation market so until someone else can compete with their bigger, faster machines why not go and explore the other niches of the market and build yet another UTV? I mean they got everything else covered right? Well that is exactly what they did here with the 570. They sought out to create a UTV that despite having a smaller engine cc wise, would still out perform competition all while offering a UTV at a price point many could afford. The first thing that I noticed was that the RZR 570s engine was built upon the ProStar platform which they introduced this year in the XP900. Attached to the ProStar 570 engine is the same transmission and gearing found in the XP900, which meant efficiently transferring the power to the ground exactly like the XP900. Immediately I began to think, hmm this is interesting? Along with the engine and transmission came a similar intake and exhaust set up. It was clear to me at this point what Polaris had done. They were taking all of their major innovations applied to the XP900, scaling it back, thus creating a new and improved, yet economical 50 RZR. Maybe they are setting us all up for a new and improved RZR 800 in the future? Ok, ok, now I am getting ahead of myself
The more I listened to Polariss Product Manager for the RZR 570 project John Kastanek , the more my question of Why a 570 began to be answered. First he described the market, the domination of the 50 RZR and then the need for a more economical UTV. He also explained the interest they had as a company to revisit the RZR that put them on the map. Here they had been working these last few years on pleasing us bigger and faster enthusiasts and riders and felt that it was time to put some focus back into their largest group of recreational riders. It was exciting for them he explained. It felt like going back home after moving away for a while, like visiting your old favorite restaurant, or seeing a loved one for the first time in a long time. For them it was a way to see just how could they improve upon an already successful UTV all while developing something all new. Soon the dissertation would turn to our ride for that day. Volunteers of the Keewenaw ATV Club would be leading us on a 90-mile trail ride around the U.P. taking us from tight trails to logging roads to the shores of Lake Superior. In all I could tell by listening and looking at my surroundings that we were in for a real fun ride, and thats exactly what it would be.
Strapping into my RZR 570 didnt spark too much excitement as it is exactly the same as the RZR 800 50 in terms of size and ergonomics. The 570s are MSRPd at $9,999.00, which is amazing for what you do get. But to get to that price obviously Polaris was going to have to eliminate a few things. So, no glove box, no additional light switch is first thing I noticed. You get the same gauge cluster used in the Polaris RZR lineup that includes Temp, Fuel Meter, Mileage, and RPMs in addition to the MPH/KPH tach. What I did like was the sound the 570 produces along with its automotive style exhaust and muffler. Despite its compact size it has a nice little purr to it. It also has like most UTVs, selectable 4wd, which I played with quite a bit.
Once we started moving it was easy to see it packed a punch for being so compact. It was very responsive and quick and once we got running on the trails and were able to open it up we soon realized that this 570 ProStar engine is no slouch! A few of us were jockeying for position the entire day and at our first stop we all climbed out of the RZR 570s with ear-to-ear grins. Our expressions were that of both amazement in just how fun it was and surprise as to the fact that this was the small engine? I mean, these 570s top out at 60mph on the rev limiter! What other UTV in its class or price range can compete with that? Its un-equal length rear a-arm suspension left much to be desired in terms of shock tuning but it still did well. I was by myself so bottoming out wasnt a problem but a few who were riding 2 up ended up increasing the ride height to compensate for the added weight. The handling was awesome; the steering is responsive and predictable. At speed the 570 really shined and ripping the trails up with the group was as much fun as I have had on any other run. One thing that really stood out to me near the end of the run and gave me even more insight as to why a 570? was fuel economy! Despite our heavy foots, and fast paced riding we used very little fuel. At the 60-70 mile point I had only dropped a couple bars on the fuel meter.
The more time I spent in the RZR and the more time we spent talking to Polaris the more I realized just Why a 570? It was fuel efficient, it was affordable, it was quick, it was nimble, it was fun, and it was still customizable! It has all the makings of another top selling UTV for Polaris. The price tag alone will get people to buy into the idea of the UTV and couple that with the fun factor you have possibly the best UTV to buy when looking for Bang For Your Buck! In fact, I would go as far as saying that if you were to take the 570 stickers off the side of this RZR and let people drive it they would have no idea they werent in an 800! Only time will tell where Polaris goes from here. But I can tell you that if they keep up this pace of development they will be hard to compete with in the future as they continue to develop something for everyone with budget and needs in mind. While I am not the target customer for a 50 UTV, if I was I would go as far to say that I would buy the 570 before an 800 just for all the reasons I have stated above. Fuel Mileage, Cost, and Performance the Polaris RZR 570 has it all!
Jon and I want to thank Polaris for bringing us on another awesome adventure. The U.P. of Michigan was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen let alone ridden in. They couldnt have done any better of a job in putting this event together and for that we remain thankful for being included in their events! We also want to thank the Keewenaw ATV Club for their hospitality and guidance on our ride. And lastly we want to that the people at the Lac LaBelle Lodge. Food and accommodations were amazing and if I ever have another chance to go back to the U.P. I will definitely be looking them up!
Until next time, keep the peddle and rubber side down