Once again we were fortunate enough to attend the Polaris Press Event, which this year took place at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. The 4,000-acre ranch and resort stretches across a beautiful forested plateau along the border of Utah’s Zion National Park. This off-roading playground has something for everyone; canyon trails, sand dunes and even forested trails. Easy to see why Polaris chose this location to present its model year 2015 Line-up. I must also emphasize that the picturesque décor which you experience in this area is truly spectacular. Stunning canyon trails that climb to breathtaking vistas along with coral-hued sand dunes are riding environments I rarely get to experience as a Canadian editor.
Polaris presented us quite an impressive line-up for model year 2015 with 29 new models (UTV & ATV). During the 2-day press event we had the opportunity to ride several of the new models, however we concentrated the majority of our efforts on the Polaris RZR 900-S. Since the Polaris RZR 800-S was such a huge seller in Canada and a remarkable trail machine, we wanted to see how the Polaris RZR 900-S would stack up to its predecessor.
A quick note on the 2015 RZR 900 series to describe the 5 models available: 50 inch “Base”, 50 inch “Trail”, 55 inch “XC” and finally 60 inch “S” model available in “Base” and “LE” packages are now composing the series. It should also be mentioned that the new 900 series will be replacing the legacy RZR 800 series in the Polaris lineup.
As mentioned earlier, we focused our efforts on the Polaris RZR S 900. However it’s important to note that the model we tested and are reporting on was the “LE” model. The “Base” Polaris RZR S 900 does not come equipped with EPS (Electronic Power Steering) nor the High Performance True On-Demand AWD/2WD.
A ProStar 900 engine which develops 75 horsepower powers the Polaris RZR S 900 and offers improved power-to-weight ratio and faster acceleration. The new Prostar power plant offers over 40 percent more horsepower and 15 percent more torque than its predecessor the RZR 800. Power is delivered to the ground by the RZR XP transmission which is geared to optimize the engine performance. Based on power-to-weight ratio the Polaris RZR S 900 is the fastest accelerating RZR in the Polaris line-up. The unit is able to achieve a top speed of 70 MPH (112 KPH) in high gear and an imposing 40 MPH (64 KPH) in low gear.
On the suspension side, the Polaris RZR S 900 comes equipped with (FRONT) dual A-Arm Performance Series – FOX 2.0 Podium X 12.25″ (31.1 cm) travel and (REAR) dual A-Arm Performance Series – FOX 2.0 Podium X with anti-Sway bar 13.2″ (33.5 cm) travel. The key advantages of the FOX 2.0 Podium is that the 2” body allows for more oil volume so you are less prone to fade and also provides better ability to tune the shocks for the different riding conditions. This combined with the 2” (5 cm) longer wheelbase provides for a plush comfortable ride.
TIRES, WHEELS AND BRAKES
The Polaris RZR S 900 sits on a set of (FRONT) 27 x 9 and (REAR) 27 x 11 GBC Dirt Commander tires mounted on a set of 12” cast aluminum rims. The unit comes to a stop by 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes with dual-bore front calipers.
COCKPIT AND ERGONOMICS
I personally owned a Polaris RZR 800 S for a few years and always loved the look of the unit and my opinion has not changed with the new Polaris RZR S 900. The unit has very clean lines and that aggressive stance that only RZR possess. Entering the vehicle is made easy with factory installed quarter doors, identical to those found on the Polaris RZR XP 1000. Those of you who read my articles in the past know how much I “HATE” side nets, so the factory installed quarter doors where very welcomed for me. The interior cabin is also identical to the Polaris RZR XP 1000 with one exception: no sealed mobile phone holder. However the center space is still present for storage. While on the subject of storage and keeping in the RZR traditional, ample storage is provided by via the glove box and rear cargo box.
The cabin is very spacious, comfortable seating (tool-less adjustable driver side) and the controls are easily accessible. Those of you who own or have ridden an Polaris RZR XP 1000, may have noticed that the glove box never seemed to close just right and on occasion popped open while you where riding. Well Polaris noticed as well and added a ¼ turn latch to help eliminate that problem. Other Polaris RZR XP 1000 features have been brought over to the Polaris RZR S 900: LED floor lighting, backlighted instrument cluster and dual removable floor drains. The cockpit and overall ergonomics of the Polaris RZR S 900 has changed leaps and bounds from the legacy Polaris RZR 800 S, providing not only for a stylish refined design but also all the creature comforts one seeks from a unit in this category.
Having owned a Polaris RZR 800 S and putting hundreds of hours behind the wheel, I was very excited to see how the Polaris RZR S 900 would perform; I actually couldn’t wait to be in the driver’s seat! Polaris had chosen 2 riding locations for us to test-drive the unit, Hog Canyon and Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Each location provided its own riding experience and set of challenges: canyon trail riding, rock crawling and sand dunes, a perfect cocktail to see how the Polaris RZR S 900 would behave.
Throughout the course of the 2 days of riding at each location, we gave the Polaris RZR S 900 a major shakedown. High speed woops, aggressive cornering, rock crawling, jumps, sand washes and bowls were all on the menu. Since we had lots of seat time, we really pushed this unit to its brink and not once did it fail to impress.
Many reasons contribute to why the Polaris RZR S 900 handles and performs the way it does. No doubt that the front and rear suspension travel, the FOX 2.0 Podium X shocks, 12.5 in (31.75 cm) of ground clearance and the 79 in (200.7cm) wheelbase enable you to concur just about any obstacle. Combine this with the new eight-ply GBC Dirt Commander tires that offer better tracking while cornering, extremely good grip and better side bite. However 3 undeniable factors make the Polaris RZR S 900 a pure pleasure to drive.
First, this 2nd generation ProStar engine is very responsive proving good acceleration with strong mid-range torque. Next, steering and handling play an important role in the Polaris RZR S 900 performance. Polaris has gone from a 2 ½ lock-to-lock steering ratio to a 2 turn; this provides for a 20 percent faster steering response, which assists in navigating around obstacles or high speed cornering. Lastly, the High Performance True On-Demand AWD/2WD engages faster and keeps the ratio between the front and rear wheels closer to 1-to-1. This keeps the front wheels pulling stronger and longer maximizing power delivery to the ground in every trail condition for a more responsive ride.
I want to take a moment and mention the improved “Low Gear”. If you are a trail rider who rides rough terrain or rock crawls, you can now attain speeds of 40 MPH (64 KPH) in low gear. I actually spent a whole morning riding in low gear in Hog Canyon with the AWD engaged and the unit was very responsive and handled extremely well.
SO DID WE LIKE IT?
I absolutely loved my experience with the Polaris RZR S 900! This high performance trail machine will be loved by the trail rider and also appreciated by the “go-fast” crowd which maybe on a budget.
Comfort, performance and handling all surpassed my expectations! Based on my seat time and the type of trails I frequently ride, without a doubt this would be a unit I would strongly consider purchasing.
Rarely do I walk away from a press ride and having tested a unit without some sort of a wish list, so to speak. Meaning I “wish” the engineering team would have done something different or added a specific feature, etc. Based on the fact that I am a trail rider and ride like one, I can’t find anything negative to say on this unit and Polaris has fulfilled my “wish list”! Also, let’s not forget that we all love to accessorize our RZR, right? Polaris has made this simple with integrated accessory mounting locations, hidden wire routing areas and more than 130 available accessories.
As always, I encourage you to visit your local Polaris dealer and take this high performance trail machine out for a test-drive and judge for yourself if the Polaris RZR S 900 is right for you!