Once in a while at a media event, you run up against a
machine that wows the small acreage nut. Call me easily amazed, call me
enthralled with UTVs that perform backbreaking work while allowing you to get
after it in the trail-riding realm, call me even more impressed with an
engineering group who can answer every question you have enthusiastically while
getting some sincere joy out of watching their creation be truly put to the
test: the Polaris Ranger XP 900 impressed bigtime at the 2012 Model Year 2013
press launch near Great Falls, Montana, last week.
folks, the GRIT community, have time and time again indicated you like machines
that are capable of real work, be it drilling a 36-inch hole by tractor-mounted
PTO auger, splitting Osage Orange (hedge) wood into cords of wonderful heat, a
tiller meant to cover your acreage - be it a Mantis 2-stroke or a beefy
TroyBilt - or the old Alice Chalmers you inherited and drives like a beast but
gets it done wherever you live.
2012 Polaris event, I hammered on multiple units with you in mind: Polaris Sportsman 850 ATV, Polaris Ranger 800 mid-size that is still available and is a best-selling make
and model, Polaris RZR XP 900 that now boasts 12 ½ inches ground clearance (guys
at dinner tell me competitive riders are buying these turn-key on the way to
dunes events, and winning), and most of all the Ranger XP 900.
XP 900 is much quieter (in large part because the engine is now located under
the box), the chassis is two times (100 percent improvement) more rigid than
its predecessor, it has 10 percent more suspension travel, and it delivers - at
60 hp - 75 percent power to the ground. In the world of small-scale
agriculture, this thing stole the show. In my mind, it outperformed the popular
but older mid-size Ranger (800s retail for around $12,300 base, while the new
900 is about $1600 more for the base rig) hands-down, even under the humble
load of square bales I could track down and take to the trails all afternoon. At
1,500-pounds total payload, and one-ton towing capacity, I wasn’t even
scratching the surface with those square bales, but I wanted to at least
simulate some real work.
point, I was straight gettin’ it, sliding sideways around a corner on gravel
at around 45-50 mph, wondering a little apprehensively – I admit it – how the
top-speed would feel at 60 mph. I wouldn’t feel the need to go that fast on
pavement, that’s for sure, but that’s where the Speedkey accessory adds real
value; especially if you have kids.
American-made Polaris Sportsman 850 gets after it, too. Man, was that fun.