This summer we had the opportunity to pilot the entire 2005 Polaris Ranger lineup at Brushy Mountain Motor Sports Park in Taylorsville, North Carolina. We negotiated a course laid out for us that consisted of off-cambered hills, rock-strewn rutted trails and plenty of water bars (jumps). While we don't recommend jumping your Ranger, we did learn that the plush suspension would handle an occasional bump in the trail at full speed, if unavoidable. Overall, the new Rangers seem to ride more comfortably, handle better and support an impressive line of accessories.
Polaris' classic "log hop"...
Polaris' classic "log hop" demonstrates the true 4WD's capabilities.
Oddly enough, we repeatedly overheard the Polaris marketing staff make references to the Yamaha Rhino and even go as far as to directly ask, "So is the new Ranger 4x4 better than the Rhino?" No, it's not better than the Rhino--it's a completely different animal, at the other end of the zoo; travel past the black-bear exhibit and the peacocks, and keep going.
The rear box has a well-placed...
The rear box has a well-placed pivot, so that even when the box is full you can easily lift it to disgorge the contents.
Don't expect to win any money betting on the Ranger in a side-by-side speed race against the Rhino--it won't happen, not even downhill. But put both machines up to the task of hauling two huge piles of gravel, and we'd bet our paychecks on the Ranger. With a 1500-pound bed capacity, compared with the Yamaha's measly 400 pounds, in theory the Ranger will help you get your work done more quickly.
There are three Ranger models available this year: The Ranger TM ($6299), a two-wheel-drive machine offering plenty of towing and payload capacity at a no-frills price; the Ranger 4x4 ($8999 and $9399, depending on paint), the one to buy if you need a rugged worker; and the Ranger 6x6 ($9999), the big daddy of the Ranger lineup in terms of payload capacity, with the ability to go just about anywhere. If you can get this machine stuck, you've truly accomplished something--good luck trying.
Independent rear suspension...
Independent rear suspension (with sway bar) is the big Ranger news for 2005, making the capable ride more comfortable.
We were very impressed with how smooth the new Ranger 4x4 rides compared with last year's model--it's noticeably quieter, too. Polaris has done its homework, and it shows. For 2005, the Ranger 4x4 sports independent rear suspension; 11 inches of ground clearance; and the innovative Lock & Ride cargo system, which allows riders to easily attach Polaris accessories to their machines. By using a special expanding plug, which is inserted into various places on the vehicle, you can quickly secure a cargo box or gun case and be on your way. Due to limited time, we didn't have a chance to work with the many accessories on hand, but this is definitely a very cool feature we'd like to evaluate further.
Doing their best monster-truck...
Doing their best monster-truck imitation, Polaris employees romped the Ranger over some broken cars.
You should know that all Rangers are now prewired to accept a Polaris Warn winch. Thanks to color-coded wiring on both the winch and the machine, installation should be a fairly painless process for both dealers and do-it-yourselfers. This setup is as close to plug-and-play as it gets.
After riding the new Rangers, we can wholeheartedly recommend them to you working types out there--now please get that monstrosity off the trail so I can get my Predator around you. Thanks!
|Polaris Ranger 4x4 Specifications|
|Retail price:|| $8999; Limited Edition, $9399|
|Type:|| Four-valve single-cylinder four-stroke|
|Bore x stroke:|| 91x74mm|
|Cooling system:|| Liquid-cooled|
|Drive system:|| Shaft, 2x4/4x4|
|Transmission:|| Automatic CVT with high/low range, reverse, engine-braking, electronic diff-lock|
|Front|| MacPherson strut/8.0 in.|
|Rear:|| Independent/9.0 in.|
|Front:|| 25x10-12; rear: 25x11-12|
|Front:|| Hydraulic disc; rear: hydraulic disc|
|Wheelbase:|| 76.0 in.|
|Claimed dry weight:|| 1185 lb|
|Ground clearance:|| 11.0 in.|
|Length/width/height:|| 113.0/60.0/75.0 in.|
|Fuel capacity:|| 8.0 gal.|
|Payload:|| 1500 lb|
|Towing capacity:|| 1500 lb|
|Bed length/width/height:|| 54.0/36.5/11.5 in.|
|Colors:|| Ranger green; Limited Edition red|