Anytime I’ve been in the market to purchase any type of off-road machine, the main features I look for are great handling and superior power. So I can imagine the glee of anyone looking to buy a side-by-side right now. In the last couple of years there have been huge advances in the SxS market as companies top one another in engine displacement in order to claim their machine makes the most power as well as in suspension design for the ultimate in handling. One company at the front of this battle has been Polaris with the release of its RZR S, which was the first SxS to come from a factory with a long-travel sport suspension package. Combined with the already proven 800cc H.O. engine from the standard Ranger RZR, this became the hot ticket if you wanted the best machine for wide-open performance.
Since then Polaris has continued to set the bar in the SxS world with the debut of the RZR 4, the first sport-performance four-passenger SxS, and now the all-new Ranger RZR XP 900, deemed the only extreme performance machine in the class. Not long after releasing information on the new machine, Polaris invited Rick Sosebee and I (along with other media representatives) out to the Arizona desert to experience for ourselves what this new machine was designed to do. Boulders OHV Area would be our testing grounds, and no sooner did we set foot on the rocky desert terrain my heart was pumping wildly as 24 brand-new RZR XP 900 waited for a hard day of action.
Before we were allowed to get behind the wheel of the XPs, the Polaris engineers behind this creation walked us through the ins and outs of the machine. The first subject they focused on was the all-new 875cc powerplant. When the XP was announced to the public there was plenty of speculation as to what engine was stuffed into the frame. Rumors were running wild that in lieu of the 800cc H.O. or even just an over-bored engine Polaris took the popular Webber engine which has been widely used for engine swaps, but the engineers put those to rest as they went over the entire Prostar EFI engine. This setup puts out an industry-leading 88 horsepower to the rear wheels through its dual overhead cam, dual 46mm throttle bodies, large valves and 180-degree crankshaft. In everyday conversation, all of the technical mumbo-jumbo I just gave you means this engine kicks ass. They designed this to deliver quick throttle response, gobs of torque and blazing fast acceleration. All of this made me anxious to jump behind the wheel, but there was still more to come.
The next item discussed was the suspension. As soon as you look at the XP, you can instantly see the difference from any of the others in the RZR lineup, and that is the use of a rear trailing-arm suspension. This setup gives the XP an incredible 14 inches of wheel travel in the rear while minimizing wheel scrub to ensure that you’re getting maximum power to the ground in the most unforgiving terrain. To make sure that the trailing arms can last while taking a beating, all of the pivot locations are equipped with spherical joints. Up front the dual A-arm suspension keeps the wheels on the ground with 13.5 inches of wheel travel. To maximize the performance of the suspension design, Polaris teamed with Fox Racing Shox to outfit the XP with compression- and preload- adjustable Podium X 2.0 shocks at all four corners.