ATVs that can serve as both capable utility rigs and solid trail performers are currently one of the hottest segments in the industry. Polaris has responded to this demand by giving its Magnum line a couple of legs up with lower price tags and more horsepower.
The power increase is courtesy of an all-new air-cooled four-stroke powerplant. While the boost in displacement from 325 to 329cc for Polaris' new motor may not seem significant, the new unit breathes a little freer for 2003, with a larger 34mm Mikuni carburetor mixing the fuel. The Magnum also sports a new drum-shift transmission that now includes a "park" setting and is claimed to be easier to shift.
Riding the 330 is a pleasure. Its engine makes good, solid power and is quick to respond. The suspension does a great job of soaking up the bumps. The solid-axle rear suspension stays planted in the corners and absorbs log crossings with ease. You don't get the level ride of an independent rear suspension as on Polaris' Sportsman models, but the 330's relatively long travel (7.1 inches in the rear) gives it a plush ride when pounding over technical terrain.
The on-demand four-wheel-drive is also a nice feature, allowing for lighter steering in two-wheel-drive and excellent traction when engaged. The switch on the right handlebar is simple to flip, and the system engages seamlessly and quickly.
The transmission is a belt-driven dual-range automatic. We have a quibble with the high/low engagement, which requires stopping (or a bit of finesse) to change between high and low. The ratios are such, however, that this is a minor point. Trail rides saw the machine in high pretty much all of the time, and low range was only used for technical woods work or towing.
The gauges are simple but adequate. Standard features are a high-beam indicator, neutral and reverse lights and a high-temperature warning light. A speedometer--with trip- and hourmeter--is an optional add-on.
You turn the key to engage the starter (like in a car). Cold starting is a bit awkward as it requires some finesse as the (self-retracting) choke lever and the starter have to be held. You'd need a third hand to operate the throttle at the same time. To make matters more complex, our unit had a sticky starter switch, and the key had to be turned back to disengage the starter. We assume this is a not a common problem, although it was a little troubling to find it on a test machine.
The Magnum's brakes are controlled with a single lever on the handlebar and a foot-operated lever on the right. The single brake lever is not a favorite and the plastic lever feels cheap, but the performance of the brakes overcame these minor gripes. The brakes offer good feel, and stopping power was exceptional, better than most Open-class utility quads (which go for thousands more).
Guest testers--of various skill levels--loved the machine on the trail and in the woods and found the power ample without being at all intimidating. Several of the testers were women, and they could not be pried off of the machine. One was considering purchasing the Magnum, and the other ended a day-long trail ride by suggesting to her husband that they buy several of the machines for family outings.
Despite the Polaris weighing in at an ample 637 pounds (dry), the capable chassis overcame the pork and the 330 felt light and easy to maneuver.
The stock rack system is Polaris' broad, plastic platforms, which are handy and a bit easier on equipment than the typical metal racks. Towing capacity is good, at 1000 pounds; meaning the 330 could easily be used to move light boats and trailers around a property.
A bonus for hunters is the Magnum is available in Mossy Oak New Breakup for an extra $200. Something else for hunters to consider are Polaris' body cover packages ($169.99) that come in Mossy Oak Camo or hunter orange. Indeed, Polaris offers an impressive array of optional equipment for hunters, home utility and performance junkies. Note that Polaris also offers a two-wheel-drive Magnum 330, which retails for $4299, $800 less than the four-wheel-drive model.
If you are looking for a trail/utility machine at a good price, the reasonable bump in the wallet, solid features and ease of operation of the Magnum 330 Polaris make it well worth consideration.
2003 polaris magnum 330 4x4 Details
Retail Price: $5099/$5299 (Mossy Oak New Breakup)
Type: Four-stroke single
Bore x Stroke: NA
Cooling: Air-cooled with fan-assisted oil cooler
Carburetion: 34mm CV Mikuni
Lubrication: Wet sump
Starting: Electric with recoil backup
Drive System: Shaft, 4WD
Transmission: PVT with high/low, reverse, neutral, park
Front: MacPherson strut/6.7 in.
Rear: Progressive-rate swingarm/7.1 in.
Front: 24x8-12; rear: 24x11-12
Front: hydraulic disc; rear: hydraulic disc
Wheelbase: 49.75 in.
Claimed Dry Weight: 637 lb
Ground Clearance: 6.75 in.
Length/Width/Height: 81.0/46.0/46.0 in.
Seat Height: 34.0 in.
Fuel Capacity: 3.25 gal.
Front/Rear Rack Capacity: 90/180 lb
Hitch Tongue/Towing Capacity: 100/1000 lb
Headlight: Dual 30-watt with high/low beam
DC Outlet: Accessory
Alternator: 200 watts
Instrumentation: High-beam indicator; neutral, high-temperature and reverse lights;
optional speedometer, odometer, tripmeter and hourmeter Colors: Camo green, Silver metallic; Mossy Oak New Breakup
The 330 is built on Polaris'...
The 330 is built on Polaris' Shaft Ride System chassis and features decent skid plates, long-travel suspension and a solid axle/swingarm rear suspension
The control panel is simple,...
The control panel is simple, with four-wheel-drive engagement on the right and a kill switch, light switches and a reverse rev-limiter override on the left. The shift lever is to the right of the fuel tank. A speedometer with tach and hourmeter is an option.
The 330 is built on Polaris'...
The 330 is built on Polaris' Shaft Ride System chassis and features decent skid plates, long-travel suspension and a solid axle/swingarm rear suspension.
The Magnum 330 4x4 offers...
The Magnum 330 4x4 offers easy handling and enough ground clearance and suspension to make off-trail escapades a pleasure.