Have you ever wished you could be at the commands of a powerful racing vehicle, just for a lap or two, to experience the thrill of racing and every other positive emotion this sort of activity can provide? Many people will even pay big bucks for a chance to live such intense moments, with race driving courses or by maybe renting an exotic car for a day. Many of us have had to settle for an occasional friendly Go-kart race, but that’s still only fun for a very short period of time. Let’s not beat around the bush, what Polaris is offering here is a vehicle with outstanding off-road racing level performance, right out of the box, with which you can truly experience the same type of thrill on a regular basis. Off-road fun fans behold! The new 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 is here!
I’m still not too sure if this is all real? Still in a daze from my last ride in this awesome vehicle that is the culmination of all I had ever hoped for as a youngling on three wheels. The Honda Odyssey or Pilot models fascinated me back then, at that time nothing with a steering wheel came close to them in fun factor potential. Just like today’s Side x Side vehicles don’t take anything away from my needs to ride an ATV on a regular basis, those would have never replaced my beloved Tri-Z 250, but man did I wish I could afford one! The introduction of the RZR 800 for Model Year 2008, created a storm in the recreational side-by-side market and Polaris has done an awesome job at staying always a few steps ahead in this new market since then. Year after year, we’ve witnessed the appearance of a surprisingly high number of different variations of this excellent platform, which have found many takers among current off-road enthusiasts, as well as attracted a whole new crowd into the therapeutic activity that is trail riding and all other forms of off-road fun that can be had in these wonderfully able machines.
I remember one of the first reactions I got, from a good friend of mine that I just had to have by my side for a dream made real drive in the intense RZR XP 900. ‘’Wow! That thing is fast! But what’s most impressive is that the vehicle feels like it could handle a lot more power.’’ And I couldn’t have agreed more! For all I know they could have just settled with slipping in this brand-new ProStar 1000 engine in the same exact vehicle, yet that’s just not in Polaris’ nature. Instead, the new RZR XP 1000 brings, yet again for an RZR, significant innovations in sport Side x Side design. It’s also larger in every way. It has a longer wheelbase with 90 inches instead of 81.4 and stands up a few inches higher from its bigger tires and nicely elevated suspension.
The evening before our test ride, a pristinely clean unit was parked among us so we could drool over it as we enjoyed each other’s company. I sat behind the steering wheel and was thoroughly pleased with what I could see and feel. There is really a better, more finished general feel to the cockpit, than in any other RZR I had the pleasure to sit in. The newly-designed bolstered seats not only offer a more secure feel with really good hip cushioning, but also feature new dry seat technology to resist moisture and both seats can be adjusted quickly with a light pull on a lever underneath and in front of the seat, just like you would in your car. The steering is really nicely done; with gripping aids perfectly placed, which was something I had instinctively added to the 900 I thoroughly tested and raced, by wrapping it with lots of electrical tape to build up the same sort of shapes just above the center on each side. Of course, this new steering also tilts for 10 inches of adjustability, making it very comfortable and easy for a big guy like me to get in and out of the vehicle. I also loved finding drainage holes in the floor on both sides for easier cleaning and even if I didn’t get to see the effect of the blue LED lights creating a cool ambiance when the sun goes down, I had seen the effect on photo and l thought that was a cool little addition. The light and 4WD switches and the instrument cluster also shine in that nice blue tint. I was drawn to touch and feel the pedals with my hands when standing outside of the vehicle to get a feel for their sturdiness and was pleased to find a bit more solid construction than on the 900, which sometimes needed unbending after intense rides or races. Another thing noticed at the same time was the added shapes in the floor on that side to create a heel pocket. That might not sound like much of a feature but it is extremely important in providing a pressure point that is other than the gas pedal itself for your foot, so that hitting bumps doesn’t influence input on the throttle. Further enhancing the smoothness at the throttle is the use of an electronic throttle instead of a cable like the 900. I only found out about that detail after our testing, meaning it worked in a much more seamless fashion than on the Can-Am Maverick that sometimes interprets aggressive pedal moves for unwanted input.
The new 999cc DOHC, with 4 valves per cylinder, uses long-tip fuel injectors to burn fuel more efficiently, while dual 48mm throttle bodies ensure instantaneous response. The combustion chamber was re-designed for use of regular 87 octane fuel. It also features optimized water and air flow around the cylinder head for maximum cooling. 107 horsepower from this surprisingly compact engine means you’ll need a great suspension system that enables you to appreciate it fully. Polaris engineers, avid off-road enthusiasts themselves, obviously didn’t want to fall short on that end; the suspension used on this model might just be the most advanced ever seen in this industry. Walker Evans position sensitive anti-bottoming needle shocks on all four corners are an industry-exclusive item that truly delivers the goods.
Exclusive 29″ Maxxis Bighorn tires and 13.5″ ground clearance also contribute a lot to help this amazingly capable RZR float over sizeable bumps with ease. The trail they had us flying over was the actual Best in the Desert race course in Parker, Arizona, so you can imagine, it was just about the most extreme one would want to try and conquer in any vehicle. Seriously, it was really brutal in some sections. Imagine huge whoops, filled with bowling ball sized edgy and sharp rocks. The kind would normally force you to conquer terrain at rock crawling speed and yet I found myself keeping a fast pace even there! Most amazing was feeling all that power lightening up the front on occasion, and further smoothing out the very uneven ground we rolled on. I was concentrating real hard on where my big tires precisely rolled, as I usually do to try and avoid cutting up my tires, but at the speed the vehicle was encouraging me to go, there was no avoiding some of those rocks. A few hits should have caused us to slow down. Instead, me and my Polaris chaperon, also a Side x Side racer, decided to add a few clicks on the easy to use 16-position adjustable clickers on the front shocks, to keep our fun pace going through this harsher part of this desert race circuit. I had never conquered such rough terrain so fast and comfortably. Our larger than usual tire diameter, plus the fact that they, of course, hold more air volume, surely helped provide that smoother ride too, not to mention that they also increase clearance at the trailing arms by 25% and have great resistance to flats with their 6-ply rating. Our other good friends here were the larger 2.5″ body Walker Evans shocks at the rear, needing no change to their stock setting in the middle. Their reservoirs mounted up high on the lower part of the roll cage, where they get a much better chance at staying cool, sort of add lots of coolness to the look of this race-ready machine. I touched one of them after about one hour of fun and it was hot but I could leave my hand on it, can’t say as much for the front piggyback, on which you can cook bacon on. Even if no fading had been felt yet, I couldn’t help but think that it would be a great idea to use remote reservoirs as well up front, maybe tuck them underneath the headlights, behind small grills. This would surely keep them much cooler.
The shocks are aided by dual rate/dual spring coil-overs and we had a generous 18 in/45.7 cm of rear travel and 16 in/40.6 cm of front travel to work with that translated into an amazingly comfortable while intense off-road experience. Steering precision and low turning effort meant that you could just about get away with anything and while in AWD for a true race pace test I was pleasantly impressed at how my desert racer violently came out of curves with disconcerting efficiency. The new high performance on demand AWD keeps both wheels pulling which wants to straighten you out, perfect! I couldn’t help but think back at my race at the Montreal Olympic stadium, where the MX style track was just too much to handle for my completely stock RZR XP 900. With this RZR, I would have been way more competitive! Too bad that event is no more and I can’t find out for sure. Being now very familiar and still pleased with the performance of my stock 900 racer, I was very surprised at how everything was even better on this vehicle. Late braking is my favourite way to make a pass and despite not having anyone to attack, it was obvious that this ride would be just as efficient in performing such a move even if it is bigger. Again, Polaris engineers beefed up just about everything so the brakes feature larger 248 mm ventilated discs, squeezed by the same big dual piston calipers as the rear on the 4 seater 900. The entire driveline is also of much more solid construction.
Jumping one of these is not recommended, but we racers, simply need to know how the vehicle performs during such a common occurrence during a race. So of course, we were on the lookout for a safe-looking shape in the ground with sufficient ramp length, and a smooth grade to land on. Despite being a little bigger in every way than the 900, tipping the scale to 625.5 kg instead of 546 kg, the vehicle felt just as light to launch and natural feeling in flight.
All this great stuff does make it a bit pricier than the 900, which remains in the line without the XP tag but you have to take into consideration that the list of interesting exclusive features goes on and on. Factory-installed quarter doors, sealed belt retractor housing, sealed smartphone storage, larger glove box, bigger cargo box with more tie-down points, battery with 575 cold cranking amps and 44 amp-hours capacity, an all-new 9.5 gal/36 liter fuel tank that takes 87 octane provides you with 17 percent more range, longer trailing arms and a lot more is already included. So you get all that, plus the extra power, toughness and impressive suspension, for what I judge to be a very valuable extra 2,500$. 75 accessories are also offered, which include two new wheel and tire options for those with even deeper pockets.
Accessories can be attached with greater ease, thanks to a new purpose-built vehicle chassis, exclusively engineered for Polaris accessories. It has integrated mounting points and pass-through areas for routing wires, which will simplify installation. Rock sliders and bumpers, easily attach and fit securely to the vehicle, using the innovative Lock & Ride expanding anchor system, along with a myriad of other practical add-ons that will make this awesome ride your very own. Roofs, doors, rear panels and windshields, install directly onto the vehicle frame in mere seconds with a perfect fit every time. Powered accessories, such as the new Polaris premium MTX audio system are easily plugged into a 3-post terminal under the hood with a custom designed wiring harness sealing the wires for protection from the elements.
To sum it all, progress is definitely looking up, thanks to our good friends and fellow trail riders at Polaris. We’ve only spent a few hours in this vehicle so far and can already say that nothing out there beats it. If you thought that last year’s 900 XP was awesome, it still is but wait until you feel the difference in this vehicle! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go ask my Polaris friends for a unit to play in the snow!
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Polaris Website