2008 Polaris RZR Side by Side Review

Ranger RZR Tested

Jan. 17, 2007 By Pattie Waters

When Polaris invited the Media to a new Ranger intro a couple months ago, we of course started guessing what they would reveal to us. We had pretty much come to the conclusion that it would be a sport-orientated Ranger to better compete head-to-head with the Rhino. Well, we got what we expected and much, much more. The new Ranger RZR is a truly innovative design that is going to have a deep and lasting impact on the side-by-side market.

Sport-First Design

The current side-by-sides, including the Yamaha Rhino, came out of the utility side of the market. When Polaris designed the RZR they designed it for the sport market first and the utility market second. From this came a much different side-by-side than is currently available. It is smaller, faster, and lighter.

The RZR has a dry weight of 945 lbs, more than 100 lbs lighter than the Rhino. Now combine that with an unrestricted 800 EFI twin and you have a power to weight ratio that can't be touched. I am guessing that out of the box it will easily outrun most modified Rhino's.

And now for the "smaller" part. A stock RZR comes in at only 50 inches wide. Some of you will immediately be concerned about a narrower side-by-side and the increased risk of rollover. Polaris has addressed this head-on with an innovative mid-engine design that puts the engine behind the driver, still in front of the rear axle, and seats the driver lower in the chassis. This creates a lower center of gravity than any other vehicle in it's class.

The real benefit of the 50" width is that allows you to access any normal ATV trail. If you live in the desert southwest and ride open desert or dunes this will probably not be a selling point, but official Forest Service rules restrict ATV's to 50" widths and many areas have trail entrances that are intentionally physically only 50 inches wide. With a current sxs you would have to leave it in the truck. Don't plan to use your RZR on restricted trails? Then you can bolt on a set of different wheels and tires available from the Polaris accessory division and your RZR will instantly be 4 inches wider.

With AWD engaged, the RZR was as much at home scaling the rocks as it was on the high speed desert sections.

Suspension and Ride

The new Polaris RZR comes with a double a-arm setup front and rear with 9" of travel in the front and 9.5" of travel in the rear. This is significantly more travel than what is available on the competition and it is very evident. We had a couple hours to drive the RZR in a BLM area just north of Phoenix, AZ. While there weren't a lot of tight tree-lined trails, there were plenty of whoops to test the suspension on. We hit some deep whoops and it was amazing how well the RZR suspension handled the terrain. It is evident that the suspension was valved and setup for the aggressive sport driver. It was very difficult to get the suspension to bottom out.

Polaris in fact had two stock competitive products available for comparison. After driving all three, we have to admit there really was no comparison. The handling and suspension of the Polaris RZR was superior and nothing short of amazing.

The fun factor was at very high levels. We found the factory seats to be very comfortable and they are even adjustable.

Ground-Breaking

The Polaris Ranger RZR is a ground-breaking product for 2007 (Although in some ways it reminds us of the Honda Pilot introduced back in 1989, which was in production for just under two years.) and is sure to win many awards in the coming year. We can't wait to get our hands on a production unit and do some long-term testing on the durability of the newest side-by-side that puts fun first.

 

 

 

 

A fully-accessorized RZR with Baja bumpers, door nets, spare tire carrier, spare gas, lights and 14" wheels and tires. Watch out, Baja!

 

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