2010 Polaris Snowmobile Line Up

Apr. 13, 2009 By Dan Canfield

Unless you’ve been in a cave or on a tropical island for the past couple of months you have heard the big news from Polaris for 2010 is the RUSH. There is no doubt that the RUSH is a big deal in the Polaris lineup, but don’t make the mistake in assuming that the only thing Polaris is doing for 2010 is giving us a new trail weapon. That would be... well, you know what they say about ‘assumptions’.

A few years back Polaris got a pretty big black eye for some of the sleds they released and the lack of quality. We know the team at Polaris and the pride they take in their work so those were surely dark times in Roseau. Looking back now, that’s a distant bad memory and the 2010 offerings make good on Polaris’ commitment to offer quality snowmobiles that deliver on great ride and performance.

For 2010 Polaris has simplified their approach to the different models. We applaud that because it can be so difficult to know which model to get for the options you want. Polaris is putting some of the optional items off to their dealers. If you buy a sled that doesn’t have electric start, no problem - the dealer can put it on for you. Again, we like this approach. It involves the dealers, helping to maintain a healthy dealer network and it simplifies the buying process.

The other thing we need to give Polaris credit for this year is their work on the total package. When comparing all the models across the whole lineup we can easily argue that Polaris has the best looking packages available. Yes, there are other bright spots from the other OEMs, but as a whole the Polaris lineup is about the sharpest bunch there is.

And lest we give you the impression it’s all about looks, hands-down Polaris has the best brake in the business and they use that brake on every model in their lineup. So you get the best feel and performance whether you are on the big Widetrack or on the RUSH. Bravo Polaris, because going quick on a snowmobile is also about being able to stop.

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Polaris Performance

Polaris RUSH
Polaris RUSH

We’re going to try and resist the urge to do nothing but talk about the RUSH. It’s a tough urge to resist though. One look at the 2010 RUSH and it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t your same old Polaris. The first thing that jumps out at you is the new tunnel and rear suspension. Polaris is proud of it, as they should be, and the paint scheme draws your eye right to it. We’re not going to take the time right now (we’ll have another article on the RUSH alone) to explain all that makes the RUSH what it is. But what you should know is that the RUSH is a different-riding sled than anything we’ve been on. We remember back when we first climbed on a Ski-Doo Rev and how different that felt. Well, the RUSH doesn’t feel different when you get on it until you start riding it, then you know it’s different.

The RUSH delivers on the promise to handle the big “g-bumps”, whoops to us normal people. It goes through corners, especially rough corners, better than any trail sled we’ve ever been on. It stays settled in those instances where you realize you are carrying too much heat into a corner and grab brake way in too deep and you can hammer the throttle well before exit and it tracks right on through and launches out the exit.

The only thing that wasn’t spot on for us was the performance in small chatter bumps. That combination seemed to upset the chassis a bit and we weren’t able to dial it out with shock or spring adjustments.

You also need to resist the temptation to just think about the RUSH’s rear suspension. The machine has a new bulkhead and sub frame that has far fewer pieces than the IQ, which makes it easier to work on. The sub frame is all modular so if you do have an unfortunate incident requiring a repair you can replace just the damaged piece instead of the whole bulkhead or sub frame.

The RUSH is equipped with the top of the line Walker Evans Piggyback shocks. They are terrific pieces with great adjustability and offer a terrific ride.

The RUSH is a very nice package and the Polaris team spent the time figuring out the entire package front to rear. They did a great job. The RUSH is powered by the 600cc twin, arguably the best 600 in the business. We love that motor but can’t help but wish for the 800 to be available in the RUSH as well. We sure are a fickle bunch, always wanting more.

Our test riders scored the RUSH at a composite score of 3.93 out of 5. Most of the things that we dinged the RUSH on were items that probably can be remedied with aftermarket or even Polaris accessories. The windshield is a little too narrow so your hands are subjected to a steady stream of cold air. There is no storage on the sled and the little under seat storage accessory bag isn’t going to cut it. By the time next Fall rolls around Polaris will have their accessory bags figured out to offer better storage options. The sled did have quite a bit of darting to it at times. Suspension setup affected that and Polaris admitted they were still dialing in ski combinations.

So we didn’t do too good of a job about keeping our RUSH rantings short after all.

600 RUSH $10,299

The Performance offering from Polaris isn’t all about the RUSH. The 550 IQ Shift is also available and is a terrific entry level performance package. The 550 fan motor has been an over achiever since it was introduced and Polaris has combined the motor package with the Ryde FX MPV shocks which deliver great ride in the lightweight package of the 550 IQ Shift.

You also can choose from two different 600 IQ models, the IQ and IQ Shift. The Shift sits at $1,000 less than the IQ primarily because of shock and suspension differences. It really comes down to a budget issue for the buyer. They are both very nice machines offering great performance. If you want the best ride possible then opt for the IQ, but if you are pinching pennies the Shift is a great option and still offers a dang good ride.

As with the 600, the 800 comes in two models - an IQ and a Dragon IQ. The IQ is the base model and you get all the power and benefits of the 800 CFI motor and the IQ chassis. But if you buy the Dragon you get Walker Evans Piggyback shocks. There is a $700 difference in price between the IQ and the Dragon and in our opinion it’s worth the money. The WE Piggybacks are a great shock and they offer quite a ride improvement over the standard shocks. Plus the graphic and paint package on the Dragon IQ is eye catching. If you can afford the extra money, the Dragon is worth it.

Rounding out the Performance line for Polaris is the IQ Turbo Dragon. Polaris stuffed the turbo FST motor in the Dragon IQ chassis, suspended it on Walker Evans remote reservoir shocks and shod it with a 1.25” Ripsaw track. Can you say “kick in the pants”?

The Turbo Dragon is well, a turbo. We’ve said it before - if you haven’t gotten a chance to ride a 4-stroke turbo you really need to get on one. The smooth arm stretching power is something that will put a smile on your face. The Turbo Dragon is a fun sled to ride. Yes, it’s heavier than its 2 stroke siblings, but on the trail it isn’t as noticeable as you might think and the power, oh the power, has a way of making you just giggle.

550 IQ SHIFT $5,999
600 IQ Shift $7,999
IQ TURBO DRAGON $10,999
800 IQ $10,099
800 DRAGON IQ $10,799

ES (electric start) available for an additional $400

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Crossover Sleds

Polaris Turbo LX
Polaris Turbo LX

The Crossover segment has always been an important part of the recreational snowmobiling puzzle, but in the last couple of years the class has grown in popularity. Crossover riders are the kind of riders that like to do their own thing. In the summer time they would be the guy taking his SUV down some logging road or the gal taking the minivan down the dirt ‘shortcut’ road to the grocery store.

Polaris has a firm grip on what the Crossover rider is wanting. The Crossover segment offerings include three 600 models: Dragon Switchback, LX and Switchback. It also includes 2 800 models: Switchback and Dragon Switchback. And it rounds out the segment with the Turbo LX.

The Crossover offerings from Polaris are all about what features you want. You want the base model that offers good performance but won’t break the bank then the 600 or 800 Switchback is for you. They sport the same performance as the upper models and offer good ride and handling.

If you want the upgraded shocks and therefore even better ride then you can jump into the Dragon 600 or 800 and get the Walker Evans shocks and Dragon graphics.

And if you are more into the finer things of life and want the Crossover sled because of the longer track and better ride but also want mirrors, electric start, DC outlet and the luxury features then the LX models are for you.

Polaris Turbo IQ LXOur test riders found the LX models to be plush and loaded. The 600 LX has the terrific 600 CFI motor to make it go and the nummy Polaris brake to make it stop. It scored in at a 4.03 out of 5 which is a very good score.

The skis are not the best available and on hard trails with 6” or so of new snow they weren’t up to the task of going quick. We’d also like to see a set of hooks on the bars to allow for a little better confidence in holding on to them, especially when you venture on to trails or side roads that require you to stand up and move around on the sled.

600 SWITCHBACK $9,099
600 DRAGON SWITCHBACK $9,799
800 SWITCHBACK $10,099
800 DRAGON SWITCHBACK $10,799
600 LX $9,599
TURBO LX $10,799

ES (electric start) available for an additional $400

 

Deep Snow Sleds

Polaris Dragon RMK 800
Polaris Dragon RMK 800

For 2010 the Deep Snow offerings don’t change much from 2009. Not necessarily a bad move because the ’09 offerings have done very well in the mountains and deep snow. Color choices and graphics change for this year (yes, BNG) and the whole line-up except for the Trail RMK is fuel injected. We’re not going to blow smoke touting the new graphics, but we will say that the standard RMKs in blue are really eye catching.

We are a little disappointed that no new models or offerings are available in the Deep Snow segment. With the IQ Turbo Dragon we were sort of hoping for a Turbo Dragon RMK. That was a stretch, but with 2012 EPA standards looming and others working on 4-stroke mountain offerings, we had hoped...

We don’t want to sound negative about the Deep Snow offerings from Polaris. There just isn’t a lot new to talk about. If you have ridden an ’09 RMK then you’ll know what is in store when you buy a 2010 RMK. Why mess with it if it works, is the mode of operation here. The RMKs are terrific deep snow machines that offer reliability and performance.

We should note that there have been some struggles this year with the 800 RMK motors. Polaris has been very forthright in communication to their customers about the issues and is committed to working them through. Every time we speak with the Polaris team they impress us with their desire to make sure their customers are happy with their product and we believe the 2010 calibration will address the issues.

Polaris Dragon 800 SnowmobileOur test riders scored the Dragon 800 RMK at 4.16 out of 5 which really is a super score. The Dragon 800 does mountain riding just about as good as any sled out there. The combination of the skis and windshield cause an annoying spray of fresh powder, when you are in deep powder, to launch right over the windshield on into your face if you are sitting down or chest if you are standing. In truly bottomless snow it forces the rider to spend all his time standing. The good thing is that the RMK seat is the best in the business, offering the right height and width which makes it easy to come to a standing position and to move back and forth across the seat.

If you are a big guy, over 225lbs, the front Walker Air shocks are well, how do we say it nicely, soft. We’ve heard reports of success in having the dealer add a little pressure to the front shocks. We wish they were just the WE Piggybacks instead of the lower end standard air shocks.

The real bright spot in the Deep Snow line for Polaris is the Assault. The Assault is a purpose built sled for the rider looking for a little more extreme or freestyle experience. Front end is adjustable from 41.5” to 43.5”. It is equipped with top of the line WE Piggyback shocks (which we wish were on the Dragon RMK) and it has one of the nastiest competition tracks we’ve ever seen. It is an absolute kick in the pants to ride. The ride quality is terrific and the combination of the 800 motor’s go and the competition track make it a rocket when it hooks up. We found that when squeeze the loud lever you better be holding on or it will launch out from under you.

And it loves to stand on its tail and dance on the hill. All of our test riders agreed that it was one of the most fun mountain sleds we have ridden. It scored a 3.93 total score, suffering from some small personal complaints from the test riders like no mountain strap, narrow running boards and very little protection for the hands. But the ride and power… well we heard more than once “pin the throttle and hold on”.

We also don’t want to ignore the Trail RMK. Yes, it hasn’t changed much over the past couple of years, but we applaud Polaris for keeping the little fanner in their lineup. It’s a staple of rental fleets all over the West, but more importantly it keeps a link in the line for bringing young, new riders into the sport… something that is good for all of us who love this sport. In fact, we’d love to see Polaris virtually give the little Trail RMK away for cost - the technology development has surely been paid for by now. Parents with young teenage riders are searching for an option to get their kids into the sport as inexpensive as possible.

TRAIL RMK $6,199
600 RMK 144 $8,699
600 RMK 155 $9,199
800 RMK 144 $10,099
800 RMK 155 $10,499
800 ASSAULT RMK 146 $10,799
800 DRAGON RMK 155 $10,899
800 DRAGON RMK 163 $11,299

ES (electric start) available for an additional $400

 

Touring

For 2010 the Polaris Touring lineup consists of the Trail Touring, 600 IQ Touring and the FST IQ Touring.

The Trail Touring is the entry level sled, but don’t let ‘entry level’ fool you. The Trail is in the proven Edge chassis with the basic nitrex shocks. The great thing about the Trail is that its price is low and there are a zillion aftermarket accessories for the Edge chassis available. You can upgrade just about every part of the Trail and customize it to be exactly what you want. It does come standard with electric start and adjustable back rest and is available in either red or blue.

The 600 IQ Touring is the bread and butter in the lineup. The 600 CFI motor is smooth and powerful and offers good fuel economy as well as power. As with the other touring models you get electric start, adjustable back rest and the 136 track. The 600 does sport MPV shocks for improved ride and comes with the Rider Select suspension that allows you to tailor the ride to either solo or 2 up riding.

The top dog in the Touring lineup for Polaris is the FST IQ Touring. Yes, FST means 4 stroke turbo power and it does have that. The FST motor offers gobs of go. It is not a launch out of the corner type of motor, which isn’t really what the touring rider wants, but if you decided to grab a bar full of throttle the FST will pick you, your companion, all your luggage and any small animals close by up and haul you down the trail at silly speeds.

We couldn’t help but laugh out loud when rolling on the throttle out of corners and watching the speedo climb north of… well, let’s just say it went pretty fast. The FST gets all the touring treatment and you can accessorize it with a bunch of different options. It scored at 3.53 from our test riders which is probably a fair score. The FST makes power, but it suffers from being under suspended, even with the suspension dialed all the way up. It may well be a function of the weight just overwhelming the suspension. The bars are also too narrow, and possibly adding a set of hooks would help out with that.

TRAIL TOURING $6,699
600 IQ TOURING $9,699
FST IQ TOURING $10,699

 

Utility Sleds

Polaris IQ WideTrax 600 Snowmobile
Polaris WideTrax IQ

If you are a snowmobile manufacture these days then you must offer a Utility sled lineup. The Utility segment is a large portion of the market and continues to grow as more people find themselves either making their living in the snowy back country or just wanting to be able to enjoy their “summer” cabin in the winter.

Polaris has the Utility segment covered with the Widetrak lineup. Offered in three models: the 600 IQ, the IQ and the LX, the Widetrak lineup has you covered with everything you need.

Widetrak’s are really a sled to behold. The shear amount of onboard storage and cargo capacity is mind boggling. You get under seat storage, back rest, rear storage rack, hi/lo trans and if that isn’t enough it has a hitch on it so you can hook up to a utility trailer. There is even a nice compartment on the hood to stuff your gloves in and the motor heat will dry them for you.

The Widetraks ride on a 20x156x1 track. We tried but couldn’t get it stuck. Motor packages are the bullet proof 600 CFI, the 750 4 stroke and the tried and true 488 fan cooled. Walk into your Polaris dealer and one of these Widetraks will fit the bill.

And we have to comment on the ride and handling of the Widetrak. With the combination of size and track you would expect that the Widetrak isn’t going to be a trail pounding standout. You would be right. However, we rode the 600 IQ Widetrak for quite a ways on the trail and found that it handles very well and is very easy to ride for being such a big sled. And if the trail is rough it is very nice to ride as it absorbs the bumps like they aren’t there.

WIDETRAK LX $8,599
600 WIDETRAK IQ $10,299
FS WIDETRAK IQ $10,999

 

Youth

“Dad, I want a snowmobile.” If you are a dad that rides you’ve heard that more than once. For 2010 Polaris returns the 120 Dragon which is just right for kids. It gets cool Dragon graphics, has hand warmers and under seat storage so the kids can carry their own extra gear and snacks. If you ever get a chance to see a kid on one of these little sleds you will be reminded of your first years riding by the big smile on their face.

120 DRAGON $2,299

 

Miscellaneous Ramblings

For sure Polaris has concentrated on the RUSH for 2010. We give them high marks for innovation and like what the RUSH delivers. The MSRP is a little scary for a lot of people and that may well be a barrier in these tough economic times. Polaris told us time and again about the innovative new technologies being used to build the RUSH and how it had fewer parts and such. One would therefore expect the price tag to be lower, not higher. But from a performance standpoint the RUSH delivers in spades and maybe that performance comes with a higher price.

Polaris continues to have the best brake on the market as we mentioned at the first of this article. Every one of our test riders commented time and again that they wished they could put the Polaris brake on every sled they ride.

The Dragon RMKs and the Assault have the ProTaper bars which are very nice and comfortable. Because of that the controls for the electronic gauge, hand warmers and hi/lo beam have been moved to the console below the bars. We don’t mind this location, but it does make it nearly impossible to make changes to the settings without stopping. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing from a safety stand point. But the one irritating thing is that the handle bar and thumb warmers are tied together on the same switch. That is a bad deal. Most of our test riders typically run the thumb warmer on a sled on high and the bar warmers on medium. With them tied together we found ourselves having to cook our hands to keep our thumbs warm. There is plenty of room on the console, another toggle switch there would be a simple and welcome addition that would allow for the warmers to be split again.

All in all, Polaris’ 2010 lineup gives us the impression that something big is coming. The RUSH has lots of very cool things about it but it is one model with one motor available. As we look at it we can’t help but dream of what Polaris might have in store. The 2010 lineup peaks our interest and makes us wonder about what just might be coming in the next couple of years from Polaris.

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