Ride Test – Deja Blue

Ride Test – Deja Blue

2013.polaris.rzr1000eps.white.front.jumping.in-air.JPG“They’re shooting behind the duck.”  That was a quote heard at our first ride on the Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS about how other OEMS often find themselves trying to catch up to the relentless, breakneck pace Polaris has set with new model development.  Sometimes there are just too many ducks to follow.

Deja-Blue – The New RZR XP 1000 EPS

Not even a year after the introduction of the RZR XP 900 H.O. Jagged X, a machine we dearly love, we found ourselves once again drooling over an all-new high performance Side x Side from Polaris.  They’d upped the ante on themselves – again – with another all-new machine (It’s a good thing these guys don’t go to auctions!).  The RZR XP 1000 EPS was designed to carry Polaris right up against the 1000cc barrier, and to put them well over 100 hp.  

While 1000cc is the magic number in the eyes of government testing standards and anything larger is classified differently, and in most cases more stringently, it’s horsepower and torque that you feel in the seat.  Polaris claims the new XP 1000 EPS cranks out 107 hp and we were anxious to give it a try.  Our first ride would take us back to the dusty, blistering desert outside Parker Arizona.  


Engine and Chassis

The ProStar engine continues to deliver for Polaris, and this version is a 999cc, liquid cooled, twin cylinder, dual overhead cam wonder with a few clever upgrades to help with performance and longevity.  Thermal management is critical to engine reliability, and to help cool the beast, it now comes with a thermostat and in-line oil cooler right next to the easy access, screw on oil filter.  A new air intake designed to pre-filter out as much grit as possible is used, along with an enormous, canister style filter behind an access door that is sealed in place with cam snaps.  Polaris also uses a modular transmission with the ProStar engine platform, mated to the high-performance CVT clutch which Polaris calls a PVT.  Whatever they call it, the cover is just inside the left rear tire, making cover removal and belt changes a breeze.  In our experience with the 900 ProStar/PVT system, we’ve only needed to do it one time.  

Polaris gave the RZR XP 1000 an all-new chassis that is more rigid and much stronger than the 900 chassis.  Many of the structural members are steel tubes, which speaks to its desert racing DNA. The RZR 1000 is also almost 10 inches longer, and although overall height is about the same, because of the enormous, 29” tires on cast aluminum wheels, it seems taller.  One feature we love is the tie down hooks which make trailering much easier.  Suspension travel was increased at both ends (16 inches front, 18 inches rear), with dual A-arms up front and a trailing arm setup in the rear.  We generally like the trailing arm designs because of their consistent geometry through the shock stroke, but they have limits as well.  As rotation angles and shocks become fully extended, a maxed out design will sometimes bend the shaft rather than compress.  Polaris says a .75” production shock shaft should prevent this, but we have some reservations and thoughts that maximum angles were exceeded in favor of enormous wheel travel numbers.  At the front a heavier, quicker turning differential with a true 1:1 ratio was used for more precise handling.  We drove it all day in 4wd and we’ll probably leave it there forever.  2013.polaris.rzr1000eps.white.front.riding.on-dirt.JPG

Ergos & New Look

One area in which Polaris made an enormous change is the styling.  Nobody is going to mistake this for a farm vehicle or golf cart.  The XP 1000 looks mean!  Styling lines all speak to its performance, and we especially love the secure, easy latching doors.  For a machine with this type of performance, they are a welcome upgrade over nets.  The doors are stylish, well built, and close perfectly each time with no rattling.  We also appreciate the opening which allows airflow into the cab.  One thing we would add immediately to the XP 1000 is a front bumper.  There is a lot of exposed bodywork and suspension components at the front end.  

Inside the RZR XP 1000, the styling was continued and we generally like most of the features.  Polaris made a few clever additions with a phone / GPS compartment, and the blue backlighting behind instruments and switches is cool.  An in-dash glove box comes in handy as well, although the door is a pain and should come with a bungy strap or screw gun to keep it closed.  Both the glove box door and the phone compartment door need to be upgraded to a better material.  Thankfully, the adjustable hand hold is found on the dash as well, and the passenger is definitely going to need it.  2013.polaris.rzr1000eps.close-up.door.jpg

Polaris increased seat foam thickness and it’s a welcome change.  They also changed the seats’ rear cross bracing and that was a mistake.  We generally like the seats for comfort, but they flex big time in corners.  This isn’t a big deal to the driver who has the wheel for arm leverage, but the passenger is not so lucky and will find themselves rolling from side to side.  Overall though, the styling and ergonomics on the RZR XP 1000 are an upgrade over the XP900.      

Desert Racer

“Blistering” not only describes the desert conditions we first tested the RZR 1000 in – with temperatures over 110 – it also describes the performance from the new Polaris.  This is one machine that is also testing you.  

The RZR XP 1000 begs you to challenge it from the moment you start the engine. Overall engine noise in the cab is slightly louder than the XP 900, but not bad and we like the healthy growl it makes.  We pointed it at Mexico, hit the throttle, and seconds later we were flying down the whoop infested Parker race course.  As expected, the enormous ground clearance and suspension travel ate up the whoops, but the brakes are not to be overlooked.  The brakes on the XP 1000 are excellent!  With a set of brakes that is a perfect match for the engine, you’ll find yourself staying on the gas longer into corners, braking heavily, and then getting right back on the throttle.  We like how the brakes seem to have a slight rear bias and more stopping power so there is no pulling to either side as the front wheels keep rolling.  Engine clutching is also very good and it’s possible to spin the wheels at almost any speed.  We did make a few suspension adjustments, however.2013.polaris.rzr1000eps.white.front-left.jumping.in-air.JPG

Most Side x Sides fly nose down due to suspension setting, weight balance, or both.  A suspension adjustment will usually help cure that.  On the RZR XP 1000, we softened the rear one click, but with no rebound adjustment, all we could do was back off the compression.  Our final settings were 8 clicks off max compression on front, and 9 clicks off max at the rear which helped it fly much more level.  You will feel more body roll with the RZR 1000 thanks to the enormous wheel travel and high ground clearance, but one click goes a long way with these shocks and overall the suspension is very good.  Once dialed in, the XP 1000 is a thrill to ride, and it’s one of the few times the thought began to creep into our head, “You know, this is fast enough.”  Challenge winner: RZR XP 1000.

Room for Improvement – The Short List

As impressive as the RZR XP 1000 is, it’s a fair point to remember that with a price tag knocking on 20K, it ain’t cheap.  If we’re going to pay as much for a toy as we would for a good used pickup, we’re also going to expect quite a bit more and there are a couple things on the top of our list.  2013.polaris.rzr1000eps.close-up.air-filter.jpg

We want better seats with a lot less torsional flex. We’re not saying racer quality with full, five point harness systems, but something with a lot more structural rigidity.  The next thing we want is a better center console door and latch for the phone/iPod/gps tray.  The current door doesn’t match the rest of the vehicle’s promise for quality.  Finally, the glove box door…  You know how we feel about this travesty of plastic engineering which would be better replaced by an egg carton lid.    

It’s Duck Season

The new Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS takes performance to a new level, but it also raises the level of skill required of the driver as well.  Dune and desert riders will love it, and no doubt other manufacturers will be targeting it as well.  It looks like there’s another fast duck headed their way.

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February 4, 2014

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