Ride Tested - The Polaris Sportsman 570 SP
The term is “economy of scale”. What it means to a manufacturer like Honda, Kawasaki, or Can-Am is getting the most out of their design, tooling, and testing dollars by using the same parts on as many different models as possible. In the ATV world no manufacturer takes that concept to heart more than Polaris. It’s a good bet that if you own any given Polaris ATV or Side x Side there will be a bunch of parts that are found on several other models as well. It’s a big win for the dealer too when it comes to stocking parts, but the downside is sometimes sharing parts between different models creates a less than stellar finished product. Anyone remember the rolling anti-Christ called the 2008 Sportsman 400? You know, that unholy mating of a Sportsman motor and a diminutive Hawkeye chassis, making it impossible to reach the rear brake without a foot shaped like a monkey’s? Still, every so often economy of scale creates something spectacular and the Sportsman 570 SP looks to be one of those extra special models.
PRO ENGINE – PERFECT CHASSIS
The 570 ProStar engine is arguably one of the all-time best engines in the Polaris lineup. It’s powerful, fairly compact, and it puts out excellent power in both the RZR and Ranger family. It had never been used in an ATV before though.
The Sportsman is a legendary name in the Polaris ATV lineup, and it’s not a stretch to claim that it’s the ATV that built the Polaris Off-Road division. The Sportsman even influenced models in other manufacturers lineups, and while CVT transmissions were once the red-headed step child of the ATV world, utility riders loved them for their ease of operation. Today virtually every utility ATV is driven by a CVT. It was a natural to put the historic chassis and excellent engine together.
While it may have seemed like a great idea to install the awesome ProStar 570 engine into a Sportsman chassis, it wasn’t exactly a natural fit. Installing a motor into a chassis originally designed for a different power source is never easy and to wedge the ProStar 570 into a utility ATV chassis required considerable modification. To make things even more challenging, Polaris was actually using TWO different chassis platforms to create new Sportsman 570 models. The new models would be the Sportsman 570 and the Sportsman 570 SP. The difference is, the Sportsman 570 is based on the older, strut style front end Sportsman chassis while the 570 SP uses the new dual-arm front end platform. Both models feature independent rear suspension, but considerable rear chassis changes were needed to install the CVT and differential. Polaris even calls the Sportsman 570 SP one of their Premium models. What it means is you get the best of everything they’ve ever learned and built in an extremely comfortable, easy to ride package.
While power can be useful, comfort is king on the trail, and in this area both of the Sportsman 570 models excel. The first thing everyone noticed about the new Sportsman 570 and 570 SP is how narrow and sporty it feels. It feels much more like a sport ATV than a rack-toting, 4-wheel-drive utility ATV. Combine that with a perfect handlebar bend, a comfortable throttle housing, and a narrower seat that somehow manages to keep the legendary Polaris comfort and you get a Sportsman that makes you feel as if you were born to be at its helm. Full fenders also provide excellent splash protection. The full floorboards drain water quickly, and Polaris claims the beautiful, automotive finish is more durable and scratch resistant than the standard plastic. What it all adds up to is an ATV that is born for the trails and easy to ride all day.
One feature we’ve always loved about various Sportsman models is the huge storage box built into the front fenders. Through the years this has been included on some models and skipped on others, but thankfully both versions of the Sportsman 570 come equipped with it. It’s a welcome place to store tools, tie downs, a snack, and anything else you want on the trail. We also like the large storage bin between the rear tail lights. Both versions also get sturdy, composite racks at the front and rear, and we like the many integrated tie down points. They’re also ready to accept all the Polaris accessories with the Lock & Ride mounting system. At the rear end a 1.25” receiver hitch is ready to tow a load as well. For any night action Polaris gives both models dual headlights, and a center mounted light pod that turns with the handlebars.
One of the differences between the standard Sportsman 570 and the Sportsman 570 SP is the tires and wheels. Since it’s a premium model the 570 SP gets 14” cast aluminum wheels and 26” tires while the standard unit gets 12” wheels and 25” tires. Some feel the 14” wheel is a little more prone to punctures thanks to a stiffer side wall but we love the look of the larger aluminum wheel.
POWER & LIGHT
Since both the standard Sportsman 570 and Sportsman 570 SP are meant for hard work as much as they are play time on the trail, Polaris bumped up the engine power. Polaris claims a 20% power increase and one way to squeeze more out of any engine is to get more air into it. A high-flow, high-capacity air filter with better dust filtration makes that happen. Thankfully, EFI helps the engine make the most of every drop of fuel, and you can expect about 10% better mileage as well. For powering accessories and the extra lights a larger, 660 watt stator is used and on the 570 SP it also powers the Electronic Power Steering.
Our trail riding adventures are a mix of machines and terrain. It would be a good test of the Sportsman 570. A turn of the key on the bar-mounted headlight pod brought the fuel-injected, single-cylinder thumper to a quick start and it gives a healthy yet quiet rumble. The center mounted digital instrument cluster displays everything you’ll need to know in one easy to read LCD display and after a minute of idling to warm up, we slid the shifter into gear, and were off. The 570 is noticeably snappier on takeoff than the previous models thanks to the clutching.
It’s not all high speed runs and hill climbs on the trails and we actually prefer tight, twisty sections where the suspension comes into play. Polaris had equipped every basic Sportsman before the 570 with MacPherson struts on the front end and it was ultra-stable, but the trade-off was it lacked steering precision and seemed under-damped. It sucked up impacts well, but the struts inability to control the spring motion sometimes reminded us of a small boat in big waves. Then, with the introduction of the XP chassis came a watershed moment when Polaris introduced dual a-arms. Long front and rear A-arms push the spindles deep into the 14” wheels, allowing for precise handling and effectively reducing wheel scrub, a condition that causes your tires to push apart as the suspension is compressed. The new Sportsman 570 SP features that same design. The oil-damped shocks are preload adjustable and can be dialed in for your riding preference and trail conditions, but to make the ride a little softer Polaris swapped out the springs for a slightly smoother rider.
Today you can get the basic Sportsman 570 with an improved MacPherson strut front suspension or the dual A-Arm version on the 570 SP. Either way you’ll love the ride! Suspension travel is identical with 8.2 inches in the front and 9.5 inches of wheel travel at the rear. What it all adds up to is the Sportsman 570 models are an absolute joy to ride in tighter, rougher situations. They have the nimble handling and agility of a much lighter, smaller sport/utility ATV and can be ridden through rough terrain and even whoops with greater confidence. It’s still a full-sized machine, however, and that can be an issue when the trees are too close together, but they’ll dart through places most utility quads will never see. For the ultimate in ease of control, the brushless Polaris Electronic Power Steering system varies input with travel speed. It’s effortless and all but eliminates any jolt from hitting objects along the trail.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the Polaris’ ability to climb up pretty much any kind of hill. The Sportsman ATVs have always been very capable climbers due to their long wheelbase, wide stance, and some of the best tire choices by any OEM, and the 570 models are no exception. You can claw your way to the top long after some of the competition will have likely given up or cart wheeled their way to the bottom!
The only major change we would make to the Sportsman 570 is nothing more than a programming change. We would dial back the Electronic Power Steering input to make steering a little more firm, and to get a little better feel of the terrain. We also noticed a little backlash in the CVT system but it’s not a deal breaker.
MODERN DAY SPORTSMAN
Since its introduction in 1996 Polaris has sold over 600,000 Sportsman ATVs. Today the Sportsman 570 and Sportsman 570 SP build on that heritage thanks to the Polaris economy of scale manufacturing process, and as a bonus the price is barely above the 1996 level! Just as always, you can’t go wrong with a Sportsman!
Polaris Sportsman 570 Specifications
Engine Type: 567cc Liquid Cooled, Fuel Injected, DOHC 4-Stroke
Drive System: Automatic PVT, P/R/N/L/H; Shaft drive, 2WD / AWD
Suspension 570 SP: Dual A-Arm / 8.2” travel Front - Dual A-Arm / 9.5” travel Rear
Suspension 570: MacPherson Struts / 8.2” travel Front, - Dual A-Arm / 9.5” travel rear
Front Brakes: Single-lever hydraulic 4-wheel disc
Rear Brakes: Hydraulic Disc with Foot Brake
Tires 570 SP: 26x8-14 – Front, 26x10-14 Rear - Cast Aluminum Wheel
Tires 570: 25x8-12 – Front, 25x10-12 Rear - Stamped Steel
Dry Weight: 702 lb. – Sportsman 570, 730 lb. Sportsman 570 SP
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal.
Hitch Towing Capacity: 1225 lb. Sportsman 570, 1500 lb. – Sportsman 570 SP
Ground Clearance: 11.5”
Instrumentation: Analog Speedometer, Digital Odometer, Tachometer, Two Tripmeters, Hour Meter, Clock, Service Indicator, Diagnostic Indicator, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, AWD Indicator, Hi-Temp/Low-Batt Lights, DC Outlet
SPORTSMAN 570 - msrp: $6,599
Sage Green, Yellow, Indy Red, Polaris Pursuit Camo
SPORTSMAN 570 EPS - msrp: $7,499
Sage Green, Velocity Blue, Indy Red, Polaris Pursuit Camo
• Electronic Power Steering (EPS)
• MacPherson strut front suspension
SPORTSMAN 570 SP - msrp: $8,599
Sunset Red, Titanium Metallic, Hunter Edition
• Polaris Pursuit® Graphics Package with Cut & Sew Seat
• Front & Rear Bumpers
• Polaris 2,500 lb. (1135 kg) HD Winch
• Gun Scabbard
• Front & Rear Rack Extender
• Work Lights
• Hand/Thumb Warmers