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Best 500cc Class Utility ATV of 2011

The Polaris Sportsman XP 550
Written By: 
John Arens

2011.polaris.sportsman550xp.green_.front_.riding.over-rocks.jpgWe believe the Polaris Sportsman XP 550 is quite possibly the best ATV ever built. That’s not a claim we make lightly, but there is so much to love about the XP 550 we hardly know where to begin. The ergonomics are excellent, the engine is powerful and smooth, and it’s a dream to drive. What more is there?

Most riders will notice the XP 550 shares a chassis that is nearly identical to the Sportsman XP 850 and that’s definitely a good thing. On a long trek across remote sections of Canada this year, we spend considerable time on both machines. They offer a supple, smooth ride, excellent splash protection, a sturdy set of floor boards that drain quickly, and thankfully, a molded in peg that actually holds your foot in place quite well. Seating position is very comfortable and the center mounted display is easy to read. Everything about the XP says “quality,” from the oversized aluminum wheels to the sculpted bodywork that fits perfect and is finished beautifully in any number of automotive paints. On the trail it feels almost sporty! Regardless of the test rider, nobody ever complains about the XP 550 ergonomics and the incredible XP suspension which delivers the agility of a much lighter, smaller sport/utility ATV.

Underneath the bodywork of the XP 550 is a liquid cooled, single cylinder, EFI equipped engine mated to a CVT transmission. The engine runs crisp and smooth, and the XP550 gets a high performance clutch with a roller system for a very noticeable snap off the bottom. In a class with several excellent models and strong competition, the Polaris Sportsman XP 550 offers enough features and value to push it above all others. It’s one of the best ATVs ever built, and we’ve never been disappointed with the XP 550. For most riders it’s perfect, and it’s our pick for the Best 500cc Class Utility ATV of 2011.

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