When an athlete excels at many facets of their sport, often they’ll be called a “natural.” In the Side x Side world, the one model that is a true superstar at its position and can be called a “natural” is the Polaris Ranger XP 800. Like recent baseball Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, it’s not the lightest, fastest, or most powerful, but as a package it’s outstanding and a true all-star.
There are several variations of the Ranger 800, but all Rangers share a common chassis platform and key features such as IRS, adjustable front A-arms, a tough dump box, bench seating for three, huge storage, and even a central tow hook and tie down points. They also share one other key feature: the ride is fantastically smooth. Think better than your truck smooth (or at least ours). To further improve handling, the Ranger XP 800 can be had with Electronic Power Steering. Polaris also spent a huge amount of time perfecting the ergonomics for both weekend warriors and workers. The Ranger 800 offers comfy bench seating for three, good leg room and splash protection, massive storage, both under the seat and on the dash, and tilt steering. The shifting and parking brake are on the dash also. Seat belts and side nets keep you safely inside, and from the driver’s seat, the Ranger 800 is a joy to drive.
The Ranger XP 800 engine is a liquid cooled, 760cc High Output, EFI equipped, twin cylinder engine capable of towing 2000 pounds. Engine noise is kept to a minimum thanks to a large muffler at the rear, and even though the engine is under the seat, it’s possible to have a normal conversation as you cruise to the hunting camp. Cast aluminum wheels come stock on the XP model and they both look great and are extremely strong while the stock Ranger 800 gets stamped steel wheels. The only thing we really didn’t appreciate on the Ranger 800 was the oil filter location; although the air filter is easily found under the tilting cargo bed.
Like a true all-star, it’s hard to find any fault in the Ranger’s game. It fits the needs of the average hunter, homeowner, and hard working recreational rider perfectly, and it does it with little effort. It truly is a “natural” and the Polaris Ranger XP 800 is our pick for the best Recreation Class Side x Side of 2012.