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For years, UTV manufacturers have been blurring the lines between pickup trucks and purpose-built off-road vehicles. waiting for newPolaris Ranger XD 1500to make the line more blurred. After nearly seven years in development, Polaris is touting this new Ranger as the workhorse of its lineup, which makes sense considering it has more horsepower and torque than we thought a UTV would.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a few hours driving the new Ranger XD 1500 through a variety of terrain at the historic Three Forks Ranch on the Colorado/Wyoming border. Here is my honest review of the new machine after taking a beating in the high desert.
Polaris Ranger XD 1500 Overview
The XD 1500 improves on nearly every aspect of the Ranger platform.Travis Smoura
- weight:2,800 lbs (3 seats)
- aspect:137” x 64” x 78”
- engine:1498cc four-stroke DOHC three-cylinder
- spread:automatic steel transmission
- horsepower:110 CV
- Torque:105 foot pounds
- Floor Clarity:15 inches
- Payload Capacity:1,705 lbs
- Towing capacity:3500 lbs
- Unparalleled Horsepower and Torque
- incredible ground clearance
- surprisingly smooth ride
- Enhanced components
- Ample legroom and driver comfort
- Significant weight increase compared to XP models
The Ranger XD 1500 doesn't look too different from Polaris' standard XP 1000 model. XD stands for "Extreme Service". It has the same width and about the same height. But the new machines are longer and heavier. Honestly, I couldn't see much of a difference in size until I saw the XP and XD side by side. The XD basically looks like a beefed-up Ranger. The A-arm suspension, shocks, tires, bumpers and lathe are all oversized on the XD 1500.
The new steel belt drive is designed to require little or no maintenance.Travis Smoura
Polaris' 1500cc four-stroke engine has been greatly upped in power, delivering 110 horsepower. The machine has 105 foot-pounds of torque and is equipped with a new "Steeldrive" transmission. Polaris chooses steel straps instead of rubber to eliminatemost maintenancein the path.
The new Ranger now has truck-like directional air control.Travis Smoura
Another major highlight is the recently redesigned enclosed cab and HVAC system. Such systems are not new for the Ranger. The company has been offering this feature for years. For the first time, however, you get five different airflow settings, just like in a van or car. Polaris also added a recirculation unit that sucks and recycles air through the cabin rather than outside. Helps further seal the cabin from the elements.
Reasons I love the Polaris Ranger XD 1500
The standard Ranger XD 1500 has an open cab and mesh doors.Travis Smoura
I have driven nearly every UTV in the Polaris lineup at some point. I honestly don't think Polaris can improve the handling of their Ranger platform any better than what they already have, especially considering everything on the 1500 is bigger than the XP 1000. I was wrong.
Hitting the accelerator at 1500 miles is quite a surprise no matter what drive mode you set it to. Unsurprisingly, the new engine gives this Ranger more power than the 1000. But at the same time, the driving experience is also somewhat smoother. I'd be comparing it to their generic "crossover" platform, not to the standard Ranger model in terms of equipment.
Every aspect of the new Ranger's suspension has been vastly improved.Travis Smoura
I wasn't too surprised by the new Ranger's suspension, as I've been a longtime fan of the Polaris suspension system. Thanks to the 15 inches of ground clearance, it literally soaks up every rut, rock and pothole with ease. The 30-inch tires go a long way toward overcoming obstacles. These tires are beasts. They help the machine float easily over rocky terrain without hearing anything hit the skids.
The new tires on the Ranger 1500 are big and have a lot of ground clearance.Travis Smoura
Although the machine has much larger tires than other Ranger products, the power steering works effortlessly. This UTV has a much tighter turning radius than previous models I have driven. During the test, we had to climb up and down a steep rocky hill at an elevation of more than 7,500 feet. That's where Hill-Up Assist and Hill-Descent Control come into play. When climbing a slope, take your foot off the accelerator and the vehicle will automatically stop. I tested it on my descent and it worked really well. It's a nice little safety and peace of mind feature for more technically challenging hills.
Polaris Cab Systems
The interior is slightly roomier than the standard Polaris XP 1000.Travis Smoura
The Polaris Polaris Edition has always featured the enclosed cockpit system. With the 1500, Polaris has redesigned everything and the seals seem to be better than ever. Even after a long day of driving in dusty conditions, the cab of the machine he was driving had barely anything in it. I can't remember the last time I drove off-road and didn't get dirty. 1500 is an exception. Combine that with an excellent heating and air conditioning system and you have an extremely comfortable ride. In fact, I didn't realize how hot it was outside until I got out of the cab to engage in other activities.
While I feel like the standard XP 1000 already has a decent amount of legroom, I'm glad to see that the 1500 has only slightly more room. This is great news for someone like me who is at least 6 feet tall. Add an impressive new JBL sound system and full integration with Polaris' Drive Command Display feature, and it's the complete package. He wanted to put a license plate on the thing and drive it back to Michigan. It was roomier and more comfortable than the airplane seat I had to put up with when I got home the next day.
Ride Command is the central information center for the Ranger 1500.Travis Smoura
Almost everything on this Ranger has been redesigned, even the push-open front windows. It's even easier to operate now, and if you don't want to turn on the air conditioner, it can be locked in the half-open position with just a slit for better airflow. Even doors open and close more smoothly.
Haulage and Accessories
The new, larger bed box holds plenty of gear and accessories.Travis Smoura
Polaris redesigned all accessories for the Ranger 1500 and fully loaded the bed to showcase its capabilities. From gun cases to various hand tool holders, they can meet your work and play needs. The 3,500-pound towing capacity is amazing. Polaris added a plug on the rear deck to easily connect sprinklers or other accessories. I think it's a popular machine for plowing fields.
The accessory system for the new Ranger is fully customizable.Travis Smoura
For hunters, I discovered a unique new feature when using the ride command system. Polaris has added a feature that allows you to viewtracking cameraPhotos are displayed on the machine's 7-inch screen. Speaking of Ride Command, I also appreciate the ability to send text messages to other machines in the group. I'm not sure if this is a new feature, but it's a solid way to stay in touch while hunting, especially in places where there's no cell signal.
What I don't like about the Polaris Ranger XD 1500
During nearly five hours of driving, I had few issues with the 1500.Travis Smoura
In fact, 1500 doesn't have too many problems. I did have major issues with this machine's front and rear backup cameras. Both stopped working completely during testing, apparently for no real reason. I will give Polaris some leeway, since the machine we drove was a pre-production model. Some still have some kinks to work out.
Effortless shifting is another big selling point of this machine from Polaris. It can be moved with one finger, according to a Polaris engineer who attended the event. It's much smoother than the XP 1000, but I find the one-finger claim to be a bit of an exaggeration. While it's not a stiff shifter by any means, it's not all that easy to get into gear either.
I like the power windows on this machine, but I wish the controls were on the doors instead of the center console. It could be a matter of simple wiring, but the window controls don't feel right in the middle of the dash. I have to look for them every time I open a window.
Extreme Duty seems to be upping the ante on all things Ranger, including price.Travis Smoura
It's a minor gripe, but the machine is a bit heavier due to the sturdier components. Compared to the XP 1000, the difference is only a few hundred pounds. While that's not a huge change, it might be enough that some people's trailers can no longer haul it.
In the end, the fully equipped Northstar model is up nearly $12,000 over the XP 1000. We knew the uptick was necessary given the material costs involved. But $40,000 to $50,000 might be too much for the stomach.
Polaris Ranger XD 1500: Final Thoughts
The Ranger XD 1500 may be the best driving UTV Polaris ever made.Travis Smoura
Of all the Polaris I've driven over the years, the Ranger XD 1500 is probably my favorite, and it's not what I'd expect from a larger, work-focused machine. Expect many future Polaris competitors to take some cue from this machine. It's easy to see that the design took seven years, as there's little here that the engineers hadn't thought of beforehand. Considering the size of everything on this machine, I'm surprised it's the smoothest UTV I've ever driven, even when you switch the drive mode from Comfort to Sport. Polaris has truly produced a machine that works and functions.
For more information, seePolaris Off-Road Website。
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