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2012 Polaris RZR XP4 900

June 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Feature Articles, First Drive, Polaris, Tested

The New Polaris RZR XP4 900,
the way public transportation should be!

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It didn’t take long for the buzz to hit after Polaris launched the XP in January of last year. “When’s the 4-seater coming out?” is all we heard shortly after. In fact, it almost seemed that more people were interested in the four-seat variant of the radical XP900 than they were in the two-seater. Sales numbers sure show that there weren’t a whole lot of people waiting — unofficial rumors of sales have the RZR XP at over 35,000 units sold so far.

So what’s the big deal? Four people means more weight and length, meaning less performance, and therefore, less fun, right? Wrong. We love the RZR 4 800’s ability to keep all four occupants smiling like school children on picture day, and the XP turns those smiles into cheesy ear-to-ear grins. Is it really that much better than the 800? In one word, definitely.

POWER PLAYER
The XP 4 steps into the ring with a heavy right foot. The Prostar twin cylinder engine is very much like two 450cc ATV engines joined side by side. With 8 valves, two camshafts, and 875cc of thump, it’s the most powerful UTV engine on the market today. Can-Am’s 976cc V-twin in the Commander 1000 is its closest competition, but its lackluster throttle response leaves something to be desired, especially if you’ve ever driven an XP. At 85 horsepower, the Commander 1000 is 3 horsepower shy of the XP, despite its 101cc advantage.

The XP’s engine is smooth, fast, and angry — in stock trim, while quiet, it sounds like an angry bumble bee buzzing behind the seats. It revs high, changes speeds fast, and is just plain fun to drive. Heavy-footed drivers rejoice! The CVT transmission on the XP 4 also aids in the fun factor, and the reworked settings for the heavier XP 4 convey smoother off-the-line clutching and better backshift than the XP did the first time we drove it. Polaris also remapped the ECU, cleaning up the tune down low for a buttery smooth transition from low to mid throttle. It’s elegant and angry at the same time.

We haven’t gotten them together for a head-to-head yet, but we suspect the 4XP to be quicker than the Wildcat 1000 when weighed down with the same amount of passengers. It jumps off the line with authority, and pulls hard to well over 70 mph, even fully loaded.

When compared to Polaris’ 800 RZR 4, which sports an old-school pushrod 760cc parallel twin, the 4 XP is lightyears more advanced. The engine alone revs nearly 3,000 RPM higher than the old motor, and makes over 30 more horsepower. Throttle response is quicker, clutch engagement is smoother, and the engine’s durability has gone up as well.

The rear of the RZR XP 4 is the same with exception of the new Walker Evans Racing 2.5 body shocks that have a 35% larger piston and 35% more oil volume resulting in reduced pressure on the shock and less fade.

RIDING ON A CLOUD
With 13.5 inches of front suspension travel provided by dual A-arms and Walker Evans Racing 2.0” compression and preload-adjustable shocks, the front end of the RZR XP 4 tackles many obstacles you wouldn’t believe possible. Out back, its 3 link trailing arm system uses a very long, stout trailing arm pivoting from below the seats, with two smaller radius rods per side keeping track in check throughout the travel. The RZR 4 XP sports Walker Evans Racing 2.5” rear shocks that are compression and preload adjustable as well. They’re smooth on both ends, and resist bottoming well, even when loaded down with four people. We went in four clicks on compression in the back, and three up front. This helped out with bottoming without sacrificing much ride quality.

Through the whoops, the longer wheelbase of the XP 4 (up 24 inches from the standard XP) helps soak up the deep rollers without issue. Its suspension isn’t as plush and comfortable as the Wildcat’s, but it will give the cat a run for its money in rough situations. The extra 3.5 inches of suspension up front and four in the back of the Wildcat play a big roll in the comfort factor, but the RZP 4 XP exhibits less body roll than the Arctic Cat. And when power counts, the XP’s quick throttle response and extra horsepower help keep it floating. We didn’t experience any fade with the shocks in our testing.

ON RAILS
Normally, you’d expect a machine of this length and heft to handle like, well, a schoolbus. The 4 XP will surprise you there as well. The LE model, with its Maxxis Bighorn tires, bites well on initial turn-in and holds a line very smoothly, with power oversteer easily accessible via your right foot. The base model’s ITP tires push on hardpack and don’t like sand at all, so unless you drive on tacky, damp dirt all the time, we would recommend swapping them out. The LE’s electronic power steering (EPS) system is a blessing as well, especially when it comes to squelching bump steer. Loaded to the hilt with maximum occupants and cargo, the EPS model steers easily and without drama even in low-speed 4WD situations. If you’re going to buy a 4 XP, spring for the LE model. Body roll is a little prevalent on the 4 XP, more so than the 2-seat XP, even when unloaded.

COMFORT and FEATURES
Ride quality is great, and it will hold a slide for about as long as you keep your foot in it! Just like the XP, the 4 has a 300 lb bed capacity, with a hinged door in the bottom of the bed that allows you to easily access the airbox and engine. We would recommend screwing a cable tether to the door, as we have had ours come off and get lost in testing on the two-seater. With the bed loaded and four people in the cab, the 4 XP remains a remarkably fun ride and will keep you smiling long after you stop.

Speaking of stopping, the RZR’s quadruple disc brake setup with twin-piston calipers at each wheel make slowing down an easy task. The brakes feel plenty powerful enough to stop the RZR on the steepest of hills when fully loaded, and they don’t start barking at you when they get hot, either. The RZR 4 XP’s cab is identical to the 800 4, and the seats, dash, speedometer, switches; belts, nets, and steering wheel are the same across the entire RZR line. The RZR is due for an interior refresh, as the Teryx 4 and Commander have long surpassed the RZR’s fit and finish and interior quality. The RZR is plain and simple, with not much to look at and seats that lack the support that the chassis begs for. We recommend a solid set of buckets and harnesses for your RZR 4 XP. You’ll be much happier that way!

POUNDING SAND
After our first initial testing with Polaris in the desert surrounding Parker, Arizona a group of editors thought it would be a good idea to run the new XP 4 in the sand dunes of Glamis, California.  The dunes are a great departure from the typical desert or mountain area we ride in, with a wide open riding area not constrained by a trail adds a sense of freedom to your adventure and add a unique level of challenges for drivers.

Located on the rails of the RZR XP 4 is a handy flag mount.

With our Bighorns aired down to 7psi, our group of five XP 4 900’s hit the sand to get a gritty taste of what this new beast has to offer.  Starting off in the smaller dunes you are immediately impressed with its cornering prowess, carving through the tight, twisty dunes at speeds similarly matched its XP two-seat counterpart.  Transitioning into larger sweeping dunes we get our first glimpse at how the XP 4 handles itself in the power robbing sand.  The power, despite the extra weight, is impressive and only the original XP 900 be concerned with any other side-by-side stealing its “king of the sand” crown.  Actually, after driving the two back to back we prefer the XP 4 to the XP.  The XP 4 instills confidence while cresting over large transitions and nerves are at rest while driving through slower sidehilling situations.  While the XP 4 matches the XP in power delivery, it’s not as easy to turn in the sand with throttle assistance like the XP.  But overall, we prefer the 4’s ability to stay on track while on the gas.  For us, the RZR XP 4 900 will attract many families who enjoy a weekend at the dunes.

WRAPPING IT ALL UP
Do yourself a favor — don’t look at the price tag just yet. We know it’s expensive, and frankly, it may be too expensive for some. But considering how much fun you get in this package, we find ourselves contemplating a purchase. It’s that much fun! Anywhere you go, you’ll be laughing and smiling. The way the RZR XP 4 handles rough terrain with a cab full of people is just astonishing, and it’s lightyears ahead of where we were as an industry 5-6 years ago. It does everything you will dream of and it does it well.  In a nutshell, it’s the most fun 4 people can have for this amount of money, in our eyes anyway!

SPECIFICATIONS:
Engine
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-Stroke DOHC, Twin Cylinder
Displacement: 875cc
Fuel System: Electronic Fuel Injection, 2 x 46mm throttle bodies
Bore x Stroke; 93.0mm x 64.4mm
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Drivetrain
Transmission: Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft
Drive System: On-Demand True AWD/2WD
Suspension
Front Suspension:  Dual A-Arm Walker Evans 2” body (comp adjust/res.) 13.5” (34.3 cm) Travel
Rear Suspension:  Trailing Arm Walker Evans 2.5” body (comp adjust/res.) 14” (35.6 cm) Travel
Brakes
Front/Rear Brakes:  4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front Calipers
Parking Brake: Park in Transmission
Tires & Wheels
Front Tires/ Rear Tires:  27 x 9-12; Maxxis Bighorn/ 27 x ll-12; Maxxis Bighorn
Wheels:  Cast Aluminum
Dimensions/Capacities
Wheelbase: 107.4” ( 272.8 cm)
Dry Weight: 1,390 lbs. (631.8 kg)
Overall Vehicle Size:
(L x W x H) 134.4” x 64” x 77” (341.4 x 162.6 x 195.6 cm)
Ground Clearance: 12.5” (31.75 cm)
Fuel Capacity: 7.25 Gal (27.4 LTR.)
Bed Box dimensions:
(L x W x H) 23 x 38 x 10”
(58.4 x 96.5 x 25.4)
Box Capacity: 300 LB. (136.1 KG)
Payload Capacity: 900 lb (408.2 kg)
Features
Cargo System: Lock & Ride
Lighting: White LED, High/Low
Electronic: Power
Steering: (EPS) Yes (LE)
Instrumentation: Digital Gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Tripmeter, Hour Meter, Clock, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi-Temp/Low-Batt Lights, Coolant Temp, DC Outlets (2)
Colors: Indy Red, Liquid Silver LE
MSRP: $17,999$19,499 (LE)

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