Polaris has raised the bar again, answering to the UTV world's pleading requests for a 4 seat version of the RZR XP 900. For the first weekend of the new year, Polaris invited us out to Parker, AZ to watch the opening round of Best in The Desert Parker 250 race, and to get our first experience with the highly anticipated RZR XP 4 900. Polaris debuted their new XP 4, entering a Jagged X built racer in the Sportsman UTV class. The Jagged X build was kept as stock as possible, while meeting BITD’s strict safety regulations and restrictions. The Jagged X build includes everything needed to be competitive/legal right down to the radios, GPS, etc., and is available at a very obtainable kit price with a retail of 10K.
The Jagged X drivers managed to keep the new 4 seater in a top three position overall for nearly half the race, before a flat tire dropped them out of contention for the win. Even after miles of driving on a flat, the Jagged XP4 finished a respectable 3rd in the sportsman UTV class and tenth overall.
While most of the other editors were hanging out watching the racers beat themselves through the rugged 250 mile course, I decided to take it a few steps further. I decided to enter ATV World test rider Beau Baron and myself in the Pro ATV class. The course proved to be brutally rough and was sure to be a great test of the XP 4's suspension and handling characteristics. We pulled off a 2nd place finish which is a great way to start off the BITD season.
With the stresses of the race out of the way, we were able to relax on Sunday with growing anticipation for Monday's XP 4 ride day. Sunday night, Polaris had a release party and technical presentation at the ride spot location, with our first hands-on look at the stock XP 4 and XP 4 LE performance UTVs. The new RZR XP 4 900 features the same 88 HP Pro Star Engine as the 2 seater, as well as the 3 link trailing arm rear suspension kit with 12.5"s of ground clearance and 14 inches of wheel travel. Where the new XP 4 900 differs is by coming standard with new Premium Walker Evans shocks. The rear shocks feature an industry first, 2.5" body and look absolutely massive.
Monday morning we arrived early a.m. at the ride site for a safety presentation and our first hands-on XP 4 experience. The first ride was an organized trail ride, featuring twenty miles of the brutal Parker race course as well as the less abusive Cienega Springs trail through a scenic 1800s mining area. Polaris had brought out EPS equipped LE models for all the media to drive, and the EPS proved to be a huge asset as we found ourselves navigating up a very rocky riverbed in the first few miles of our ride.
As the ride continued, I really got comfortable with the new, longer XP 4 and started to push it harder. The power steering is amazing, as is the additional wheelbase. The longer wheelbase really helps the RZR XP 4 in the whoops. The new 4 seat XP is every bit as capable as the whoop swallowing 2 seat version; if not, even better. We tried driving and riding the RZR XP 4 solo, as well as with one, two and three passengers. The car is a blast to drive solo or with a passenger; with the rear seats empty, you hardly even realize that you’re not in a 2 seater. Even with the additional 200 pounds, the XP 4 probably accelerates quicker than any other side, including its two seat brother. That said, the best part of having those two seats in the rear is that you can fill them with two more friends, family, etc.
With four passengers in the XP 4, it is still a blast to drive. While you definitely know that you are carrying some extra weight, the XP4 does an amazing job as the performance family wagon. The 900 Prostar engine still churns out plenty of power to rip through sand dunes, climb hills, and blast up sand washes. Exploring the small dune area next to our ride area proved that the RZR XP 4 was a capable flier, even with a full load of passengers.
After prying the steering wheel out of my hands, I decided to experience a back seat ride. The back seats are the same comfortable buckets that you find in the front. While there was sufficient leg room for my 6 foot 200 pound frame, if you were much taller you would probably find yourself fighting for a front seat. Luckily, if you’re that big you probably won't find many people wanting to wrestle you for it. The back seat features a full length grab bar that is always within reach for safety, and you even get your own cup holders and 12 volt accessory plug.
As we found ourselves back on the incredibly rough Parker 250 course, I did find a slight shortcoming. While the XP 4 is designed and ready to take on extremely rough terrain, the set up on the very impressive looking new shocks seems to be a little less than perfect. While driver preference could drastically affect this opinion, the new Walker Evan front shocks seemed to exhibit a little harsher ride than the FOX boingers found on the XP 2 seater. Even more noticeable was the rear shocks tendency to blow through the travel, bottoming out when hitting g outs or square edged bumps after they get hot. This bottoming was only evident after the oil heated up from abusive use, but it was even noticeable without the extra weight of rear passengers. While not everyone complained or even noticed this shock trait, it was more evident the harder you pushed the car.
While the average RZR XP 4 owner may never push their car that hard, if it does become an issue, the Walker Evans shocks are completely adjustable and rebuildable. While we have not yet tried to have our Walker Evans shocks revalved, I have personally tested the XP 4 900 with a set of ELKA shocks, and they were plusher up front and bottoming was not an issue with the rear.
As we mentioned before, the longer 107.4" wheelbase improves handling in the whoops, making it an awesome desert car. The XP 4 still has an industry leading 12.5 inches of ground clearance, but you will notice that the longer wheelbase makes it much more susceptible to casing out over steep transitions such as curbs or the top of a steep climb. This is purely due to the amount of space between the front and rear tires, and is just something to get used to when driving the new, longer four seater. The 64" wide stance and low center of gravity allow the XP 4 to be unbelievably stable in the turns. Very little body roll and Polaris sway bars allow for very aggressive turning. We could hammer the four seat version hard into a corner with the same confidence as if we were in the 2 seat version. While obviously, the longer wheelbase will create a larger turning radius, it is surprisingly, not that noticeable. I might even go as far as saying that I'm interested in testing its turning radius against the new 2 seat Wildcat from Arctic Cat, as I think it might be pretty close.
After our trail session was over, I tried out the standard non EPS XP 4 900 for comparison sake. While you may not realize how well the EPS works while you are driving it, you immediately miss it when it’s not there. A twenty minute loop in the non EPS model was probably as tiring as our entire morning ride in the EPS equipped model. In my opinion, if you are in the market for one of these new machines, I wouldn't scrimp on the EPS. It is definitely worth the extra dough.
As a four seat adventure buggy, the XP 4 900 is proving to be pretty amazing, with plenty of power, and capable of getting you anywhere you want to go. We have had our test unit at home for close to a month now, and with over 500 trouble free miles on it, I have nothing but props to give Polaris. In my opinion, the XP 4 handles like a 60k off-road buggy but meets the needs of the masses with a price tag of less than 20k. The XP 4 900 will prove to be an amazing UTV for anyone that purchases one, and I'm sure that Polaris will sell a ton of them.