— POLARIS RZR 900 vs. CAN-AM TRAIL 1000 —
Polaris is celebrating its 10-year RZR anniversary, and the RZR 800 was the original 50-inch sport UTV. Can-Am has put a huge dent in Polaris’ UTV market share with the Maverick 1000R line and now the ever-expanding X3 Turbo line, but 2018 is BRP’s first entry into the 50-inch UTV category, which is popular because of extensive U.S. Forest Service 50-inch ATV trails across the country. Maverick Trails sport either a 51-horsepower 800cc or a 75-horsepower 976cc V-twin, so we got a Maverick Trail 1000 DPS and a RZR 900 EPS for the 2018 UTV Action 50-inch shootout.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2018?
The Maverick Trail 1000 and 800 are all new for 2018 with a heavy X3 design influence, and both come in a base model with EBS but without EPS and a DPS model with Tri-Mode EPS, unlocking rear diff and Eco/Sport power modes. We tested the base Trail 1000 in January 2018, the MT 800 DPS in April and the high-end Trail 1000 DPS in August.
Polaris invented the 50-inch UTV class with the original RZR 800 and upgraded to the 75-horsepower ProStar RZR 900 with the same cabin as the RZR XP 1000 for model-year 2015. The base RZR 900 makes 6.4 horsepower per 100 pounds but doesn’t sport EPS. The 900 EPS is one of the few RZRs with a bona fide engine-braking system, and it gets aluminum wheels and a faster-engaging front diff. For 2018, the 900 EPS comes in new Ti Metallic or White Lightning paint.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
Maverick Trails start at $10,999 for the base 800. The Trail 1000 and the Trail 800 DPS are $12,999, and the 1000 DPS is $14,799 or $14,899 in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country Camo. The Polaris RZR 900 starts at $12,999 and the 900 EPS is $14,799. The RZR 570 is $10,299, and the 570 EPS is $12,299. The Textron Wildcat Trail 700s start at $12,499, while the Wildcat Trail 700 LTD is $13,499. Honda’s Pioneer 500 is $8999, or $9599 in Honda Phantom Camo. Cub Cadet’s Challenger 400 4×4 is $7499. The single-seat Polaris Ace 570 EPS is $8999 and the Ace 500 is $6999.
So, not only do our Trail 1000 DPS and 900 EPS have the same $14,799 MSRP, they have the same engine output at 75 horsepower.
WHICH TRAIL UTV IS FASTER?
Both put out a claimed 75 horsepower, but the Polaris has a 10.6mm shorter stroke and more aggressive CVT tuning for quicker acceleration. The RZR is good for 70 mph in high and 39 mph in low, but it gets there quicker and has better yank out of turns. The RZR also weighs 188 pounds less than the Can-Am for a better power-to-weight ratio. We got 70 mph out of the Can-Am in high and 26 mph in low, so BRP clearly designed the Maverick Trail for tackling gnarly obstacles and technical trails.
WHAT ABOUT CVT AND 4X4 DELIVERY?
Can-Am takes this one. The Maverick Trail’s CVT engages more controllably in delicate rock crawling, and the four-wheel engine braking delivers more control on loose downhills than the RZR. Trails also share the high-end QRS-T transmission with X3s and have electronic CVT -belt protection. The Trail DPS’ sport/eco mode selector allows the driver to detune delivery for nasty conditions or to save fuel, and the unlocking rear diff is great for saving turf and tighter turning. With the RZR 900 EPS, the driver has to compensate with better throttle and braking control in technical terrain. On faster trails, the RZR is more fun to flick into corners; the On-Demand four-wheel drive’s rear-only engine braking helps set up drifts into turns. The RZR’s AWD system is more automatic, while the Can-Am DPS driver has to keep track of more with the 2WD/4WD, eco/sport and rear-diff toggles (base models only have 2WD/4WD). The Can-Am has a smoother range selector.
WHICH HANDLES TIGHT TRAILS BETTER?
Polaris. The RZR has a nimble 79-inch wheelbase and is 188 pounds lighter for quicker turning, while the Maverick Trail has an even longer wheelbase than the original Maverick 1000R at 90.6 inches. The Trail has a more sedate handling package to match the slow-revving engine, while the RZR’s handling matches its snappy power delivery. It’s easier to pick and change lines in the RZR, while the Maverick is more sure-footed on slick and technical terrain. Also, despite having a claimed 1-inch less ground clearance than the RZR, the Trail’s 26-inch Carlisle ACTs are taller than the 26-inch PXTs on the RZR, and the RZR dragged on rocks that the longer Can-Am cleared.
WHO HAS THE BETTER SUSPENSION?
This one is close, as both have basic HPG shocks and 10 inches of travel. The Can-Am has 36mm shocks with dual-rate springs and five-position preload, and rear travel is 10.5 inches. The Polaris has 10 inches of travel all around with ZF Sachs HPG shocks, progressive springs and five-position preload adjustment. Both have preload set on the softest setting, front and rear, and both have front and rear torsion bars. Also, both are tuned for a firm ride and to resist bottoming on water bars and other G-outs. While the ride over rocks and roots is harsh when compared to UTVs with more travel, the Can-Am has a better ride quality than the Polaris.
WHAT ABOUT ROCKS AND MUD?
Despite the twin torsion bars and short travel, both are good on rocky trails and articulate in extreme rock crawling. The Can-Am has an advantage in mud with half doors and better ground clearance, but the front tires sling mud into the cabin. The RZR’s quarter doors let more mud through on the sides.
WHICH HAS MORE CREATURE COMFORTS?
The Can-Am has 2 inches more legroom, and the driver’s seat has 5 inches of adjustment. The Trail 1000 DPS has nice half doors, which instill confidence, but the inner door-release levers are too far back for easy access. The flat doors also limit elbowroom, but the seats are comfortable and have great support. We like the Trail’s cabin storage and digital/analog instrument pod that rides on the steering column and tilts with the steering wheel. The steering wheel is on the thick side for some testers, and passengers had to reach for the non-adjustable panic bar. Engine noise is louder in the cabin than on the RZR, but the gated shifter is slicker than the one on the Polaris.
With the same-sized cabin as the XP1K, the RZR 900 has slightly more elbowroom, even with the flat quarter doors, which can be replaced with curved aftermarket XP1K doors for even more elbowroom and less roost in the cabin. The OEM quarter doors also let branches protrude into the cabin. The RZR’s seats aren’t as comfortable as the Can-Am’s, nor does the driver’s seat have as much adjustment. The seating position is higher, and it’s easier to see over the RZR’s hood than the Can-Am’s. The analog/digital instrument pod is old school and sits in the center of the dash, tilted towards the driver. Testers like the adjustable passenger T-bar better than the fixed Can-Am panic bar, but the flat RZR doors don’t have hand-holds like the Can-Am. The RZR’s large button latch is easier to reach and stronger than the 1000’s inner/outer lever. Also, the RZR has tabs welded on the cage for harnesses and drains in the floor for easy cleaning. Test riders had more trouble reaching for and extending the RZR seat belts than they did with the Can-Am.
WHAT ABOUT MAINTENANCE AND DURABILITY?
Can-Am designed Maverick Trails to go a year before requiring any maintenance, and the Donaldson-type air box is behind a cover over the gas cap. Undo two clips to remove the cover and three clasps to access the paper air filter. The coolant reservoir rides behind the cabin and between the seats, and the dipstick/engine-oil filler is easily accessible behind the gas cap. Trails share the Maverick X3 QRS-T transmission and electronic belt protector, and we’ve yet to burn a belt. Engine and CVT intakes ride on the bed rails and are filtered, and the rear torsion bar mounts have Zerk fittings for easy greasing. Also, Trails have a 2-inch receiver while RZRs have a 1.25-inch receiver, but both are rated to tow 1500 pounds.
The RZR 900 has a large L-shaped engine and air box cover in the bed, and the large paper air filter is accessed by pulling on two rubber tabs. The engine-oil filler rides on the valve cover, and the spark plugs are easier to access than the Can-Am V-twin’s plugs. Remove the hood panel to access the engine-coolant reservoir and accessory power strip. The RZR’s brake-fluid reservoir has a metal guard but is more vulnerable than the Maverick’s.
WHO HAS THE BETTER BRAKES?
This is another close one. The Can-Am has four dual-piston calipers with 220mm rotors, plus four-wheel EBS. Polaris also has dual-bore calipers on all four rotors, but the RZR’s engine-braking system only slows the rear tires, because it only engages the front diff when the rear tires spin faster than the front. The more technical and loose the conditions, the better the Can-Am works.
WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?
At one test session, we had experienced 4×4 ATV riders who were first-time UTVers. One liked the RZR better, and one liked the Maverick. Both UTVs have a lot of strong points but very different personalities. The RZR 900 Trail is very agile and has snappy power to match its handling. Polaris’ On-Demand all-wheel-drive system and engine-braking system add to the sporty feel, with compression braking slowing the rear tires to set up drifts into turns, especially down-hill switchbacks. It has a roomy cabin with an adjustable passenger T-bar but has an old-school instrument panel. It’s a lot of fun on most trails with a point-and-shoot personality via a short wheelbase.
As the trail gets more technical and gnarly, the Maverick Trail 1000 DPS shines brighter. The power delivery, CVT tuning and long-wheelbase handling are all more sedate and controllable than the flighty RZR. EBS slows all four tires on steep, slick hills, adding confidence. The half doors and deep-pocket seats add confidence as well, and the cockpit is much more modern with more storage and digital instruments. The eco/sport selector and rear-diff-lock option are only on DPS models, and they add to the overall package and effectiveness on the trail. There are also blanks in the dash for many of the 125 Trail accessories, and the one-year, maintenance-free design is also a strong selling point.
More test drivers voted for the RZR 900 EPS, because they liked to pitch it into turns, drive aggressively and put the RZR’s personality to full use. Now that the shootout is over, we’ll add XP1K doors to match the roof and mirrors. Those who like a slower pace and hit the trail more for the scenery and adventure will be perfectly happy with the Maverick Trail 1000 DPS and its more serious personality. The more adventurous the ride gets, the more you can depend on the Trail 1000.
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