— WHICH POLARIS SHOULD YOU GET? —
Polaris is bumping the rev limiter, creating new UTVs and UTV categories, so much so that we haven’t had time to test them all or shoot out all of the choices available in those categories. While we await the 2018 Polaris UTVs, let’s back up to two all-new machines created in 2016 and compare the 2017 versions. For 2016, Polaris created the RZR S 1000 and immediately blended it with a Ranger XP to create the General 1000. We were stoked with both 2016s but never got a chance to shoot them out. We can answer that question now. Which is a better all-around mount, the Ride Command General 1000 EPS LE or the RZR S 1000 EPS?
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017?
The 2016 General 1000 was available in three trim packages: Base, Premium and Deluxe. The General returns in five 2017 packages, and the Base gets CST Clincher rubber on 12-inch steel rims. Premium Generals get a new White Lightning color scheme, while the Deluxe gets new Titanium Matte Metallic, and all but the Base get Maxxis Coronado tires on black-aluminum 14-inch wheels. These three all get a $300 price increase. New for 2017, the Ride Command LE gets the same MTX eight-speaker sound bar, Fox Podium X 2.0 QS3 shocks, 4500-pound winch, low-profile front bumper, roof and convex rear-view mirror as the Deluxe, plus the revolutionary Ride Command technology with 7-inch touchscreen display introduced on the 2016 RZR XP 1000. The fifth star in the General line is the new Hunter Edition in Polaris Pursuit Camo and Premium-level trim package.
In review, the General 1000 has a 100-horsepower engine from the RZR S 1000, plus RZR S suspension and width, drivetrain and rolling stock, but Generals have a 2-inch-longer wheelbase, boat-style upswept chassis for more ground clearance, dual torsion bars, a tilting bed with folding tailgate, an all-new dash with cubby holes and an analog/digital instrument panel that tilts with the steering wheel. The General also has an all-new CVT clutch with engine-braking system, new belt, and revised pedal map for smoothness and heavy lifting. Like the RZR S 1000, the General sports 12.25 inches of front travel and13.2 inches of rear travel.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
The base General MSRP is $16,299 ($300 more than 2016). The Premium version is $17,799. The Deluxe goes for $20,299, and the Hunter Edition is $18,999, while the Ride Command Limited Edition is $21,499. The RZR S 1000 is $17,999. Can-Am’s 85-horsepower Commander 1000 DPS is $14,599. XTs go for $16,199 to $16,999, and the top-shelf Limited is $20,699. Arctic Cat wants $15,299 for its Prowler XT 1000 EPS, and the 72-horsepower Can-Am Defender HD10 DPS is $15,299 to $16,099, while XT HD10s fetch $17,899 to $23,899.
Right off the bat the Indy Red, Stealth Black or Spectra Orange RZR S 1000 EPS is most comparable with the White Lightning Premium General EPS, which comes with a standard winch, and is still $200 less. Our Black Pearl Ride Command LE is $3500 more, of which $1500 is the Ride Command system, plus $200 for the cameras and $300 for the display RZR mount. That leaves $1500 for a roof ($300–$430), lower doors ($400), front bumper ($180–$300), winch ($450–$750) and/or sound bar ($650).
We hope that the RZR S 1000 EPS and a lot of other Polaris UTVs have Ride Command Editions for 2018.
WHICH 1000 IS FASTER?
The RZR S 1000. Not only is there a 309-pound difference between the RC LE General and S 1000, but the General has a much longer intake tract that’s ducted to under the hood, and it has a different throttle map for the EFI. The RZR S hits harder and sooner and has serious yank. The General is fast and hits hard enough to make the transmission whine, but the RZR S hits harder and accelerates to top speed faster. Also, the General has a lower low ratio, and the CVT is tuned for more low-to-mid grunt than all-out speed. We topped out the RZR S at 71 mph high and 40 mph low, while the General tops out at 70 mph in high and 36 mph in low.
WHAT ABOUT THE CVT/AWD DELIVERY?
While almost identical in part numbers, they couldn’t be anymore different. The RZR S has a snappy CVT engagement to match the EFI throttle map and agile handling. It’s a bit twitchy in delicate rock-crawling situations and is more prone to pedal-flutter in chop, but it’s preferable when it’s hammer-dropping time. By contrast, the General engages more slowly and smoothly, and it has a slightly lower low range. The General gives up a half length out of the hole and more on top in drag races, but, overall, it’s more predictable in most conditions. The AWD system is identical on both, including an Engine Braking System helix, which helps set up drifts in turns, but it only slows the rear wheels on steep hills.
WHICH HANDLES BETTER?
The RZR S is way more agile. We couldn’t believe the difference that 309 pounds and 2 inches of wheelbase make. On tight, root- and rock-infested trails, the RZR flicks from turn to turn and changes lines quicker and easier. That agility turns into skittishness on faster, deep-sand trails. We backed off of shock compression four clicks (from 7 out to 11) to smooth out the ride at higher speeds. The General is much more stable at speed, yet it still turns well on tight, twisty trails. It has a much more solid feel at all times, especially at high trail speeds on loose soil. It also drifts well, with the EBS slowing the rear Coronados in AWD or 2WD, whereas the RZR S wanted AWD all the time in deep sand. Otherwise, it wanted to turn when we wanted to go straight.
HOW ABOUT THE 2.0 SUSPENSION?
We prefer the RZR S 1000. While both share identical dual-A-arm front and rear suspension and overall travel (12.25-inch front and 13.2-inch rear), Polaris went with easier-to-adjust Fox Podium 2.0 QS3 shocks on the General and Walker Evans Racing 2.0 needle shocks on the RZR S 1000 with 24-position compression adjusters. The RZR S WER shocks are tuned more for performance and have more adjustment, giving it the suspension performance edge. The General has more need of: front and rear torsion bars to better fight body roll. It needs them, because the higher seating position creates more weight transfer under hard cornering, braking and acceleration than the low-slung RZR.
WHICH HAS STRONGER BRAKES?
The RZR S 1000. It has dual-piston calipers at all four wheels, while the General only has twin-puck front calipers. So, not only does the RZR S have more braking power, it has 309 pounds less vehicle weight to scrub. Both have 27-inch tires; the RZR has GBC Dirt Commanders on 12-inch rims, and the General has Maxxis Coronados on 14-inch rims. The GBCs are more aggressive.
WHICH RULES ROCKS, MUD AND SNOW?
The General. Both have similar ground clearance, with the RZR having a 1/2-inch advantage at 12.5 inches. It also only has more shock settings for a little better articulation in rocks. The General has more damping to overcome in rocks, but it also has a lower low, a 2-inch-longer wheelbase for stability and half doors for confidence. It also has a higher seat than the RZR by 2 inches to read terrain. Half doors and a standard roof give the General a clear advantage in keeping mud and snow out of the cabin, and the lower low works better in mud. We put 29-inch tires on our General, and it turns them with authority.
WHAT ABOUT CREATURE COMFORTS?
The General demotes the RZR S to Sargent. While both have similar tilt steering, floor pans, dead pedals and seats, the General has a better and easier-to-read instrument cluster (plus Ride Command screen), more storage, more elbowroom, half doors and a roof. The General also has a higher seating position, which makes it easier to get in and out of, and it is quieter in the cabin. The RZR S doesn’t have the fenders of the General, so it flings mud under the quarter doors and into the cab. The General’s tilt bed holds twice as much cargo and makes basic engine maintenance easier; however, we like the RZR’s more-adjustable Walker Evans needle shocks and their ride quality over the limited adjustments of the General’s Fox Podium QS3 shocks.
WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
We were huge fans of the RZR S 1000 EPS and General 1000 EPS in 2016, and we’re even bigger fans of the 2017 Ride Command General LE today. The RZR S 1000 is a great tight-woods and mountain machine that can also do dunes, and its Walker Evans shock package is more widely adjustable than the General’s Fox QS3 shocks. It’s more sporty and faster in whoops, too, and the price is a definite advantage. If you ride in muddy conditions, prepare to buy a roof and lower doors, as the RZR half doors let in roost. The General is a tad slower and not quite as agile, but it more than makes up for its heft with much better cabin comfort and overall stability, and the Ride Command system is icing on the cake. We’d like to see the WER RZR S shocks on the General for a better, faster ride more like the RZR’s. Regardless, we pick the General for most rides.