UTV TEST: Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS
Polaris’ flagship RZR XP 1000 is back and better than ever! Most anyone who’s driven one will agree that the XP 1000 is an amazing machine and has more than earned its spot at the top of its class. How could one possibly improve the bestselling, best-performing, and best-handling UTV to ever hit the dirt?
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2015?
The 2014 XP 1000 was a complete and total success. Polaris took a class-/ industry-leading machine, the XP 900, and gave it a stronger chassis, longer wheelbase, more suspension travel and a huge power boost. Well-thought-out accessory integration was another huge improvement over any previous UTV, from Polaris or otherwise. The key powered accessory buss bar alone has saved us hours upon hours of garage time over the past year. Instead of reinventing the nearly perfect “wheel,” Polaris refined the original.
The XP 1000 had very few weaknesses its first year. The breakage prone CV axles and ball joints from the 900 were upgraded with beefier parts, and they proved a whole lot more durable. The skimpy, ATV-sized, 10mm wheel studs were upgraded to a much more UTV-appropriate 12mm size. The one area that didn’t really see any improvement was the clutch belt. The 2014 XP 1000 used the exact same belt and clutch components as the lighter weight, lower-horsepower XP 900, the only difference being clutch tuning with weights, springs, etc. Many XP 1000 owners experienced belt failures, and while it is considered a consumable part, nobody enjoys lying under a hot machine changing a clutch belt in the desert or dunes.
It has been determined that the number-one enemy of clutch-belt life is excessive heat. Many racers and aftermarket builders were successfully adding electric blower systems and ductwork to keep the XP 1000 clutches cool. Polaris wasn’t happy about its flagship machine needing help from the aftermarket to keep its core customers happy, so Polaris engineers designed a new CVT cover with ducting that draws in additional air to cool the clutch system. This new cover and ducting comes stock on the 2015 model in conjunction with a new and improved clutch belt and secondary helix. This new clutch cover drastically reduces clutch temperatures and is an easy upgrade for the 2014 model.
The other area of improvement is power. While the XP1K was already clearly the fastest production UTV around, who doesn’t want more power and torque? Polaris bumped up the compression ratio, tweaked the cams, and installed bigger valve springs to create an additional 3 horsepower over the 107-horsepower 2014 model. In order to keep up with changing emissions regulations, the EFI system has been big deal, anyone who’s spent time in the ’14 models has probably experienced the temperamental glove box opening and spilling contents all over the floorboard. This new latch is much more secure. The Walker Evans needle shocks have also been re-tuned for an even better ride and increased durability.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
It’s not cheap. At a hair over 20 grand, it is more expensive than any naturally aspirated Can-Am or the Wildcat X model. That said, you do get what you pay for, and we believe the XP1K will run circles around the competition in most terrain. The XP1K is $20,299, and the XP1K Fox Edition is $22,999. The base Maverick 1000 is $16,299; the DPS X rs is $18,799; the DS DPS is $19,499; and the Turbo is $22,099–$22,999. The Wildcat 1000 EPS is $16,499; the 1000X EPS is $18,799; and the X LTD is $20,699. Each major brand of UTV has its sweet spots where it works great, but as a whole, the XP1K is just a bad dude.
HOW FAST IS THE PROSTAR 1000?
The XP 1000 is fast; it was fast last year, and it’s even faster for 2015. It’s way faster than any Wildcat model, off the bottom and continuing up to a higher top speed. The XP will also pull any Can-Am, except the new Turbo, and it’s really not that far off of that one, either. In a flat-terrain drag race, in sand and without paddles, the two jump out almost exactly even, and the Turbo Can-Am will start pulling slightly ahead at about 80 to 100 feet out. Shooting the hill is a pretty similar situation, except that there were whoops at the base of Oldsmobile, and the XP1K can eat the Can-Am alive in any serious whoops. If the run-in is smooth, the Turbo will pull a few car lengths up Oldsmobile. But, if it’s hammered, the XP can get a pretty good jump on the Maverick before it ever hits the hill.
The upgraded 2015 motor got higher compression pistons, bigger valve springs, new camshaft specs, and Can-Am tweaked the fuel curve to reach 110 horsepower. That 110 number is after adding the EPA-mandated catalytic converter that we’re pretty sure is not helping to build horsepower. We don’t think it would be a stretch to say that engine/exhaust builders will be able to find a little more horsepower with a new exhaust and some more tuning work.
WHAT ABOUT THE CVT/AWD DELIVERY?
The CVT delivery on the XP1K has impressed us from the beginning. Power builds right off the bottom and continues to pull all the way through the power curve. Racing WORCS and other similar races, the clutching and power are optimized perfectly for hitting any of the bigger jumps. On an ATV or dirt bike, a track guy can really appreciate good third-gear roll-on power: squaring up for a jump, rolling in third and being able to lay into it hard enough to clear anything on the track. The XP1K’s clutching exhibits a similar feel: cruising along at a track pace, you can lay into it and conquer just about anything.
The AWD delivery is another highlight of the XP1K. While certain people will remain hung up on the lack of a true switchable diff-lock, the Polaris AWD system provides amazingly usable traction exactly when you need it most. There are many online videos showing the advantages of a locked diff on super-rocky obstacles or in extreme mud, but this machine is a completely different animal. The XP1K, with 16 and 18 inches of travel, is built to be driven hard and fast over any terrain. The beauty of AWD, especially when paired with EPS, is that you can leave it engaged for any driving, at any speed. It freewheels when not needed, so it won’t hamper performance. Yet, as soon as you loose traction, it is there to assist. This is especially evident in loamy or rutted turns. With AWD activated, the XP1K front end will pull you through the turns much faster than you could ever slide around them in 2WD. As for the rocky, nasty terrain, we have yet to find very many obstacles that the XP1K fits through but can’t conquer.
HOW AGILE IS THE HANDLING?
The XP1K handles high-speed desert terrain like it was bred for it. The steering is very precise and front-end push of any kind is very minimal. The one negative handling trait of the stock XP1K is the body roll. Twenty-nine-inch tires and 18 inches of suspension travel give it a slightly tippy, top-heavy feel in the turns. It is not extremely noticeable, but it definitely exhibits more body roll than the smaller XP 900 model. Removing a little bit of preload and adding compression helped our stock setup quite a bit. We have also driven many aftermarket setups that all but eliminate this effect, and we assume the new Fox Edition with bypasses and a front sway bar will sit much flatter in the turns.
HOW ABOUT THE HIGH-END SUSPENSION?
Excellent! The Walker Evans needle shocks on the ’14 performed really well out of the box. They provide a smooth ride through slower, choppy or rutted terrain and are flat out amazing in the whoops. Off the showroom floor, an XP1K could be driven through whoops like a Trophy Truck until the shocks heated up and began to fade. When fresh, they were also fairly predictable when hitting nasty G-outs or holes. A big enough hole would find bottom, but the car would usually stay straight and remain in control. Throughout the year, we did witness a few durability issues with the ’14 shocks, but the new setup is optimized to eliminate them. We have not seen any of these same issues evident on the ’15, but it is only a few months into the model year and we haven’t raced the ’15 yet. The revised compression damping curve yields a smoother ride in the rough stuff.
HOW STRONG ARE THE BRAKES?
The brakes are impressive to say the least. Just about every UTV we test seems to have really amazing brakes. For the most part, they can stop on a dime, and they can even hold themselves on impressively steep inclines or declines. Part of this can be attributed to good-sized rotors and a four-wheel, twin-puck hydraulic caliper setup, but it also has a lot to do with a good weight bias for braking. The XP1K is no exception, and its Bighorn tires and massive brake rotors only further help the situation.
WHERE IS THE RZR XP 1000 HAPPIEST?
The XP1K is built for high-speed desert terrain. It performs really well in a multitude of terrains, but it truly annihilates the desert. Having raced the XP1K at multiple WORCS venues, the tighter MX-/stadium-type courses of TerraCross, and ultimately the SCORE Baja 500 and 1000, our resident racer, Nick Nelson, says this machine owns UTV off-road racing. He pre-ran the Baja races in both a stock XP1K and a mildly accessorized XP 4, and both machines were the most comfortable and functional pre-runners he’s ever experienced. In his ATV racing days, pre-running was done alone in the middle of the desert for hours upon hours with nothing more than a backpack for supplies. Pre-running in the XP1K, he was able to take along the wife, tools, an ice chest and a spare tire. The machine is super comfortable at moderate speeds and has no problem being pushed harder if time is an issue. He even pre-ran the Baja 1000 at night with completely stock headlights; the OEM LED headlights work amazingly well.
WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
The XP is all about the ride. Long-travel suspension and nicely bolstered seats keep you comfortable for hours. The stock seat belts are often replaced with harnesses, but they actually do a really good job themselves, and they don’t ride weird on your neck like some other models. The glove box is a nice feature, and the new latch seems to do a much better job of keeping it closed. The cup holders work pretty well, but they are next to impossible to reach when strapped down if you opt for harnesses. We appreciate the little hidden blue LED cab lights, giving you just enough vision to buckle seat belts or adjust the driver’s seat in the dark. Polaris also uses an alarm-type setup that keeps these LEDs on, as well as the headlights, for a moment after shutting off the key. This feature is pretty helpful, as it gives you time to gather your things and exit the RZR. Another cool feature is how easy maintaining and accessorizing the XP1K is. The stock air filter, while paper and not serviceable, still does a really great job of stopping dirt, especially with the new frog-skin inlets on the bed. Should it become clogged, you can easily remove it without tools and without the risk of burning yourself on hot engine parts. The filter will cake on the outside, but often will be perfectly clean on the inside/engine side. When out on the trail, one can easily knock a ton of dirt/silt out of the filter before reinstalling and finishing out the day’s ride.
WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
The XP1K was a winner last year. After putting a year’s time on one, we experienced its few downfalls but are still definitely in love with it. For 2015, Polaris didn’t reinvent the wheel; instead, they addressed any and all issues with the ’14 and even gave us more power to boot. We loved the ’14 XP1K, and the ’15 has a more durable clutch-belt setup, more power and more refinements across the board. What’s not to love about this machine? Other than sticker shock and a little bit of extra body roll, we don’t have a whole lot to complain about on this newest XP1K. It’s great machine made even better!
2015 POLARIS RZR XP 1000 EFI 4X4
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, DOHC 4-stroke twin
Displacement … 999cc Bore x stroke …93mm x 73.5mm (x2)
Compression ratio …11:1
Lubrication system …Wet sump
Additional cooling ….Auto fan
Carburetion … 48mm EFI (x2)
Starting procedure …Turn ignition switch
Air filter: Type …Paper pleat Access …Tool-less, undo 5 clasps
Transmission …Dual-range CVT w/ reverse
Reverse procedure…Move range selector to “R”
Drive system ..Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ auto diff-lock
Final drives …Shafts
Fuel capacity …9.5 gal.
Overall length/width/height …119.4”/64”/73.75”
Ground clearance …13.5”
Claimed dry weight …1,379 lb.
Bed weight limit…300 lb.
Frame …Steel round tube
Front …Dual A-arm w/ prel./comp./reb.-adj. shocks/16”
Rear …IRS Trailing-arms w/ prel./comp./reb.-adj. shocks/18”
Front …Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Rear …Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Parking …Lever on console
Front ……………………..AT 29×9-14 Maxxis Bighorn
Rear …………………….AT 29×11-14 Maxxis Bighorn
ELECTRICAL DC outlet ……………………………………………Console
Front ……………………………..2 LED hi/lo headlights
Rear …………………………. Dual LED brake/tail lights
Colors …Havasu Red Pearl, White Lightning, Voodoo Blue
Minimum recommended operator age …16
Suggested retail price …$20,299
Contact …Polaris, (800) POLARIS