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RZR XP Turbo EPS: A Mud And Sand Slinger With A ‘Tude

Posted in Features on December 9, 2015
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Just weeks after we saw the 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo in Las Vegas in July, a Spectra Orange version was strapped into the trailer behind a friend and fellow ATV writer’s Silverado as we beat feet to our favorite ATV testing area: The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA) just south of Florence, Oregon.

It was time to see first-hand what the Polaris engineers have brought to the side-by-side table with a week of testing the turbo’d RZR in my own stomping grounds: the ODNRA and Oregon’s Coast Range.

The adrenaline started pumping the moment the new RZR’s turbo’d ProStar twin fired up and I blipped the throttle. Like all RZRs, it sounds badass just sitting still.

We’d already carefully followed the XP Turbo’s specific break-in regimen – 50 miles of non-sand driving following a specific driving criteria detailed in the owner’s manual, but still had another six miles of low-range sand driving in all-wheel-drive, varying throttle speeds and sans hard acceleration, before we could really let it all hang out.

Those last half-dozen break-in miles couldn’t roll by fast enough. When the digital readout odometer clicked past the 56, I rolled fast and hard into the throttle. It was time to have some fun.

Up to that point the XP Turbo handled and felt no different than the RZR S 900 and its healthier brother, the XP1000 EPS; the XP Turbo’s long-travel Fox suspension sucked up the whoops of the sand roads and the sharp cuts and crests of the small fore-dunes with ease as we eased along exploring the vast expanse of driving challenges.

But the pokey pace abruptly changed to eye-watering acceleration as I rolled deep into the throttle and the grapefruit-sized turbo on the Polaris ProStar four-stroke did its magic act; its top speed-limited 70mph shows on the speedometer in just a few seconds.

The XP 1000 EPS cranks out 110hp from its 999cc inline twin. The 925cc XP Turbo delivers 144 ponies—and 80 percent of them are rolling by 3500rpm with the rest ready to romp long before the digital tach hits 8,500. The XP 1000 isn’t even in the same performance class, nor are few other stock ATVs.

The power curve and delivery in this 1,500-pound side-by-side is designed for tackling big dunes and soft sand. There wasn’t dune we couldn’t climb or short, deep bowl we couldn’t rocket out of, or a stock sport quad we couldn’t make look silly trying to keep up.

Acceleration and handling is akin to driving a Mustang GT or Subaru STI; it pins you back in the seat with quick, precise steering and big four-wheel discs hauling it down with the same type of authoritativeness and smoothness.

The suspension is just as impressive as the power, too. Driving, or should I saw piloting this turbo’d two-seater brings confidence within minutes because of its stability and how smoothly and controlled its Fox-damped racing suspension absorbs bumps and jumps: The RZR Turbo EPS is built to fly – and it absorbs landings with pillow-like flair – and have its tail hung out drifting.

That’s because there’s 16 inches of suspension travel up front and 18 in the rear, all controlled by Fox Podium Internal Bypass shocks, each with 24-posiiton clickers so you can literally dial-in each corner of this side-by-side to suit your driving needs for any venue.

During our off-road testing I adjusted the shocks depending on what types of terrain we were driving in. They were softened up for driving over miles of short choppy whoops on the sand roads, adjusted differently front/rear to suit our dune jumping romps, and stiffened up when we were running along fast gravel logging roads in the Coast Range.

Not once during the heat of the summer day on the dunes did the XP Turbo ever have a cooling issue, thanks in no small part to the upgraded cooling system in the new machine.

Fuel economy is also surprisingly good. We logged 50 miles of back country driving using 2.8 gallons of ethanol-free premium and another 3.5 gallons driving it hard in the dunes for nearly 30 miles. So the 9.5gal fuel tank should provide a good day of driving before a fill-up.

I also found first-hand the RZR XP Turbo’s combination of agility and power makes it a terrific back-country machine. Add in its 13.5 inches of ground clearance under the full skid plate and off-road explorers facing deeply rutted, muddy sections of Jeep trails and swamps should have little fear about getting stuck. Muddy, yes. Stuck, no.

The only real nit to pick with the RZR engineering team is the lack of decent tie-down points in the XP’s little cargo area.

This is one machine where standard factory tie-down tabs along the sides/top of the bed space are highly recommended because you’re going to be spending a lot of time enjoying flying it whenever you get the chance and you don’t want to have to be stopping to retrieve snacks and trail gear.

That aside, it’s a thumbs up, Polaris. The 2016 Polaris RZR XP EPS Turbo sets a high performance bar in this class. It’s truly an adrenaline-making machine for those who like to play hard, drive fast and dream of racing in the Baja 1000 – all with or without a co-driver.

Polaris’ 144hp RZR XP Turbo EPRS is the fastest and most agile of the company’s popular two-passenger sport ATVs. We saw a top speed just north of 70mph.

With the turbo power on tap, jumping dunes was easy.

The heart of the new machine, which has the entire drivetrain setup for the Turbo’s power delivery, is the long-travel suspension anchored by Fox Podium shocks. Each corner has 24 different shock-valving settings to dial-in just the right amount of compression.

It’s very important to religiously follow Polaris’ break-in instructions for the new Turbo model, which requires different driving procedures style for both sand and off-road during the first 56 miles.

With more than 13-inches of ground clearance, 144 horses on tap, all-wheel-drive and a full skidplate, powering through deep mud ruts is easy for the RZR XP Turbo pilot.

Be ready to get a little muddy when you hit the slippery sections in the RZR Turbo as it will definitely sling it in every direction. Lack of decent tie-down points in the rear cargo area is the only weakness we found during our logging road forays in Oregon’s Coast Range.

There was always plenty of power to stay on top of the sand, and to throw giant rooster tails.

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