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2009 Polaris Ranger RZR S - Trail Exploring

Left Front Angle
Phil Howell | Writer
Posted January 1, 2010

A Very Hot Side-by-Side Comes to Visit

The side-by-side market has exploded. From ranch to racecourse, side-by-sides are everywhere. While many owners like to blast around the dunes, mountains, or through the desert, the side-by-side's smaller size and performance has caught the eye of trail aficionados, too.

Polaris introduced the Ranger RZR as a very fast, maneuverable side-by-side that was immediately embraced by enthusiasts. Its 50-inch width allowed it to fit on trails larger side-by-sides couldn't. Not willing to leave well-enough alone, enthusiasts immediately began modifying their RZR with long-travel suspensions, engine mods, and other parts. Polaris saw this and introduced the wider Ranger RZR S with factory long-travel suspension and a number of other modifications aimed at the sport driver.

We had an opportunity to test an original RZR a couple of years ago and liked it. When an opportunity arose to borrow a RZR S for an extended period, we took advantage of it. We'll be writing about our adventures with the RZR S as we use it for fast trail exploring and, surprisingly, slow rock crawling.

Almost everyone knows how well the RZR S works going fast in the rough. We were surprised that the RZR S handles the slow stuff so well. The RZR's off-idle lurch is still there as the drive engages, but seems more easily manageable in the RZR S. As soon as you're moving, the RZR S is easy to control and maneuver through obstacles. The long travel suspension lets the RZR S act like a spider over rocks, allowing the tires to stay planted for great traction.

The RZR S has an 800cc (760cc) EFI four-stroke twin mounted transversely behind the passenger compartment that propels the RZR S to a 63-mph top speed. The fuel injection adjusts for all altitudes and attitudes and the mid-engine configuration makes for a balanced package. The long-travel independent suspension features Fox Podium reservoir coilovers that are adjustable for compression damping and spring preload. The long A-arms not only allow more suspension travel, they give the RZR S 12-1/2 inches of ground clearance with the OE 26-inch tires. The RZR S can run in two-wheel drive or has switched on-demand all-wheel drive. In all-wheel drive, the rear wheels are driven until front traction is needed, when power is sent to the front. The rear diff is a spool, while the front is an automatic locking differential, so traction isn't a problem. The 7.25-gallon fuel capacity allows for respectable exploring range.

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