The Polaris Ranger has been a benchmark for over a decade now-one that has been copied by some yet vilified by others. The reason? It's big-but in the ATV market, that too can be an advantage. For 2008, the Ranger is going with its strength and unveiling a six-seat Ranger, called the "Crew," which is even bigger.
This stretched Ranger will carry six passengers and 750 pounds of payload on a frame that boasts two bench seats and a dumping cargo box. The power in the Crew comes from a 683cc twin EFI engine that churns up to 40 hp through an on-demand (switch-activated) AWD system that will also tow up to 2,000 pounds.
Obviously, this is not a machine that's going to dart around narrow trails-but it is a vehicle that is going to appeal to anyone who has to move people and gear to and from four-wheeling sites.
I had a chance to drive the new Crew out in East Tennessee in an area that is littered with old logging roads that are currently being rutted out by trucks dragging drilling rigs into the mountains. While these were not bush trails, this environment was where a vehicle like the new Crew would be most often used. Carrying people and cargo is what this version of the Ranger is for-and the reason I ran it around the Smoky Mountains was to see if it fulfilled that mandate.
The Crew is sprung by independent suspension front and rear with about 9 inches of travel at each corner and 11 inches of ground clearance at its lowest point. With a wheelbase of 108 inches, it clears most obstacles-but it does bottom on protruding rocks and stumps. That's where the steel and polyethylene skidplates come in-the Crew will slide over pretty much anything it can't cross. It doesn't sound pretty, but it works without damaging anything vital.
Helping to haul its 1,441-pound dry weight over logs and rocks is an AWD system that works with a dual-sensing PVT (Polaris Variable Transmission) that responds to both engine rpm input and increased torque loads. This is in addition to the typical wheel-slip situation that engages the AWD. What I found is that the engage/disengage of the differential was quicker and felt seamless, as the push of the accelerator in anticipation of crossing an obstacle already engaged the AWD. In effect, this system does away with the need to aggressively spin the tires to engage the diff-lock, making the ride smoother.
With a top speed of 44 mph, that smooth ride is important to keep passengers and cargo in the vehicle (all positions have seatbelts).
On the really rough stuff or while loaded down, you may want to slow it up a bit-but the fact that the Crew can get people to and from remote job/hunting sites quickly was not lost on me. What I did think about was storage-and not the open-bed type. Instead, I found that the Crew has two underseat storage compartments. The front one will hold up to 100 pounds or 39 gallons, and the rear one holds up to 25 pounds or 29 gallons. These spaces are easily accessible, weatherproof, and will keep things clean-an important feature in the field.
Of course, weatherproof means from the elements-but another source of moisture is water crossings. The Crew easily stays dry in up to a foot of water, but with its engine air intake at seat height, the rule of thumb would be: If your butt stays dry, so will your engine and stowed gear.
Driving up into the mountains to test the Crew, I towed it on a trailer. I mention this because this ATV won't fit in the back of your pickup, whereas with a little bit of coaxing, the smaller three-seat Ranger will.
Steering on this unit is power assisted and feels firm-but don't hook your thumbs through the spokes. It does kick back if you hit something hard, and that hurts. Stopping the Crew is accomplished with an automotive-style brake-pedal actuating four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes with dual-bore piston calipers in front and single piston ones on the rear. For parking, there is a new feature; a dash-mounted parking brake that's connected to a dedicated, shaft-mounted disc. This setup not only holds this very heavy unit better, it also eliminates the potential problems that a long single mechanical brake cable typically has when its attached to only one wheel and the line stretches over time.
The dump box on the Crew has a capacity of 1,000 pounds, and it lifts easily with a pressurized shock feature. The tailgate latch can be opened with one hand, and a new a self-cleaning hinge means that hauling dirt won't jam up the gate after dumping. The other function of the box is to accept a variety of Polaris accessories that are designed to lock in and out quickly and securely. In fact, the Ranger line probably has the greatest number of available accessories that cover the range of work and play. These include cargo boxes, tool racks, gun scabbards, and cabs. There are also snowplows, winches, and in the aftermarket, just about anything you can imagine can be found. In part, this is thanks to the success of the Ranger and its longevity-meaning it's been around long enough (and probably will continue for years to come) that its made it worthwhile for aftermarket manufacturers to invest in development and build accessories that they intend to sell for a long time. The Crew is now available at dealers with an MSRP of $11,299.
Model: '08 Polaris Ranger six-seater
Base price: $11,299
Colors: Delta Green, Solar Red
Type: Two-cylinder two-stroke
Displacement (cc): 683
Starter: 12V Electric
Driven: Automatic PVT with dual-range forward and reverse; switched engaged AWD
Suspension & Running Gear
Front: MacPherson IFS, HD coil springs, 8.0 inches of travel
Rear: Independent, HD coil springs, 9.0 inches of travel
Brakes: Four-wheel hydraulic disc
Front tires: 26x9.00-12 PXT radial
Rear tires: 26x11.00-12 PXT radial
Weight (lb): 1,441
Fuel Capacity (gal): 12.2
Length (in): 145
Width (in): 60
Height (in): 75
Min. ground clearance (in): 11
Box capacity (lb): 1,000
Vehicle payload (lb): 1,750
Max towing capacity (lb): 2,000