2009 Polaris Ranger RZR S - Trail Exploring

    A Very Hot Side-by-Side Comes to Visit

    Phil HowellPhotographer, Writer

    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.

    The passenger compartment has twin high-back bucket seats. The multi-function speedometer boasts a number of other features, including a fuel gauge (some other side-by-sides only have a sight glass in the tank), hour meter, trip meter, etc. The steering wheel is height-adjustable. Two switches, one for lights and the other the AWD switch, are below the speedo. A 12-volt power point has spade lugs on the back for easy accessory connection. The shifter for the PVT transmission is between the seats. The RZR S has both high and low range. For occupant safety, Polaris designed safety nets that are shoulder-high on most adults. The bed area behind the seats is shallow but set up to accept Polaris' range of "Lock and Ride" accessories.

    We'll be using the Polaris Ranger RZR S on the trail and will keep you updated on how it works for us. Fast trail exploring just got easier. Tight trails have become accessible. The RZR S is a very hot side-by-side.

    2009 Polaris Ranger RZR S

    • 800cc (760cc) Polaris H.O. EFI engine
    • 60 inches wide with 12 inches of long-travel suspension and 12-1/2 inches of ground clearance
    • Fox Podium reservoir coilover shocks– adjustable compression damping and spring preload
    • Lowest center of gravity in its class
    • Independent rear suspension
    • On-demand AWD
    • Fender flares and extended rear cab frame supports
    • 26-inch Maxxis Big Horn tires with 12-inch alloy rims