2009 Polaris Ranger RZR S - Backcountry Machine

    The Side-By-Side Continues To Impress

    Phil HowellPhotographer, Writer

    Our Polaris Ranger RZR S loaner is an absolute blast to drive. We've done nothing to it except put gas in it, and the performance of the RZR S is stunning. Sixty-three mph is the claimed top speed, and ours goes exactly 63 mph on a level graded road. Sixty-Three mph is fast off-road and the RZR S's long-travel suspension and Fox podium shocks soak up the bumps easily. With the 800 twin's fuel injection, throttle response is right on and the Polaris runs at any altitude or attitude.

    We've had it in some wild attitudes, too. As we mentioned in the first feature, the RZR S's high-speed performance didn't surprise us, but its low-speed rock-crawling prowess did. The long-travel suspension continues to impress us by allowing the RZR S to pick its way over the rocks and ledges of southern Utah. The front limited slip and rear spool keep all the wheels turning, even if one or more are in the air. Stop to go (0 to 2 mph) can still be a bit lurchy, but by modulating the brake pedal and accelerator pedal, this isn't a problem.

    We've run all day on one 7.25-gallon tank of gas, so fuel economy is surprisingly good. This is great for those days we use the RZR S (almost every day we drive it) for exploring new areas. Our RZR S isn't perfect, though. When completely off the throttle and going downhill, we're getting a squeak from the clutch/belt. When on the throttle at all, or in low range, there's no squeak. We've heard that all RZR S models do this.

    UPDATE: The squeak has now stopped. Maybe it's a break-in deal?

    That's the only issue we've had with the Polaris Ranger RZR S. It's a wonderful backcountry machine with room for two, some gear, and performance that's so good it brings smiles to the faces of jaded off-roaders with decades of experience.

    We never knew we could have so much fun.

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