Polaris' 2019 lineup was what you might call a mixed bag, hot and cold, up and down, or you know, just a little bit of a letdown. Of course, the RZR XP 4 Turbo S is awesome, and it's great that you can get Dynamix on any XP machine now, but what's new, really? Well, if you were looking at RZR to push the limits, you probably missed Polaris' coolest new feature. That's because their biggest innovation came earlier this year in the humble Ranger 150.
The Ranger 150 itself is nothing terribly special, just a little 150cc Ranger limited to two-wheel-drive and 8" of clearance designed for kids aged ten and older. Don't go asking us when we're making portals for it — it's not gonna happen. But what this UTV has that no other UTV in the world has is the Youth Ride Command, and it can do things with a GPS antenna that nothing else can.
Youth Ride Command doesn't look like much — it's not the 7" backlit touchscreen on current RZR models but rather the button driven monochrome display built for the ranger models. It still looks like a souped-up car CD player, but this youth version can do a lot when paired with your smartphone. It's equipped with geofencing, variable speed limiting, and passcode protection features, all billed as ways to keep a parent's peace of mind.
Let's take a look at how these features work.
Let's say you own a piece of property that butts up against a busy road. You want to let your kid ride around all they want, but you don't want to have to keep corralling them away from the road.
With geofencing, you can draw boundaries on your property with your smartphone for the Ranger to operate within. You just pull up the map on your Ride Command app and put the boundaries wherever you like. If the Ranger crosses one of these boundaries, it won't stop the machine, but it will limit its speed limit to whatever you want down to "under ten miles-per-hour." That's not too bad and certainly discourages a kid from riding where you don't want them to.
GPS isn't 100% accurate so it's good to give a bit of a buffer zone. If you live next to an empty road, put the limit fifty feet away from the road. If you live next to a cliff like we have around here, it might be better to put it a hundred feet from the edge.
Digital Speed Limiting
We mentioned this feature in the previous section: with Youth Ride Command, you have the ability to set whatever speed limit you want from 10 MPH up to no limit. You can also set separate speed limits for inside and outside a geofenced area. The whole idea is to let your child grow into the machine. As they get older, more confident, and more experienced, you can up the speed limit to match.
It's a nifty feature, but the Passcode Protected Safe Start rounds out the feature suite nicely.
Passcode Protected Safe Start
Why not give you absolute control of who, how, and where your 2019 RZR Turbo gets ridden? How often do you hear stories about someone letting their buddy ride and they end up wrecking hard? What if you could just turn the speed down a little bit when that friend gets behind the wheel? You know the one.
I can see ride parks making use of a version of this technology. Parks often have issues with people sneaking in to use their trails after hours. It's a big deal not only because people are technically stealing their trails, but also because an accident after hours can cost a parks tons of money due to lack of insurance coverage in that situation. What if parks could geofence their boundaries so that UTVs couldn't sneak in after hours? It might save them a wad of cash.
It could help with security as well. I don't know anybody that takes their keys out of their machine. If you could lock it with a passcode, you might see a decrease in thefts, or at least joyrides. Maybe take it one step further and sync up your RZR's location with your phones so you just have to sit in the seat to make it go. It won't stop the more professional thieves that would just load it on a trailer and take it to a chop shop, but it would stop a casual RZR robber.
If they expanded the feature set just a little, you could put a geofence around your garage and receive a notification any time your RZR left it. Out on the trail, you could link two UTVs together and get alerted if the vehicle following you fell too far behind.
I'm sure the folks at Polaris are hard at work coming up with way better ideas for their ride command, and as a proof of concept, the Ranger 150 is pretty solid.
Ride command already does a lot, from GPS navigation to vehicle-to-vehicle communication, to marking your deer stand on the map. What are the limits of Ride Command technology if it can already control ride area, speed, and ignition? We'll just have to wait and see.