Polaris and Can-Am both have their big guns out and ready to begin the next decade of UTV off-roading goodness. Can-Am has beefed up their X3 with loads of horsepower and torque (and threw on some extra “R”s and “X”s to the names for good measure) while Polaris has redesigned their chassis, driving experience, and boosted power with the RZR Pro XP.
Turbo RR = Power
The last major updates for these machines besides suspension changes were Can-Am’s Smart-Lok differential and Polaris’s DYNAMIX Active Suspension both announced almost exactly two years ago.
Now these companies seem to be continuing down their chosen paths even further. The 2020 Maverick X3 Turbo RR models have an eye-watering 195 horsepower thanks to an upgraded turbo on their 900cc engine but are otherwise fairly similar to all X3s that have come before it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—they’ve already got 72” wide models and really nice suspension. It may just be that they’re planning less predictable improvements for another year.
Pro XP = Drivability
The RZR Pro XP has an entirely new chassis giving this iteration of the RZR platform a new, sportier look, which has felt long overdue. Let’s face it, the X3 has made Polaris’ design efforts look pretty tame until now.
With the Pro XP’s sportier look comes 181 horsepower. Not as impressive as the Turbo RR but nothing to scoff at either. It makes sense when you look at what Polaris has been focusing on for the last several years—they’re not making machines that have the most horsepower, they’re making machines with better drivability, comfort, and quality of life.
Polaris has been the king of the sport UTV industry since the RZR 800. And since they launched their first Turbo, they’ve been making small improvements every year. It’s all been leading to the RZR Pro XP which looks to be making more than just small improvements.
With the ultimate trim, you get adjustable seats, increased padding, adjustable and telescoping steering wheel, DYNAMIX and other controls in the steering wheel, DYNAMIX 2.0, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, click-6 harnesses, lower rider position, and a sound system. All that on top of the stronger cage (now 2” diameter instead of 1.75”), better cooling, a larger cargo bed with room for up to a 30” tire, better clutch cooling, longer wheelbase, stronger suspension components, and other small adjustments that make everything a little bit better.
Ditching the Horses
Here’s the real question though: Why is Polaris falling behind on horsepower compared to the high-end Maverick X3 models and putting their focus elsewhere, and which direction is better for the top sport UTVs in the world?
In 2019, Maverick had Polaris beat by 4 horsepower. Now they’ve got them beat by 14. That’s a big plus for everyone out there who likes to chase horsepower.
But what Polaris is doing is a little more interesting. Their goal seems to be to make you forget you’re driving a vehicle at all. They want you comfortable with their adjustable seats, refined cushions, and telescoping wheel. They want you focused with your hands on the wheel and making adjustments with your thumbs rather than reaching across the cab—especially with the big red “oh sh*t” button that stiffens your shocks if your flying towards something nasty. They make the ride more intuitive with DYNAMIX 2.0 and by aligning the driver’s center of gravity with the machine’s. And they make it all safer with a better roll cage and the 6-point harnesses you want.
Even the vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which is basically group GPS that doesn’t require cell service to function, is designed to make you feel more connected to the UTV. It’s a part of you, and you’re a part of it.
How successful is Polaris with the RZR Pro XP? We're not sure and they haven’t announced that ultra-smooth S model we know must be coming, but given the quality of the rest of the RZR family, you can bet it’s going to be popular here at SuperATV.