2012 Polaris ATV and Ranger Lineup Preview [Video]

Jul. 27, 2011 By Lucas Cooney, Photos by Chris Blanchette & Polaris, Video by Chris Blanchette
We recently had a chance to take a sneak peak at the 2012 Polaris ATV and Ranger Lineup at a press event north of the border in Ontario, Canada. While at the event it seemed like it was a quiet year from the Minnesota-based manufacturer with only one new machine to speak of. However, even when things seem relatively quiet the engineers at Polaris are still hard at work tweaking the existing lineup. We counted 19 machines with at least modest changes for 2012. Only Polaris can make that seem understated!

Polaris Ranger Crew Diesel

Ranger Crew Diesel
For 2012 the only completely new machine is the Ranger Crew Diesel – the second diesel model and third multi-passenger model in the Polaris family.

The Ranger Crew Diesel shares the same 904cc, three-cylinder Yanmar diesel engine as the Ranger Diesel (introduced one year ago), with the ability to carry six adults. The engine is rubber-mounted to transfer minimal vibration to the operator, and provides low-speed torque to work harder. The fully-sealed, fixed center distance clutch driveline is designed to keep water out of the clutches.

A 55-amp alternator gives the operator the ability to run many hard working, higher electrical load accessories, such as plows, extra lights, cab heaters and fans at the same time. It also boasts a monstrous one-ton of towing ability and comes standard with a two-inch hitch. Also, its rear dump box can hold 1,000 pounds and features gas-assist dumping operation.

To help keep the ride smooth and comfortable, the Ranger Crew Diesel comes outfitted with a four-corner adjustable suspension system that features Dual A-arms with top-mounting-point adjustability. This allows the user to adjust to a softer setting for recreational riding or a stiffer setting for heavy-duty work. The Ranger Diesel Crew offers 9.6 in. of travel up front and 9.0 in. of travel in the rear to go along with 11.5 in. of ground clearance.

Other Ranger Crew Diesel features include On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive with VersaTrac (including the grass-saving VersaTrac Turf Mode), a slide-through cab design, leaned seatbacks, and 10 in. of tilt steering travel. The Ranger Crew Diesel is available in Sage Green.

Ranger HD 800
We first got behind the wheel of the Ranger HD three years ago at Polaris’ 2009 model line introduction. This machine is billed as the pure utility workhorse of the Ranger family and it’s easy to see why. With features like ultra-smooth electronic power steering and self-leveling Nivomat rear shocks, riding with a full load in the back doesn’t get any easier.

Polaris Ranger HD 800

While Polaris hasn’t made wholesale changes to the Ranger HD 800 for 2012, it did receive a significant upgrade in the form of Polaris’ engine braking system. This system is designed to control downhill braking to give the operator more control and to provide smooth, even deceleration during descents. We’ve tested out Polaris’ engine braking system on other machines and it seems like a natural fit on the Ranger HD 800, especially when you consider the heavy loads this unit was designed to haul. The biggest question we’re left with is why hasn’t always been part of the Ranger HD package?

It should also be noted that the Ranger HD 800 and the rest of the full size Ranger family offers better heat-shielding in the cockpit, so less heat from the engine will reach the driver and passengers.

The 2012 Ranger XP 800 Limited Editions include Magnetic Metallic, Pearl White, Boardwalk Blue and the first-ever Ranger XP 800 with a shock package, the Ranger XP 800 Walker Evans edition. The Ranger XP 800 EPS Limited Editions include Sunset Red and Browning Edition Pursuit. The Ranger Crew 500 comes in a Turbo Silver LE model, while the Ranger 500 EFI is available in a Sunset Red LE model.

Ranger RZR Family
You can’t talk about Polaris without mentioning the Ranger RZR family. Polaris turned the side-by-side world in its ear when the original Ranger RZR was introduced for the 2008 model year. It was by far the sportiest side-by-side available from a major manufacturer when it was first unveiled and even today it has only been topped by Polaris. While we don’t have a brand new Ranger RZR model to talk about for 2012, Polaris has still been busy tweaking the successful platform.

Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900

Oddly, it is the newest RZR – the Ranger RZR XP 900 – that received the biggest changes for 2012. Though it was just introduced in January, Polaris has given the RZR XP 900 a host of improvements. Suspension tuning is made simpler with the addition of compression adjustment knobs on the Fox 2.0 shocks for tool-less adjustment. Additionally, driveline noise has been reduced thanks to a new, rubber-isolated prop shaft. When we tested out the RZR XP 900 we noted that it took a lot of effort to steer and Polaris has addressed this by redesigning the front geometry (though we’d still like to test out a unit with power steering). As well, a new passenger grab bar features an anti-rattle bushing to help reduce noise.

As for the rest of the Ranger RZR family, the RZR 800, RZR S 800, RZR 4 800, and RZR 4 800 EPS will all receive the new passenger grab bar, improved cockpit fit and finish designed to reduce dust and heat on the operator, a front drive cage made from zinc for added durability, a dual clutch inlet for low- and high-speed cooling and a 33-percent thicker skid plate for improved protection. The RZR 800 also receives a rubber jounce bumper in the shock assembly for added durability, while the RZR 4 800 gets the improved Fox 2.0 adjustable shocks with compression adjustable knobs.

All Ranger RZRs are available in Indy Red as a standard color, with the Ranger RZR 800 also available in Polaris Pursuit Camo. Limited Edition models include White Lightning with Red Rally Accents, Magnetic Metallic and Boardwalk Blue with electronic power steering for the RANGER RZR 800; White/Orange Madness and Liquid Silver/Red for the Ranger RZR S 800, both featuring Fox Shocks, back by popular demand; White/Orange Madness Robby Gordon with electronic power steering for the Ranger RZR 4 800; and White Lightning and Orange Madness for the Ranger RZR XP 900.

More Powerful Sportsman XP 850
First introduced in 2009, the Sportsman XP 850 is Polaris’ flagship ATV and we were instantly impressed with its power. However, this is an industry that always craves more grunt and Polaris has done just that for 2012.

Polaris Sportsman XP 850

Surprisingly, Polaris did not achieve the power gains by messing with the fuel-injected, V-Twin engine. Instead, it is a new airbox and new throttle bodies that combine deliver more air to the engine to increase power by about nine percent. According to Polaris, with this new intake package the Sportsman XP 850 now boasts 20 percent more acceleration off the line. This power upgrade is available on the Sportsman XP 850, Sportsman XP 850 EPS, and Sportsman Touring 850.

We had a chance to spend some time on the 2012 Sportsman XP 850 on a two-day ride in Northern Ontario and it remains an outstanding performer. Power felt great and acceleration was impressively sharp. It felt quicker than the 2009 version did, but we haven’t ridden that in a while so it’s hard to say exactly what the difference is. The bottom line is that this is one of the best performing big bore ATVs in the industry.

Sportsman Value Line
Polaris just gave its Sportsman Value Line a significant makeover for the 2011 model year, but it didn’t stand pat for 2012. Functionality has been improved across the Sportsman Value Line with the addition of integrated storage on the Sportsman 800 EFI, Sportsman 6x6 800 EFI, Sportsman 500 H.O., Sportsman Touring 500 H.O. and Sportsman 400 H.O. The new integrated storage offers 6.5 gallons of capacity, which allows the rider to stow loads of gear and still have access to it, even with items tied to the lid.

Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O.

The storage upgrade represents a 21-percent increase in capacity versus the Lock & Ride box that was standard on last year’s Sportsman 500 H.O, Sportsman Touring 500 H.O. and Sportsman Big Boss 6x6 800.

For Model Year 2012, the Sportsman 400 H.O. will be available in Indy Red and new Boardwalk Blue. The best-selling Sportsman 500 H.O. will be available in Indy Red, Green and new, back-by-popular demand, Yellow option, the Sportsman 800 EFI will be offered in Indy Red and Yellow, and the Sportsman Big Boss 6x6 800 will continued to be offered in Green. The Sportsman Touring 500 H.O. will be available in Green and Red. The Sportsman Touring 850 H.O. EPS will be offered in Boardwalk Blue and new Solar Red, while the Sportsman Touring 550 EPS is available in Boardwalk Blue and the new Solar Red. The Sportsman X2 550 will be offered in Sage Green and Indy Red with Maxxis tires and steel wheels standard.

Polaris also will offer several Limited Edition models, including an Orange Madness Sportsman XP 850 H.O. EPS and Sportsman 550 EPS, Browning Edition Pursuit Sportsman XP 850 H.O. EPS/550 XP EPS, Sportsman Touring 850 H.O. EPS Bronze, and Sportsman 500 H.O. in Polaris Pursuit Camo with Polaris’ Engine Braking System.

Also offered for 2012 will be the Scrambler, Trail Blazer and Phoenix which will sport a new White/Blue plastic and the Trail Boss will be available in Blue.

Goodbye Outlaw
Notably absent from Polaris’ 2012 ATV family are the adult-sized Outlaw Sport ATVs. While the Outlaw 450 MXR and Outlaw 525 S were left off of the 2011 lineup, one of our favorites – the Outlaw 525 IRS – has been shelved for 2012. We really enjoyed riding the only Outlaw with IRS and are a little bummed out that it won’t be returning.

The Outlaw name lives on, however, in the Polaris Youth ATV family with the Outlaw 90 and Outlaw 50. The Youth lineup is completed by the Sportsman 90 and Ranger RZR 170 with new one-piece side nets.

2012 Polaris Off-Road Lineup
Polaris Ranger Family
Full Size Rangers
Ranger XP 800 Ranger XP 800 EPS
Ranger HD 800 Ranger 6x6 800
Ranger Diesel  
Midsize Rangers
Ranger 500 EFI Ranger 400
Ranger EV  
Multi-Passenger Rangers
Ranger Crew 800 Ranger Crew 800 EPS
Ranger Crew Diesel Ranger Crew 500
Ranger RZR
Ranger RZR 800 Ranger RZR S 800
Ranger RZR 4 800 Ranger RZR 4 800 EPS
Ranger RZR XP 900  
Polaris ATV Family
Premium ATVS
Sportsman XP 850 Sportsman XP 850 EPS
Sportsman 550 Sportsman 550 EPS
Value ATVS
Sportsman 800 EFI Sportsman Big Boss 6x6 800 EFI
Sportsman 500 H.O. Sportsman 400 H.O.
2-Up ATVs
Sportsman Touring 850 EPS Sportsman Touring 550 EPS
Sportsman X2 550 Sportsman Touring 500 H.O.
Entry-Level ATVs
Scrambler 500 4x4 Trail Blazer 330
Trail Boss 330 Phoenix 200
Ranger RZR 170 Sportsman 90
Outlaw 90 Outlaw 50


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