2008 Polaris Ranger Browning XP, Ranger Crew and Sportsman Browning 500 Reviews
Good trail vehicles, cool-looking side by sides and great power output.
Knoxville, Tennessee was the location picked for the combined media launch of the three Polaris models and the new Pro-4X package on the Nissan Titan. I know you are thinking Polaris/Nissan? When did all this start? Don’t worry, you didn’t miss the memo. It just seems it that is an informal marketing relationship between the two companies at this time. The combined launch of the two brands worked great from an editorial standpoint because it allowed us to test twice the number of vehicles without twice the amount of flights and TSA lines, and that is definitely a good thing.
Polaris brought a semi-truck full of Ranger Browning XPs, Ranger Crews, and Sportsman Browning 500s for us to test at Coal Creek OHV area in Oliver Springs, Tenn. The trials were offered a range of terrain from steep rocky climbs to open dirt trails, all with a couple of water crossings to keep it interesting.
In the parking lot I jumped in the new Ranger Crew (MSRP $11299) for the first few miles. I was not expecting this vehicle to be very capable on the trail because it is so long. But after a few miles I was pleasantly surprised at how well the machine handled the bumps, climbs, and turns.
It was only slightly less capable than the Ranger XP, which is very impressive considering it has enough seating space for most families. It is a very practical machine not only because of the amount of passenger seating but for the amount of storage; underneath the front seat is an enormous storage area that comes in very handy. The front storage compartment has a capacity of 39 gallons and the rear compartment has a 29 gallon capacity, and this does not include the open storage in the bed. Aside from all the practical features the machine performed very well the same Twin 700 EFI motor that powers the regular Ranger and provides an adequate amount of power.
Handling was only very slightly compromised with the longer wheelbase, but it still turned and handled the rough terrain well. The suspension provided a smooth ride and ground clearance was never an issue even in rocky areas. All in all the Crew is a great utility machine that is still very fun to drive.
Last but not least I tried the Sportsman 500 EFI Browning. Similar to the Browning Ranger, this machine is a standard Sportsman 500 EFI with a few accessories. The body work and wheels are coated in a Mossy Oak Breakup camouflage pattern giving the machine a very rugged look, also exclusive to the Browning Sportsman is a set of grip heaters, gun scabbard, rear rack, and a Warn winch.
For a 500 class machine I was very impressed with the power output from the single cylinder EFI, it had just enough power to make it a lot of fun on the trail and was able to un-weight the front wheels enough to clear logs and bumps at speed. The independent rear suspension and MacPherson strut front suspension provide 9.5” and 8.2” inches of travel and seemed to be set up with a good compromise between body roll and plush ride, definitely no complaints in the suspension department. The PVT (Polaris Variable Transmission) automatic worked flawlessly on our ride and always kept the machine in the correct power band. All around the Sportsman 500 did everything it was intended to do, it is a very utilitarian ride that especially in Browning trim is ideal for hunting. For only $6999 (base model 500 EFI) you can’t go too far wrong with this one.
All the Polaris machines we tested on the Coal Creek trails performed flawlessly and are all very practical. Above all they are fun to ride and drive, and really, when it’s all said and done that’s what matters. Have fun on the trails and be safe!