First Ride: 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo EPS

Aug. 07, 2015 By Off-Road.com Staff
We had the chance to test drive the 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo during Dunefest in Oregon.

Following the release of the new RZR XP Turbo at the Polaris Dealer show in Las Vegas, I was pleased to learn that they would be offering demo rides at Dunefest in Oregon just a few days later. This would be a chance to get behind the wheel before the vehicle was available to the general public, and to my surprise, before most dealers even had the opportunity to drive one.

Evidently a lot of people had the same ideas as me because the signup line was so long the first two days of the event that I didnít even bother. By Friday I was able to lock in a test riding session near the end of the day.

This is the demo unit we hopped in at Dunefest.

The first thing I noticed after climbing into the vehicle was the repositioned seat.  Iíve always felt that the RZR cockpit leaves me trying to pull the steering wheel just a little bit closer. In fact after testing a RZR XP 1000 four-seater later in the week, a friend of mine made the same observation. Evidently we werenít the only ones who felt this way because Polaris engineers pitched the seat forward a few degrees, which greatly improves the orientation of the seat to steering wheel and gives you a better view over the hood of the vehicle.

The repositioned seat is the first thing we noticed when hopping in the RZR XP Turbo, as Polaris engineers looked to improve the orientation of the seat to the steering wheel on the new model.

Our test ride would last about 20 minutes and consisted of riding on smaller rolling dunes, a twisting trail with tall berms, and a sand highway with lots of whoops. As we left the demo area and basically idled to the open dunes, there wasnít anything that made this machine feel significantly different over a standard XP 1000 other than the seat changes that I mentioned early. However, the moment we hit the open sand and I nailed the throttle my perspective completely changed.  You know that eyes wide open feeling you get when youíre taken by complete surprise? Thatís pretty much how I felt for the entire 20-minute ride. The horsepower gain is unbelievable. It comes on so strong and wants to just keep accelerating, so much in fact that I had to keep getting on the brakes hard to avoid running into the couple in front of me.

The power hit is not instantaneous but Iím assuming that is because we were running stock knobby tires in dry sand and the first second or two the tires were searching for grip.  The moment they hooked up I found myself pressed back into the seat and grinning from ear to ear.

The power hit of the new RZR XP Turbo is impressive Ė itís the kind that makes you grin as you mash down the pedal.

As we snaked through the twisting trail I could really feel the EPS working. I could crank the steering wheel while entering a sharp left-hand turn and then essentially throw it back to the right and completely let go of the wheel and let it pass through my loose grip going into the next turn. It almost creates a false sense of security because it steers so nicely but I felt completely in control, and those one-handed drivers will appreciate this feature very much.

At about the midway point of our tour we stopped so drivers could switch with their passengers. Fortunately for me I was riding solo, so I was able to double my time in the driverís seat. Before the ride we were given specific instruction to remain in a single-file formation through the dunes, but as we made our way back to camp I couldnít help but inch out of line few feet and throttle it up to see what it could do.

I smashed the gas pedal to the floor and held it wide open as we entered the whoops and the car continued to accelerate. The Fox internal bypass shocks ate everything up with ease although the faster I went, I began to feel the back end begin to shake a little.  It didnít feel out of control and normally I would have just held it wide open but considering this was a demo unit and I didnít want to be remembered as the guy who wrecked the new XP Turbo on its first week out, I backed off the throttle slightly and found a comfortable speed where the car handled the whoops with ease.

The Fox internal bypass shocks did a good job of soaking up the whoops during our demo ride.

A good dune setup is one that performs well in both the whoops as well as in G-out situations. Unfortunately we didnít get any time in the open dunes to really see how the shocks performed on a hard hit, but based on the ride we experienced I have no doubt they would have done well.

While the most noticeable changes for me were the repositioned seat and the increased horsepower, Polaris engineers assured us the car was 80-90 percent new. They kept stressing the fact that they didnít just stuff a new motor into the ďoldĒ XP 1000 chassis. 

Whether youíre in the market or not, do yourself a favor and get out to a Polaris demo event and take one for a spin. I can promise you the ride is something you wonít soon forget.


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