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2012 Polaris RZR XP 4 900 Test

Testing Polaris’s extreme performance four seater, on the Parker 250 race course.

Story by:  Joe Tolle
Photos By:  ATV Illustrated
Riding Gear:  FLY Racing

After inventing the side-by-side, Polaris has continued to develop more and more Razr models. To this day, we are unsure if anyone has truly challenged their side-by-side supremacy in even one class, yet the Minnesota-based manufacturer continues new and existing models, putting as much distance between themselves and their competitors as possible.

With models available to suit the performance of nearly every possible driver from age 12 up in a two-seated vehicle, Polaris decided to double down on the four-seat category with their all-new RZR XP 4 900. In wide-open spaces, we were pretty confident that the RZR 4 still reined supreme in performance. Polaris apparently didn’t think it was enough, building a new machine with the same focus on extreme performance, as the phenomenal RZR XP 900, released last year.

Turning Two into Four

CLICK FOR VIDEO of the 2012 Polaris RZR XP 4 900 Test from Parker Arizona.

The new car is based on a stretched version of the XP 900 with a few key changes. In addition to its 26-inch longer wheelbase and two rear seats, the 4 traded in the two-seater’s Fox shocks for a set built by Walker Evans to deal with the added heat created by a 200-pound heavier vehicle. Loaded down with two additional occupants, the rear shock bodies were increased from 2 to 2.5 inches, allowing for 35% more oil capacity, and a 35% larger piston.  Suspension travel numbers are identical on both machines, but the Walker Evans’ shocks are set up with a bit more sag, reducing ground clearance from 13 to 12.5 inches on the XP 4.

Braking performance was enhanced on the XP 4, with four piston calipers found on all four corners, as opposed to the two-seat XP which features dual piston calipers on the front end only. The rear cargo box dimensions and 300-pound capacity are the same, but the payload capacity has been increased from 740 to 900 pounds to accommodate the weight of the added occupants.

The base model can be had in Indy Red for $17,999, or you can have the Limited Edition Model for $19,499. The LE model included a custom graphics package, custom painted suspension components, Liquid Silver painted body panels, cut and sewn seat covers, Maxxis Bighorn tires on 12 in. Black Crusher aluminum rims, and, most importantly, the addition of electric power steering.

The Test

When you drop the hammer on the XP, its twin-cylinder, high-performance, 875cc four-valve, double-overhead-cam engine responds immediately, easily lighting up the rear tires, accelerating out of the hole.

For our first test in Parker, Arizona, I got suited up in Fly Racing’s Patrol Race Pant and Jersey, 907 Gloves, and feather-light F2 Carbon Helmet built to be light and strong thanks to its Carbon Fiber and Kevlar composite outer shell.

When you drop the hammer on the XP, its twin-cylinder, high-performance, 875cc four-valve, double-overhead-cam engine responds immediately, easily lighting up the rear tires, accelerating out of the hole. No other side-by-side engine on the market we’ve experienced, builds revs like this one. Even pushing around a 200-pound heavier vehicle loaded down with two additional occupants, the Pro Star engine feels impressive.  This engine will happily lug you around, but it begs to be pushed hard, propelling our XP 4 to 71mph and climbing! The engine never seems to fumble no matter what you do with the gas pedal thanks to its fuel injection system with dual 46mm throttle bodies.

The transmission gets you rolling with very little lag and responds quickly to throttle input at speed. Low range is there for super slow technical sections, and reverse seems ideally geared for backing out of a jam. Our only wish is that the XP’s transmission featured an engine braking system, or better yet, their active descent control system, at least on the four-seater.

With 13.5 inches of suspension travel up front and 14 out back, wheel travel is impressive.

With 13.5 inches of suspension travel up front and 14 out back, wheel travel is impressive. The stock settings seem to lie between what is ideal for two or four passengers. The ride was a bit harsh on small bumps with one or two occupants. Backing off on the compression damping should offer a bit more small bump compliance. With four occupants, the ride was plush, but the shocks wallowed a touch, allowing the car to frame out from time to time in deeper whoops. Adding some preload to the rear springs should go a long way in preventing this.  We’re not knocking the new shocks; you simply need to take advantage of their adjustability to fine tune the ride for the number of occupants you plan on carrying.

With a width of 64 inches and a wheelbase of 107.4 inches, the XP 4 is 3.5 inches wider and 4.4 inches longer than the standard RZR 4. Handling on the XP 4 is excellent, seeming to work better the harder you drive it. It’s a bit more stable on whooped out straights than the two-seat version. Cornering stability is also extremely impressive with little body roll. The RZR goes where you point it, and it is willing to drive through turns or wing the back end out controllably for slides. Handling remained predictable loaded or unloaded.

Polaris’s power steering system made maneuvering the high-speed short bus a breeze.

Polaris’s power steering system made maneuvering the high-speed short bus a breeze. Steering was light, yet predictable, and we never noticed any hard impacts to the front wheels transferred back to the steering wheel. It’s like driving your car–– you don’t think about it; it just feels natural.

The brakes have sufficient stopping power, offering a firm predictable feel at the pedal. They were strong, but driving in the sand makes judging their full potential more difficult.

The interior of the RZR seats six-foot tall riders well up front, but leaves you wanting just a touch more leg room in the back. Put a knee on each side of the seat in front of you, and it’s not bad, though. The driver benefits from tilt steering, and a combo analog and digital display, allowing you to reference speed at a glance. Polaris must have a patent on the front passenger grab bar, because no one has been smart enough to copy it yet! The rear passengers have a grab bar to hold onto that spans the width of the cockpit. Anti-cinch seat belts keep the shoulder strap from digging into your collarbone in the rough. The door nets are easy to open and shut, and help keep body parts in-board.   Dual cup holders, front and rear, keep drinks secure at a cruising pace, and there is additional on-board storage available in the right front glove box.

Conclusions.

If you complained about the price of the XP, you’re really going to whine if you want the power steering equipped, limited edition XP 4. Keep in mind, these aren’t ATV’s; they’re essentially limited production off-road cars. Buying the RZR XP 4 will cost you less than purchasing a family of four (four ATV’s) plus the cost of maintaining four vehicles. With that being said, the RZR XP 4 is pretty awesome!

Out West, four-seat conversions are a big thing, Polaris’ purpose-built, high-performance four-seater will outperform, handle better, and cost less than a well-done conversion. It lets you take your friends or family for the ride of their life, without having to give them control of your machine.  If you’re a racing nut like the guys at Jagged X, Custom Off Road Fabrication, you could even rework it as a two-seater and go win desert races with it.  It also provides a great activity to get the kids to spend time with the family, away from the reach of cell phone towers and WIFI.

There are many reasons why you would want to own the Polaris RZR. If you are looking to cover lots of ground and bring three more along for the ride, nothing on the market will do it with the speed and handling of the RZR XP 4 900.

Manufacturer: Polaris
Model: RZR XP 4 900
MSRP: $17,999-$19,499

Specifications:

engine
Engine Type 4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Displacement 875cc
Fuel System Electronic Fuel Injection
Cooling Liquid
drivetrain
Transmission/Final Drive Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft
Drive System On-Demand True AWD/2WD
suspension
Front Suspension Dual A-Arm Walker Evans 2″ body (comp adjust/res.) 13.5″ (34.3 cm) Travel
Rear Suspension Trailing Arm Walker Evans 2.5″ body (comp adjust/res.) 14″ (35.6 cm) Travel
brakes
Front/Rear Brakes 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front and Rear Calipers
Parking Brake Park in Transmission
tires/wheels
Front Tires / Model 27 x 9-12; ITP 900 XCT
Rear Tires / Model 27 x 11-12; ITP 900 XCT
Wheels Cast Aluminum
dimensions
Wheelbase 107.4″ ( 272.8 cm)
Dry Weight 1,390 lbs. (631.8 kg)
Overall Vehicle Size (LxWxH) 134.4″ x 64″ x 77″ (341.4 x 162.6 x 195.6 cm)
Ground Clearance 12.5″ (31.75 cm)
capacities
Fuel Capacity 7.25 gal (27.4 L)
Bed Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 23 x 38 x 10″ (58.4 x 96.5 x 25.4 cm)
Box Capacity N.A./300 lb (136.1 kg)
Payload Capacity 900 lb (408.2 kg)
Hitch Towing Rating N.A.
Hitch/Type None
features
Cargo System Lock & Ride
Lighting White LED, High/Low
Electronic Power Steering Base Red: Not Equipped. Liquid Silver LE: EPS is standard
Instrumentation Digital Gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Tripmeter, Hour Meter, Clock, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi-Temp/Low-Batt Lights, Coolant Temp, DC Outlets (2)

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