The overriding theme for the newest Polaris machines is more power, and you’ll also find features designed to make traversing steep grades with full loads safer. If you’re ready to add a hunter-friendly ATV or UTV, this company has got the goods.
As hunters, we’re always looking for ways to improve the hunting experience. It’s no secret that ATVs and UTVs can be a big plus, whether our chosen machine is used as transport to a remote location, or helping with habitat management on your own property. The bottom line is owning the right machine can increase the quality of your hunt, and that makes these versatile machines serious hunting companions.
For 2017 Polaris has released three new vehicles specifically designed for the hunter. Each has features that are useful afield. The new Ranger XP 1000 Hunter Edition (shown above) and Sportsman models have a new engine braking system that can help get you down a mountain or steep hill safer. The new General is a near-perfect blend of function and fun, for the hunter who likes to “cut loose” and still log long hours in the stand.
One thing all three new machines have in common is horsepower—and lots of it. But that horsepower is very controllable and usable. It is like the old adage: “Bring enough gun for what you’re hunting.” You’re not going to be out-gunned with the new Polaris vehicles, but you’re going to find enough control to ensure you’re not suffering from overkill, too. With any of these machines one thing is certain: If you’re a hunter, now is a great time to buy a new ATV or UTV.
2017 Sportsman XP 1000 Hunter Edition. The proven Sportsman 1000 was already a beast, but for 2017 Polaris has unleashed it. At the heart is the new 90-horsepower ProStar, Twin-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection. Having driven the new Sportsman through the mountains in Montana recently, we can attest this is the best engine yet. It feels almost electric, with smooth, controllable power on tap—and there’s a ton of it. One of the newest features that helps this is the new drive-by-wire, three-mode throttle system. You can choose from “work mode” that will limit the speed of the machine, regardless of how much gas you’re giving it. The “standard mode” gives you a normal power curve. “Performance mode” changes the EFI mapping and lets you get to the meat of the power quicker.
The overall design of the Sportsman has changed, too. You may have noticed it looks a little sleeker than previous models. It’s not just for show. The seat has been changed to a more-sculpted design that is extremely comfortable to sit on, and is easier to stand from. Rider position on the machine has been moved slightly more toward the rear of the Sportsman as well, giving you more control. This is easily the best-handling Sportsman yet. They also added arched lower A-arms in the suspension, which add ground clearance—now an impressive 11.5 inches. One other feature that is harder to see, is ductwork added to the body that moves more air from the front to the rear of the machine, helping to lower engine temperature and keep that heat away from the rider.
The new Sportsman is an amazing machine, but the Hunter Edition is special. Of course, it has to be camo and Polaris uses its own Pursuit camo pattern that looks great. From there, you’ll also notice steel rack extensions for securing your gear, as well as a set of Kolpin Ratchet Claws that work well to hold a bow, or a variety of accessories or tools. Polaris also added a completely redesigned gun scabbard. But wait, there’s more. Also included are front and rear brush guards and a 2,500-pound Polaris winch spooled with synthetic rope. There is also a rear LED work light, great for helping load up your buck after nightfall.
2017 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 Hunter Edition. The Polaris Ranger has been a workhorse machine for years. It boasts a big payload capacity in the bed and an easy-to-use design that has made it the leading vehicle in the Polaris lineup as far as sales go. It wasn’t a big surprise to see Polaris boost performance this year with the addition of the XP 1000. With 80 horsepower, the XP’s engine pulls for days. But Polaris has tuned the engine to be extremely controllable. Notice the theme here. When you go big with the engine, the danger is having a machine with a “racehorse” mentality—if it ain’t running hard, typically, it ain’t happy. Polaris took the step to make sure you had all the power you could want, but when you want it.
The Ranger also features the three-mode throttle system found in the new Sportsman. In the case of the Ranger, it is even more-pronounced. The “work mode” is great for food plot work. It limits you to 7-14 mph, or whatever you set it at. That way you can focus on the task and not worry if you’re going too fast. When you’re running a sprayer, or a spreader, this is the function you want to use.
The Hunter Edition comes decked out in Pursuit camo, and also features Lock & Ride gun scabbards and a 4,500-pound Polaris HD winch. More importantly, it comes with Active Descent Control (ADC). This is the only Ranger in the lineup that has this function. What ADC does is provide engine braking for steep downhills. Let’s say you’re coming back down off the mountain with the 1,000-pound bed capacity maxed-out with elk meat and camping gear. You’ve got a long, steep downhill section yet to handle and you’re not looking forward to standing on the brake pedal to stay in control. Engine braking uses the engine torque to slow the momentum of the machine, keeping you in better control.
2017 Polaris General Hunter Edition. If the Ranger is more focused on utility, the General takes aim at the recreation side. How can you describe it? Think of it this way: Polaris took a Ranger and a RzR, locked them in a darkened room and put on some Barry White. What resulted was something new, with elements of each machine.
The new General Hunter Edition has some functionality of the Ranger with a dumping cargo bed, low-range gearing, a 2-inch receiver and gearing that is more suited for dual use. From the RzR, it got a 100-hp ProStar engine and suspension and handling similar to the RzR S lineup. Unique to the General are the most-comfortable seats in the industry. For 2017, Polaris added “Turf Mode” to the transmission, allowing you to unlock the rear differential like on a Ranger or other utility machine. This will come in handy when working on food plots, or when you don’t want to tear up your lawn.
So why would you want a machine like the General? That’s easy. It has the ability to go anywhere and with less effort than other UTVs. With outstanding suspension and its comfortable interior, you can traverse rough terrain faster and with less impact on you. That’s important. When you have to exert more energy on the ride to camp, you’re going to have less energy to do things like set up camp, scout for game or, you know, hunt. We’ve heard the phrase Hunt Smarter, Not Harder enough that it is now somewhat cliché, but it holds true. We’d rather enjoy the trip and have plenty of energy left to focus on the actual hunt.
The General differs from other recreational UTVs in that it features a handy dumping box, and with a seriously useful 600-pound capacity. That will hold a lot of gear and game. The Hunter edition adds a 4,500-pound Polaris HD winch along with Lock & Ride gun scabbards, and is covered in Polaris’ Pursuit camo. There’s also a ton of useful accessories available to customize the machine. The General may be the ultimate machine for those who like to hunt hard all season long, and still have a lot of fun on the trails between seasons.