We’re getting acquainted with our long-term Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S, a machine that exists primarily to bring about smile-inducing fun and to conquer anything and everything in its path. Yet no spec sheet can tell you whether a vehicle is good or not. Assessing the competence, achievement of reason for the machine’s existence, and performance in the real world all comes via testing it the way the manufacturer intended. Now that we have some seat time on the Scrambler, we can discuss what it’s like to ride. Does the big Polaris hit the mark? Spoiler alert: It’s epic.
A whole ‘lotta quad
Polaris states the Scrambler XP 1000 S delivers “unmatched control and performance” and that it gives riders the “Confidence to crawl, navigate deep ruts and straighten a twisted trail.” Those are big claims, in a field of four-wheelers built on big claims. Yet the Scrambler’s niche is even smaller, with the sport-4×4 segment being an eclectic one consisting of barely enough four-wheelers to count on one hand. This category is built on the idea of wanting utility quad four-by-four capability without the perceived compromises of having big, bulky bodywork and racks to deal with. Think Ram TRX, not Power Wagon.
So, how does the big PoPo fare? With a few rides behind the Scrambler’s bars under our belt, we can say that our preliminary testing deems the company’s halo quad a bona fide home run. Why? Plenty of reasons. It looks wild (in a good way). It has unbeatable suspension that soaks up everything while managing to keep it incredibly planted. The Electric Power Steering (EPS) provides the right amount of assistance at the right time and beautifully mitigates handlebar kickback. The stock tires are well-suited to the usage case, something that can’t be said about a lot of other vehicle-tire pairings. The ergonomics are good for all-day comfort and suit a wide range of rider sizes. And, of course, the power from the 952cc parallel-twin engine is outstanding, and the CVT helps deliver immediate, explosive acceleration at any speed.
The Scrambler isn’t like other ATVs
It takes a lot for two machines with the same chassis and engine to feel entirely different. But the Scrambler XP 1000 S is substantially more fun and playful than the Sportsman XP 1000 Ride Command Edition with which it shares its bones and powertrain. Part of this is thanks to the Scrambler’s spectacular suspension which helps it put the ProStar’s 89 horsepower to the ground better while also allowing for full-fledged Baja-style running without so much as a minor complaint. Then again, with massive suspension travel (12.5 inches front, 14 inches rear), 14.5 inches of ground clearance, and a 55-inch wide stance paired to shocks of this quality, it should ride this well. And it does. The Scrambler disposed of our harsh, rocky, rooted, muddy local trails in a way we’ve never before experienced. It was unlike anything I could have imagined. There is no better four-wheeler than the Scrambler XP 1000 S for this type of trail.
But it isn’t perfect. For one, there is no dry storage, even if Polaris says the tiny compartment under the brake light is in fact watertight (Spoiler alert: It isn’t). But we remedied this on our own, and you can read about that (or listen to us talk about it!) in a coming post.
For now, the only other practical “downside” we’ll touch on is the aforementioned 55-inch width. The Scrambler is the only quad this wide, and while that gives it a huge handling advantage, it also means fitting it in the bed of some pickups can be a bit tight. That’s a non-issue for behemoths like the GMC Sierra 2500 Denali Ultimate, but if you own a small or mid-size truck you’re going to need a trailer. Oh, and this top-dog Scrambler XP 1000 S costs $17,799 US dollars. That’s three times as much as my first ATV cost, and it’s a higher price than what two of the least expensive new cars on sale today list at. Truth be told, I’d rather commute and go places on the Polaris.
As good as it gets
These are champagne problems if there ever were any. Our time with the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S thus far reveals it to be an unbeatable sport-4×4. It’s got the goods in every aspect, from its incredible suspension to the never-ending power. Four-wheeling as a hobby is about fun first and foremost, and in this capacity the Scrambler XP 1000 S embodies and delivers on the spirit of “go big or go home,” which makes for the most fun that can be had on four wheels.