Definitely looking at a 2-up ATV and so far have narrowed it down to two machines: The Outlander 400 HO Max and the Polaris 500 Sportsman X2.
We are not looking for speed yet we want performance, handling and more so…reliabilty.
We are in a remote area and service is roughly 2 hours away. Which machine is the better of the two or is there another brand that we should also consider?
You’ve already coined it when you indicated reliability is first and foremost in your consideration. There really is no choice as to whether one is better than the other.
Both these 2-uppers are excellent and have strong reliability records. The Can-Am offers a bit more in terms of passenger comfort but the Polaris has a really handy on-board-convertible box system the Can-Am doesn’t.
The Can-Am is carbureted (something that may be a benefit if you’re stranded in the way-outback) and the X-2 is fuel injected (a really nice feature for starting and stumble free throttle control).
The Polaris definitely has the upper hand in ride and handling but your rear passenger will probably like the Can-Am’s seat better. It really comes down to where you can get dealer support for either of these.
I’d talk to both dealers and try to get a feel for their service reputation. Ultimately, it will come down to that issue.
You could also check out the Arctic Cat TRV automatic (a 2-up with optional convertible accessories for utility use). Once again, the dealer support in your case is absolutely critical.