I recently parked my cheeks on the saddle of a 2009 Sportsman 550 EFI EPS while comparing a few equivalent models. Polaris has renovated the Sportsman from the ground up, leaving nothing of the previous edition in its wake. Everything you’re hearing is on the money. Compared to past models, the only similarity is a great ATV.
A common complaint about the previous Sportsman was its weight. Even though the 2009 XP is still a bit porky, power delivery from the 549cc SOHC 4-stroke mill leaves us wondering what all the weight-worry is about.
Furthermore, the transverse mounted engine offers more space on the running boards for your knees and feet and delivers a much more comfortable seated position for the rider.
Ask a handful of saddle monkeys which type of brake system they prefer and you’ll probably get mixed reviews. I personally am not a big fan of the single brake lever system, preferring dual levers for both front and rear stoppage. Gotta give credit where it’s due, though. For shear braking power, the Sportsman nails it squarely on the melon. Grab one fistful and the XP brings your ride to a halt in a hurry.
Our entire All-Terrain Vehicle team agrees Polaris has one of the best electronic power steering systems available. The variable assist EPS delivers effortless steering at lower speeds – so effortless I could literally steer with one finger.
As speed increases you can actually feel the steering become more responsive as the power assist decreases. Again, I ask, if you’re peeling bills from your wallet for a new ATV, why wouldn’t you spend a few bucks extra for EPS if its available?
Another checkmark in the pros column is the XP’s rack system. Think for a second about roost deflection. The Sportsman’s composite plastic racks provide more mud coverage over the rear fenders and tires than either the Grizzly 550 or 550 Arctic Cat we compared. Get your tires spinning on the XP and there’s significant protection out the back end. In my opinion, best racks in the business.
Flip through any back-issue of All-Terrain Vehicle and you’ll see the old Sportsman was almost always a winner or, at least, in the top two. The XP is no different. Consistent delivery of an excellent product backed by attention to detail in nearly every area make the XP a fantastic ATV.
Story: Mike Lester
Photo: Kyle McDougall