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The original Sportsman was launched way back in the mid-1990s. The first IRS (Independent Rear Suspension) models were released in 1996 and were powered by Polaris’s first 4-stroke, the venerable 500cc DOHC Fuji single (Polaris’s longstanding engine supplier) with a carb for induction.

The original Sportsman proceeded to slay the ATV market. Millions of these ATVs have been built and sold by the northern Minnesota off-road vehicle manufacturer.

There are two reasons why the Sportsman continues to sell in heroic volumes today: The first is its standard equipment and the second is Polaris’ commitment to deliver all this stuff at an incredible price.

The latest high value Sportsman has been updated from previous versions using a new, more compact independent rear suspension (IRS) and a return to the original Sportsman’s McPherson Strut independent front suspension. In our opinion these were the best riding iterations of the famous Sportsman. Goes without saying, we love the way this new 450 handles and rides.

From a power perspective the new-for-MY16 450 is impressive. This SOHC Pro Star EFI single loves to be revved. Power from engagement through mid-range is torquey-impressive. We’re pretty sure Polaris upped the value-leader Sportsman this year from 330 to 450ccs in response to the improved performance of Can- Am’s new 450 Rotax single.

The Sportsman 450 will go nose-to-nose with the Can-Am, something the 330 Sportsman ETX was unable to do. Not coincidentally, the 330 ETX is erased from the Polaris line-up this year. Standard equipment is where Polaris frustrates the competition. This new 450 is no exception to this rule. Our 450 pictured here has EPS, a hefty cost upgrade we feel is well worth the money for most riders. However, we’ve ridden other Sportsman models lots of miles without EPS and are still here to tell the story.

Consider this laundry list of goodies included with the lowest-priced Sportsman for MY16: Standard single lever brakes with braided steel lines, full, mud-resistant floorboards, composite racks with great capacities and an under-rack storage area up front.

There’s full instrumentation, electric-shift-able true 4×4 that doesn’t require the pilot to select diff-lock when it gets really slippery. (If Polaris’ Demand Drive senses a 5-percent variance in front wheel speed it automatically goes from differential 4×4 to fully locked 4WD).

This year there’s a new, easier-to-toggle 4×4 actuator on the right hand throttle block. Out back, Polaris’ benchmark IRS employs a full anti- sway bar and preload adjustable coil-over shocks. Polaris’ watertight and cool running CVT tranny extrudes power into a hi-lo-reverse sub tranny. The Sportsman comes not only pre-wired for a winch but prepped to accept Polaris’ quick-on, quick-off snow plow harness and mold board.

Go ahead and take another read of the included standard equipment and see if there’s anything you want in your next ATV we missed. Truth is, there isn’t. The Polaris Sportsman equipment load we’ve outlined is not some random stab at fuzzy market demands. The equipment list this incredibly value-priced ATV possesses has been fine tuned to continually meet the expectations of today’s ATV marketplace.

One ride on the 450 and you’ll be left with a very difficult decision. Strangely, it may not be deciding which of the 450’s competitors can legitimately be compared to it. The real decision you’ll face is this: Should you go for the ultra-value priced 450 or the more powerful but identically equipped Sportsman 570 for less than the price of the 450 with EPS?

Mark Lester
Mark Lester
Mark Lester is Co-Publisher of SUPERTRAX Magazine and a regular Host on Dirt Trax TV.

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