Whether or not this huge Ranger win a debate about SxS performance is a point of debate itself.
Certainly, those Polaris customers who are looking for pure performance – at least defined in the way most people think of it – would be better served with the purchase of a General or an RZR. We think performance has a skewed definition when it comes to this stretched-out Ranger.
First of all, its 900cc engine is completely under-stressed at 67-hp. We know for a fact other versions of this DOHC parallel twin can make north of 80-hp, so why the downslope? It’s probably about durability and torque curve.
Horsepower isn’t always the best indicator of how much lugging, pulling, hauling a vehicle can pull off. For instance, load this Ranger up with gear in the bed, invite six people to take a seat and torque is your best friend. Consider the fact this Polaris is governed to top out at 50-mph and you begin to understand why a high-revving, high output, screamer engine just isnt ideal for the market the Ranger 900-6 is aimed at.
Performance can also be categorized into suspension and handling. Although the Ranger doesn’t turn-in with the acumen of an RZR, it does have a very reasonable turning circle for a vehicle its length and can negotiate corners under power with enough elan to evoke bursts of adrenaline.
Whether it’s loaded with cargo (human or otherwise) or not, the Ranger delivers an excellent ride. This range of ride compliance is a black art and one that frankly, impresses us. With 10-inches of travel front and rear, there’s ample room for shock movement and for the dampers to absorb medium and low speed jolts at considerable velocity.
The truth is, you’re not going to be railing this vehicle fully loaded with over 1000-lbs of cargo on hideously rough terrain with the rev-limiter tapped-out anyway. What you may be doing is taking two or three people for a joyride on some gnarly stretches and using all the shocks can offer. This spring-shock combo is certainly up-to-the-task and the combo of a mile-long wheelbase and good shock calibration delivers surprisingly decent plushness.
Other facets of performance in this category include cab ergonomics and ease of utility use. The Ranger 6 features an easy loading, tilting cargo bed with a smooth operating tailgate. Seating is roomy – especially for four riders – and not so real-world roomy with six. Our suggestion is limiting full passenger tickets to four adults and two kids maximum or just making sure your 6-adult crew are included on short enough rides they’re still speaking to one another at the end of the day. There are six seat belts included, though.
In the cab there’s good legroom and entry-exit is very easy with the upright positioning of the seats. We hate the nanny-government legislators who’ve made the manufacturers put throttle restrictors in place when you don’t have the seatbelts coupled and the mesh doors clamped.
Obviously this is another case of an OEM being put in a position where it has to toe the line or face the possibility of huge liability problems. For this reason and a few others, we’d prefer real hinged doors – but then the price would climb skyward and for what you’re getting here, the cost-value equation is pretty good, as is.
The last and maybe most important aspect of performance in this category is 4-wheel drive. Ease-of-operation and quick response to terrain is absolutely vital when you’re stressing a big vehicle like the 900-6. There’s nothing new with the On-Demand Polaris setup here – except it also features a Versa-Trac turf-mode, unlocking differential.
The same 4×4 system is used on all Polaris off-road vehicles and uses a mechanical Hilliard setup to sense the need to engage or lock 4WD. On-Demand enables you to drive the Ranger in all-wheel all the time, switch over to 2WD or permanently lock into 4-wheel. You’re the boss and everything can be engaged on-the-fly. Frankly, there’s no better 4WD system on the market – maybe with the exception of certain John Deere SxSs.
So performance is a relative thing when it comes to utility. Sure, there’s plenty of power on tap with the Ranger 900 but it’s all the other aspects of performance we’ve noted here that make it such an ideal vehicle. It’s a near-perfect fit for its category and Polaris sells a ton of these things. No surprises there!