When Polaris launched the RZR XP 10 years back, it was trying to be a little bit of everything to everyone. The sport side-by-side was the original, but being the original meant having to cast a wide net.
The success of that model pushed Polaris to build vehicles for more specific functions. Like the tight trail Trails, big power Turbo R and even bigger Pro R models. Even some for the kids.
Having a huge new family let the Polaris engineering team return to what the RZR XP did best. Tune the rig for social riders — riders who wanted to spend a day or weekend on the trails with friends old and new. Riders who just wanted to get out, not break lap records or see how high they could fly.
In short: The 2024 Polaris RZR XP 1000 transforms into something that’s easier to ride all day long, with more power and less maintenance. But, some small ergonomic issues hold it back.
DOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke parallel twin; 4 valve
True On-Demand 2WD/AWD
Walker Evans 16-position Needle shocks; 16.0″ travel
Walker Evans 16-position Needle shocks; 18.0″ travel
Dual hydraulic discs, dual-piston calipers
Dual hydraulic discs, single-piston calipers
90″ / 117″ (XP4)
Cargo bed capacity
1,574 lbs.; Sport (1,910 XP 4 Ultimate)
Extremely stiff chassis
No squeaks, buzzes, or rattles
Comfortable long-travel suspension
Highly controllable throttle
Ride Command 7.0″ screen
Small front seats
Lack of legroom
New Polaris RZR XP Means Reexamining the Formula
Polaris took me to Windrock Park in Tennessee to experience that social ride — and to experience all of the changes that have transformed the RZR XP from one of the most popular on the market into something it thinks will sell even better.
An RZR XP that is stronger, more comfortable, and — key in this segment — easier to own.
Stronger, Stiffer Chassis
The 2024 Polaris RZR XP starts life with a completely new chassis. The new welded frame is 25% stiffer than the model it replaces. Attached to that frame is a new rollover protection system.
A stronger frame has two main benefits, and I’ll start with the one you’re probably going to notice first: It makes the RZR XP quieter on the trail.
Combine the stronger frame with a more rigidly bolted roll bar, and you have fewer squeaks and rattles. I spent a day crashing the RZR XP over rocks, boulders, washboard, and ruts. The half windshield, roof, and all the rest of the bodywork were impressively well-secured thanks to that stiff shell.
Pounding down Windrock’s trails, the RZR XP felt as well put together as an SUV on flat pavement. The only rattles came from the ice in the accessory cooler mounted from the bed.
The cooler rattles are on me, though. The cooler had easy-to-use latches; I just forgot to latch them.
Adjustable Shocks Tuned for All-Day Comfort
The second big benefit of a stiffer frame is better suspension performance. If the chassis bends, it stops the springs and shocks from doing their job. It sends the forces from the trail into your hands and seat instead of the suspension. At least some of them.
Polaris has fitted Walker Evans Needle shocks with 16-position adjustment. The clickers control both compression and rebound. They’re also easy to locate and adjust, though I didn’t fiddle with them on ride day.
Walker Evans doesn’t have the brand prestige of Fox, but the shocks cost less money. That’s why Polaris used them here; the company said that value is a key part of this segment.
No matter the name, the 2-inch front and 2.5-inch rear shocks are massively impressive on the trail. Because Polaris has desert-ready RZR models on sale now, it was able to tune the XP with a little more comfort in mind. The hardcore riders have other options.
After a full day of riding, I was still comfortable in the RZR XP. The suspension cushioned some very rough trails — and I’ll admit to looking for the rough parts — but I didn’t feel beat up by it.
Almost as importantly, the 16 inches of front and 18 inches of rear travel from that suspension kept the tires planted at all times. I didn’t leave a wheel in the air, and I didn’t see any of the line of riders in front of me do it either.
Tall Ground Clearance, Until You’re Full
And 14.5 inches of ground clearance is plenty to get over some pretty big rocks and deal with some very deep ruts. However, I did notice that I, as well as some other heavier riders, didn’t get all of that clearance. We bottomed out the RZR more than lighter riders. The four-seaters with three passengers on the run didn’t seem to have the same problem.
There is a full-coverage skid plate underneath. So if you do run out of clearance, you only need to be worried about getting high-centered, not damaging anything important. And the accessory winch is now mounted in a spot that’s much easier to use if you need a pull.
Playful, Nimble Handling
While it was comfy on the slow and rough stuff, it was playful at speeds. On the short stretches of winding pavement leading to the trails and long and fast stretches of dirt on Windrock’s transit road network, this was a lot of fun.
Stable and predictable for entry-level riders, the RZR XP was also easy to have some fun with. Drop the throttle mid-corner and the nose would tuck in.
Follow the nose dip with a bit of throttle and the nose would climb into delightfully controllable four-wheel drifts or power oversteer depending on how playful I felt, and the visibility around the corner. Credit the direct and well-weighted steering — steering that also worked well to isolate my hands from what was happening at the tire surface, making riding less tiresome.
More Power From New ProStar Engine
Power oversteer comes thanks to a Gen 2 ProStar 999cc twin and the selectable 4×4 system. The engine delivers 114 horsepower and has confidence-inspiring linearity to the throttle. There are loads of torque from the powerplant, even at lower rpm. But the new CVT is so quick to respond that what it does at low rpm doesn’t really matter.
It was responsive at speed, but it also had excellent control when it was time to crawl. Low range would maintain an indicated one mile per hour, even on hills I couldn’t have walked down. It was also smooth in doing it, not jerking if I wasn’t smooth with my pedal movements.
I was glad for that engine braking because the actual brakes were less confidence-inspiring. It took a lot of travel to get the four-wheel discs to bite. Even at full pedal, there was not enough clamping force to lock the tires, meaning long stopping distances.
No Rattles, Still Noisy
With all of the work Polaris put into making the chassis quiet, I was a bit disappointed by the noise coming from the engine. Even at idle, I needed to yell to be heard. And the 900W Rockford Fosgate audio system had to be cranked up to overcome it.
Polaris dug into its parts bin for this new transmission. The belt comes from the work-ready Ranger and the front drive from the RS1. Its geared reverse is also from the Ranger bin. Polaris picked it because it found that RZR XP riders were getting into deep mud — mud where rocking a conventional reverse gear wasn’t durable enough.
Other improvements, like stronger prop shafts and half shafts along with beefier bearings, are all meant to help reliability. The same goes for better airflow around the CVT meant to keep the fluid cool and increase belt life.
The engine can also run longer between trips to the shop. The new design and more oil capacity double the time between fluid changes. When it is time for service, you’ll find toolless access to the important parts of the engine.
Solid Cabin, Not Perfect
So far, the RZR’s ride experience was wonderful. I had mixed feelings, though, about the cabin.
Befitting the new frame, this was a well-put-together and high-quality interior. It also had a great layout for the controls and plenty of easy adjustments for the steering wheel, passenger grab handle, and even the driver’s seat.
Polaris has also flattened out the profile of the front roll bar hoops to make sure the optional windshield is better-sealing than ever. The flat panel drops into a specially fit “ditch” in the front bodywork that really keeps it in place.
The front seats are an inch lower and 1.5 inches further back. The rear seats are 2 inches higher so that your rear seat passengers can see past your big helmeted head.
But two-seat or four, the RZR XP is tight on legroom for tall or long-legged riders. Likewise, the (otherwise comfortable) front seats have very short bottom cushions — cushions that did not give me enough support for a long ride. I know I’m taller than average, but I heard some other riders of average height but long inseam complain about the same issue.
Though the foot taco helps take care of those long-legged drivers. The cleverly named footrest is just one of the multiple dead pedals Polaris has fitted for driver and passenger. The difference is that this one is just a V-cut groove in the floor.
If you don’t use the foot taco, you’ll never notice it. If, like me, you sit with your left leg splayed out so it doesn’t hit the firewall, the V is in the perfect spot to comfortably brace your left foot. The only thing missing is some sort of graphic to let riders know it is there.
Massive Cargo Management Accessory Catalog
The RZR XP has excellent cargo management, especially if you dip into the accessory catalog. It starts in the cabin where two bins on the dash are big enough to hold phones (there’s a USB port in the driver’s) and a couple of bottles of water. They’re very well sealed and easy to open with a magnetic catch.
A tray in the back holds plenty of gear. To make storage even easier, you can get custom-sized cargo totes in sizes that are easy to unload. You can also get an accessory cooler. Or, if you just want to toss and go, there is an available tonneau cover that lets you do exactly that.
The accessory spare tire mount goes above your cargo on the back. It has gas struts that make it easy to open. They’ll also hold it in place when you’re digging for gear in the back.
Ride Command Makes Group Rides a Snap
Then there’s the best Polaris feature for anyone wanting a social ride: Ride Command. All RZR XP models get a digital display, but only the Ultimate trim gets Ride Command. The screen has trail navigation and loads of customizable gauges, but it also lets you set up group rides.
With a group ride, everyone can see where the rest of the group is on-screen. It leaves breadcrumbs and shows every rider the same route. When I was at the back of a line of more than dust-kicking 20 machines, it was a great help to know which way to go. And if everyone else had stopped around that next bend.
Polaris has a magician in the interior design department, too. After a full day of riding and most of us coming back completely soaked in mud, every screen was still clear. Somehow, no mud got on the 7.0-inch display. Or the backup camera. See, magic.
2024 Polaris RZR XP Review: Conclusion
With the new 2024 RZR XP 1000, Polaris has created an excellent machine. It’s one that’s approachable for brand-new riders, but has enough performance for the jaded pros on our ride. One that will let you spend a full day riding in comfort and come back the next day ready for more — even if the seat is a bit too small for you.
Polaris said that it expects this model to sell even better than the last one. With a starting price of $20,999 ($25,999 for Ultimate), which is $900 lower than the model it replaces, that’s not hard to believe.