We were fortunate to organise a demonstration of a 2010 Polaris Ranger HD with our local dealer David Mancklelow. As we were interested in the Boss Lift and Carry Dump Bucket and Brush Grapple David made sure he brought these along as well. The HD particularly appealed to us as it comes standard with Nivomat shocks on the rear which allows it to automatically adjust the ride height back to normal with any reasonable load in the bed. It also features:
- 40 HP 760cc Twin Cylinder EFI Engine
- Electronic Power Steering (EPS)
- 680.4 kg Payload Capacity
- 907.2 kg Towing Capacity
Before getting a chance to drive the Ranger we had a few concerns. Would it have/be:
- Suitably low gearing for the really steep, rough country.
- Engine braking.
- Heat issues
- Decent Rubber
- Smooth ride
- Capable 4WD
- Large carrying capacity
- Mechanically reliable
When David arrived we already had a pallet loaded with 240 Kg of 20 litre drums of water so we placed it in the bed with the fork lift and watched the springs sag as expected. Time to find some rough, steep terrain. Sure enough after about 300 metres the HD was riding back at its normal height and able to clear that load over the typical rocks and logs encountered around a farm. We unloaded the water, picked up a few passengers and began a typical mustering journey. Traversing across steep inclines, climbing loose, rocky unforgiving hill climbs, crossing a razor back of blue serpentine rock the Ranger met every challenge with confidence and poise. The creek bed from hell had confronted some previous UTV’s and ATV’s but again the HD purred through with a sensibility that indicated it could handle a tougher track.
The 2010 HD does not have the Polaris engine braking system (EBS) per se but the gearing is low, in low range, and the disk brakes are good. The 2012 HD, however, does have (EBS) and we reckon it would be well worth waiting for if you are riding in extreme country. Without having tested it the jury is still out on its effectiveness.
The heat in the cab was noticeable and it was not a hot day. We did have a half windshield fitted which tends to vacuum engine heat into the cab and some radiator heat sneaks in around the accelerator and brake. From reading the forums it seems that heat is an issue with most designs of UTV as there is no airflow over the exhaust and engine. This can be rectified with aftermarket shields and fans.
The OEM tires are branded Polaris PXT which is a 6 ply rated Carlisle. These would be fine for a weekend warrior but if you plan on some Fairdinkum off-road action, upgrade.
Stability was exceptional and came close to the legendary Bombardier Traxter XL. The Ranger lacks the benefit of weight shift and possesses a slightly higher centre of gravity but for a UTV it scored full marks.
The suspension is exemplary and the 4WD system performed seamlessly all day. Polaris engineers have done their homework and the vehicle is far enough into its development cycle to be competent.
The HD has a certain design finesse which shows with its ability to carry passengers and large loads.
Mechanically, it all worked on the day, but time on the trail is needed to properly assess reliability. We are always nervous with new machinery. The brake calliper on the front of the hub has the effect of limiting the size of the CV boot protectors. This would appear to be a design flaw but we are willing to be proven wrong. As with all UTV’s and most ATV’s the under-body protection is under designed and a new owner should be upgrading this along with the tires, bull bar, roof, mudblocker kit and adding a decent winch.
The Polaris Ranger HD impressed all of those who attended our field day. It performed all of the normal duties asked of a UTV on tricky terrain with ease. We attached the Boss Bucket and Grapple and even conned David into shovelling out the cattle yards. Our thoughts on these attachments can be summarised as expensive, heavy and being a compromise suffer from just that, so plan to use your Tractor, Dingo, Drott, or Bobcat for such projects. They may be a good machine for snow ploughing but there’s “not much call for that around these parts”.