Utility-terrain vehicles were designed, as the name implies, to offer more capacity for utility use than a standard all-terrain vehicle. By design, the UTVs are heavier than ATVs, slower than ATVs, and appear to be configured for a rider who opts for more creature comforts in his or her powersports vehicle.
Maybe that's why Polaris chose to forgo the "UTV" moniker for its sporty new Ranger RZR and instead use the term side-by-side.
It seemed to work for Yamaha and its Rhino line, which has expanded to seven models. And Rhino market share is exactly what the new RZR is going to be gunning for when it arrives at Polaris dealerships in early summer with an MSRP of $9,999.
"The recreational segment of the side-by-side vehicle market is the fastest-growing market segment today, growing in excess of 45 percent in 2006, and the all-new Ranger RZR attacks this market head-on," says Polaris CEO Tom Tiller.
"Ranger RZR was designed to appeal to a wide variety of riders," says Matt Homan, general manager of Polaris' Ranger line. "Avid trail riders will appreciate Ranger RZR's ability to go anywhere an ATV can go; hunters will enjoy the ability to navigate to the most remote and extreme hunting spots while hauling enough gear for two; and side-by-side sport enthusiasts will find Ranger RZR's light weight, cornering ability, acceleration and top speed appealing."
Polaris isn't pulling any punches with this. It's marketing the RZR as "the first trail-capable, fastest-accelerating and lightest side-by-side" with "the lowest cage height compared to its competitors" and "the lowest center of gravity of all the sport side-by-sides."
That's a lot of boasting. Let's look at the numbers: Weighing 945 lbs., the RZR is powered by a fuel-injected 760cc liquid-cooled four-stroke twin engine Polaris claims is capable of propelling the vehicle to 35 mph in four seconds and a top speed of 55 mph.
It features a true all-wheel drive (AWD) system that automatically engages when the rider needs more forward traction and reverts back to 2WD automatically when AWD is no longer needed.
The 102-inch-long vehicle harbors a 77-inch wheelbase, a width of 50 inches, and a 69-inch cage height, about equal to a rider sitting on an ATV and low enough to traverse below a forest canopy.
For optimal weight distribution, the unit is built with a midengine design and has riders in a sort of cockpit, positioned at least 7 inches lower than where they would be seated in a competitive side-by-side vehicle.
With a seat height that low, it's comforting to know Polaris hadn't forgotten about suspension duties. Offering 10 inches of ground clearance, the RZR ride is damped by a double A-arm front suspension with a front anti-sway bar and a rolled independent rear suspension. There's 9 inches of travel in the front and 9.5 inches in the rear. Sealed shocks offer five-way preload adjustability.
Side cab nets, a passenger T-bar, steel-braided brake lines, and underbody steel skid plates complete the "sport" design.
Oh yeah, when play time's over and it's time to get out and do some work, the RZR is there with a 1500 lb. towing capacity, a cargo bed rated for 300 lbs., 12 tie-down points, under-hood storage, tilt steering, adjustable handrails and seats, and a myriad of Pure Polaris accessories in addition to what is sure to come from the aftermarket.
The 2007 Ranger RZR is comparable in price to the 2007 Rhino 660 Auto 4x4. — Guido Ebert