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Extended Field Test: Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition

New Polaris vehicle raises the ante in the side-by-side market with performance and creature comforts.

Extended Field Test: Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition

The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition takes to muddy and wet conditions like it's second nature. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

For the hunting public, four-wheelers and side-by-sides have become standard issue. These workhorses offer outdoorsmen mechanized mobility to roam further into the wilds in pursuit of their passions.

Polaris has been a leader in the market sector for decades, offering an expansive line-up of vehicles at varying price points. For 2021, Polaris has introduced their new General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition, which represents the best-of-the-best offered by the company.


Recently, I had the chance to put the new model through its paces on an extended three-month field test.

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Shifting into four-wheel drive on the Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition is seamless, allowing the driver to get out of rapidly deteriorating situations. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

THE BUILD

The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition is a substantial build, presenting a large profile at 150.2L x 64W x 77H (381.5 x 162.56 cm x 195.59). The four-door vehicle has a formidable look, rolling high on toothy 30” x 10-15 Pro Armor Crawler XG tires and stylish 15-inch cast aluminum wheels.


It has a generous 1,100-pound (499 kg) payload capacity and carries four passengers. With a wheelbase of 115 inches (292 cm), a stance of 64 inches (162.56 cm) and a dry weight of 2,058 pounds (933.5 kg), the XP 4 Custom Edition offers users a solid off-road platform no matter how unruly or angular the terrain turns.

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The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition is a comfortable four-seater with 1,100-pound payload capacity. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition is motivated by a ProStar 1000 4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder (999cc displacement) engine equipped with electronic fuel injection. The powerplant generates 100 horsepower and is lashed to an automatic transmission (P/R/N/L/H), which keeps the machine in the powerband.

A class-leading 13.5 inches of ground clearance results from an A-arm set-up with Walker Evans Velocity Series Shocks, offering 14 inches of suspension travel. A four-wheel hydraulic disc with dual-bore front and rear calipers are tasked with braking chores. The XP 4 Custom Edition turns on a high-output electronic power steering system.

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The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition's cabin includes best-in-class ergonomics, with all the controls laid out logically and easily within reach. (Photos by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn).

The vehicle has a fuel capacity of 9.5 gallons (35.9 L) for extended treks into backcountry locales. Niceties on the General XP 4 1000 include: a tilt/dumping rear rack system with a box capacity of 600 pounds (272 kg); Kolpin gun mount, integrated 4,500-pound Polaris HD Winch; Rockford Fosgate Stage 1 Audio System; poly sport roof; convex rear-view mirror; Pro Armor 11-inch light bar and low-profile sport bumper.

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The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition has a class-leading 13.5 inches of ground clearance. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

Thickly padded bolstered bucket seats (with driver seat slider; height adjustable) and seat belts keep occupants buttoned-up when under power. A tilt steering wheel adds to XP 4 Custom Edition's comfort level, accommodating operators of varying sizes and statures.

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The tilt/dumping rear rack system (above, below) has a box capacity of 600 pounds. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)
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Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn

The instrument cluster relates a plethora of information on the vehicle's status at a glance. Functions include dual-sweep analog dials w/ 4-inch LCD, user-selectable blue/red backlighting and brightness, programmable service intervals, speedometer, tachometer, odometer, tripmeter, clock, hour meter, gear indicator, fuel gauge, coolant temperature, voltmeter, service indicator and codes, seat-belt reminder light.




An ancillary DC power outlet is provided for accessories an operator may want to power up independently in the field. The XP 4 Custom Edition has a standard 2-inch receiver hitch (5cm) with a tow rating of 1,500 pounds for those who pull additional gear along on their adventures.

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From the large, aggressively lugged tires to the beefy suspension and throaty exhaust, the Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition naturally draws serious outdoorsmen in for a closer look. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

THE PERFORMANCE

My first impression when taking delivery of the Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition was this was a serious off-roading machine. Every accoutrement on the XP 4 Custom emulates the performance-built design. From the large, aggressively lugged tires to the beefy suspension and throaty exhaust—this machine naturally draws serious hunters into its gravity for a closer look.

The exterior styling conveys the machine's feisty attitude. A deeply sculpted hood adds flare while color-coordinated graphics in earthy, stealth greens interspersed with camo inlays accent body panels.

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The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition is a serious off-road machine. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

Each component on the build melds nicely with others, providing testament to the level of engineering that went into the design and build. In other words, nothing on the machine sticks out awkwardly or looks like it was bolted-on as an afterthought.

When settling into the driver's seat for the first time you can't help but notice just how downright comfy they are. The bolster styling wraps gently around the body, with extra padding where it is needed when throttling over angry terrain. The seat-belt system is also comfortable, a complete surprise to anyone who has ever been ratcheted into a side-by-side.

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We splashed plenty of mud onto the Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition in an extended three-month field test. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

The cockpit of the XP 4 Custom Edition is thoughtful, with all the controls laid out logically, and easily within reach. All of these are large too, offering ease-of-manipulation when operating with gloved hands. Additionally, the dashboard has a nice contour which provides a bit more leg room for taller operators. The onboard gauge cluster is large and easy to see even while bouncing over obstacles.

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The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition has plenty of off-road power with its 100-horsepower power plant. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

I ran the XP 4 Custom Edition through its off-roading paces to gauge its agility when the footing becomes suspect. The vehicle performed nicely in the wet stuff, taking to the mud like it was second nature. Shifting into four-wheel drive is seamless, allowing the operator to get out of a rapidly deteriorating situation without breaking a sweat.


The XP 4 Custom Edition's 999cc power plant, with its 100 horsepower, has plenty of power to do whatever it is you’d like to do off-road. The throttle response is crisp, and the powerband wide, due in part to the gearing and electronic fuel injection.

Additionally, there is no appreciable lurching or hiccupping when accelerating sharply. This will be much appreciated when precise application of power is needed to remedy a bad off-roading situation (think creeping out of deep ruts replete with sloppy gumbo mud).

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The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition's user-friendly rear rack is suited for a deer hunt in the woods or a weekend DIY project. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

The XP 4 Custom Edition brakes with the best in the business, bringing the formable machine to a stop no matter how slickery the conditions.

The rear rack is welcomed. I loved the fact it dumps, making it even more user-friendly. It will be appreciated by hunters who have gear or trophies they need to transport in and out of the woods. Or, alternatively, for payloads that dump easier than unload, like dirt for a weekend yard project.

I was also very impressed with the fuel economy of this Polaris. The large bore engine seemingly sipped fuel, even when driven aggressively.

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We put the Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition through its paces on an extended three-month field test. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

CONCLUSION

Polaris' flagship General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition comes with an exhaustive list of features, those which will be much appreciated by those outdoorsmen in search of the ultimate off-roading side-by-side.

The XP 4 Custom Edition performance is outstanding with few identifiable weaknesses. Many off-road vehicles often shine in one area; for instance, they may have raw horsepower, however, it is difficult to manage because other functions are not up to par, like braking or steering.

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The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition performance was outstanding, our tester Dr. Todd Kuhn concluded. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

The Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition's four-stroke power, steering and braking functions operate synergistically, accelerating, turning and stopping without error. The cabin ergonomics on the Polaris are best-in-class, in my opinion, offering creature comfort even when motoring in less-than-ideal conditions.

With an MSRP that starts at $28,699, this machine was designed for the dedicated outdoorsmen. However, while this number may be cause for pause for some, considering the performance and creature comforts the Polaris General XP 4 1000 Pursuit Limited Edition offers, the pricing is reasonable with this level of side-by-side performance and creature comfort.

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With an MSRP that starts at $28,699, the Polaris General XP 4 1000 Factory Custom Edition was designed for the dedicated outdoorsman. (Photo by Dr. Todd A. Kuhn)

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