After spending a few months during the sloppy spring weather in the Northeast with our Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter Edition, we’re prepared to make our final call. Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area near Shamokin, PA has more challenging mud holes than just about anywhere else I’ve ever ridden, so it seemed the perfect spot to torture test our High Lifter Sportsman mud monster!
|85hp ProStar Engine|
|High Mounted Air Intake and Vent Lines|
|Mud Specific Gearing|
|Shielded, Snorkeled Clutch and Engine Intake|
|29.5″ High Lifter Outlaw II Tires|
|Rack-mounted radiator with inverted dual fans|
|Electric Power Steering (EPS)|
|Close-ratio On-Demand All-Wheel Drive|
|Articulated, rolled Independent Rear Suspension (IRS)|
|High-Clearance Arched, Dual A-Arm Suspension|
|High-Mounted Front and Rear Bumpers|
|3,500lb. Polaris Winch|
|Centered, Handlebar-Mounted Mud Bar|
The heart of the beast is Polaris’ fuel-injected, liquid-cooled twin cylinder powerplant cranking out 85 ponies. The fuel-injection makes for effortless starting and throttle modulation, while throttle response is crisp and accurate. The intake for the engine is located in the same spot as all Sportsman models. However, combustion air is drawn into the intake through front-mounted snorkels. This location helps keep water out of the intake, making deep water crossings easier.
To keep the radiator clean and out of harms way, Polaris utilizes a unique rack-mounted radiator with inverted dual fans mounted under a plastic cowl in place of the front rack. Turning monster tires in the sloppy muck takes power, which in turn creates heat. Keeping the engine cool is one of the keys to longevity, and this radiator design does a great job!
The Sportsman High Lifter Edition comes equipped with a low-ratio mud-specific transmission. With transmission gear ratios reduced by 45%, when accounting for the larger tires, the effective gear ratio is actually 38% lower than a standard Sportsman. The low ratio transmission gives the Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter the ability to turn the big, heavy Outlaw II tires without killing the performance. Shifting from Park, through High, Low, Neutral, and Reverse is done with the same right-hand-mounted shifter as all Sportsman models.
Polaris’ On-Demand All Wheel Drive system will definitely come in handy on this model! The system is engaged/disengaged by the flick of a switch on the right handlebar.
When designing the Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter Edition, Polaris developed high clearance arched dual A-arms for the front and rear. The arched arms provide more ground clearance, which in turn helps keep the machine from getting hung up from roots or rocks hiding beneath the murky surface. Stiffer suspension springs also help to control the heavier tires and extra weight.
At low speed, the ride is a bit rough due mostly in part to the aggressive tread pattern of the tires. However, above 15mph or so, the ride is surprisingly smooth. To keep the large tires from contacting the frame or a-arms, engineers had to design the High Lifter Edition with some limits to the steering track. In the mud, the large turning radius doesn’t seem to matter, as the tires rip and tear the whole machine claws and turns and spins itself in whatever direction you point it. Flipping a U-turn on the trail, though, will likely require a backup or three!
If your buddies have tire envy, this might be the machine to buy! The stock 29.5″ High Lifter Outlaw tires mounted on black 14″ aluminum wheels look menacing. These tires will rip, tear, and sling softball sized chunks of mud farther than I ever imagined. A note to those readers with beautiful lawns is…do yourself a favor and keep this machine the hell off your lawn! As mentioned earlier, it’s purpose-built for the mud, and if exposed to your lawn the tires WILL chomp the soil like a rototiller!
Brakes are typical four-wheel hydraulic disks, all controlled from the left-hand mounted brake handle. A foot mounted rear brake pedal does slow down the rear tires, but emergency stops will require the hand brake be pulled to slow down the girth of this monster mudder.
The Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter comes standard with a 3500lb winch that will eventually come to the rescue when you find that bottomless pit! A massive front bumper with an integrated D ring and extraction points give a solid location to hook another winch to when either functioning as a rescue rig, or when extracting the Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter Edition becomes a necessity. Polaris also equipped this Sportsman with an integrated Handlebar Mud Bar. Think of this as a flexible point to hang onto when you need to lean to one side or the other, to maximize traction.
Having ridden virtually every other ATV on the planet, I was anxious to see just how well a factory mud rig actually worked. The first thing I noticed is how familiar the feel of this model is to typical Polaris ATV’s. Sure, it has big tires, a snorkel, and a giant radiator sitting beneath the cowl where the front rack is supposed to be. But, other than that, it feels pretty similar to the normal Sportsman models.
With the engine cranked and the machine in gear, a stab of the throttle gets it motivated pretty quickly. If you’re on any surface other than mud, expect it to spin the tires. These tires crave mud, so putting them in a situation other than mud will show their purpose immediately! At low speeds, the Sportsman rides like a tractor due to the aggressive tires. But…get the speedo around 10-15mph and it smooths out like magic! I’ve trail ridden this model and honestly, it was a ton of fun. That is, however, unless you have to turn it around or the trails get tight. The turning radius is pretty wide, so although it’s fun to ride on the trails, it’s not the High Lifter Sportsman’s forte’.
Find yourself some mud and this thing feels more at home than Artie Lange at a donut shop! There’s enough power to turn the big meats and even get the front end light when needed. Splash protection isn’t bad…but lets be honest. If you’re worried about getting wet and muddy, maybe a subscription to Netflix might be a better and cheaper choice! I thought the Sportsman handled really well, even despite the large 29.5″ High Lifter tires. One thing readers might notice from the action photos is how “low-slung” this model is. There’s no factory lift on it and to me, lifts aren’t necessarily always a great thing. They raise the center of gravity and can really cause some handling issues. I’m happy to report the Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter Edition doesn’t feel like that at all. For a large, heavy machine, it looks and feels really planted when flogging the throttle.
Truth be told, if you aren’t into mud riding and only want this machine for the looks, don’t buy the High Lifter model because Polaris has plenty of other models that will better fit your needs. The Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter Edition is a purpose-built, mud-specific ATV designed to rip and tear through deep, sloppy mud. If that’s your end game, this thing is legit!
|SPECIFICATIONS:||Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 High Lifter Edition|
|Engine Type:||Liquid-cooled, 952cc 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder DOHC|
|Transmission/Final Drive:||Automatic PVT H/L/N/R/P; Shaft|
|Drive System Type:||High Performance Close Ratio On-Demand True AWD/2WD|
|Fuel System:||Electronic Fuel Injection|
|Electronic Power Steering (EPS):||Standard|
|Front Suspension:||Hi-Clearance Arched Dual A-Arm 7.4″ (18.8 cm) Travel|
|Rear Suspension:||Hi-Clearance Arched Dual A-Arm, Rolled 6.7″ (17cm) Travel|
|Front/Rear Brakes:||Single Lever 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Hydraulic Rear Foot Brakes|
|Parking Brake:||Park In-Transmission, lockable hand lever|
|Front Tires:||29.5 x 9.5-14; Outlaw|
|Rear Tires:||29.5 x 9.5-14; Outlaw|
|Wheels:||14″ cast aluminum|
|Rear Rack Capacity:||75 lb (34 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity:||5.25 gal (19.9 L)|
|Ground Clearance:||13.5″ (34.3 cm)|
|Overall Vehicle Size:||88 x 49 x 52″ (223 x 124 x 132 cm)|
|Payload Capacity:||290 lbs (132 kg)|
|Seat Height:||39″ (94 cm)|
|Wheelbase:||53″ (134.6 cm)|
|Estimated Dry Weight:||974 lb (441 kg)|
|Cargo System:||Lock & Ride|
|Hitch Towing Rating:||1,500 lb (680 kg)|
|Hitch Type:||Standard/1.25″ Receiver|
|Instrumentation:||Analog, Speedometer, Digital Odometer, Tachometer, Two Tripmeters, Hour Meter, Clock, Service Time, Diagnostic Indicator, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi-Temp/Low-Batt Lights, DC Outlet|
|Lighting:||Dual 50w Low Beam Headlights; Dual Brakelights/Taillights|
|Winch:||Polaris HD 3,500|