The UTVUnderground 2022 Polaris Ranger XP1000 Trail Boss Shakedown

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Video 2022 polaris ranger xp 1000 review

Alright if you’re reading this – chances are you’re doing some shopping for a new utility side by side and you’re combing over all the prices and specs of the machines in this range that feature a dump bed, a winch, lock and ride type accessory system, and more. We’re going to cover all of that – BUT before we get into the details of this machine – if you’re new to our website OR you want a quick history lesson on the Ranger check out our 2021 Polaris Ranger Northstar review where we dive deep into the legacy and origins of this humble little hay hauler. You’ll see why the Ranger platform has been the backbone of the Polaris brand for over two decades! It’s pretty damn impressive.

This 2022 Ranger XP1000 Trail Boss is technically the 23rd model year for the Ranger. The Ranger XP1000 line was introduced in 2018 and it received outstanding reviews when it launched – especially in the midwest because of the increase in power, torque and towing capacity over its XP900 predecessor. Despite the fact that the specs seem the same and the appearance hasn’t changed too much these machines have received some notable upgrades for 2022. We’ll get to those in a minute. But in terms of the XP1000 Trail Boss lineup – these 82 horsepower machines – are available in Ghost Gray, come in both a three seat and crew size configuration, and have tons of accessory package options for hunting, winter work, extra lighting and kick ass audio. It’s now easier than ever to put the right accessory package together right on the Polaris website or at the dealership and tailor build these machines.

EXTERIOR:

Six months ago Polaris shipped us a brand new, zero mile Ranger XP1000 Trail Boss! There is nothing like that new car smell to get you fired up. We parked it next to our old 2008 Ranger Crew and man could you see the difference 13 years makes! The 29” 8-Ply Pro Armor tires and 62.5” wheel base have really improved the look of these machines over the years and they seem more capable than ever right from the dealership. Gone are the days of bringing them home new and thinking about aftermarket wheels and tires or even suspension work for greater clearance. Polaris has that nailed at this point.

The Trail Boss does not come standard with a winch like the Northstar does. But it’s equipped to receive one if you need it. Some of you know you need it – some of you don’t. When you take a gander under the machine you see there is 14” of ground clearance which is four more inches than the days of old. It’s an inch more than most of the other Ranger models too. And just like the Northstar and other editions you can load 1,000 pounds into the bed – which by the way has been tweaked to hold 5 gallon buckets, has tie downs for all your tools, and has a myriad of lock and ride accessory options. Using the dump feature is a breeze by the way. But what really stands out for this model are things like Engine Braking System and Active Descent Control, Dual LED Headlamps and Taillamps, Arched A-Arms, Nivomat Self-Leveling Suspension, and the 900 Watt Hi-Output Stator – ALL of which are designed to help get this Ranger OFF the farm on ON the trail. This is a high tech pack mule folks.

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Every element of the exterior of this vehicle has been carefully designed, updated and upgraded for maximum comfort, workability, and longevity. And to top it off it – like all other Rangers in this class, this machine has a very usable footprint. It’s nimble enough to maneuver around the smaller trail systems, and at home on the property – but doesn’t feel tiny or cramped when you’re inside on longer rides or sitting three wide.

There are a few things we’d love to see on the exterior of these machines. Especially if we’re really going after the trail riding crowd. First we’d like to see AC power options while the machine is running. The bigger stator should be able to handle that. We’d also like to see some DC power options in or around the bed of the machine too. And all the lower storage nooks in the dash are great – but on the trail everything gets dusty. We should make the entire dash fill of sealed compartments like the upper and lower glove boxes – which we love.

Next – if we’re talking truly ready for the trail – we need doors, a roof, and windshield standard on this model in the future. To us the standard netting doors are useless. The poly half doors are perfect for trail riding and protect you from the mud and dust. Now all of this can be added for a few grand to complete the build for a truly trail worthy Ranger – but we give Polaris big points for getting 90% there. We should also mention that when you build out a Trail boss one of the cool features of the Polaris website is seeing the different Accessory Collections available. They range from just under $2,700 to nearly $5,500 and cover all you ranchers, big game hunters, craftsmen, and even waterfowl folks.

The only other exterior feature that needs work is the bed latch. It’s just not as functional as it should be at this price point. Based on our research this has been the Achilles heel of every manufacturer, however. Everyone seems to struggle with the bed latch!

MOTOR + TRANSThe Ranger XP1000 Trail Boss has a 999cc, 4-stroke twin cylinder engine with dual overhead cams. It’s the same tired and true electronic fuel injected 82 horsepower motor and automatic high performance on-demand all-wheel drive transmission that Polaris has had so much success with these past decade. Most of the competition in the category is at or near 82 horsepower – Polaris is offering things like Engine Braking and Active Descent Control in the model that the competition isn’t currently. We’ll get into how the engine feels in a minute, but just know that this machine has plenty of power and is very responsive. Its number one competitor currently is probably the Can-Am Defender X MR – which now has the Ranger beat on things like ground clearance and tire size (30” versus Rangers 29”). And the X MR comes with a winch. But there are a lot of extras on the Trail Boss that come with two decades of building these machines. Can Am’s only been at it since 2015. Something to keep in mind.

SUSPENSION

Utility UTV’s aren’t really the suspension masters that their sporty brothers are – but it is worth talking about suspension for a minute. To make this Ranger Trail Boss more Trail Bossy Polaris equipped it with Independent, Arched Lower A-arms in the front and rear of the machine as well as Nivomat Load-Adaptive shocks in the rear. What’s that mean? Well Nivomats are self-leveling monotube shock absorbers, which utilize the movement of the vehicle between the chassis and the body to create mechanical energy. They are typically mounted in the rear of the vehicle and are self-contained meaning they have no air compressors or air lines.

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The way they work is as the load increases (such as with cargo and passengers) the pressure increases in the shock displacing fluid from its internal reservoir to its valving system increasing the spring rate essentially preventing the vehicle from “squatting”. It has a pump mechanism and oil reservoir that increases the pressure to its accumulator therefore lifting or leveling the vehicle. It also increases the damping force without sacrificing the ride quality.

All of that is to say that Polaris has really thought out what it would be like to carry heavy loads down a trail with this machine. The combination of the 29” tires and the 14” of ground clearance really make for a comfortable and usable ride.

INTERIOR:

One of the most overlooked and underrated features of any utility side by side is comfort. Polaris put a lot of effort into the Trail Boss cockpit. The adjustability of things like the seat and the tilt steering are the first thing you notice when you sit down. It can be tough to seat guys who are pushing 300 pounds and well over six feet tall, yet somehow Polaris has done that. The overall seat comfort and storage are great. There are nice sightlines, it’s a really comfortable steering wheel size…It’s just a comfortable car to sit in. The premium cut & sew seats feel refined yet durable, and the premium steering wheel and interior accents are a nice step up from the base model Ranger.

Personally if we were hitting the trail with other groups we would immediately add Ride Command and an audio package. At $1,600 Ride Command is not a cheap add-on but if your buddies are rocking it – it’s a must have. The 300 Watt Overhead Audio Visor Speakers by MB Quart sound fantastic and very reasonably priced.

This model does include the Polaris Pulse Electrical System (6 position), Standard In-Dash SAE Charge Port, and 900 Watt High-Output Stator – so it’s set up to add lightbars and all kinds of cool LED add-on. There are a whole assortment of Pro Armor and RIGID Industries lighting options for this machine to light up the night. All made much easier with that Hi-Output Stator. Without that you might need a second battery in the mix for this stuff.

THE SHAKEDOWN

We’ve been using this machine for over six months both here on our ranch and out in the wild to suit a whole variety of needs. Everything from hauling trailers, stone, hay and wood around the yard to loading it up with crew and gear – to get our guys out to film sports in the woods and desert. It worked the 2021 Mint 400 which was moved to December, did multiple film shoots after that, then worked the 2022 Mint 400 in March. We’ve used it the past few months to pre-run our newest race The California 300. In all it’s been well over 1000 miles of abuse and only in the most extreme locations on the Mint 400 race course did we ever come across ruts or g-outs that were too much for this Ranger. 95% of the time we had plenty of clearance to power through anything in our way.

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We’ve loaded the Trail Boss bed to the hilt with luggage, coolers, camera gear, and all kinds of coursework equipment – and driven for hours through sand, silt, rocky washes, and up and through narrow canyons. Here’s the thing – out on the trail what the Ranger lacks in speed it makes up for in power and utility. We’ve towed multiple cars out of the desert with this baby. And it’s so much easier to get access to things like coolers and equipment than sport UTV’s. It’s really the equivalent of a high tech pack mule that carries all the important stuff we need to actually survive! We use it to carry gas, spare tires, tools, it has room for all of that – freeing up space on the RZR’s. We did miss the ability to use Ride Command with the group since they were outpacing us. But at nearly $4K less than the Northstar Edition we get why it’s not included.

With an MSRP of $22,799 the Trail Boss is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive three person Ranger in the Polaris arsenal and on the market when compared to other high end utility machines. But it has some amazing features that really set it apart from the competition while on the trail.

THE VERDICT:

So what’s the verdict on the new 2022 Ranger XP1000 Trail Boss? We dig it. Polaris has been perfecting this platform for two decades and the fact that they are making a model aimed at the trail market is awesome. We’re excited to see where they take this idea. Hopefully in the future we’ll see some overland features that come standard like extra power options, and other cool ideas. But here’s the thing – if you’re looking for something that is a comfortable workhorse and adaptable to many situations you’ve found the right machine. The Trail Boss is the perfect heavy duty solution for farms, factories, trails, race support, hunting, camping, and a million other scenarios because it is so versatile.

PROS

  • Feature packed utility machine with some extra trail ready features
  • Plenty of power – especially under load while towing
  • Lots of storage
  • Interior well finished and laid out perfectly

CONS

  • Missing Ride Command, Stereo, and other must-haves like roof and doors.
  • Some minor refinements still needed – such as power in the bed
  • Additional cost for things like trail lighting and winch

Summary

The 2022 Polaris Ranger XP1000 Trail Boss is the perfect option for those looking to buy an excellent base model machine in the Utility UTV category. It’s incredibly powerful, agile and nimble and has lots of trail worthy features. It’s a well built machine that is fun to drive in the sand, mud and rocks and has an industry leading load capacity. For those who want a Swiss Army knife utility machine with lots of comfort in a ready-to-ride package this is it. Additional accessories are recommended and available from the dealerships. This is by far one of the best 2-seat utility UTV’s on the market right now. Polaris continues to dominate this category.

  • Appearance – 5
  • Interior – 4
  • Ride Comfort – 5
  • Power – 5
  • Reliability – 5
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>