Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition

Video polaris 850 sp review

Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition Still bossin’.

Your ATV Connection editors have to confess a certain degree of bias when it comes to the following review. Back in 2019 Polaris set us up with their Sportsman 850 SP to test. In our time with the machine we were able to press it into service on a ranch, use it to drag limbs on a tree clearing project, towed a boat trailer (with boat) and then took a podium finish at a regional XC event without so much as adjusting a suspension clicker. If that doesn’t say versatility, we don’t know what does.

As you’d expect, it didn’t take much convincing when we were asked if we’d take a look at the latest incarnation of the Sportsman 850. In this case the 2021 Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition – the top option of the three 850 packages Polaris offers for 2021.

The Sportsman line of ATVs is the best selling brand in the world and, as you might expect, comes in a wide variety of engine and trim packages. Don’t let that reality daunt you, it’s really an intuitive scale. If you’ve decided Sportsman is the way to go, Polaris offers a 450, 570, 850 and 1000cc engine. From there each displacement option comes in a variety of trims depending on what you are looking to do with your ATV. Polaris offers packages that cater to hunters, mudders, trail riders, utility applications etc.

For 2021 the Sportsman 850 comes in three trim levels: The standard 850 (starting at $8,999), the 850 Premium (starting at $10,399) and the 850 Ultimate Trail Edition (starting at $11,499) tested here. All of them are powered by a 78 horsepower ProStar fuel injected, SOHC, twin cylinder engine. What separates the Ultimate from the rest of the trims are some really nice factory features like a 3,500 lb Polaris HD winch (with synthetic rope), 27″ Duro Powergrip tires, sealed suspension bushings, Ultimate front bumper, full LED lighting, a digital Bluetooth gauge and a few stylistic touches: a multi-color cut & sew seat cover, painted plastics and springs. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition While style appeal will always be subjective, we have to admit that the Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition in its Velocity Blue paint scheme with neon green shock springs and gray and black seat is quite the stunner. We should also note that the spec of the Ultimate Trail edition does change a few of the dynamics when compared to that of its 850cc brethren- most notably the ground clearance increases from 11.5” to a full 12”. The dry weight of the machine also comes in at 864 pounds (opposed to 772 pounds). It comes standard with Polaris’s Engine Braking System (EBS), Electronic Power Steering (EPS), 14” aluminum wheels and a 400 CCA battery.

Mounting Up

So what’s it like to climb into the saddle of the 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition? Roomy without being intimidating. A few years back, the bigger utility machines never let you forget what they were all about. They were bulky, wide in the midsection, stiff as a board and paid very little attention to comfort. We’re glad those days are behind us. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition The 850 feels roomy, especially in the seat to pegs relationship but, thanks to some incredible engineering, you don’t have to perform a split to straddle the seat. Polaris moved its larger engine Sportsman’s twin cylinders forward in the chassis so that the widest part of the motor occupies the (usually) wasted space below the tank. What this means for you and I is a surprisingly narrow midsection – in fact, having tested the Sportsman 450 prior to this one, we can attest that the 850 actually feels slightly slimmer from the saddle. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition Controls are as intuitive as ever – with drive actuation accomplished via a right-side lever. The digital dash pod clearly displays the gear selected and we’re really impressed with the decision to push the lever forward to reach drive from park as this moves it conveniently out of the way of the rider’s knee when in motion. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition High or low range is accessed by the lever (as is reverse) but how you choose to have that power distributed comes from the right side bar-mounted switch. Here you are given the option of 2×4 (rear drive) 4×4 (computer controlled all-wheel drive) or 4×4 ADC (Active Descent Control).

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We spent a majority of our testing in 4×4 mode thanks to some ridiculously deep snow during our testing and, like always, came away quite impressed with Polaris’s AWD system. It’s intuitive, fast and inspires confidence in some real nastiness. Everything about the Sportsman is “set it & forget it” easy.

In Action

We can talk all day about specs or what it feels like to climb on board but the real meat and potatoes is what the Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition is like in action. If you’ve never had the pleasure (or missed our review on the 850 SP), you’re going to want to become very familiar with this term – versatile. If you need a machine for towing your trailer, dragging brush, pushing snow, inching along the crops, it’s as easy as firing this one up and being gentle with the throttle. Now, if like us, you also like to use the same machine for blasting trails, conquering snowy mountains, crossing mud pits and letting loose on the weekends, same procedure. Just push said throttle a little bit further. If you like shoulder wrenching, bone stock race winning speed – just push it all the way. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition We had used the 850 SP to podium in bone stock trim at a regional XC event and then proceeded to test a variety of other machines directly after. The nature of such a rhythm is you naturally start to forget just how potent Polaris’s 850 twin package really is in action. It was an instant reminder the first time we took the 850 Ultimate Trail Edition out for a flogging. We’re talking nearly 80 horsepower on a sub-1000 pound machine. That combination essentially equals an ATV that can be whatever you need it to be. It has power to spare in every mode of operation from the tugging and towing we subjected it to on up to absolutely dominating the trails. The only buyers who need not apply here are those who like to spend money on and install mods after they get home to make their machines more capable. Polaris did it all for you here.

Ultimate Trail Package Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition This being our second experience with the 850 class of the Sportsman line, we can already attest some serious admiration but what makes the Ultimate unique? Aside from the looks (which drew attention everywhere we took it – the custom blue plastic with neon green shock springs is gorgeous in person), you notice the tire choice immediately. Those 27″ Duro Powergrip tires wrapped around 14” rims give you a lot of clearance! Plus they are aggressive enough to find traction in even the ugliest terrain you’re going to fine. We ought to know – a harsh winter was turning into spring here when we took the Ultimate out for testing. The terrain was oft soupy and unrelenting. But it never posed a problem. The only downside here with the Duros is that even Polaris’s fantastic fender coverage can’t always keep the flinging bits down. When you cross into tires of this aggressive nature, staying clean sometimes takes the backseat. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition The other major feature is the inclusion of the 3,500 lb HD winch (with synthetic rope) from the factory. To be completely honest, we didn’t expect to find an opportunity to test it given the machine’s versatility and performance. But at the same time, just knowing it was there if we needed it provided a certain confidence that often bordered on stupidity. As such, we got our chance fairly early on. After a freak series of snow systems dumped over 4-feet upon us (yes feet, not inches), you can imagine our excitement when a sudden and unexpected 50 degree night broke things up. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition We were pushing the 850 through some some ridiculously deep melting snow, which bordered on waist deep slush, right up until we slipped into an invisible wash out deep in a farmer’s field. Hung hopelessly up on the machine’s frame miles from civilization at 4am, getting ourselves free was simply a matter of looping the winch hook around the nearest tree and pressing the bar-mounted button. As is always the case when things like this happen, we are fearful that now we’re quite unable to go on without this security blanket no matter the machine.


Odds and Ends Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition The Sportsman’s suspension is not only plentiful, it’s fantastic as well. It’s stiff enough to absorb big hits but soft enough early on its travel to gobble up trail clutter effortlessly. Couple this to the factory EPS (electronic power steering) and you get a riding experience that tracks true and breezy in the cockpit regardless of the terrain below. There is virtually no body roll to report and no matter how aggressive we decided to get, the machine wouldn’t flinch. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition Braking is accomplished via hydraulic disc (dual up front, single in the rear) of the single-lever variety; there’s also a right-side foot pedal to activate just the rear brake. Like with every Sportsman we tested, it’s startlingly effective in those few opportunities where you really have to call upon it to get the machine down from speed in a hurry. You may be thinking that’s an odd statement since the brakes must be called upon constantly but Polaris packs in a couple of acronyms that make handling much less dependent upon grabbing that brake lever. ADC (Active Descent Control) and EBS (Engine Braking System) mean when you let go of the throttle, engine braking is applied evenly across all four wheels. The first time we were introduced to this system a few years back, it felt unique to us but after a few rides, you no longer notice it. What you do notice, however, is that you’re grabbing for a handful of brake less and less often while traversing the trails. Like everything else about the Sportsman, its confidence-inspiring handling just begins to feel natural.

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Conclusion Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition The Polaris Sportsman 850 is one of those quads that refuses to make known its limits. You can ride it as hard or fast as you’d like but won’t manage to bottom its suspension, get it to lose control or find its top speed. It can be as mellow and controllable as a beginner ATV if handled responsibly and can turn you into the group hooligan if you feel like showing off. It can be used to till dirt for planting crops, drag a boat trailer and win a race all in the same day. It can lead the pack, forge a trail and tow your friends out when they get stuck. It’s large enough to feel comfortable and roomy but powerful enough to be thrown around like a race quad. You like mud, snow, rocks or steep hills? So does the 850 – even all at once. Machines of this caliber almost defy classification simply because they are capable of so much out of the box. Essentially when you pick up a Sportsman 850, you tell it what you expect and it does it with ease. It is truly that rare single ATV that can replace a whole garage full of purpose-built equipment. Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition Specs

Engine & Drivetrain Active Descent Control Standard Cooling Liquid Cylinders Displacement 2 / 850cc Drive System Type One Touch On-Demand AWD/2WD Engine Braking System (EBS) Standard Engine Type 4-Stroke SOHC Twin Cylinder Fuel System/Battery Electronic Fuel Injections / 400 CCA Horsepower 78 HP Transmission/Final Drive Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H In-line Shifting

Dimensions Estimated Dry Weight 871 lb (395 kg) Front/Rear Rack 120 lb (55 kg)/240 lb (110 kg) Fuel Capacity 5.25 gal (19.9 L) Ground Clearance 12 in (30.5 cm) Hitch Towing Rating 1,500 lb (680 kg) Hitch Type Standard 1.25 in (3.2 cm) Receiver Overall Vehicle Size (L x W x H) 83.25 x 47.6 x 50.75 in (211.4 x 120.9 x 128.9 cm) Payload Capacity 575 lb (261 kg) Person Capacity 1 Seat Height 37 in (94 cm)

Brakes Front/Rear Brakes Single Lever 3-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Hydraulic Rear Foot Brake Parking Brake Park In-Transmission / Lockable Hand Lever

Additional Specifications Cargo System 6 Modular Rack Extenders with Lock and Ride Electronic Power Steering Standard Instrumentation All Digital Bluetooth Gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Two Tripmeters, Hour Meter, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, AWD Indicator, Volt Meter, Coolant Temperature, Hi-Temp Light, Clock, DC Outlet, Text and Call Notifications Lighting LED POD and LED Bumper Lights, Dual LED Brake lights/Taillights Other Standard Features 3,500 lb. Polaris Pro HD Winch with Synthetic Rope, Front Ultimate Series Bumper, Cut and Sew Seat, Bluetooth Display, In Pod Battery Charge Port, Painted Plastics, Painted Springs Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition Tires / Wheels Front Tires 27 X 9-14 DURO Rear Tires 27 X 11-14 DURO Wheelbase 53 in (134.6 cm) Wheels 14 in Aluminum

Suspension Front Suspension Sealed High Clearance Arched Dual A-Arm 9″ (22.9 cm) Travel Rear Suspension Sealed High Clearance Arched Dual A-Arm, Rolled IRS, 10.25″ (26 cm) Travel Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition More Information – Click Here Review: 2021 Polaris Sportsman 850 Ultimate Trail Edition

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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 >>