2021 Polaris General XP 1000 Deluxe Test Review

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Published on May 18th, 2021 | by Joe

Polaris pushed the envelope of sport performance in the sport utility SXS segment in 2016 with the release of the General 1000 featuring an engine and chassis based on the pure sport RZR S trail models. Never letting off the gas, Polaris further enhanced the General’s handling, suspension, and ability to conquer terrain with the release of the General XP 1000 for 2020, throwing a wrench in the plans of Yamaha and Can-Am to easily take over the class with their new RMAX and Commandeer models.

With a 2021 General XP 1000 Deluxe on our hands and a few rides under our belts, here’s our thoughts on why the General XP 1000 remains an extremely viable contender in the 1000cc sport utility segment.

Trim Packages

Beginning at $22,999 for the base model, the General XP 1000 Deluxe comes pretty well appointed. The hunting focused, $23,999, Pursuit Edition adds a Kolpin gun mount and boot, rear cargo box rack, 11” Pro Armor light bar, and Stealth black and camo color scheme.

For an added $2,000, our XP 1000 Deluxe came outfitted with Polaris’ Factory Installed Ride Command Upgrade, which includes their Ride Command infotainment system providing GPS, group ride connectivity, viewing of the packages front and rear facing cameras, replication of the General’s instrument display, control of the upgraded Rockford Fosgate Stage 4 audio and more. The upgrade from Stage 1 to Stage 4 audio boosts power output from 50 to 400 watts, adds two additional 6.5” speakers behind the occupants in addition to a 10” subwoofer mounted under the dash. With the Factory Installed Ride Command Package bringing our General Deluxe to an as tested price of $24,999, we’d just take another grand out of the kid’s college fund and get the $25,999, Factory Custom Edition. It features Ride Command and Rockford Fosgate Stage 4 audio, Pro Armor HEXLR beadlock wheels, an 11” Pro Armor light bar, stitched race-inspired steering wheel, plus custom seats with embroidered badging.

Ride Location

With a couple of inches of snow on the ground to set the General free, we loaded up and headed down to 250 acre, Dirty Turtle Off-Road Park, located in Bedford, Ky. They’ve got trails for most skill levels and one of the nicest short course race tracks for SXS in our area. We snagged one of their climate controlled cabins for our frozen weekend, providing a welcomed place to warm up between rides . They offer more amenities per acre than most ride parks we’ve visited.

Engine

The General is powered by a water-cooled, fuel-injected, 999cc, parallel twin-cylinder, Polaris ProStar engine featuring four-valves and double-overhead cams per cylinder. It produces a competitive 100HP, like its pure sport RZR S 1000 counterpart.

A fully automatic, Polaris Variable, CVT style transmission features high and low forward ranges plus neutral, reverse, and park. Drive models include 2WD, Polaris’ AWD, and Turf Mode, which unlocks the rear differential to prevent damaging your manicured lawn while turning.

Take a stab at the throttle and the General XP1K does not disappoint. Off idle clutching is pretty snappy as we’d typically want from a sportmachine, but it keeps us two foot driving in the garage where a couple inches count. On the trail, the snappy clutch engagement and good low-end power get the General rolling with some authority. Not only fun, it’s appreciated when negotiating chunky terrain or attacking climbs with little run at the bottom. The engine’s responsive, sporty feeling is carried throughout the RPM range with peak power topping out at 8,500 RPMs and peak torque at 7,500 RPMs.

Power and responsiveness remain strong throughout the midrange making it fun to mash the gas exiting turns, You can get the General sideways even in dry conditions. Topping out at around 68 MPH in high range, there’s plenty of top speed when the trail opens up.

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Low range tops out at around 28 MPH allowing you to haul heavy loads, maneuver tighter trail sections, and tackle steep climbs without the need to continuously switch between low and high. Our one complaint with the engine came when climbing a slick, icy hill in low range. We were easily reaching the rev limiter due to excessive wheel spin. Instead of rapidly bouncing off the rev limiter like a dirt bike or sport ATV, the rev limiter pulses the throttle, similar in feeling to traction control on an automobile. This stopped our forward momentum on a couple of occasions preventing us from making the climb. We didn’t experience this under typical trail conditions or when climbing in high range. A DynoJet Power Vision module can reflash the ECU, raising the rev and speed limits in either gear reducing the chances of hitting the rev limiter.

Pair the Power Vision with a good aftermarket exhaust like HMF’s performance series, stainless steel Titan XL, or Titan Quiet and you can add up to 5 additional horsepower to the General. As a machine ideal for hunting, HMF offers their ultra quiet Twin Loop exhaust, which runs 8db quieter than stock without impacting horsepower.

The General XP doesn’t have any fancy throttle mode switches. Instead, it relies on one of the most ergonomically correct gas pedals in the business, making modulating the gas easy crawling over bumps while delivering the type of responsiveness we’d expect from a mechanical throttle cable. When the trail turns downhill or you let off the throttle at speed, the XP delivers an effective amount of engine braking without feeling overly powerful at speed.

We run Polaris drive systems in AWD a majority of the time regardless of conditions to maximize traction and steering precision. When the rear tires rotate marginally faster than the fronts, front wheel drive is engaged providing locked-in four-wheel drive. If you’re in the sand, yet alone snow like we were, four-wheel drive is locked in pretty much all the time. We’ve found it to work pretty flawlessly regardless of conditions, including ice and snow.

Handling and Suspension

Built to withstand the trail and the rigors of hauling and towing, the General’s steel chassis is protected on the underside from behind the A-Arms to the rear of the machine by lightweight plastic skid plates. Dual A-Arm suspension with high-clearance lower arms are used at both ends with the back end’s construction looking especially robust.

There’s 14” of suspension travel front and rear, which is on the shorter end of the relatively narrow gap separating suspension travel in the class. However, the General XP 1000’x Walker Evan’s, Velocity Series shocks feature spring preload and 15 way compression damping adjustments offering the ability to finetune the ride a bit more than the 3-way compression adjustable Fox shocks used by the competition. Sway bars are found at both ends.

The General XP1K rolls on 30×10-15 Pro Armor Crawler XG tires mounted on 15” cast aluminum wheels. An 83” wheelbase is a noteworthy 7.6” shorter than that of the 2021 Can-Am Commander XT-P. While a longer wheelbase can add stability, a shorter wheelbase improves agility and maximizes the effectiveness of the General’s competitive 13.5” of ground clearance.

The General delivers a combination of agility, stability, and steering precision that make it a lot of fun to drive. It’s happy quickly weaving back and forth on twisty trails, doing well at keeping body roll in check. The XP 1000 encourages you to drive hard out of turns and provides a secure feeling on off-camber trails. In spite of the slippery conditions during filming we were impressed with how precise the General’s steering remained. The unique, more open, channeled tread pattern of the Pro Armor Crawler front tires maintained directional control up front while the back end was stepping out, keeping us in control. Polaris’ power steering is light and well balanced at various speeds, making it easy to work the wheel from one direction to another while filtering out jarring impacts.

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Part of the General’s cornering prowess is that Polaris sets up the Walker Evans’ shocks to work best for most drivers with minimum shock preload and a lower ride height. Load down the bed, and you can increase preload to gain the stock ride height back. You could also increase the ride height a bit for driving in extremely rocky terrain.

Of course, the XP’s handling wouldn’t be nearly as impressive without suspension that can soak up some gnarly terrain, and it certainly can! The General XP delivers a plusher, more comfortable, ride off the top than the RZR S 1000, doing better at taking the edge off all of the small bumps while retaining a good amount of bottoming resistance for g-outs and times that all four tires leave the trail. Test driver, Brint Johnson, felt the shocks really firm up on a couple of occasions on Dirty Turtle’s short course track, but never felt them bottom. We never found the limits of the suspension on the trail with the stock settings, leaving plenty of preload and compression damping in reserve to stiffen things up if needed.

The tires protrude enough at both ends allowing for some impressive approach and departure angles for hills and obstacles. With the shortest wheelbase in the class, it should be less susceptible to framing out than others.

Brakes

The General is slowed by hydraulic disc brakes with dual piston calipers at all four corners utilizing steel braided brake lines. Braking power and feel are both sport SXS worthy. The pedal is comfortable and power is well balanced front to rear.

Interior Comfort and Storage

Stepping in and out of the cabin is easy and unobstructed with a generous amount of shoulder and leg room inside for two fully grown men. We initially missed the soft touch points found on the Yamaha RMAX until we realized that our legs weren’t really touching either side of the cockpit.

Half doors look great and feature handles inside and out. We’d like the doors to fit a little more snugly when closed, reducing noise, and the inner handles to feel a bit more rigid. The concave shape of the inner doors expand room inside the cabin with a higher line at the rear of the door adding the feeling of greater security without the slightly intrusive shoulder bolsters used on other machines. The higher doors and design of the fenders offer a good level of protection from flying mud and snow. A good roof is always appreciated and Polaris’ ProFit Sport Roof comes standard.

The seats are fine for casual cruising but for serious sport riding, new seats might top our upgrade list. They move around a bit, and a shape that makes you feel more planted would be more fitting of a SXS with this much performance on tap. The driver’s seat offers over 4” of adjustment fore and aft with its automotive style slider adjustment. The steering wheel features 41.6° tilt adjustment. Our drivers agreed that the General’s interior is spacious, although test driver, Brint Johnson, wished for a slightly higher sight line from the cage, although the view of the trail in front of the machine is good. The standard rear view mirror worked well.

We love the combination analog and digital instrument display allowing you to reference speed and RPM at a glance via gauges with tons more information available through the easily read, backlit, 4” digital display. It tilts with the steering wheel for easy viewing. Interior LED floor lights are another premium touch on the entry level XP.

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The passenger has hand holds in the center and on the door, forgoing the T-shaped handle used on the RZR models, which is still the best design for bracing, in our opinion. The passenger floor provides good leg room, but not as much space for bolstering as some.

Dual cup holders, multiple open trays, a glovebox in the dash and one in the center console provide in-cab storage. There’s two outlets to power your electronics- one on the dash and one in the center console. The dash has multiple cutouts that will need to be cut out for installing switches. A

six-position busbar under the hood allows you to easily plug in and power accessories. For $22,999, we might nitpick a little, but the General XP 1000’s interior is comfortable, spacious, and pretty well refined.

Work Capability and Other Details

The General XP 1000 is built to get work done. The well integrated, hydraulically assisted, tilt cargo bed can hold a class standard 600 pounds of cargo. The release handles are located out in the open under the rear fenders ensuring they’ll get dirty. Metal hooks in the bed’s floor allow you to tie down cargo. The bed’s sides are channeled for easy partitioning. Holes running along the top of the bed allow for the easy attachment of Polaris’ Lock and Ride accessories offering a ton of options on how to expand the storage and usefulness of your General.

A 2” hitch receiver allows you to share the hitch with most pickups. The General XP 1000 is rated to tow 500 pounds less than its other in-class competitors, but we suspect that the General’s 1,500 pounds of towing capacity will be plenty for most interested in sport first and utility second.

Whether you or your buddy needs recovering, the factory installed Polaris 4,500 LB HD winch takes care of one of the biggest must-have items for exploring or work.

LED, high and low beam headlights with LED accent lights are found up front with LED tail and brake lights out back.

Maintenance

Polaris makes do-it-yourself maintenance easy. The airbox and its large paper filter are located under the bed behind the cabin allowing easy tool-free access. Drive belt access is available in minutes; something you’ll rarely have a problem with if you use low range for towing or prolonged low-speed driving. Polaris also provides easy access for oil changes with easy to follow how-to videos on their youtube channel.

Conclusion

Having wanted to test the General XP 1000 for over a year, we came away impressed with its performance. It is certainly as good, if not better, than we originally imagined. While it’s no longer the standalone single unit in the 64” sport/utility SXS segment, it should certainly be competitive with the Yamaha RMAX and Can-Am Commander come shootout time. In its second year in production, Polaris has also had time to work out any first year bugs.

If we were in the market for a seriously fun trail machine with the capability to camp, hunt, or get work done and we had a local Polaris dealer we loved, we’d feel real good about putting a 2021 General XP 1000 in our garage.

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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 >>