As if introducing so many changes to the Ranger XPs wasn’t enough, the Ranger HD has a few major additions to the Ranger XPs to make them even better. To start, the Ranger HD is probably designed for ranchers and construction workers that are looking for the ultimate do-anything vehicle around their sites. But, to me, I can see a lot of these units being sold to the recreational folks, too. There are 2 primary reasons I think this. Number 1 is who the heck wouldn’t want power steering? And, can you imagine how well it would ride with all your camping gear, coolers, and extra gas cans for your weekend excursions.
New with Variable Power Assisted Steering, Self Leveling Nivomat Rear Suspension and optional Lift & Carry System.
Here’s what items are available for the Ranger HD in addition to the features available on the drastically updated 2009 Polaris Ranger XP:
• Variable Power Assisted Steering = Literally pinky finger effort is all it takes
• Self Leveling Nivomat Rear Suspension = Full ground clearance up to maximum payload capacity
• Optional Lift and Carry System
So, we’ve mentioned what the additions are to the HD over the XPs, but how does it drive, right? Well, the reality is, it’s essentially the same machine, yet the steering effort is drastically reduced and can literally be steered with your pinky finger if so desired. It really works that good! And, even when combined with the optional lift and carry system,
the steering effort never seemed to change. It literally makes the Ranger a breeze to drive. And, I’m sure for those with weaker upper bodies, the new Ranger HD would be a very welcomed feature.
Secondly, the new self leveling Nivomat shocks in the rear are simply amazing. Hearing briefly how these shocks worked from Polaris was intriguing, because I had never heard of them before. Unlike all other UTVs out there, the new Ranger HD can carry its maximum cargo box payload of 1,000lbs without losing any ground clearance. You’re probably wondering how it works, right? My initial thought was they were some sort of air shock, but I was wrong. There’s no compressor, require no electricity of any type, no external hydraulic pump, and produce zero emissions. In a nutshell, the Nivomats contain all necessary system components (supporting element, pump, accumulator, reservoir, regulator, etc) all in one housing. And, without knowing the exact engineering behind them, the Nivomats adjust the ride height automatically using energy produced from the relative movements of the suspension in relation to the body of the Ranger. In a nutshell, the shocks somehow know where normal ride height is, and after driving around for a short distance with the added weight in the bed, it automatically adjusts to this optimum ride height and ground clearance as if there was no weight in the bed at all. It’s simply amazing! No more do you have to worry about dragging bottom over logs or terrain when hauling out your deer while hunting, or bottoming on curbs and drainage ditches at your job site. They provide the same level of ground clearance and ride as stock with no weight in the back, which is a first for the industry. Not that Polaris designed it for the purposes of putting kids in the back or 4-seat roll cages, but imagine the enhanced ride quality you’d have for those types of setups. But, as you probably imagined, there had to be one downfall to them, right? Because of the dynamics and required motion ratios needed to have properly functioning Nivomats, the Ranger HDs have 1.5” less suspension travel in the rear when compared to the standard Ranger XPs. The way I look at it is for most ranchers and construction workers, you’ll never know the difference. For recreational users, I doubt you’ll really be able to tell either, because you won’t be squatting and bottoming out at much as before. The main thing you’ll lose for recreational units is that you’ll most likely just have a little less down travel, because your up travel will actually be more providing a much nicer ride. And, just to point out, the only other difference between the HD and the XP is that the HD with the Power Steering, the steering radius is 8” wider. Last, but not least, we’ll discuss the Lift and Carry system in the accessory section of this article.
Review By: UTV Off-Road Magazine