Farm-Tested ATV

Iowa Farm Couple Tests Polaris ATV Across Diverse Operation

Jim Patrico
By  Jim Patrico , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Iowa couple AJ and Kellie Blair find many uses for an ATV on their diversified farm. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

AJ and Kellie Blair are fixing a large wooden fencepost on the corner of a harvested cornfield. A few weeks ago, a combine driver backed into the post and knocked it over. With harvest done, the young couple finally has time to repair the damage before setting up an electric fence and turning cattle into the cornstalks.

They brought three work vehicles to the field with them: a front loader to do the heavy work, a side-by-side to carry electric fenceposts and tools, and an ATV to get the Blairs where they need to go in a hurry.

Sure enough, they forgot a tool, and AJ hops onto the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. EPS to hustle back to the shop.

"I thought we might be moving away from the ATV when we bought the side-by-side three or four years ago," AJ says later. "But the four-wheeler is just so handy to hop on and go."


Seems the Blairs always need to get somewhere in a hurry on their diversified farm in central Iowa, near Dayton. They use an ATV for checking cattle in their feedlot and cow-calf operations. They put it in the back of the pickup when cropping chores take them to the far reaches of the farm, and Kellie uses it for scouting fields during the growing season.

All of these uses and more make the Blairs the perfect farm couple to test the Polaris, which they did for about three months in 2021 through harvest and into the late fall.

Bottom line for them, Kellie says: "This particular Polaris was a basic model without a lot of bells and whistles, which is fine, because we don't need a lot of bells and whistles. We want something that will get us from one place to another, and this one worked really well for us."


Here are some facts on the Sportsman 450 H.O. EPS for model year 2022.

-- VALUE. It's one of the smaller ATVs in the Polaris lineup, and the company advertises it as a "value" model.

-- ENGINE. The Sportsman 450 H.O. has a liquid-cooled Prostar 4-Stroke SOHC, single-cylinder engine that generates 33 hp and is fed by an electronic fuel-injection system. It uses a Polaris Variable Transmission (PVT), which is designed to change gears depending on vehicle power, engine output and variable load condition. An in-line shifter is located on the right side of the body. The Sportsman 450 features on-demand all-wheel drive, which is activated with a switch on the handlebar.

-- SUSPENSION. Polaris is proud of the Sportsman 450's suspension system, which has sealed MacPherson front struts with an 8.2-inch travel. The independent rear suspension system features dual A-arms with a 9.5-inch travel. With standard 25-inch 6-ply tires, ground clearance is 11.5 inches.

-- HAULING. Towing capacity of the Sportsman 450 H.O. is 1,350 pounds. The front rack load capacity is 90 pounds. The rear rack can carry 180 pounds.

The rear rack on the vehicle the Blairs tested has three sets of round grooves that fit the bottoms of most five-gallon plastic buckets. Placed in those grooves and attached with bungee cords, buckets don't slide. They stay secure even when riding in bumpy terrain. Kellie liked this feature.

-- BRAKING. The Sportsman 450 H.O. has both a 3-wheel hydraulic hand brake and a rear foot brake.

-- STEERING. Electronic power steering (EPS) comes with the model the Blairs tested.


Having installed and tested the electric fence around the cornfield, the Blairs now are ready to let cows into the field to graze the stalks. Kellie sits on the Polaris while AJ swings open the gate between the dry lot and the cornfield. After most of the cows and calves sprint out, Kellie drives into the dry lot to round up stragglers.

It's a good test of the ATV's agility.

Kellie swerves right, left and back again, herding cows toward the gate. Later, she says, "I like the power steering on this (Polaris) better than on the ATV we own. This is really smooth and doesn't take much effort."

Once all the cows are in the cornstalks, Kellie follows on the Polaris. At one point, she and her dog Bear race to one end of the field to double-check the electric fence. When they come back, Kellie comments on the ride: "Real comfortable ride even in cornstalks."

AJ goes further: "The ride is great. My opinion coming into the test was that Polaris machines are the best, the smoothest, the most fun to ride. Add the power steering, and it's great."

That laudable ride and EPS come in handy all year. For instance, while the Blairs use a side-by-side most often for spot-spraying, they sometimes will throw a tank onto their ATV. With the Polaris, "If you have a wand in one hand," AJ says, "you can easily steer with the other" because of EPS.

The AWD Polaris also handles muddy conditions well, he continues. "We definitely need all-wheel drive on an ATV, because that's what we'll use to get through the mud. With this Polaris, you can shift on the fly. So, it is easy to use."

The Blairs saw two downsides to the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. They found the placement of the hand shifter inconvenient. They prefer a push-button shifter on the handlebars.

Also, the receiver hitch on the Polaris is smaller than that on their old ATV. So, they couldn't hook up a trailer without finding another hitch.

But, all in all, the Polaris Sportsman H.O. aced the Blair test. "It's a budget four-wheeler with a couple of nice options," AJ says. "For us, it fits pretty well. I'd like to buy it."

Pricing for the Polaris Sportsman H.O. with electronic power steering starts at $7,799.


The Polaris Sportsman H.O. EPS the Blairs tested was not loaded with options or accessories. Polaris offers many accessories for the Sportsman:

-- Winch with a 2,500-pound capacity.

-- Windshield.

-- Storage boxes.

-- Lighting packages.

-- Digital displays and connectivity centers.


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Jim Patrico