A pair of green combines drone on in the field in front of Shelly Kelly's ranch house, in Custer County, Nebraska, but the pickup truck kicking up dust as it heads up her driveway isn't coming to refill a water jug or report the yield. Her cows are out, the neighbor informs her matter-of-factly, no chitchat, little patience.
Kelly runs a cow/calf operation split between two properties more than an hour apart, some of the work done with her family but much of it by herself or with the help of her 5-year-old son, Conley. He's young but already plenty capable on horseback, and she loves to head across the endlessly rolling Nebraska Sandhills with him on summer evenings.
There's not always time for such luxuries, however. Sometimes, the cows are out on the neighbor's field. Sometimes, speed is key, and that's where Kelly says a tool like the Polaris Ranger SP 570 NorthStar Edition UTV can come in the handiest.
"This is an awfully fancy Ranger," Kelly says as dusk approaches one August evening. She logs still more hours on her Polaris Blue model of the machine, which she field-tested through the summer.
The Ranger SP 570 is on the small end of Polaris' UTV lineup, available with between two and six seats. Kelly's test model was a two-seater, but no matter how many people it's hauling, the SP 570 models all come with a 44-hp engine. Other Ranger models offer as much as 110 hp, but Kelly says the SP 570 proved enough for the tasks she tackled on her rolling ranch.
"The 4WD is really important for getting up and down the hills, and through the loose sand. It's not a problem to go forward or backward," she adds.
The 10.5-inch clearance also caught her attention. "I'm not always having to dig weeds and brush out from underneath it," Kelly says.
A part of the NorthStar package, her particular Ranger model came with a healthy selection of features, including leather seats and actual doors to open and close on each side of the vehicle, with roll-down windows. The Pro Shield enclosed cab, equipped with a heater, had already proven useful, not just during the dusty days of midsummer but when the mornings began to turn nippy as the season began to give way.
"The heat's been really nice," she says. "The seats are leather and really nice to travel on all day, and there's a lot of great storage in the front."
She'd thoroughly tested the machine's hauling capability, on a regular basis moving salt and mineral to her herd then, when necessary, hauling a sick or lost calf. "There are four different places you can tie stuff down in the back. The only thing I've tied down are baby calves to haul them to their mom or into the barn," she says. "The box tilts and has a tailgate, which makes it easy to unload when I need to." That box is equipped with a 500-pound gas-assist dump feature.
The SP 570 is rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, and the suspension has 9 inches of travel in the front and 10 inches in the back. "Even if you hit a cow trail, it does a really good job," Kelly says. "The suspension goes a long ways, and it's a really nice ride." The NorthStar edition comes with a 3,500-pound winch on the front.
The Ranger SP 570 line starts for its 2023 model at $11,699 for a two-seater that doesn't come with all the extra features. The NorthStar edition starts at $19,299, though the 2023 NorthStar model is listed as sold out.
"It's been extremely helpful to have this Ranger, to be able to check cattle and cover the country, seeing everything," Kelly says. "I'm used to using a four-wheeler, and the wider wheelbase on this UTV has helped me get up and around the hills. It's able to get through everything."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
-- Visit https://ranger.polaris.com/…
-- Follow Joel on Twitter @JReichPF
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