The first time I drove the Polaris RZR I was hooked. It was fast, nimble and just fun to drive. But for a farming-and-ranching audience, it was hard to make the case that this vehicle was a good match for the demands of everyday work. It has great travel range and trail ability, but its capacity for cargo topped out at 300 pounds.
For everyday farm and ranch work, Polaris offers its Ranger lines of side-by-sides. The Ranger has good high-end speed, but with great torque it is a very capable work vehicle. The 68-horsepower Ranger 900 tows 2,000 pounds and carries 1,000 pounds of cargo in the rear bed.
Do I want a RZR? Do I want a Ranger? Polaris heard and understood the customer conundrum. Polaris says it has sold a good number of RZRs into its farming-and-ranching market. But customers wanted a vehicle engineered specifically for a work-play demographic.
And so, Polaris has now launched its newest off-road vehicle, the General. It is a two-seat, 100-horse (ProStar, 2-cylinder 999cc engine) side-by-side combining the "play" features of the RZR with the "work" features of the Ranger. The 50-inch wide RZR 900's boasts 75 hp.
"The 'and' is important in play and work. It's an ideal blend," says Chris Vogtman, marketing manager for the General.
The General's liquid-cooled engine combines high-end power with heavy-work torque -- both the power to cover distance quickly and the torque to carry and pull cargo. The General reaches 40 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. But it also carries up to 600 pounds in a dump bed and can tow 1,500 pounds with a 2-inch receiver. The General has an engine breaking system to better control descents with a full-capacity load, too.
The General has 12 inches of ground clearance (same as the Ranger) -- and still 7.4 inches of clearance when fully loaded. A full-body skid plate protects the General's underside vitals. It features All-Wheel Drive that when needed, almost instantly engages all four wheels for improved forward traction. The drive system automatically reverts back to two-wheel drive when extra traction is no longer needed.
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The General has 12.25 inches of suspension travel in the front and 13.2 inches of travel in the rear to more comfortably absorb rocks, roots and highly uneven ground. It's a calibration more likely found in off-road performance side-by-sides such as the RZR (the Ranger has 10 inches of travel), but it is one that will likely be appreciated over the hours of a long workday.
The General has standard features new to Polaris's off-road lineup. It comes with factory-installed auto-style half doors with armrests. The doors give driver and passenger extra protection from debris and mud. The doors open out 90 degrees, a passenger-friendly quality more akin to that of the Ranger. The General's cab is larger than the RZR's and features a pair of new buckets seats. The driver seat is adjustable. Four removable floor drains allow for easier cleanout.
All are features important to owners using the General for the type of daylong "in-and-out" of the vehicle work common on the farm and ranch, Vogtman explains. All General models come standard with electric power steering (EPS) and electronic fuel injection (EFI).
Interestingly, the General's instrument cluster is mounted directly to the tilt, steering wheel. So, no matter the angle of the wheel, the driver will have a clear view of the vehicle's digital and analog gauges. The cab features 23 liters of storage space. A center console serves both as an armrest and offers additional storage. It also holds one of two 12-volt outlets located in the cab.
The cab can be fully enclosed—with glass or poly windows, front, back and sides—with the Polaris Lock & Ride Pro Fit system, a feature similar to the Ranger. Upper door panels seal onto the top edge of the half-doors. An upgraded upper door comes with a hinged window. A pair of upper doors with hinged windows sells for $1,299. Without hinged windows the upper doors are $999.
Of 125 accessories available for the General, here are several:
• A cab heating and defrosting kit ($899.99).
• Premium soundbar ($649.99).
• Glacier Pro Plow System (mount, plow frame and 66-inch steel blade, $1129.97 for the three pieces; a 66-inch poly blade costs $50 more than the steel blade).
• Cargo accessories include a bed extender ($249.99), gun scabbard ($299.99 for a dual scabbard), storage boxes and bags ($39.99 to $299.99), and coolers ($279.99 and $379.99).
• Bumpers and guards ($199.99 to $299.99).
For the market, the General is a premium-designed and premium-price vehicle. The General 1000 EPS Indy Red Base retails for $15,999. A base Ranger, for example, sells for $13,499 and the RZR 900 begins at $12,799. The 1000 EPS Velocity Blue Premium General goes for $17,499; and the 1000 EPS Orange Burst Deluxe for $19,999. The premium and deluxe models are currently available. The base General will be available in March 2016.
The Velocity Blue comes standard the center console with 12-volt outlet (also standard on the base model), front bumper and Polaris HD 4500-pound winch. The Deluxe Orange Burst General includes all those features, plus a sport roof, soundbar and rear view mirror.
For more information about the General, go to: www.polaris.com.
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