ATV OR UTV? By Brad Howe posted Jun 15th, 2014 at 12:32pm
The all-new Polaris Sportsman ACE is the perfect combination of an ATV and UTV. It’s similar in size to a 4x4 quad and rides almost exactly like the new Polaris Sportsman 570 4x4, but it’s equipped with a single bucket seat, steering wheel, and a roll cage, providing a safe platform for newbies to the sport. This easy-to-use, nimble machine has the easiest learning curve of any ATV or UTV we’ve ever tested. If you can drive a car, you’ll feel right at home in the ACE.
Innovative & Comfortable The Sportsman ACE is covered by a ROPS (Roll Over Protection System) cab frame, which is similar to the roll cages found on the RZR lineup. It offers an ergonomically friendly cockpit that’s both easy to ingress and egress for small or large riders. The secure, high-backed, adjustable bucket seat is paired with an adaptable steering wheel. It’s also equipped with a three-point seatbelt and has side bolsters to keep the operator properly positioned in the center of the machine. The steering wheel offers 3.5 inches of tilt adjustment, and the driver’s seat slides back and forth by 4 inches to customize the fit for the rider. There is an integrated dead pedal for your left foot to rest on and an integrated heel pocket for your right foot with an easy reach for both the gas and brake pedals. You’re also kept secure via dual side nets, which feature a metal rod to easily secure for clipping and positioning the nets to the back of the vehicle while exiting. This net system is sure to be replaced by more stylish aftermarket door designs.
Trail-Ready Width A huge selling point for the ACE is its trail-capable and easily transportable 48-inch width, which means it can take on nearly every OHV trail in the country since many ATV trails are limited to a width of 50 inches. It will also fit in the back of a full-size pickup truck—a nice feature, since most side-by-sides require the added costs of a trailer. To ensure a low center of gravity, Polaris positioned all the major components, including the driver, centralized between the four wheels for an incredibly responsive ride. Along with this low center of gravity, the Sportsman ACE boasts 10.25 inches of ground clearance and 9.5 inches of rear travel due to its fully independent rear suspension (IRS) outfitted with performance, twin tube shocks featuring adjustable preload. The front of the ACE features a MacPherson strut setup with a bit more than 8 inches of wheel travel.
Veteran ATV riders will feel funny in the ACE at first, but after only a few miles, you’re hit with an added sense of confidence and security—the same feeling that has helped to make side-by-sides the fastest-growing powersports industry. Beginner to expert riders will appreciate the ACE’s comfortable ride and nimble handling characteristics. The suspension feels stiff, compared to standard Sportsman ATVs, but it soaked up the rough, rocky test loop and was difficult to bottom out. The machine felt stable, even around quick, 90-degree corners, and, even at top speeds, you always feel in control.
32-hp ProStar Powerplant The Sportsman ACE 4x4 is equipped with a new Polaris ProStar electronic fuel-injected powerplant. It’s a dual-overhead-cam, single-cylinder, four-stroke design that is similar to the 570 RZR and Sportsman, which Polaris released last year. Its displacement is in the sub-400cc category, and it packs a solid 32 hp with a top speed of 45 mph, perfect for the entry-level to intermediate rider. It didn’t hit hard out of the hole, but its power range is wide and very easy to adjust to. This is the perfect powerplant for the rookie trail enthusiast. The motor provided plenty of excitement, the power doesn’t overwhelm or scare, and it’ll provide an excellent platform for learning.
The transmission is identical to the 570 RZR’s and provides the driver with the option of both high and low range, neutral, reverse, and a park mode that acts as the emergency brake. In high, the 32-hp ProStar pulled the 850-pound ACE up and over every obstacle on our technical, 50-inch-wide test loop. We used Low range for ascending and descending the steeper trails, and we powered through deep ruts, mud holes, and rock gardens without so much as a scent from the CVT.
The Sportsman ACE is equipped with the same On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system found on all Polaris ATVs and UTVs. The system eliminates the guesswork by automatically engaging AWD when you need it, and then it reverts back to two-wheel drive automatically when the AWD is no longer needed. It would be great to have a locking front differential, but this On-Demand system is used and loved by an outstanding number of enthusiasts.
Braking is solid, thanks to four-wheel hydraulic discs with dual-bore front calipers, and the little ACE rides on Carlisle 489 tires, mounted on stamped steel wheels, which provide great traction on most terrains. We put a good pounding on these meats and didn’t come close to a flat.
Storage on the Sportsman ACE is exceptional with its integrated 2.8-gallon semi-dry front storage compartment and a high-capacity Lock & Ride cargo box with rack extenders and rear tie-down rails that also accepts the accessory Lock & Ride cargo box for additional dry storage. The vehicle can carry up to 575 pounds of gear and can tow up to 1,500 pounds. The ACE is also pre-wired for the installation of a winch with up to 3,500 pounds of capacity, and Polaris offers more than 25 accessories for the Sportsman, including doors, winches, cabs, and storage to suit their driver’s needs. The Sportsman ACE is available in White Lightning and will be in dealerships in February.
ATV or UTV? Like it or not, these UTVs are transitioning from a hit fad to the future of ATVing. Since the release of the original RZR 800 seven years ago, Polaris has been the leading UTV manufacturer of such machines, and for $7,499, the Sportsman ACE is sure to be a hit for both beginners and experts alike. What’s next for Polaris? You can expect the company to follow up with more single-seat and steering-wheel-equipped models from the entry-level ACE all the way up to a mind-blowing 1,000cc rocket ship. Stay tuned.
TAGS: ATVs/ATV/ Reviews/ UTVs/ Ride/ 2014/ ATV/ UTV / SxS /P olaris ACE Sportsman 4x4 review Test First Drive