2018 Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo Dynamix Edition Review
January 2018 Issue – Feature Article
Story: Brandon Bunch
Photos: Casey Cordeiro & Brandon Bunch
When the 2018 Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo Dynamix Edition was first released, I was very skeptical about the Dynamix Active Suspension System. The first of its kind for the UTV market, this system offers 3 on-the-fly selectable baseline settings (comfort, sport, and firm), and then the computer-controlled system will adjust settings as you drive based on acceleration, braking, your speed, and whether or not you’re cornering or in the air. All of this happens “behind the scenes” in a central brain in an effort to consistently give you the smoothest and most controlled ride available in a UTV. When I first read all of these details, I thought to myself, “Can this system really adjust quick enough to work effectively over high speed, constantly changing desert terrain? Or, will I be left wallowing through corners and beaten to death by the infamous ‘side by side chop’ notorious on well worn trails?” Having grown up riding and racing quads and dirt bikes, I was also under the impression that there’s no way this system could work better than an “old fashioned” set of shocks with compression and rebound clickers, properly tuned with a screwdriver via trial and error. However, after a long day behind the wheel, I was very impressed.
Upon jumping behind the wheel, the first thing I noticed is the new Ride Command 7” ‘Glove Touch’ display. Turn the key on, and the full-color screen awakens to a RZR ripping across the desert, giving you an idea of what this machine is going to be capable of. Flipping through the different menus, its clear Polaris did their homework when designing this system – the navigation is clear and concise without having too many buttons or options. You also have the Dynamix visualizer, which gives you a real-time readout of what the active suspension is doing. The other menu options reveal a digital instrumentation display of machine vitals (speedometer, tach, coolant temp, etc.), and GPS mapping preloaded with a surprising amount of off-road trails. When paired with the Android/iOS Ride Command app, the GPS system even has the ability to record new-found trails and upload them to update the system for everyone else! On top of all that you have built-in GoPro control functionality, Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity, and a reverse wide-angle camera. It’s a very impressive system that works more fluidly than even some high end automotive infotainment systems I’ve experienced.
The 168hp ProStar Turbo engine fires to life smoothly and quietly, without much mechanical noise besides the low rumble given by the 925cc EFI-controlled parallel twin. Throw the Automatic PVT transmission into High or Low, based on your terrain, and away you go. Polaris claims that 95% of torque is available from 5,000 to 8,000rpm with the peak being 114 ft-lbs, and it definitely feels that way as throttle response and power delivery feels almost instantaneous. It delivers power so linearly that it almost makes it feel slow (it’s definitely not), and that may be accentuated by the active suspension stiffening the rear under hard acceleration to kill the ‘squat’ commonly experienced with standard suspension. Power is easy to modulate on slick and hard packed terrain, while still being able to drop the hammer in sand or gravel and effortlessly propel this 1,700lb car up steep and gnarly hill climbs, even in two wheel drive.
Whether I was alone with a bunch of camera gear, or cruising with a friend (or three), I was consistently blown away by the ability of this UTV to adapt to the terrain I was traversing. Crawling through low speed rocky 4×4 trails? Throw it in AWD, select Comfort on the suspension mode switch, put the transmission in Low, and this car will very easily pull itself up the nastiest loose and rocky trails. With the suspension being in the softest base setting, aka Comfort, the machine easily articulates through rain ruts and over large rocks, while keeping the stock 29” Maxxis Bighorns in contact with the ground to facilitate easy delivery of all that power and torque without too much unwanted wheel spin.
Coming out of the mountains down into the high-speed whooped out and chopped up gravel washes, I put it back into 2WD, the transmission into High, and selected Sport on the suspension mode switch; and I’m now in a different UTV! With the suspension in Sport mode, it raises the baseline settings to the midrange in stiffness, giving you much better hold-up and body roll resistance when diving into rutted-up tight corners, and better stability through larger high speed whoops and sweeping corners. However, I found that the smoothest way to make it through the sections filled with the awfully rough side by side chop was to keep the suspension in Comfort mode, and just keep my speed up. That allowed the car to stay on top of the chop, rather than hitting each individual bump.
Running through long sections of huge hard pack whoops, I found the car benefited most with the suspension in the Firm setting. It was surprisingly easy to get the car to skip across the top of the whoops. However, I felt that the rear suspension seemed to pack up and then buck at higher speeds. The Firm suspension setting also worked really well on the super high-speed hard packed trails. The extra stability provided by the stiffest suspension setting allowed me to actually feel comfortable cruising at 70-80mph on these wide-open trails, barely lifting off the throttle for the fast sweeping corners. With almost no body roll it legitimately felt like I was on rails.
The electronic power steering gives the right amount of feedback at any speed, never leaving you with that ‘disconnected’ feeling at high speeds while effectively reducing the force required to turn the wheel at low speeds or in AWD. Getting into the sand is definitely where I had the most fun with this UTV. With 168hp on tap, I was able to rocket up the dunes even in 2WD with the stock tires. Throwing the car sideways into both flat and bowl corners was a blast. With the suspension back in Sport mode, the car holds up well in the sand whoops while absorbing the chop and cross-ruts. Again, you can really feel the active suspension kicking in to stiffen the outside shock absorbers to reduce body roll through the big bermed up corners. We found a big jump to ‘send it’ off of, and the suspension was equally impressive here. You could even leave the suspension in Comfort mode, and the car detects when you’re in the air, immediately stiffening the suspension to the maximum setting to reduce bottoming out when landing. It really does work that well.
Yes, the suspension is definitely a boon to this car. However, it could really benefit from some spring tuning. Polaris has always kept the car sprung hard in the rear so that it prevents people from overdriving it, and this condition is present in the XP4, just like in the 2-seat Dynamix. We are going to try to alleviate this and make the setup even better over time, so stay tuned.
Also, for those looking to fit 4 full-sized passengers in the vehicle, the XP 4 will be short on space in the back. The rear seats work great for kids, but they aren’t the best fit for full size adults on long rides.
All in all, the Dynamix technology provides a totally different and fun-filled experience when driving a sport UTV. With the technology now in the XP 4 Turbo model, it brings new performance into this lineup that has been around for 2 years. For as skeptical as I was about this car, I really am blown away by how well the Ride Command system and Dynamix Active Suspension works. While this RZR does have some limitations as a bone stock vehicle, it definitely lives up to our expectations and pushes the boundaries of what is capable in a 4-seat UTV. With a starting price of $28,499, the RZR XP 4 Dynamix Edition isn’t necessarily a bargain mobile, but it does pack some serious technology into a proven package.