Published on November 13th, 2023 | by Joe
2024 Polaris RZR XP 1000 Test Review: VIDEO
Released in 2014, the Polaris’ RZR XP 1000 was the best performing sport side-by-side on the market when we first tested it a decade ago. For its 10th year, the RZR XP received its most significant round of mechanical and styling updates for 2024.
To this day, we view the RZR XP 1000 as the measuring stick among the one-liter, non-turbo-equipped sport SXSs due to its incredibly well rounded performance. It’s one of the first machines we’d traditionally recommend for the masses, delivering plenty of capability and thrills for the majority of drivers.
Over the past decade, trails have widened nationwide. Originally designed as a whoop pounding West Coaster, for 2024, Polaris substantially updated the RZR XP with a focus on multi-terrain use. Performance is enhanced with serious effort spent improving build quality and attention to detail while modernizing its design.
To celebrate its 10 year anniversary and see how well the highly updated 2024 model performs, we ordered up a new RZR XP and headed to Haspin Acres in Laurel, Indiana. There we met up with test drivers, Eric Jones and CJ Haney, to give the 2024 RZR XP 1000 a proper East Coast trail shakedown.
At first glance, you can’t miss the updated styling featuring a look more in line with the Pro XP, Turbo R and Pro R models. With the new look comes improved function, starting with high quality half-doors on all models. The hood has been smoothed and steepened, providing a better view of the trail. There are air ducts on the front of the rear fenders directing air toward the engine and CVT for improved heat mitigation plus more updates we’ll cover later in this review.
Available in both two and four seat models, examining the two-seat configurations, trim packages start with the budget friendly RZR XP 1000 Sport at $20,999. Notable stock appointments include LED head and tail lights, new tie-down hook equipped front bumper and skid plates, a combination analog and digital instrument display, plus the numerous enhancements shared across the RZR XP line. We wish the 29” tires featured a square setup. We’d also like to see Four-point harnesses and a roof standard on the base model and all sport SXSs for that matter.
The $22,999 RZR XP 1000 Premium adds four-point harnesses, a poly roof, and an upgrade from 29” to 30” tires featuring a square tire setup. The Premium package also includes premium body paint and graphics, a PMX-2 head unit, and Rockford Fosgate Stage 1, two-speaker audio.
Our test unit is the $25,999 RZR XP 1000 Ultimate. It features Polaris’ highly regarded Ride Command GPS infotainment system with a 7” touch screen. It replaces the analog and digital display and adds a ton of functionality including displaying the included backup camera image, and controlling the four-speaker, Rockford Fosgate Stage 3 audio, powered by an external 400W amp. Exterior LED accent lights are added front and rear in addition to interior LED floor lighting. To power additional electronic accessories, the 660W charging system is upgraded to 900W on the Ultimate.
The RZR XP is powered by a 999cc, parallel twin cylinder engine featuring four valves DOHCs per cylinder. It received a boost in performance accompanied by a huge effort to improve transmission and drivetrain durability. Horsepower was increased from 110 to 114. This was accomplished with new pistons raising the compression ratio from 11:1 to 12.5:1 thanks in part to the addition of a knock sensor. The higher compression was accompanied by a new combustion chamber design. Exhaust valves were increased in size from 29-32mm along with revised intake and exhaust porting for improved flow. Similar to the turbo models, the head is now vented to prevent air bubbles from forming in the cooling system, causing issues.
The intake manifold was designed to increase torque across the usable power range, paired with a redesigned exhaust and recalibrated fuel mapping. Throttle mapping has also been changed to increase the fun power delivery characteristic of the engine. Polaris says you can run as low as 87 octane fuel recommending 91 for best performance.
The seats and back panel of the cab are easily removed allowing tool-less access to the air filter. An easily removable cargo bed floor allows easy access to the engine for routine maintenance. Up front, the grill can be removed without tools for cleaning of the radiator.
The primary transmission still features high and low forward ranges plus neutral, reverse, and park. The CVT received larger clutches with beefed up stainless steel sliders in the primary clutch. Thanks, in part, to larger cooling fins on the clutches, the 2024’s CVT is said to flow around 2x more air than last year. Wider clutch ratios and a larger drive belt are used to improve takeoff performance and CVT durability. The bodywork features air ducts behind the doors to direct air over the engine and CVT for improved heat dissipation.
Hitting the trail, the RZR’s engine runs flawlessly. Its 3.5% horsepower increase was accompanied by a 10.5% increase in weight. Although the power to weight ratio actually decreased slightly, the power, clutch, and throttle programming make the RZR feel a little peppier accelerating from a dead stop or exiting turns. There’s plenty of power on tap for most climbs, and as we’ve experienced, the 1000 is a capable dune machine in stock trim. We’ve always admired the broad powerband and push you back in your seat performance the XP 1000 delivers, and Polaris has marginally improved on that in spite of the weight increase.
The primary transmission has been beefed up with stronger gears and bearings. Reverse is now gear driven for improved strength, allowing Polaris to increase the torque output limit in reverse. The larger ratios in the CVT helped allow Polaris to lower gearing in the transmission in low range significantly.
Our drivers were fans of the lower gearing in low range. We typically don’t employ low range unless we’re operating below 15 MPH for a prolonged period of time, and the lower gearing makes popping up and over obstacles easier. It also kept the clutch fully engaged at lower speeds improving performance and reducing belt wear, especially when sizing up on tires.
The transmission didn’t always fully go into gear when switching drive modes. Make sure it’s fully in gear before gassing it to prevent grinding gears and damaging your transmission.
The front differential is now rubber mounted, suspended from the frame to reduce sound and feedback through the chassis. The rear differential received stronger gears to balance out all the other driveline improvements. The axles have been strengthened with larger diameter shafts, larger splines on the outside and joints on the inside. The rear axles are now installed with Loctite on the wheel end to improve wheel bearing durability.
AWD ratios were altered with the rear tires turning slightly faster than the fronts to help push the rear end around corners better for more predictable cornering. We’re undecided on how big a difference this made in performance. We can say that Polaris’ all-wheel-drive system performed flawlessly and virtually undetectable with the exception of added traction when needed.
Chassis and Suspension
Updates to the chassis begin with the frame. The bolted joint in the middle is now gone, replaced by a one-piece frame design. It features tie-down hooks at the back of the chassis for trailering along with a slightly larger center-mounted rear tow hook . The roll cage has been redesigned and notably reinforced with the mounts now tucked away under the body work for a cleaner look. The result of the frame and cage updates are said to provide greater rigidity and a 25% increase in strength.
There’s a new front bumper that’s tie-down hook equipped. Redesigned, full-coverage plastic skid plates now wrap up on the leading edges under the front wheel wells and on the sides a bit for improved protection.
Dual A-Arm suspension is used up front with strengthened shock mounts on the upper arms. The rear suspension’s trailing arms have been strengthened at the end with thicker steel and added gusseting. They feature mounting holes for easy installation of trailing-arm guards. Both ends feature sway bars to control body roll.
Suspension travel is on the longer end for a 64’ wide SXS with 16” of wheel travel front and 18” rear. It’s controlled by 2” Walker Evans Needle shocks front and 2.5” shocks rear on all trim packages. For 2024, the shocks were significantly updated for a more compliant ride on tighter trails. Internal valving has been updated in addition to new springs with a dual-rate spring setup used up front and a new triple-rate spring setup used out back. They offer spring preload and 16 way compression damping adjustment.
We tested the shocks’ full range of compression adjustment. At the extremes of the compression clicker, the ride varies from nearly too soft to too stiff with plenty of usable adjustment in between. Stock shock settings are nearly spot on for all around sport driving with two average size adults. It does well absorbing smaller hits while offering plenty of bottoming resistance, which was not an issue throughout our testing. For rocks and ruts, articulation is decent in stock form, improving by backing off a few clicks on compression. For side hills and predictable weight transfer for cornering grip, we preferred a setting somewhere in the middle that would let the car settle. Overall, the suspension works very well and offers the right amount of adjustability for 75% of the drivers out there.
Steering has been updated to improve agility with a 1 ½ turn rack requiring less movement of the steering wheel. Power steering was recalibrated to work with the new rack, said to be tuned for improved steering feel.
New, larger 30×10-14” Trail Master tires now offer a square tire setup on the premium and ultimate packages. We found traction to be good in the dry and rocky conditions in which we tested whether we were going up, down, or sideways. Performance is good and that comes with a little more tire wear, but we’ll happily accept that on a sport machine.
The XP 1000 still measures in at 64” in width with a 90” wheelbase. Ground clearance has increased from 14” to 14.5” thanks to the taller tires. Between the taller tires and redesigned cage, the overall height has only increased by ¼” at 74”. The car’s claimed, estimated dry weight has increased on the Ultimate edition from 1,470 pounds in 2023 to 1,642 pounds for 2024. If that adds up to 172 pounds of improved durability, we’ll happily take it. The engine does not seem hampered by it.
Our drivers both praised the refined steering. The RZR steers with agility and precision, enhanced with the revised steering rack and power steering. The new EPS settings are still pleasantly light, filtering out harsh hits through the steering, while providing a more connected feel with the trail which we preferred.
With all-wheel-drive engaged and the shocks dialed in, the RZR transfers weight to the outside front tire helping pull you through corners without excessive diving. Throttle up on a relatively smooth, consistent surface and the RZR XP is a predictable drifter. The square tire setup adds to its willingness to hook up or drift on demand.
The XP strikes a beautiful balance between stability at high speeds with agile handling on tight trails. Its 64” width, average wheelbase and responsive steering let you confidently cruise through sections where 72” machines will be tapping the brakes or making four-point turns.
It’s a confident climber and descender, holding its own on side hills. Ground clearance was good in the rocks. Combined with its mid-length wheelbase, the RZR can climb over some impressive size rock ledges without scuffing its new skid plates.
We feel suspension and handling have improved for the tighter trails in our area on the 2024 model. However, everything done to the chassis and suspension should only improve its performance in the desert and dunes as well.
Braking was recalibrated for 2024. The four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes now feature dual piston calipers up front with a switch to a single piston caliper in the rear for improved braking balance front to rear to improve braking traction.
On slow, methodical downhills or braking hard to set up for a corner, our drivers felt braking power, feel, and bias were well dialed. Grip was easy to modulate with enough power on tap that we could still skid under braking if that was our intent. Overall, we had no complaints.
Interior and other Details
Entering is easy on the 2024 RZR XP thanks to new, rubber sealed, full doors with the hinges located on the front. They open via a smooth operating push button handle on the top inside of the doors. Markings on the outside make finding it a breeze. The inside of the doors are nicely finished with a handle for closing. The doors close tightly with no irritating rattles on our test unit. They’re a big upgrade and seem rather high-end on an entry level sport SXS.
Polaris’ Poly Sport roof was great, offering some shelter from mid-day sun. New high-back bolstered seats are slightly more reclined and sit around 1” lower than before. This slightly improves comfort and handling sensitivity. The seats still have a small amount of play, but it seems significantly reduced compared to 2023. The driver seat’s slider has been revised for easier operation when dirty. Both seats are removable with no tools for cleaning or maintenance.
The tilt adjustable steering wheel is compact and rubber coated. It’s been lowered and moved a little closer, allowing more drivers to stay planted in the seat back while maneuvering. Combined with the new steering rack, everything about it aids control and makes the wheel easier to hold on to.
Four-point harnesses are not retractable, but are easy to buckle and adjust. They’re also quite comfortable and reassuring when pushing the limits. The infinitely adjustable passenger grab handle is comfortable to hold onto, but was a struggle to tighten down. It can easily be removed and used for breaking lug nuts loose thanks to built-in sockets in the handle.
The floor area has been redesigned with different areas to put your feet. Our drivers wanted a steeper dead pedal on both sides of the cab on steep downhills for bolstering themselves. The removable drain plugs have been replaced by drain holes that don’t pass mud and small debris as easily when washing.
The newly designed hood and dash with center mounted instruments provide an improved sight line of the ground in front of the car with the new cage design and roof allowing easy viewing up steep hills. Polaris Ride Command infotainment system and GPS displays all of the usual gauges beautifully along with maps, viewing of cameras controlling the Rockford Fosgate Stage 3 audio system, and more. We’d like a minimalist display on the steering column for the most essential vehicle info since Ride Command is often occupied doing other things.
The Rockford Fosgate speakers are well positioned on the lower dash in front of the occupants and behind over their outer rear shoulders. After tuning the EQ, we still found the sound quality to be a little too midrange focused for our taste. We’d prefer our bass a little lower and our highs a little crisper.
In-cab storage has increased with flip-top storage bins located on the dash in front of the driver and passenger with a USB port in the driver’s side box. This is in addition to a passenger side glove box, and dual cup holders. Out back , the bed can haul up to 300lbs of cargo and features a back wall, unlike some, helping make your items more secure.
Switches are backlit for easy viewing with cut-outs already in place for additional accessory installation. A 6-position pulse bar allows for plug and play powering of accessories. LED lights are found at both ends. While none of the trim packages come with a winch, there is a short tow strap to hook onto up front for recovery.
Already one of our top picks for enthusiasts looking for all around performance and capability in the $20,000 to $25,000 price range, we’d feel even more confident buying or recommending the RZR XP 1000 with all of its improvements in strength and attention to detail.
Performance wise, we’d consider it a threat to win a naturally aspirated, 1000cc Sport SXS Shootout even if we included the manual shift cars and those over 64” in width. The RZR XP 1000 has always done everything well, and it seemingly does everything a little better for 2024. Don’t fret if those $45.000 models are out of your price range. The 2024 RZR XP 1000 will most likely deliver all the performance you need with modern styling and appointments starting under $21,000. Everything about the 2024 Polaris RZR XP 1000 makes it a sport SXS we’d be stoked to own.