By Christian Schauf
“May as well just buy a Tacoma.”
That sentiment, and many just like it, echoed through the crowd as I stood around the just-released Polaris Xpedition at Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona this past summer. Truthfully, they didn’t seem totally off base from where I was standing.
The UTV looked awesome. Really awesome. If I’m honest, it looked like someone took me to the factory, and told me to build my dream machine from the ground up. Fox Podium QS3 shocks, a banging JBL sound system, heat AND air conditioning, tip out windshield, touch screen, 4 seats, a winch, cameras all around, and much more.
But when is too much actually too much? Sometimes, there’s a line that gets crossed. And the essence of a vehicle can be lost through the addition of too many things. I considered my Gen3 Ford Raptor—an incredible vehicle, but almost too comfortable. At times, I just missed that visceral race-truck feeling my Gen2 provided on a bumpy dirt road.
Did Polaris jump the shark? Did they, in an effort to build the ultimate vehicle, end up blurring the lines and making something that doesn’t really do anything well?
It was a real possibility. After all, for the price, you actually COULD buy a truck.
But then I got the opportunity to spend some time behind one. I quickly learned that what the Xpedition is, is a vehicle that does so many things well, it’s hard to imagine what I’d do without it.
In fact, it may be the ultimate utility vehicle to date.
It’s not a truck, but can fill in for almost any truck task—and SUV, for that matter. It can be a mobile base camp, a pack mule, a rescue tool, and frankly just about anything you want it to be. It’ll go further, carrying more, more comfortably than any other vehicle I currently am aware of.
In my short time, I’ve put it through its paces, and here’s just a sampling of what we’ve gotten in to:
- The Xpedition hauled several guys and gear out to elk camp, driving rocky trails that would otherwise beat up, and at the very least ruined the paint, on any truck. And it did it so smoothly that everyone commented at one point or another how it ‘felt like cheating’.
- It’s plowed out my neighborhood when the snowplows were delayed. I turned up the heat, left the jacket in the house, and casually listened to a podcast while playing hero to my neighbors. My girlfriend even jumped in and joined me because “it looked fun”.
- Last fall, with not much going on one day, I loaded up the coolers and cruised trails, music blaring, with my buddies. We found a few elk herds, explored the other side of a couple hills my truck couldn’t reach, found some mule deer sheds and generally had fun seeing how far this little machine could take us.
- I put a bicycle rack on the rear hitch, and used it as an uphill mountain bike transport. Once we were done, I power washed the mud and sweat out of the interior, returning it to good-as-new.
- I lent it to my single-mom neighbor, who took her kids camping in it. In her words, it was a ‘game changer’ to drive in next to a river, pop up the rooftop tent, and have everything they needed at their fingertips.
- I pulled my neighbor’s Jeep Renegade out of the ditch in a snowstorm.
- After a last-minute rifle hunt, we folded the seats down, and filled the back end up with 3 quartered up cow elk, saving us an immense amount of packing out, but also keeping the meat pristine and out of the drizzle and dust that day brought.
Now before you chalk me up as a fanboy, I’m willing to admit a few faults:
The Xpedition is loud. As in “don’t try to have a conversation with someone in the seat behind you” loud.
It could use a turbo. I have to imagine that’s already in the works, given Polaris already has one in the lineup. Going from a RZR to the Xpedition, left me looking for more behind the gas pedal. But hey, when have you not wanted more power?
Lastly, it IS expensive. This is not a purchase decision to take lightly, as there are several much cheaper options out there. But when you consider that most UTV’s need thousands in upgrades to even be drivable, the price isn’t quite as bad, in fact, it’s hard to imagine what accessories to add to this already fully-equipped machine. I added a roof-rack, tent, and some lights, but none of that was necessary.
The Xpedition is an incredible vehicle. I’d bet my lucky stars that we’ll see improvements in the next year or two that solve for noise and power, but as it stands, this is one bad-ass machine ready to take you wherever you want to go. And who knows, you may just get your girlfriend to join you this time, if you want.