With several tweaks to its transmission, we test the latest Polaris Diesel Ranger 1000 to see how it compares to its predecessor. James Rickard reports.
It does not seem two minutes since we last test drove the latest Polaris Diesel Ranger 1000. However, that was nearly 18 months ago, and on the whole we really liked its solid workhorse capabilities.
But, we had one major criticism of the Ranger, and it is an affliction which affects most ATV/UTVs with a belt driven continuously variable transmission, and that is the fact you hardly, if any, get any engine braking. This is because as soon as your foot comes off the accelerator drive is disconnected, meaning total reliance on the brakes – not great on hills with a load behind you.
Undeterred, Polaris has been back to the drawing board and adapted the transmission so the belts are constantly engaged. In addition, it has also developed a system it calls ‘Active Descent Control’ whereby the differentials are automatically locked when a difference in speed between the front and rear axles gets to a certain point, detected via a sensor in the front diff.
ADC is now one of four drive modes, previously three, which can be selected via a rocker switch in the cab; two wheel drive open rear differential, two wheel drive locked rear differential, on-demand four wheel drive (which shifts power to the wheels with most traction), and four wheel drive with ADC. Traction modes are shown on the digital dash display.
Without question, the redesign of the transmission has transformed the way the Ranger drives. It is much more drivable than before with more control over speed, particularly when descending hills with a load. Consequently, safety has increased and the use of brakes has dramatically decreased, which should save on running costs.
If conditions do get greasy or muddy, which is easy to find at the moment, ADC is a useful driver aid when tackling hills. In combination with the tweaked transmission, it gives a lot more confidence to tackle sloping ground.
As for the rest of the machine, it is fairly status quo, with the same ample cab space and simple operation. However, electric power steering is now standard, which requires little effort to use. And there is the addition of a front rack, which can be hinged upwards to get under the bonnet.
The Ranger is also road ready as standard and comes with lighting kit, handbrake and three, three-point seat belts – it just needs licensing. With the road kit comes a rather bulky indicator stalk which does not leave much space for your hand between it and the door. A more subtle or scaled down stalk would not go a miss.
Overall, the Diesel Ranger is vastly improved. However, there are still a few things for the firm to work on such as open windows which can catch on the tipper body when doors are opened fully back.
The cab also lacks sun visors, and a grab rail on the A-pillar would be useful for the driver when entering the vehicle – the passenger gets one for some reason. The cherry on the icing would be reduced in-cab noise.