Polaris Sportsman XP850EFI ATV

Polaris recently unleashed its 2010 big-bore XP850 ATV onto the New Zealand market and, boy, does it go!

  • Impressive power
  • Effortless control
  • Smooth ride
  • Top braking components
  • Excellent suspension

Along with the Sportsman XP550, the 2009 Sportsman XP850 was entirely redesigned from the ground up, including a stronger new chassis design, a better suspension system, new engine layout, revised brakes, wheel design – everything was upgraded. There were no upgrades for the 2010 XP850, which in fact is no larger than the single cylinder XP550.


Even over some really rough ground at a good clip the Sportsman XP850 eclipsed everything else for smooth riding and stability. You only get stability when the big 14″ diameter wheels are following the terrain while riding – when the wheels are actually touching the ground – and it’s no accident the Polaris has very long 229mm front and 260mm rear suspension travel.

All four shocks now include spring preload adjustments.

The front end has been upgraded to the double “A” arm design, which dramatically reduces kick-back from the bumps. The rear has Roller Independent Suspension (IRS) that angle the shocks over slightly to act on the bumps better, too.


All these features and the smooth engine, combined with electric power steering, made riding the XP850 effortless.

All-day every-day ride comfort is enhanced thanks to a 100mm reduction of the seat width, with resulting wider running boards.

The Polaris true AWD transmission is fully automatic with a choice of high or low ratio, however I found the engine had enough power to take me anywhere in high.

Traction was seldom a problem, particularly when using its on-the-fly 4WD button when the going got tougher and I needed extra driving momentum.

The upmarket digital dash offers all the information required, including time, odometer, trip meter, fuel gauge, and gear range displays. Handy features include an adjustable top headlight, a high-mounted DC power outlet, a reverse speed-limiter over-ride button on the left handlebar, and an enclosed front top-box.

The Sportsman XP850 is rated to carry up to 55kg on the front and 110kg on the rear, and to tow up to 680kg.


The big 850cc EFI fuel-injected four valves per cylinder powerplant generates 70hp, an incredible 30hp more than the XP550.

From the previous model, the liquid-cooled twin cylinder engine has been turned 90 degrees to align the shaft-driven drive train better for increased performance and reliability.

Feeding those large cylinders are a pair of big 40mm EFI throttle bodies. Because the electronic injection system is so advanced now, they are considerably more fuel efficient than even just a few years ago.

The radiator is now larger to keep the engine cool and has been shifted 120mm further away from the ground for protection.

Stopping power

The excellent four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes pulled me up every time I hauled on the anchors.

The stopping power was certainly helped by the stainless steel braided brake lines – a non-wearing standard feature on all Polaris models. To better keep the brake discs and callipers away from obstacles Polaris moved them further inside their alloy wheels.

The Polaris Active Decent control (ADC) automatic engine braking system is good too, so you may find yourself using the brakes less. Polaris models could also be regarded as also safer, as the front and rear brakes are operated by just the one lever, with a single foot lever controlling just the rear wheels.

Read in-depth farm machinery reviews in the latest issue of Farm Trader magazine, on sale now.

See Polaris vehicles for sale here.


Engine type Four-stroke SOHC
Displacement (cc) 850 twin
Carburetion 40mm Dual-Throttle Bodies, EFI
Starting Electric
Final drive Shaft
Transmission P/R/N/L/H
Engine-braking system Standard
Active Descent Control Standard
Front suspension Short long arm (SLA) 22.9cm travel
Rear suspension Short long arm (SLA) 26.0cm travel
Front brakes Single-lever hydraulic four-wheel disc
Rear brake Hydraulic rear foot brake
Wheelbase 134.6cm
Dry weight 355.6kg
Length/width/height 211.4cm, 120.9cm, 128.9cm
Seat height 94.0cm
Fuel capacity XP: 19.9L; EPS: 17L
Front rack/box capacity 55kg
Rear rack capacity 110kg
Hitch towing capacity 680.4kg
Ground clearance 30.5cm
Hitch/type Std/Receiver



Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend