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These days, when we think of side-by-sides it’s likely that images of hardcore off-road racing machines or backcountry explorers pop into our minds first. The reality is far less glamorous as these vehicles are more often used for work rather than recreation and frequently outsell adventure models. While there has certainly been some advancement in the utility side-by-side segment with vehicles like the all-electric Ranger XP Kinetic, this class of vehicle has by and large remained the same. Polaris is gearing up to change that with the introduction of the all-new 2024 Ranger XD 1500.
Farm and ranch life is tough work, and that’s exactly the customer that the new Ranger XD 1500 is designed for. From the bottom up, this Ranger is all-new beginning with its one-piece high-strength steel chassis that has 160 percent more torsional rigidity than previous Ranger models. Powering the UTV is an all-new ProStar 1500 inline 3-cylinder 1,500 cc engine that puts out an industry-leading 110 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque. The engine is similar to the ProStar Fury 2.0-liter engine used in the 225 hp RZR Pro R, but with one fewer cylinder.
Four unique drive modes are selectable by way of a dash-mounted knob and include Comfort, Standard, Sport, and Tow/Haul. Backing the engine is the company’s new SteelDrive CVT transmission, which features a belt constructed exclusively out of… steel. The transmission is fully sealed and liquid cooled, resulting in smooth and quite operation along with extending the service interval to a staggering 6,000 miles.
The biggest selling point of the new Ranger XD 1500 is its incredible capability, which approaches, and even exceeds, that of some current pickups. Payload rating jumps up to a massive 1,500 pounds and the vehicle is fit with a cargo bed that provides a nearly 50 percent increase in capacity. Towing capacity increases to 3,500 pounds, which is a nearly 40 percent rise over current models of Ranger.
Now, you’re probably wondering what we’re all wondering… this all sounds awfully familiar. These specs nearly match those of Ford’s compact Maverick pickup. The 2024 Maverick is rated to haul up to 1,500 pounds of payload and can tow up to 4,000 pounds when equipped with the 4K Tow Package. However, the Maverick is physically larger and is about 800 pounds heavier than the Ranger XD 1500. Fun fact: The Ranger XD 1500’s payload capacity is greater than that of Ford’s F-150 Raptor, Ram’s TRX, and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon.
Beyond its best-in-class durability and capability, the 2024 Polaris Ranger XD 1500 raises the bar when it comes to interior comfort as well. Starting with the most spacious cab in the utility side-by-side class, the Ranger XD 1500 offers increased leg and shoulder room, making it easier to enter and exit the vehicle. Contoured seating with additional bolstering provides added comfort for long days behind the wheel, and the center seat flips down into an armrest complete with cupholders.
Heated seats are also available for the first time. Top trimmed Northstar models come with a fully enclosed ProShield cab and the company’s latest generation heating and air conditioning system. A JBL audio system is included in each model and customers wanting a bit more can upgrade to the JBL Trail Pro 4200 system, which adds a pair of rear speakers and two subwoofers for an immersive audio experience. A 7-inch waterproof touchscreen infotainment system powered by the company’s Ride Command software is available as is Ride Command+ on the Northstar trim.
While the price of everything has increased exponentially in the past couple of years, we were still a bit shocked at the starting price of the new Polaris Ranger XD. The most basic Premium trimmed three-seat model starts at $29,999. A top-tier Northstar Ultimate crew-cab Ranger XD starts at a staggering $49,499. At more than 50-grand after accounting for destination and delivery charges, the Ranger XD 1500 costs nearly twice as much as the comparable 2024 Ford Maverick at $27,960.
So, that begs the question, why buy the Ranger? For starters, it is going to be less expensive to own in the long run. Maintenance costs are less, as are registration and insurance fees if they are applicable at all. It’s also smaller in overall stature, making the side-by-side better suited for navigating tight ranch roads. With 12 inches of suspension travel, 15 inches of ground clearance, and optional 32-inch tires, the Ranger XD 1500 will truly be able to go anywhere in comfort. That all said, if you need a ranch or farm truck that can be driven to town, the Maverick is a great bet. However, if it’s a tool that will be used for hard work day in and day out on rough roads look no further than the new 2024 Polaris Ranger XD 1500.
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