It was a secret mission. A select group of trade journalists were invited to the Polaris Research and Development facility in Minnesota, mercifully, during the summer. Unbeknownst to us, we would become privy to Polaris’ next entry into the work utility vehicle market — the PRO XD models. Polaris then promptly told us the official debut for the PRO XDs would be in December, and we were to zip our collective lips till then. That was especially difficult for Compact Equipment, because these new units fit our core mission of thoroughly covering commercial- and work-focused utility vehicles.
The rental market continues to attract specific utility vehicles like the PRO XD models that boast increased durability, easy serviceability and improved safety features. For example, sensing this same opportunity, aerial lift equipment expert JLG jumped into the UTV market in 2017 with the rental-focused three-seat 315G and six-seat 615G. Ironically, as big as the UTV rental market is, rental houses will tell you that UTVs are often a loss category machine because of constant maintenance headaches from the abuse they endure. With extensive maintenance intervals and short lifespans, rental UTVs have prohibitively high total costs of ownership (TCO) and reduced return on investment (ROI), commonly losing money after only three years.
“Rental industry providers were concerned with the frequency of maintenance intervals and persistent vehicle downtime that was dominating their current UTV fleets and the resulting negative impact on their end customers,” said Aaron Stegemann, director of sales, commercial strategic accounts, at Polaris.
Polaris Commercial heard these woes and got to work performing interviews, focus groups, branch visits and other research to identify the true duty cycles of rental UTV fleets and opportunities for engineering improvements that will specifically withstand the rigors of the rental market.
“They spoke, we listened, we collaborated and then we delivered,” said John Olson, VP and general manager of Polaris commercial, government and defense. “The result is our first commercially-focused vehicle designed built from the ground up to perfectly fit the needs of the industry with superior performance, price and productivity.”
The PRO XD 2000D is available in either a four-by-two or all-wheel-drive configuration with a two-person seating capacity, and the PRO XD 4000D has an all-wheel drive system and seats four passengers — and both models are the heaviest-duty Polaris UTVs to-date. Let’s take a look at what’s new and cool about the Polaris PRO XD.
You can’t change a rental customer’s use of a UTV — the machine will get beat up, service intervals will be ignored and any small safety risk will be exploited. But after identifying the most common points of failure, Polaris designed a UTV to handle the harsh conditions that await, focusing on safety, durability and serviceability.
To our eyes, Pro XD has the potential to make UTV fleets an asset rather than a burden for rental providers. Here are some of the clever upgrades we jotted down:
• Beefed up suspension springs (photo 1).
• Heavy-duty driveline components including the driveshaft, CVT boots and wheel bearings to better resist corrosive conditions that cause vehicle downtime (photo 2).
• All-new Polaris heavy-duty clutch for better durability paired with a 32 percent larger belt for longer belt life.
• Kevlar vinyl seats (because UTV seats are often ripped).
• UTV tires are commonly softer to protect lawns. Polaris opted instead to work with their partners and develop a hard surface jobsite tire that is more puncture resistant, non-directional and all the same size (photo 3).
• Relocated air filter and oil dipstick to eliminate the need to lift the bed for conducting maintenance checks.
• Orange seatbelt and vehicle decals to improve passenger and vehicle visibility.
• Wider foot wells that make it noticeably easier to get in and out.
• Both the PRO XD models have top speeds of 26 mph, powered by 24-hp Kubota diesel engines with an industry-leading 200-hour maintenance interval. An optional speed limiting kit can also be installed to further reduce the vehicle’s top speed to 15 mph.
• When Polaris debuted the prototype for customers, the only flaw they found was the gas cap wasn’t connected, which means that cap will for sure get lost. Polaris had already corrected this by the time we arrived for the test drive and added a lanyard.
The additional durability and safety features are complemented by some serious power and performance. Polaris identified towing and capacity as key specs in which to hit the top of the class (tow capacity 2,500 lbs, box capacity 1,250 lbs, payload capacity 1,900 lbs). The bed can fit a full-size pallet, further enhancing the vehicle’s work capabilities. There’s also more than 50 work accessories being offered including a poly roof, beacon light, glass windshield and poly doors.
To be sure, although the vehicle was purposefully designed for the rental industry, all of the features mentioned make it just as great for any prospective application in property maintenance, facility navigation, landscaping and more. I mean, who doesn’t want an extended 200-hour maintenance interval and fewer ownership headaches?