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Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs 

Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs 

We Drive The New 2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 While Putting Our Trigger Finger On Waterfowl

Story & Photos: Casey Cordeiro

Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs

Hunting and UTVs go together like pancakes and syrup. I use that metaphor because this particular review took place in the beautiful landscape of Saskatchewan, Canada. If you’re into waterfowl hunting, you need to get yourself up to the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan area to check out the opportunities that await you…

For this review, we paired the all-new 2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 with our adventures out to the hunting location and back. Northway Outfitters guided us to the prime hunting spots, which were full of Canadian Geese and many different species of ducks. All of the flatland and the ponds in the area would provide the perfect hunting grounds. Since this was my first time hunting, I was in for an experience on this trip. And, I was ready to learn all I could about process of hunting these species.

Turns out, I learned that the conditions and out-of-your-control things dictate everything in the hunt. The first morning presented great conditions for hunting with light snow and bitter cold temperatures, but the wind was howling, thus blowing over almost all of our decoys. We were still able to call in several groups on our Sure Shot callers, but many flocks were dismissive as they flew overhead. The second morning would give way to better conditions with less wind and slightly warmer temperatures. However, one of those “out-of-your-control” moments occurred again when a couple of eagles made the entire flock of Canadian Geese fly up at once, thus making it almost impossible for us to call them in to land by us. The day wasn’t a complete skunk-out, though, as we moved to the edge of a lake where we could switch it up to some duck hunting. After tapping out at our limit for the day, we called it a success.

The third and final morning of the trip presented an opportunity to do some more duck hunting on the edge of a freshly frozen lake. Decoys were sent out in typical fashion, and I’m still amazed at how many decoys it takes to truly setup a successful hunt. The dumping bed of a Ranger is perfect for carrying all of these, especially with supplies. The guys on the Northway team were used to the work, though, and just after sunrise we spent 2.5 hours having the time of our lives in excellent hunting conditions. Crouching on the side of the lake, birds were coming in from all directions, and we were able to tap out at our limits in those 2.5 hours. As I said earlier, if you haven’t been up north to do some of this waterfowl hunting, you need to experience it for yourself!

Making the experience even better was our first ride in the all-new 2020 Polaris Ranger 1000. This machine takes the place of the best-selling UTV of all time, the Ranger XP 900. Tough shoes to fill, eh? You bet your moccasins.

I’m back from Canada now, let’s continue…

Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs 

2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 Highlights

  • Revised engine has a single overhead cam (SOHC) layout now with improved low end torque
  • 25% more rigidity in the new one-piece chassis
  • New sealed bushings and bearings
  • New skid plates and front bumper offer more protection (the latter is only standard on some models)
  • Quick release grille for improved radiator access
  • Revised interior for more storage and better usability
  • New easy-access air filter
  • Easy maintenance across the entire vehicle
  • Bench seats provide comfortable seating for 6 adults

Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs

ENGINE

Quite possibly the biggest story of this new Ranger 1000 model is the SOHC engine. I noticed a great improvement in low-end torque and overall drivability compared to the old DOHC engine in the XP 900. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t have the power that the XP 1000 engine has in premium Ranger models, but the Ranger 1000 has plenty of pep to get it down the trail, even with a full load of people and gear. After many miles on the trails, this engine shined very well when climbing, in the mud, or while starting/stopping with a heavy load. The changes made to this engine all shine in a great way, and we really thought this is one of the ultimate work vehicles that can double down as a trail/adventure machine if needed.

TRANSMISSION/DRIVETRAIN

While the drivetrain still has a bit of clunkiness that Polaris UTVs have always had, I can positively say that the revised clutching is spot-on for this vehicle. It takes off smooth, in both Low- and High-gear, with or without a full load of people and gear. With the availability of low-end torque that this engine delivers, the clutching is able to get every ounce of torque powered to the ground to make this engine feel more powerful than it actually is. It really does work well.

As I said earlier, the Polaris drivetrain typically makes little noises here and there, and this new Ranger 1000 is no different. The little noises aren’t obnoxious or anything, they’re just subtle and “there”. There weren’t any performance issues with it.

SUSPENSION

Like all Polaris Rangers, the Ranger 1000 is a supreme example of how to make a suspension system compliant yet capable. When you get this UTV out on the trails, you are rewarded with a smooth ride and good handling characteristics. The suspension easily soaks up the bumps. I really appreciated how you can have a full load of supplies in the bed, along with a full load of passengers in the vehicle, and the suspension is still compliant and doesn’t bottom out in a harsh manner.

The only negative is that the suspension does compress pretty far when the vehicle is fully loaded, so your ground clearance is reduced quite a bit. I realize that the Ranger 1000 has a great price point, so technologies are a bit scarce on this machine. However, I do think ranchers and trail riders would appreciate some sort of self-leveling shock system (either oil- or air-based) so that the ground clearance isn’t so far reduced when fully loaded. Maybe some day!

TIRES/WHEELS/BRAKES

On our mixed test ride through hills, mud, and tight trails, we found that the brakes on the Ranger 1000 are plenty adequate for this machine, even in the 6-passenger layout. The pedal has a solid feel that builds with a steady pressure.

The tires are good, but not great, for a variety of terrains. Most ranchers won’t need to worry about changing these because they will deliver a good service life and do just fine in many environments. We noticed that they are a pretty light tire with not much of a steady carcass when it comes to rocks and sharp objects. The risk of a flat with these tires is higher than we’d like.

Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs

INTERIOR & EXTERIOR

The storage options and overall dash layout are stellar in the new Ranger 1000. If you can’t find enough storage options in this vehicle, I’m not sure how you are going to find another UTV with more. The open troughs on the lower front dash are great for putting all sorts of items – gloves, tape measures, smaller tools, phones, and all sorts of accessories. Speaking of accessories, the dashboard has plenty of room for auxiliary switches, and I appreciate the fact that all of these Polaris vehicles include easy-to-connect power ports under the front hood.

The back seat is where you most notice the lack of support from the bench seat, along with the lack of any sort of plastic barrier between your knees and the back of the front seats. Polaris should really take notice of Can-Am’s Defender design when it comes to rear seat passenger comfort as theirs has a nice plastic barrier for your knees. I was consistently hitting my knees on the exposed metal crossmembers and supports that the rear seat passengers have to work around. And, I’m not sure why these are designed the way they are, but the nets that are still on this Ranger 1000 are just not up to the quality standards you would expect. It would be simple to develop a simpler, more secure system for these side nets, and I hope Polaris does soon.

Otherwise, the functional and stylistic upgrades to this Ranger 1000 are very welcomed over the outgoing XP 900 model. The truck-like front fascia is bold and looks great on this vehicle. It is distinct in the marketplace, and we like that. Again, all of the maintenance items are easy to get to, and Polaris wisely upgraded to sealed a-arm bushings this year, along with bringing more skid plate protection to the underside of the vehicle. After using this Ranger 1000 in the mud and around sharp obstacles, we really appreciated the better skid plates and better bushings, which were noise-free throughout our journey.

Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The all-new 2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 is a great all-around work UTV with a fantastic entry price at $12,999 MSRP. Adding options or upping the trim level can increase the price to over $15k, but it is still a solid vehicle for the price. Yes, there are still a few kinks for Polaris to work out. If you’re looking for a hunting vehicle that can pull double duty as a work vehicle, this is a good option at a welcoming price.

Hunting Birds & Driving UTVs

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