2020 Polaris General Sport Review
The King of UTV Versatility?
By: UTV Off Road Testing Staff
Versatility – it’s the one word that truly describes the Polaris General lineup. The General is a well engineered, do-it-all UTV that can handle your daily work chores just as well as it can blast around corners on the trail. With new models of the General on the market, including this entry-level Sport variation which retails at an attractive $15,999 MSRP, should the General be on the top of your UTV shopping list this year? Here’s our 2020 Polaris General Sport Review.
ALSO SEE: 2020 Polaris General Deluxe Review
The Sport variation of the General is the stripped down, no-frills version of the lineup, hence the reason for the reduced price tag. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore it while shopping for a new UTV. It still retains many of the features that make the General great, including a comfortable and well designed cab, good suspension, a powerful engine, and cargo/towing capabilities that increase the versatility of the machine exponentially.
Spec page link: https://general.polaris.com/en-us/general-1000-sport-ghost-gray/specs/
As we mentioned above, the Sport model still has the venerable and well-loved parallel twin cylinder Polaris powerplant, delivering 100 horsepower and a well-rounded power delivery feel throughout the entire RPM range. Whether we were in Low gear crawling up rock climbs or in High gear blasting around corners, there really wasn’t a time when we wanted more power in this recreational-focused machine. Even pulling trailers around, we felt like the engine had plenty of low-end grunt to get us up hills.
The linear character of this engine is really where it shines – it pulls from the bottom to almost all the way to the top of the RPM range. And, we appreciate that the Sport has all of the same components in this department as its more expensive brethren. With this being said, could it use more power? Not really – you’re going to find that the Sport is fun to drive, plus it’s relatively quiet and easy to work on with the engine being directly under the dumping rear cargo bed.
While Polaris doesn’t have the best clutching systems in the industry, they do have a well-weighted clutching system in this Sport model for a wide variety of terrains and uses. Low gear is accurately low for towing around the 1500 lb trailer limit. All of our testers felt like the Low gear had accurate and good engagement. And, with an unlocking rear differential at your fingertips, you can easily disengage the rear diff into “turf mode” to save your grass or sensitive ground and make tight turns with ease. When 4WD is needed, the automatic locking front differential is a good unit and works well in any situation that we tested it in. It doesn’t allow the driver to truly lock it in diff lock, but it does automatically lock up quickly enough to get you up the hills you’re tackling.
When High gear was utilized, the fun factor goes way, way up for all of you trail aficionados out there. The General Sport is truly a blast to drive, and High gear can take you to some pretty high speeds when blasting around trails. The clutch engagement is immediate when you stab the throttle, and we love how Polaris doesn’t detune their throttle engagement even with the electronic system. When you push the throttle, the Sport responds and GOES.
With over 12 inches of travel in the front and over 13 inches in the rear, the Sport model has a, literally, sporty feel to it when trail riding. The suspension definitely isn’t bottomless or as plush feeling as the higher end General models, but that’s the entry-level tradeoff of the Sport. That also doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to drive, it just means you can’t quite push this model as hard as you can the higher end General models in corners and more diversified terrain out there. The stock shocks land in the middle ground between being plush and harsh over terrain – it’s not soft, but it also won’t rattle your teeth out.
The suspension on this UTV also holds up well to towing trailers or hauling 600 lbs in the dumping rear cargo bed. There is a stiff enough spring to where a heavy load doesn’t overwhelm the Sport. With front and rear swaybars, the vehicle is controllable in all situations and doesn’t feel like it is going to lean too hard into corners or with the loaded bed.
The stock CST tires are a bit unique in the industry, and they do a good job of “doing it all”, no matter what terrain you are riding in. All of our testers liked the good forward bite of these tires in the hard pack. The softer dirt was also handled well. These tires pair well to the 4-wheel disc brakes, which performed very well in all situations with plenty of stopping power. We didn’t put too many miles on these tires, but they seem like they would last quite a while under normal use as well.
Interior & Exterior:
No matter which General model you are looking at, one of the highlights has to be the interior. Upon entry into the vehicle, each driver and passenger is greeted with sealed and solid feeling doors. They are right up there with the excellent doors on the Can-Am Maverick Trail/Sport lineup. These doors have full coverage from the elements, and buyers can easily pair the doors with Polaris’ abundant accessories for this vehicle to create a full cab system.
We are also consistently impressed with the comfort of the seats and the overall dash layout of the General – it is a great place to be on long trail days. There are plenty of storage areas, both on the dash, in the center console, and in the glove box. There are plenty of accessory switch areas to utilize for accessories, too. And, if you are one of those people looking to customize your vehicle, the Sport might be your preferred model, not only with the lower price tag but also because this model still comes with the industry’s best accessory plug-and-play wiring management system – Polaris Pulse. It’s incredibly easy to plug your accessories in and wire the switches into the dash.
With plenty of room, storage, and room for expansion (accessories-wise), the General Sport really has a great interior.
Overall, the General Sport would definitely be on our list of sport/rec vehicle recommendations. It’s a do-it-all UTV that can easily grow with you as your needs and wants change through the years. We love the lower price of entry with this vehicle and, consequently, the ability for everyone to make it their own. The Sport comes with all of the bones that make the General lineup so successful and versatile in this world of UTVs, so you know it’s a great buy.