2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 Premium Ranch Test
Words & Photos: Steven Ely
We all love the thrill of a fast-paced trail ride, exploring trails packed with vastly different types of terrain, or conquering the most technical rocks and obstacles we can find. For many UTV owners, however, climbing into their rig means something different- maintaining fences, traveling across large jobsites, or carrying equipment. When that hard work has to get done, the UTV is one of the most versatile tools available. The Polaris Ranger nameplate is a longtime staple of the utility UTV industry, predating just about every modern UTV on the market today. Meet 2020’s Polaris Ranger 1000 Premium, one of the best all-around tools for work and a little play. Check out our 2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 Premium Ranch Test.
- Versatrac Turf Mode
- Full length skid plate
- Ultra-quiet exhaust
- Huge dump bed
- Three seats
- Numerous cup holders
Powering the Polaris Ranger 1000 Premium Edition is a naturally-aspirated 999cc twin cylinder SOHC engine that makes 61 HP in this state of tune. It is more than enough power for this machine’s scope of work. The engine makes enough grunt to pull a trailer, haul a heavy load, or even cruise around comfortably on country roads at speeds of 40-45 MPH. The fuel injection is great for easy starting in all types of weather and offers great fuel economy. The exhaust is truly one of the quietest on the market, and your ears will thank you after a long day in the seat.
The Ranger 1000 uses a belt-drive CVT transmission with selectable 2 and 4 wheel drive. It features a high and low range forward gear, plus reverse. Polaris also includes an unlocked rear differential setting called “VersaTrac Turf Mode”. The turf mode allows you to drive over grass, gravel, and other loose surfaces without tearing them up. 2WD becomes a perfect choice when pulling a trailer or even driving on a softer dirt surface. 4WD of course is best when having to negotiate obstacles, technical trails, or when playing in the mud. The low range is great for pulling a trailer, hauling a bed full of cargo, or climbing a steep hill. Having high range available lets you cruise along and conserve fuel or kick up your speed when traveling down longer, smooth surfaces.
While slightly limited in wheel travel compared to today’s high performance sport utility machines, the Ranger truly shines at slower speeds in rough conditions. The sway bar and suspension work in harmony to provide a stable yet comfortable ride in all types of terrain.
Since the 1000 Premium is still built on the base Ranger platform, it doesn’t get the large tire treatment. The stock tires are 26 inches tall, which is fairly standard in the utility segment but may leave you wanting for more ground clearance off-road. The gearing, clutching, and tire size all complement each other to provide a great driving feel. The tires hook up well, whether you’re pulling a trailer through some softer conditions or on hard pack at higher speeds.
Interior & Exterior:
Inside the cabin, Polaris gave the Ranger enough shoulder room to comfortably fit three adults across the bench seat. There are numerous cup holders, (8 to be exact) allowing you to carry plenty of beverages in the cabin to keep you hydrated. The glove box and additional cargo compartments are large and placed conveniently to carry anything you might want with you in the cab. The sliding seat and tilt steering wheel makes it very easy to accommodate anyone from 5’ to 7’ tall with ease. The seat on the Premium edition is also 1” thicker than the base model for extra comfort. Exterior finish quality is great, and the automotive-style paint shines nicely when clean and washes easily after getting it dirty.
Upon receipt of the Ranger 1000 Premium Edition, the first task was to just take it out and drive it to get a feel for it. With three grown individuals wearing helmets and safely buckled in, there is plenty of room to ride comfortably and not bang helmets. The ride at slow speed is impressively comfortable in comparison to the sport models of late, giving up high-speed bump absorption for a better every-day ride. One of the Ranger’s best attributes is how dialed-in the clutching is. There is no high-RPM stall or jerking when trying to slowly accelerate. It has a very low stall speed, contributing to smooth takeoffs and acceleration. Being able to drive around without disturbing people or animals with a loud exhaust is fantastic. The turfmode really does improve drivability, as the Ranger turns a lot tighter and smoother using only 1 tire to drive, rather than pushing and barking tires trying to turn while locked in 2wd.
The Polaris Ranger 1000 Premium is not just a work or utility vehicle though. We have used it plenty for pure pleasure and leisure activities as well. While camping at one of our local lakes, we use it to travel back and forth from the camps to the boat slips. With the provided 2” receiver hitch, it is the perfect companion to pull our 8” bass buster boat around. The Ranger can be used to launch easily into any pond or lake with a semi-accessible shoreline. The bed is large enough to accommodate a full-size cooler, small grill, tent, and sleeping bags allowing you to trail ride as far as you like before setting up camp for the evening.
While using the Ranger for leisure is great, it truly shines as workhorse. Since having this unit on our 160 acre ranch, I could probably count on one hand how many times it didn’t have a 30 gallon sprayer in the bed. It makes things extremely easy for 2 people (even possible by yourself) to drive around and spot spray weeds or unwanted trees as they are coming up. The towing capability makes it easy to pull the larger broadcast sprayer behind as well while spraying 45’ at a time. The Ranger handles the chore of pulling our ranch welding trailer around without difficulty. Pulling the welding trailer behind the Ranger allows you to pull into or through places a full-size pickup cannot. We have hauled some very heavy loads in the cargo bed to test the weight capabilities and still even the smaller, younger kids have no problem being able to release the bed and dump what we are hauling. Having a bed big enough to fit a large cooler, a chainsaw, oil, axe, etc. allows you to be able and head out for an entire day of tree trimming and having everything you need with you.
Doing all of the heavy lifting and harder work also allows us the opportunities to sometimes enjoy the easier chores like tending to our livestock. The Ranger makes it effortless to keep up on daily checks of all our animals. The ultra-quiet exhaust lets us drive right alongside our cows, horses, and donkeys without disturbing them at all. Our animals have become quite used to the Ranger and actually enjoy seeing it, as it normally means they are about to get fed. We have loaded a sick calf into the bed and driven it up to the lots where we could vaccinate it and further treat it back to good health. There have been numerous times we have used the Ranger to drive out in the pastures and catch horses where we would halter them and bring them up to the barn to be saddled and go gather cows. We have also used the Ranger alone to gather cows or push them from one pasture over to another. It has earned its keep around our ranch and is one of my favorite tools. To this day, it has never once left me stranded or had any part failures.
The 2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 is an amazing machine. Whether you intend to use it for back country off-road excursions, trail riding, or the most extreme jobs, the Ranger will never cease to amaze you with its impressive capabilities. One of the only things we keep asking ourselves is how we ever lived so long without one, knowing we will never go without one for the foreseeable future.
2020 Polaris Ranger 1000 Premium Ranch Test Specifications:
ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN
- Cooling: Liquid
- Cylinders Displacement: 999cc
- Drive System Type: High Performance On-Demand True AWD/2WD/VersaTrac Turf Mode
- Engine Type: 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder SOHC
- Fuel System/ Battery: Electronic Fuel Injection
- Horsepower: 61 HP
- Transmission/ Final Drive: Automatic PVT H/L/N/R/P; Shaft
- Bed Box Dimensions (L x W x H): 75 x 54.25 x 12.5 in (93.3 x 137.8 x 31.75 cm)
- Box Capacity: 1000 lb (454 kg)
- Estimated Dry Weight: 1,527 lb (693 kg)
- Fuel Capacity: 35 gal (43 L)
- Ground Clearance: 12 in. (30.5 cm)
- Hitch Towing Rating: 2,500 lb (1,133.9 kg)
- Overall Vehicle Size (L x W x H): 120 x 62.5 x 76 in (305 x 158 x 193 cm)
- Payload Capacity: 1,500 lb (680.4 kg)
- Person Capacity: 3
- Wheelbase: 81 in. (206 cm)
- Front/ Rear Brakes: 4 Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front and Rear Calipers
- Parking Brake: Park In Transmission
- Adjustable Driver Seat: Standard
- Cargo System: Lock & Ride
- Hitch Type: Standard 2 in (5 cm) Receiver
- Instrumentation: 4″ LCD Rider Information Center: User Selectable Blue/Red Backlighting & Brightness, Programmable Service Intervals, Speedometer, Tachometer, Odometer, Tripmeter, Clock, Hour Meter, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Coolant Temperature, Voltmeter, Service Indicator and Codes, Seat Belt Reminder, DC Outlet
- Lighting: 55W Low, 60W High, LED Tail
- Other Standard Features: Polaris Pulse Electrical System (3 position)
- Tilt Steering: Standard
TIRES / WHEELS
- Electronic Power Steering: Standard
- Front Tires: 26 X 9 -12; PXT 2.0
- Rear Tires: 26 X 11 -12; PXT 2.0
- Wheels: Aluminum Black Xcelerator 2.0
- Front Suspension: Dual A-Arm 10 in. (25.4 cm) Travel
- Rear Suspension: Dual A-Arm, IRS 10 in (25.4 cm) Travel
- Factory: 6-months limited warranty