Utility with attitude! Polaris has launched a new line of ultra-utility sleds with trail-friendly handling and plenty of sass from the OEM’s 800cc H.O. engine.
Consumers want their sleds to do more, last longer and cost less. While we’ll probably never have all three in the same snowmobile, Polaris has the “do more” part down with its latest offering.
This year’s debut of the new Polaris Titan creates a new style in an ultra-utility crossover sled. It’s a combination of power, performance and carrying capacity rarely seen in the snowmobile world. Also new for 2018 is the impressively race-ready and rugged Switchback XCR, which takes last season’s Rush XCR to a longer 137-inch track. Finally, the IGX rear suspension gets added to what Polaris believes is a more trail-friendly version of the SKS with a 146-inch skid.
We’ve got all the details right here, as well as the latest on the first Timbersled kit fully developed under the Polaris name. Read on!
Where do we put it?
Let’s start with what Polaris, and others, see as a new market segment: the “Extreme Crossover” category. We’re not sure that qualifies as a new segment, as Polaris’ top competitor (Ski-Doo) offers two sleds with the word “Extreme” right in their name, but that’s another argument. Polaris’ new 2018 line of Titan snowmobiles offers a combination of snowmobile innovations that will wow a wide array of consumers.
Think of a truck, minivan and a high-performance sports car all rolled into one, and then put it on steroids. That’s essentially what you’re getting in the new Titan sleds, but with three different trim levels, each emphasizing one of those areas. All come with what we feel is Polaris’ best 2-stroke performance engine to date – the 800cc H.O.
Polaris is calling the Titan the “world’s most capable crossover.” Don’t let that word “crossover” trick you into thinking this is just your typical attempt at pleasing crowds both on and off trail. These snowmobiles take the high performance from the 800 H.O. Cleanfire engine and pair it with a 2-up cruiser, a working man’s ranch hand, or an ultra-comfortable performance machine with some extra beef.
Each version comes in the new AXYS Titan chassis. This new development was required, thanks to the 20x155-inch track on all three models. It also enabled Polaris to include a massive 14-gallon fuel tank. All of them get PowderTrac Titan running boards, a specially designed Titan Alpha Transmission with Hi-Lo-N-R gear configuration, the new Polaris Titan brake system, and a standard J-hook hitch.
The first model, the Titan SP 155, is the no-nonsense ranch hand every guy or gal needs on the farm or in the bush. It’s no frills and comes with very utilitarian features, such as 1.375-inch lugs, rebuildable IFP monotube shocks, Pro-Float skis, and the Lock & Ride Versa Storage Platform that’s ready to accept accessories like a winch, gun case, or expanded storage options.
The Titan XC 155 adds a little more performance factor with Gripper skis, FOX QS3 shocks, and 1.8-inch lugs. It comes in a sleek black color scheme and still gives you all the options of the earlier mentioned Versa storage system.
Finally, there’s the Titan Adventure 155. Remember the minivan analogy? Well, maybe it’s more like the Cadillac Escalade of snowmobiles. The Adventure gets a 1.55-inch lug, the same FOX QS3 front shocks as the XC, and the Pro-Float skis found on the SP. You also get an upgraded interactive digital display with GPS, an extra-tall 24-inch windshield, a Lock & Ride Versa Touring passenger seat with heated grips, and the Versa storage platform and rack – all standard. The Adventure is also wrapped in very stylish black graphics.
Timbersled Introduces Aro
The new Aro is the first Timbersled product fully developed under Polaris’ ownership of the company. Benefits of the new platform begin before you even hit the snow, thanks to an easier installation. Polaris claims it cuts the time required to convert your dirt bike to a snow bike by 50%.
It starts with a pre-bled brake system that comes with the Aro kit, and a modular frame that enables chain adjustment. Also, the new Aro does not require any modifications to your bike’s air box.
The Aro conversion kit features a 1-to-1 ski-to-track ratio, meaning the ski has been widened and the track narrowed so they are the same width (11.5 inches). The result, according to Polaris, is a much better handling snow bike that will enable riders to climb more of the mountain throughout the season. The new wider ski also can be retrofitted to previous versions of the Timbersled ski system.
The Timbersled Aro is available in 120- and 137-inch versions. Both lengths also have an LE option available during SnowCheck (March 6-April 15), and it features custom graphics and upgrades to the FOX Zero QS3 shocks in the skid.
New Switchback iron
The trail portion of Polaris’ lineup is largely unchanged for 2018. All of the Indy and Rush versions that existed in 2017 are back, including the XCR available in 600 and 800 Rush configurations. The same goes for the Switchbacks, but the XCR gets added in the 137-inch skid length as well.
The 600 and 800 Switchback XCR sleds probably don’t come as a surprise to anyone.
One thing Polaris has claimed with its AXYS sleds, including the Switchback, is that they corner flat yet are light enough up front to carry through the rough and tumble. We can attest that they have hit the mark on that. The Switchback XCR will be no exception, but it will also feature a race-ready strengthened chassis and larger shock bodies for greater performance in race-like conditions.
Our early rides on this new iron have shown similarities to last season’s Rush XCR offerings. The sled feels supremely confident yet lightweight. The gearing was more for low-end power, enabling arm-stretching holeshots, but that was on a prototype. I would expect final consumer models to favor the high end a tad more than the prototype demos we rode. The bump-bridging abilities we love about the longer skid are still there, and just like the Rush version from last season, the new Switchback XCR is built to take a beating!
While this latest XCR may be the newcomer for 2018, the Switchback lineup still features the Pro-S 600s and 800s, Pro-X 800, and the Assault in 600 and 800 offerings.
For the rest of the trail segment, Polaris has the same Rush lineup for 2018 as they did in 2017. You’ll have your in-season choice between a Pro-S and an XCR, with both coming in either the 600 or 800 engine displacements. You can also SnowCheck the Rush Pro-X that’s only available in the 800 again.
The Indy lineup also remains unchanged for 2018, which unfortunately still means no Indy 800. The Indy is still only available in the 550 fan-cooled or 600 Liberty power plants.
What’s new for RMK?
Like the Rush and Indy, the RMK lineup has offerings similar to 2017.
The 3-inch lugged tracks continue to be pervasive the mountain lineup, particularly in Polaris’ SnowCheck spring buy program. The mountain buggies are available in three track lengths – 155, 163, and 174 inches.
The SKS is also back, but it’s now available in a shorter package than last year’s SKS 155 (still available) with an IGX 146 skid. The front end is still based around the same RMK DNA. The narrow ski stance with forged aluminum A-arms and taller spindles will give this new SKS some very nimble handling when you jump off the trail and into the fresh.
Polaris hopes that this shorter version of the SKS will allow folks to comfortably ride the trail and confidently handle off-trail terrain when they get to their favorite deep snow honey holes. Whether the combination of the RMK front end and an IGX rear skid is a good match remains to be seen, but it sure makes sense on paper.
We view the SKS 146 as a 30/70 sled (30% on trail and 70% off trail). Its narrow ski stance really gives it the off-trail abilities that boondockers and tree riders are looking for.
Utility and touring
The new Titan is really what this type of buyer should be gravitating toward, and we suspect we’ll see future Polaris product offerings that shift toward the Titan platform even more.
For 2018, the 600 Voyageur 144 comes back as a really nice all-around option. It’s reliable, sturdy, and works in a wide variety of snow conditions for both work and play. It comes with a rack and tow hitch standard, as does the 550 fan-cooled version of the Voyageur 144 and Voyageur 155. Both of those 550-powered sleds still come on the Pro-Ride/Indy platform.
The Indy Adventure 144 and 155 are both back as more budget-friendly 2-up options with the reliable 550cc fan engine. The 550 Indy LXT would also fall into that “budget buyer” category. It has great reliability, but few frills.