2019 Polaris RZR XP 1000 Review: A Desert Dominating Side-By-Side

It's a fun machine, even without the turbo

An epic run in the Mojave Desert

Two doors, 1,300 lbs and 110 horsepower. Those are the baseline figures for the 2019 Polaris XP 1000.

During my time at the SEMA show this week, I was lucky enough to hitch a ride with Peak Automotive’s crew to ride the 2019 Polaris RZR XP 1000 in the deserts of Nevada. It was a fantastic adventure hosted by Zero1 and consisted of several hours of wheel time — just enough to get to know this machine.

The Polaris RZR XP 1000 got a bit dusty on the trail. (Photo: TFLoffroad)

The XP 1000 is one of the most affordable Polaris 1000cc side-by-sides that they sell. While it’s not as wicked-fast as their turbos, it moves with authority. In many ways, it’s less of a handful to drive despite still having 110 horsepower. The ride is good for its class, but it can buck when pushed.

Unlike our massive long-term Polaris, the RZR XP 1000 is a much more sensible size, one that’s easier to transport.

RZR XP 1000
2019 Polaris RZR XP 1000. [Photo: Polaris]

RZR XP 1000 specs

  • Base price: $18,599
  • ProStar 2-cylinder DOHC, 110 horsepower four-stroke engine
  • Dual A-Arm with stabilizer bar and 20 in (50.8 cm) Usable Travel, 16 inches (40.6 cm) of wheel travel
  • Ground clearance: 14 inches (35.6 cm)
  • Maximum width: 64 inches (162.6 cm)
  • Maximum payload: 740 pounds (336 kg)
Is blasting through the desert as fun as you imagine? Yes, yes it is.

The route

Our route took us through various samples of hard desert terrain. The only thing we never encountered was dunes. Still, the combination of rocks, dirt, sand and cactus made for an adventurous run. Nobody rolled, but you could see how the 64 inch width is just enough to keep the greasy-side down… unless you are pushing it.

Someone before us did push it and put one on its side. That was after hitting a rut on a sharp turn. A lower ground height might help rotating stability, but that 14 inches of ground clearance comes in handy too.

The midway point and lunch stop was the famous Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, NV. The burgers are excellent and the place is haunted.

The suspension is well suited at ironing out hard jolts and jumps. It does rattle on washboard and light rocky terrain. Still, it keeps the wheels pointed the right way and the steering is fairly effortless on dirt.

The track width and overall off-road steering effort is good.

As for the rest of the trip, the Polaris RZR XP 1000 proved to be a compelling product given its (fairly) reasonable price and abilities. Big guys with long legs may not like the elevated dead-pedal location — I didn’t — but the overall comfort was impressive.

Power was great. However, like other RZRs, acceleration is somewhat all-or-nothing. It takes time and finesse to modulate the power properly. At least the brakes are excellent.

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.