Skip to main content

2021 Polaris Sportsman: We Drove It, Our Thoughts on the Latest ATVs

Polaris Sportsman
Polaris

 The new Polaris Sportsman ATVs are as fun as ever.

In the off-road powersports industry, one of the most popular ATV choices is the Polaris Sportsman. These versatile and powerful ATVs have been a fan favorite for years now and the engineers at Polaris are constantly working to add new improvements and features to these machines.

We recently got the opportunity to travel to the Polaris test facilities in Minnesota and drive all their side by side UTVs like RANGER, GENERAL and RZR and of course the iconic Sportsman.

We got the chance to really put two versions of the Sportsman through its paces on their test trails. Here is what we thought of the 2021 model year Sportsman.

Polaris Sportsman 570 EPS Premium

Polaris Sportsman
Travis Smola

The Polaris lineup for Sportsman is quite extensive with high-power machines like the Sportsman 850 and the Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 and Scrambler XP 1000 S. However, for our test ride, I got to drive two of their more popular mid-priced options. The first was the Polaris Sportsman 570 Premium with electronic power steering. These are priced with an MSRP starting around $6,999, making these some of the most popular machines Polaris makes.

Polaris Sportsman
Travis Smola

As you probably already guessed from the name, the new Sportsman 570 produces 567ccs of cylinder displacement from the Prostar 4-Stroke DOHC single cylinder engine. They have about 44 horsepower. The engine is pretty much the same across all 570 models. The version I drove had electronic fuel injection (EFI). This machine has a true on-demand AWD system and one-touch controls to easily switch between that and two-wheel drive. Even novice drivers will find it easy to operate it. I kept it in all-wheel-drive for the duration of the test, just to feel how well it gripped the trails and corners.

These machines offer about 11.5 inches of ground clearance thanks to the large 25-inch tires. The front suspension system is sealed MacPherson struts with 8.2 inches of travel while the rear suspension is sealed, dual A-arms providing about 9.5 inches of suspension travel.

The above video shows one of my test rides on these machines. Admittedly, I am not a speed demon by any means. And these machines are not built for high performance the way something like the RZRs are. However, the 570 has a decent amount of pep without it feeling overwhelming. It seems to hit that perfect sweet spot for me. The electronic power steering made it a breeze to tackle the twisting trails of the test facility. The machine corners nicely and the suspension does an excellent job of soaking up all the bumps along the way.

The 570 Premium feels like the right compromise for someone looking for a machine appropriate for both work and play applications. This machine has a payload capacity of 485 pounds and a towing capacity of about 1,300 pounds, meaning the machine can easily handle most light farm work or hunting applications. At the end of a long day, the 570 can then transition to the local trails for pure fun. Polaris is also offering lots of different color options for the 570s including Polaris Pursuit camo for all the hunters out there. There is something to suit everyone's tastes.

Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O.

Polaris Sportsman
Travis Smola

The second machine I got to test was a Sportsman 450 H.O. Polaris likes to label these as their "value" machines. It is one of their best-selling automatics. The machine I rode starts at about $6,399 MSRP. It has a Prostar 4-stroke SOHC single cylinder that has a 499cc displacement. This gives the machine about 33 horsepower. The 450 just feels like more of a utilitarian work horse than the 570. It's a hard thing to describe or understand unless you're sitting on it.

Just like the 570, this machine has 25-inch tires that give it 11.5 inches of ground clearance and the same suspension system. The main difference in my test ride came from the absence of power steering. Polaris does make an H.O. EPS, but this model wasn't it. As you can probably guess, it's a bit of a workout on a winding trail like the ones present at the Polaris test facility. If you're going to be working and riding mostly in the barnyard or open fields, it's not as big of a deal. If you're going trail riding on twisting mountain trails on a regular basis, go for the electronic power steering. Trust me, your arms will thank you.

Polaris Sportsman
Travis Smola

In truth, both the 570 and the 450 have a very similar ride. Other than the power steering, it's hard to tell a difference between them. I will say that I slightly prefer the 570. That machine simply has a noticeable difference in acceleration and power out of the corners. However, you can't really go wrong either way. The 450 would be a solid choice for anyone looking for an affordable work or hunting machine on a budget.

Other Features of the Sportsman models.

Polaris Sportsman
Travis Smola

Most people looking at Sportsman are likely looking for a combination of work and play applications and Polaris has built these machines with plenty of features for both. Notable here is the cargo rack capacity. The front rack has a 90-pound capacity while the rear rack has a 180-pound capacity. Sportsman has an overall payload capacity of around 485 pounds. That means it will be just as capable of hauling around feed and hay as it will towing out that big buck you just harvested.

Polaris also offers a ton of accessories any outdoorsman or woman can appreciate. The company offers several winch kits with up to 3,500 pound capacities for getting you or a friend out of a tight spot on the trails. They are also offering a bevy of optional front bumpers, brush guards, windshields and storage boxes that work with the vehicle's Lock & Ride cargo system.

Polaris has also built a ton of rack extenders to increase the storage capabilities on both the front and rear. Useful for ranchers with a ton of tools or hunters looking to lug their treestands to a new location on the property. It is safe to say that there are more customization options than ever for Sportsman with these new features.

Many of these options come standard for anyone who picks up one of the Sportsman Trail Packages. These machines already come mounted with either a 2,500 or 3,500 pound winch, but also with larger 26-inch Duro tires. Polaris also offers a utility package that also comes with an integrated hitch, but also power plugs for using seeders, sprayers and other accessories. These machines also come with front and rear racks installed at the factory. 

The bottom line.

Polaris Sportsman
Travis Smola

There is a lot to love about the 2021 model year Polaris ATVs. We didn't have time to test all the models. We would have liked some time with some of the limited editions, or the Sportsman Touring 850, the Sportsman X2 500 and the Sportsman 570 Ultimate Trail, but we did see enough to know the 2021 models have been built with a ton of love and care. It becomes even more obvious when you talk to the engineers. They're genuinely excited about the products they make and they sucked up the input of myself and the other journalists in attendance like a sponge. It's refreshing to see and know consumer input is being considered in the creation of these machines. If you are looking for a machine that can do it all, the Sportsman is an ATV to consider.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

NEXT: THE AXIS DEER AND HOW THEY'RE IMPACTING PARTS OF THE UNITED STATES

WATCH

2021 Polaris Sportsman: We Drove It, Our Thoughts on the Latest ATVs