Polaris Sportsman ATV Review: Proof That the Four Wheeler Will Never Die

Being a die-hard ATV (four wheeler) fan can feel like a lonely place these days. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but any ATV enthusiast must admit that we’re now living in a world dominated by UTVs or “side-by-sides.” I suppose I first looked at the streams of mud- and tundra-churning buggies crawling over hills and hogging out trails with the same disgruntlement that many hikers or horsemen have always expressed towards ATVs. I didn’t like them.

But I’ll admit there are good reasons for the popularity of UTVs. They are incredibly useful tools. They can haul lots of gear, ride more comfortably, and are more family friendly than a four wheeler. While my willingness to accept them may be progressing, I rejoice in the fact that there are still some applications for which a four wheeler is a better option—and always will be.  

One of those applications is my annual moose hunt here in Alaska. For that hunt, an ATV is an essential tool, and this year I was able to use a Polaris Sportsman 570 Utility HD. This hunt has a bit of everything for a four wheeler: mud, muskeg, heavy towing, thick brush, and endless soggy, bumpy tussocks. I’ve been using four wheelers in country like this for more than 20 years, and modern, high-performance machines like this one make me smile; I know the four wheeler will never die.

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Polaris Sportsman 570 Utility HD Specs

Engine: 4-Stroke Single Cylinder DOHC, 567 CC

Horsepower: 44 HP

Torque: 35.4 LB-FT

Drive System: One Touch on-demand AWD/2WD

Dry Weight: 792 pounds

Ground Clearance: 11.5 inches

Vehicle dimensions: 83 in. (L) x 48 in. (H) x 47 in. (W)

Payload capacity: 485 pounds

Hitch towing rating: 1,350 pounds 

MSRP: $10,100  

Polaris Sportsman 570 Utility HD Features

Electronic Power Steering

Ride Control

Controlled descent engine braking system

Under-seat storage

Dry storage under front rack

Tow-equipped front brush bumper

Front and back metal utility racks

USB Charging

1.25-inch hitch receivers on rear and front brush bumper

Latest in a Lineage of Polaris ATVs

The Sportsman 570 HD Utility edition features the familiar Polaris body style, wide-spaced wheels, gear shifter, independent suspension, and basic operation as Sportsman models dating back to the early 2000s. But, in some ways, it’s a world apart. Though the 44hp single-cylinder motor is medium-sized compared to larger machines like the 78 HP Sportsman 850, it has more power and better fuel economy than many of the earlier fuel-injection and carburetor-fueled motors. The electronic power steering system is superb, and with a brush bumper and metal gear racks, it’s one of my favorite Sportsman models yet. 

The author has been using the Polaris Sportsman four wheelers to get in and out of tight spots for years. Tyler Freel

It’s a machine that’s ready to be loaded in the back of a truck or, in our case, into the front of a boat. The 48-inch-wide footprint provides a lot of stability compared to some other ATVs, but still falls within the 50-inch-wide size limit for off-road vehicles on some public lands here in Alaska. Where it might lose ground to a side-by-side in comfort, it wins with convenience and maneuverability. Moose camp is just one of many places I wouldn’t dare take a side-by-side.

Electronics and Controls

This new Polaris Sportsman has operating and ride controls that are above and beyond what I’ve ever needed in a utility four wheeler, but some of these features are quite practical and nice. The electronic power steering is excellent, and more effective than what I’ve used on some other brands. This wheeler also has a switch that allows you to operate in three different driving modes: economy, standard, and sport. The economy mode is great for saving fuel and normal putting-around operations where you don’t need access to a lot of torque or power. Sport mode, on the other hand, gives the user very touchy throttle response, which is great when you need quick access to power. This came in handy when towing heavy loads through swampy terrain. Too much throttle at the wrong time will get you stuck, but a responsive throttle can keep you moving more effectively when used correctly.

One big plus for Polaris is that they equip these machines with wiring for standard plug-and-play accessories like hand warmer grips and winches. A winch is a non-negotiable item for any four wheeler I’m using, and they don’t come standard with this machine. I got a Polaris brand winch, which is easy to install and requires no additional wiring. Other machines like the Suzuki King Quad I tested a few years back required that I install all the wiring and a solenoid. 

Even in reverse, the Sportsman 570 has plenty of power to move a bull moose. Tyler Freel

Tires and Suspension

For as long as I’ve used them, the Polaris Sportsman four wheelers have had some of the most comfortable-riding suspensions on the market. Similar to many earlier models, the Sportsman 570 HD Utility has independent A-arm suspension, and each individual shock can be adjusted for preload—a stiffer setting accommodates heavier riders and rougher use, but softer settings allow a gentler ride. The preload is so easy to adjust that any user can fine-tune their machine in a matter of minutes, and it’s an excellent ride over rough terrain.

This machine comes with stock 25-inch tires, which are uninspiring to say the least. Granted, they are standard-level stock ATV tires, but they don’t do the four wheeler any favors in performance. For farm or ranch, and even some backcountry riding, the tires are fine, but for what we put them through here in Alaska, they’ll just piss you off. Once I got the machine, I immediately switched them out for ITP Mud Lite II 26-inch tires

It’s important to consult your dealer for compatibility, because tires that are too big can require clutch upgrades. Also, the Polaris Sportsman requires that I add 1-inch wheel spacers when using these tires, otherwise the front tires rub on the tie rod ends. Equipped with better rubber, you truly have a better look at the capability of the machine. With good tires, I was never under-powered with this single-cylinder motor. We hauled, towed, and dragged an enormous amount of gear out to moose camp, and then towed hundreds of pounds of meat back out.

Boot guards don’t come standard, and though the ones that I installed from Polaris provide the axles and CV boots some protection, they are pretty flimsy compared to how older models were equipped. Tyler Freel

Racks, Bumpers, and Towing Hardware

One of my few consistent gripes with Polaris Sportsman four wheelers over the years has been the plastic gear racks on the front and back of their machines. They’re suitable, but not as durable or user-friendly as steel tube-frame racks. Plus plastic racks often weather and tie-down points break over time. 

Racks are critical because I’m constantly using them to strap down backpacks, meat, gas cans, chainsaws, and just about anything else you can think of. Well, Polaris must have heard me complaining, because the most pleasing features on the new Sportsman 570 HD Utility are its metal racks. The rear rack is tube-framed, with a flat sheet metal surface, and has plenty of tie down spots in addition to being compatible with Polaris’s cargo accessories. Atop the plastic dry storage cover, up front is an elevated metal tubing rack that’s perfect for strapping down a chainsaw or other gear. The racks work well with bungees or ratchet straps, and are built to hold up to hard work and use. 

The Polaris Sportsman 570 HD Utility comes with a hefty front brush bumper that does a good job of protecting the headlights, and features a 1.25-inch tow hitch receiver. This is great for precise trailer moving, but also means easy setup for a snow blower. The rear portion of the frame has a built-in 1.25-inch hitch receiver and, like on all the previous Polaris Sportsman models, I feel that this is a weak point. It’s common, here in Alaska, while towing heavy trailers through rough terrain, for the hitch pin hole to wallow out and eventually fail. Many Polaris users around here end up drilling another hitch pin hole from top to bottom before cutting out and replacing the hitch receiver entirely. It would really benefit from a heavy-duty 2-inch hitch receiver.

The Sportsman 570 HD Utility features an elevated steel tubing rack up front, metal rear rack, and a brush bumper with hitch receiver. Tyler Freel

Under the Cowling

Like most other four wheelers, this is a liquid-cooled machine. It has a small radiator at the front, just under the front storage rack. In this position, the radiator catches the wind best, and is aided with an electric fan that pulls air through it to keep engine temperature at or below 200 degrees. The radiator is well-protected from low sticks, and there is a removable panel in front of it that facilitates easy cleaning—the radiator can get clogged with mud, grass seeds/cotton, etc. 

The dry storage space under the front rack is a great addition and can fit some clothing, gear, or tools. We had some gloves, bug spray, wire, wrenches, and a cordless drill in this one. The fuses and battery for this Sportsman are well-protected and accessed by opening the dry storage area. I’ve burned up the fuse panel in my older Sportsman 400 HO by getting it wet in deep water.

The airbox and engine air filter are under the seat, as is a rear non-dry storage bag. In some ways, I prefer the older rear-opening dry storage boxes, but this under-seat access is easier to keep clean, and still a great place to store a tire repair kit and tools.

Polaris Sportsman Misses

There were only two things that I really didn’t like about the machine—and neither would likely be a deal breaker for me. Both are relatively simple, but if unaddressed, could cause some major headaches in practical situations where this ATV might be used. 

First, I was surprised to see that this Sportsman model had no protective guards or shields for the front suspension arms and axles. My old 400 has plastic fenders mounted to the suspension arms that prevent sticks and brush from getting stuck around the axle or damaging the CV boot. For a utility model, crashing through the brush without some protection for the CV boots would feel like jumping into a pool of sharks with a chain-mail shirt but no pants. I did get some Polaris boot guards to install, but I prefer the old style. 

The low location of the clutch vent duct, pictured under the rear left fender, is a little concerning for deep water crossings. Tyler Freel

The second thing that caught my eye was the clutch cover vent duct, which sits open in the left rear wheel well. On some older models, that vent was routed up near the air intake by the top of the fuel tank, protecting it from deep water. Unless I’m missing something, it seems like water could freely run into the clutch cover if you’re crossing a deep stream or pool, and once your belt gets wet, you lose power. The clutch covers can be drained easily, but this design does make me wonder how easily it would be to swamp the vehicle. There are aftermarket filter caps that you can install on the end of the vent to help keep debris out.

What the Polaris Sportsman 570 HD Utility Did Best

This machine provided plenty of power and control, great handling in tight spaces, good fuel economy, and is a durable platform for hard work. The power steering is top-noch, and I really liked the drive mode features. The metal cargo racks are a huge plus too.

Where the Polaris Sportsman 570 HD Utility Could Improve

I think this machine would benefit from a larger standard hitch receiver that’s more robust. Additionally, I would like to see some standard protection for the front axles and CV boots, and a clutch cover vent opening that’s located higher on the machine.

Read Next: Polaris Ranger 570 Northstar Long-Term Review

The author tows his moose meat back to camp with ease. Tyler Freel

Final Thoughts

I think there will always be a place for a hard-working four wheeler. As long as there are tough-to-travel places and can-do attitudes, there will be folks hauling them around in their boats, trucks, and even stuffing them in small airplanes. I think that Polaris made some big improvements to an already solid line of ATVs with this utility model. Equipped with a good winch, some brush guards, and good tires, It’s probably the best Sportsman model they’ve made.

The post Polaris Sportsman ATV Review: Proof That the Four Wheeler Will Never Die appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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