Thanks to the dual-zone “rider-active” seat and deeper and wider footwells, the much-improved cockpit provides a noticeable increase rider mobility, comfort and control. The transmission shift lever is where you’d expect to find it on a Sportsman—providing park, neutral, reverse, low range and high range selections.

The fly-by-wire thumb throttle gives way to another major advancement—programmable power delivery. The rider is now given the choice of selecting between three different modes; work, standard and performance, with power output increasing respectively with each setting. While we appreciate the standard setting for most things, and the performance setting for unleashing 100% of the ponies when needed, the power delivery of the work mode is particularly handy for steep, technical terrain, where grabbing too much throttle can often spell disaster. As with past year’s models, the XP 1000’s electronic power steering is magic on the trail. It’s a huge asset in combating rider fatigue, reducing handlebar feedback and increasing rider control in everything from fast-paced to slow and technical terrain. Now so spoiled, it’s hard to imagine life without it.

Redesigned racks feature movable grab handles/tie-down points and considerably more Lock & Ride and conventional gear-attachment points than the previous generation Sportsman. A combined total of six gallons of water-tight, built-in storage can be found under the front rack and within a hatched compartment in the center of the rear rack.

Other notable changes include super-bright LED taillights, digital instrumentation with built-in Bluetooth connectivity and totally redesigned storage racks. Both racks are reinforced with a steel substructure, which give you 240-lb capacity out back and 120 lbs. up front. Tie-down points for gear are abundant, which is a nice change from the older chassis. You’ll find built-in storage (6-gallons total) under the front rack and under a smaller hatch in the rear rack. As with previous models, the racks are fully compatible with the Polaris line of Lock & Ride accessories for work, hunt and play. Redesigned plastics are finished in a scratch resistant automotive-style paint—the 2017 model tested here wears the “Stealth Black” color.

Semi-aggressive, 26-inch CST tires are wrapped around 14-inch matte-black aluminum wheels. The 4-wheel independent suspension is preload-adjustable on all four corners and provides the best combination of handling and rider comfort in the industry.

In the end, awesome power, great suspension, top-notch rider comfort/control, useful storage solutions and a homerun in the styling department are all labels we’ll confidently stick on the new Sportsman XP 1000.

The XP 1000’s powerful, 150-watt triple-beam headlight system did an excellent job of lighting the way after dark. Front bumpers, winches, storage solutions and most other must-have backcountry accessories are conveniently available directly through Polaris.

Check one out in person at your nearest Polaris dealer ($11,999 to $13,999) or for more information, contact Polaris, Dept. OT; Tel.: (800) 765-2747; Web: www.polaris.com