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Ski-Doo 2020: A Summit Expert Package, Longer Backcountry X-RS, Stout Expeditions & More

By John Prusak
2020 Ski-Doo Backcountry X-RS 850 E-TEC 154

The 2020 Ski-Doo Backcountry X-RS 850 E-TEC 154.

Ski-Doo summoned its dealers to suburban Dallas for an unveiling of a 2020 snowmobile lineup that can best be described as Texas Tough, with an amazingly capable new line of sport/utility Expedition sleds, a steroid-infused Expert Package for its high-end Summit mountain sleds, a longer Backcountry X-RS for the most extreme 50/50 crossover customers and many other notable upgrades.

For riders from the groomed trails to the rugged backwoods, the tallest mountain to the most taxing worksite, Ski-Doo has new features, models, colors and accessories that are sure to elicit attention. And, as the first factory to unveil its model year 2020 lineup, the brand also gets the added buzz of breaking new ground – something Ski-Doo faithful have growth accustomed to.

Before jumping into individual segments, let’s quickly cover some things that cross party lines, so-to-speak:

  • New LCD gauges are prevalent throughout Ski-Doo’s lineup, with 7.2-inch wide multi-screen digital displays on higher-end trail models and smaller 4.5-inch gauges on more entry-level models plus mountain-focused machines.
  • The 600 ACE engine moves to the REV Gen4 platform, giving so-equipped models the modern look and ergonomics made popular on two-stroke Ski-Doos, plus the new chassis allowed engineers to update the intake and exhaust, bumping the engine popular in rental fleets and with newcomers from 60 to 62 horsepower.

Let’s break it down by segment. Details on the 2020 Arctic Cat2020 Yamaha and 2020 Polaris snowmobiles are also now available!

A Longer Backcountry Option

Ski-Doo’s Bernard Guy, the Sr. VP of Global Strategy, said the fastest growing segment in the snowmobile market is 50/50 crossovers – aimed at riders who are comfortable on or off of groomed trails – so Ski-Doo decided to give these buyers a more extreme option.

“With the need for adventure being second-nature for those 50/50 riders, there’s never been a greater demand for a crossover sled with a longer track option,” Guy explained to the assembled dealers. “That’s where the market is going, and we want to keep the momentum, so for 2020 we’re going deep with the new Backcountry X-RS 154. This sled is equal parts performance and capability, as riders switch it up between groomed trails, backcountry and pure powder.”

The resulting 2020 Backcountry X-RS is a spring-order model available with either a 16- by 154-inch PowderMax with 2- or 2.5-inch lugs, or the returning 15- by 146- by 1.6-inch Cobra or Ice Cobra track or 146- by 2-inch PowderMax, all encapsulating the cMotion crossover rear suspension with tipped-up rails and powered by the 850 E-TEC twin.

“This thing is going to be homerun with your most hardcore 50/50 crossover riders,” Guy said of the 154-incher.

Other Backcountry models (X and base) return mostly unchanged except for the running boards and gauge.

2020 Ski-Doo Summit X 850 E-TEC with Expert Package

The 2020 Ski-Doo Summit X 850 E-TEC with Expert Package

A Summit For Experts

For Ski-Doo, the latest upgrade in the highly competitive high-end mountain segment is the Summit X “Expert Package” – a spring-order option that promises to let riders push the limits even further.

                Most notable at a glance with the Expert are shorter tunnels, virtually non-existent snowflaps and new running boards, but many other important features are hidden.

                Ski-Doo is essentially putting the tunnel previously found on the 155-inch model on 2020 sled with the 165-inch track, and the tunnel previously on the 146-inch model on the 2020 Expert with the 155-inch track. In essence, the tunnel on these models ends where the track does, leaving nothing behind to drag in the snow.

                The running boards feature wide snow evacuation cutouts all the way to the front, and give a flatter foot position. Mounted above the running boards on the tunnel is a remote limiter strap adjuster previously only found in Ski-Doo’s accessory catalog that lets a rider easily change how much lift they get out of the sled’s front end when playing or climbing.

                Digging in deeper, Ski-Doo seriously adjusted the ergonomics, with slightly smaller diameter grips on the handlebar, a lower/smaller mountain strap, a lower handlebar riser and a smaller seat.  

                Downright hidden but ultimately important is a new spindle design and a new rubber damper beneath the spindle at the ski attachment that is a bit stiffer and thus tightens up handing of the front end when carving and makes the sled more predictable.

                Available in 154- and 165-inch lengths with an 850 E-TEC featuring SHOT start-hot technology, the Expert package is said to shave about 5 pounds from the sleds, but more importantly it makes so-equipped sleds more agile and fun in challenging terrain.   

Other mainstream Summit models (expect for the Sport) benefit from new running boards, gauges and drive belts. The Freeride mountain sleds also get the spindle/rubber damper upgrades found on the Expert package.  

2020 Ski-Doo Exspedition LE

The 2020 Ski-Doo Exspedition LE.

Exciting New Expeditions

The Expedition line of utility/touring crossover machines have been somewhat easy for many in the snowmobile market to overlook in recent years, but that changes for 2020, as new models get inserted into the top of the Expedition segment that are modern “badass sport-utility monsters” to quote a Ski-Doo official directly.

                The new Expedition Xtreme, SE and LE models come to the new, 20-inch REV Gen4 chassis and get major upgrades to their chassis, driveline, track and more, all while adding impressive capability and user features.

                At the top of the heap is the Xtreme – powered by the 162 hp 850 E-TEC and pushed by a 20- by 154- by 1.8-inch Cobra WT track. It and the other new Expeditions get a new, high-tech, easy-shift high-low-neutral transmission controlled by a dash-mounted, right-side shifter knob, plus push-button reverse on the handlebar. The Xtreme is rated to tow 1,500 pound and haul another 150 pounds on the tunnel, with incredible functionality provided by a long list of accessories that mount in multiple locations to that tunnel.

                The spring-order Expedition SE with a detachable 2-up seat also rides on a 20- by 154-inch shoe, with either a 1.5-inch Silent Cobra, 1.-5-inch pre-studded Silent Ice Cobra or 1.8-inch Cobra design. The SE comes from the factory with a monstrous, lockable utility storage box on the tunnel – it has a biggest-available 135 liters worth of storage capacity and is even built to incorporate other attachments, with its own LinQ positions, designed-in tie down positions and various accessory mounts. The SE is available with the 600R E-TEC, 900 ACE Turbo or 900 ACE engine. Its SC5U rear suspension utilizes an air compressor on the rear shock for easy adjustment without leaving the driver’s seat.  

                The in-season available Expedition LE shared many of the same features, though without the storage box or air ride suspension. Other Expeditions (Sport and SWT) return with limited changes.        

2020 Ski-Doo MXZ X

The 2020 Ski-Doo MXZ X.

Trail Sleds: MX Z & Renegade

For trail riders, the changes more subtle from Ski-Doo for 2020. Most notable is the gauge – gone is the multi-screen concentric ovals with a mix of analog and digital information. In its place is an elongated LCD gauge cluster, set at a flatter viewing angle so it works for sitting or standing riders.

                On higher-end models like the MX Z models like the X-RS and X 850 and 600 E-TEC models, the gauge measures 7.2 inches wide and is highly customizable to the information the rider wants to see. The MX Z TNT package with the same engine choices gets a narrower 4.5 inch digital gauge that still looks good but obviously has less viewing area, while the MX Z 600 Sport returns as a mostly unchanged pricepoint model.

                Also new within the MXZ lineup, buyers will be able to order a 1.5-inch Ice Ripper track instead of the Ice Cobra for 2020, and X-RS buyers will be able to get the tunnel-mounted rear suspension adjustment package (called QAS for Quick Adjust System) without being forced to take the Pilot TS skis (or order them all together as in the past with the Total Adjustment Package).  

                The pattern is the same in the 137-inch Renegade lineup – which features a unique green color this year. The aggressive Renegade X-RS (available with an 850 two-stroke or 900 ACE turbo thumper) plus the X and cruising Enduro (each with either an 850 or 600R E-TEC two-stroke or 900 ACE Turbo) get the 7.2-inch digital display. The Renegade Adrenaline (with 850 or 600R two-stroke or 900 ACE Turbo or 900 ACE four-strokes) comes with the narrower 4.5-inch gauge.

                The two pricepoint-oriented Renegade Sport models split further apart than normal for like-named machines in 2020. The Sport powered by the 600 ACE engine moves to the REV Gen4 platform for the new year, giving it renewed ergonomics, open toe holds, a new seat and the RAS 3 front suspension for the new year, plus the new gauge. The Renegade Sport 600 Carb stays in the two-generations old REV-XP chassis with the old style gauge.                   And, also like the MXZ, the Renegade X-RS can be ordered with just the external rear suspension adjustment package (QAS) or with that system plus the Pilot TS skis (Total Adjustment Package).

The 2020 Ski-Doo Freeride, in blue.

Grand Touring, Tundra, Skandic

Changes within Ski-Doo’s Grand Touring lineup mirror much of what’s been already written – with a 7.2-inch digital gauge on the Limited, and the Grand Touring Sport powered by the 600 ACE moving to the REV Gen4 chassis to match its brother with the 900 ACE engine – complete with ergonomic and front suspension upgrades – plus a new 4.5-inch digital gauge.

                The Tundra models (Xtreme, LT and Sport) and Scandic (SWT and WT) return unchanged except for colors and graphics.

What offerings have you most impressed? Be sure to leave your opinions in the comments section!   

Editor’s Note: Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door 6 times per year for a low cost.

3 comments

  1. Well…as usual…you guys are all hype…and missing the details — do I dare say, part of the actual BRP organization?!

    Anyway, an hour into the release of the new 2020 sleds, I tried to place my order — (2) Summit X Expert 175s…I tried all kinds of variations of Summits, to no avail…you cannot build a Summit 175 this year!

    Well, my last new sleds were 2016 T3 174s…if I cant buy 175s, I dont need new sleds, because there is very very verrrry little if anything wrong with my 16 T3 174s!!

  2. Not much info anywhere on the digital displays and options.

  3. Lools like a nice lineup, something for everyone.

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