2023 Polaris Snowmobiles: A Major Power Play For The Trail

2023 Polaris Boost VR1 137
2023 Polaris Boost VR1 137

For the flatlands or the mountains, Polaris is making a major power play with its snowmobile lineup for 2023 with new and exciting engine packages.

     For trail and crossover riders, Polaris is spreading the use of its Patriot Boost engine introduced last year exclusively in RMK mountain models. It allows buyers of Indy VR1 and Switchback Assault machines to feel 180ish hypersled-like horsepower in a two-stroke snowmobile that will be about 80 to 100 pounds lighter than the four-stroke musclesleds offered by its competition.

     On the other end of the power spectrum, Polaris is also introducing a new four-stroke powerplant – its first four-stroke foray in a full-sized snowmobile since it dropped the old Webber motor after 2014 – with the new Polaris-built ProStar S4 engine. The high-tech, 90ish horsepower twin-cylinder will be available in select Indy XC, Indy Adventure, Voyageur and Titan models for 2023.

     For mountain riders, Polaris is introducing the new Patriot 9R engine – a radical, naturally aspirated big-bore that Polaris officials say creates 7 percent more power and 12 percent more torque than the Patriot 850 on which it is based. It’ll be available in select RKM Khaos and Pro RMK packages for those who order in the spring and offers a slightly different ride experience than the also up-power Patriot Boost.

     Also highly notable is the fact that Polaris’ “SnowCheck” spring order program is highly condensed for 2023. To allow for advanced planning and to help avoid supply chain crunches experienced in model year 2022, Polaris is limiting its SnowCheck window from February 28 through March 24. That may force potential buyers of one of the higher-end models to make some mighty quick decisions in coming weeks.

     We’ll cover the trail, crossover and utility machines below. Click through to read about the mountain lineup changes and upgrades from Polaris for 2023.

VR1 and Switchback Assault: Two-Stroke Turbo For Flatlanders

Polaris Patriot Boost 850 engine
Polaris Patriot Boost 850 engine

By bringing its Patriot Boost to trail riders, Polaris is hoping to give the lakeracer/speed junky community that has been drawn to Sidewinder, ZR 9000 Thundercat, Mach Z and other sleds with the 900 ACE Turbo R engine something to consider with its significantly lighter but similarly powered two-stroke offering.

     This is the same Patriot Boost engine offered by Polaris last year in RMK models. Right from the start, Polaris claimed the engine would make 10 percent more power than the naturally aspirated 850 Patriot starting at sea level and would then keep it up to 10,000 feet – but then it didn’t make a model for us flatlanders.

     For 2023, that changes. We got a chance to evaluate sleds with this engine in Northern Minnesota in January and were quite frankly astonished with the power. Polaris doesn’t release horsepower numbers, but if you accept the fact that their Patriot 850 makes about 165 ponies, and then add the 10 percent, it gets you to 181 HP.

     Retiring Snowmobile Product Manager Marty Sampson told us before we rode it that, at sea level, it’s nearly impossible to feel or even hear the turbocharger because of its lower PSI. “It’s very refined and just feels like a really, really fast 850,” Sampson said. Beyond that, he said, being able to utilize the boosted air also allowed Polaris designers to take some of the harshness out of the regular Patriot 850.

     And, because it’s a two-stroke, “It’s a no compromise hypersled,” Sampson said. “They’re light, they’re fun, they’re flickable, they pull wheelies, they do all the things you do with your current sled without compromise. Not only [are the competitive musclesleds] 100 pounds more, that weight is all in front of the handlebars on those other sleds.”

     Sure enough, the marketing guy was actually telling the truth for a change (sarcasm intended)! The engine pulled like mad during our trail ride on VR1 models equipped with the engine, but it was extremely linear with no harshness. We topped 120 mph on the speedometer on a laketop (closed course, professional riders, blah, blah, blah), yet found it very controllable on the trail, and easy to pop up into the air when you wanted a quick hit of power to clear a rise in the trail.

     Other than the additional engine option, the VR1 lineup stays relatively the same. Polaris’ top trail cruiser will be available with either a 650, 850 or Boost engine with a standard 7S display with mapping, Walker Evans Velocity shocks, SmartWarmers and plenty of creature comforts. With the turbo, it can be ordered with either a 1-inch or 1.35-inch lugged “R-rated” track that feature heavier internal cords for better stud retention.

     Switchback Assault buyers also get the 650/850/Boost engine options and high-end gauge, with bigger bore front shocks and the option of a 1.35-inch Cobra or 2-inch Cross Country track.

Indy XC, Indy Adventure, Voyageur & Titan: Four-Stroke Option

Polaris ProStar S4 Engine
Polaris ProStar S4 Engine

The new-to-snowmobiling four-stroke engine will be available in several trail and utility models for 2023, filling a gap that Polaris has long had in its lineup.

     Officially, Polaris officials said the new 1000cc ProStar S4 engine is in the “under 100 horsepower class” but when pressed for a number said it would “fall in the middle of the 80 and 100 horsepower range – you do the math.”

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     The basic architecture of the fuel-injected ProStar comes from Polaris’ off-road ATV/UTV division, but it’s highly redesigned for a snowmobile application.

     “The head and the balance shaft are turned around to let the engine fit down into the chassis, so you get a low CG,” Sampson said, “and it’s got a dry sump oiling system to keep the packaging small and also let it sit low in the chassis.”

     The engine also has a throttle-by-wire drive system with three driving modes – Eco, Standard and Sport – that are controlled through the gauge or handlebar controls.

     We also got a chance to trail ride various Polaris models with this engine. The throttle-by-wire/electronic throttle control system was much better dialed-in than some competitive models. The power is easy-going and smooth – it’ll creep up toward 80 mph, but it takes awhile to get there. Polaris designers said the goal was to create something that felt like the old Indy 500.

     The new ProStar S4 engine will be available in Indy XC, Indy Adventure, Voyageur 146 and Titan Adventure machines for 2023. Also of note, it’ll be available in the new Indy Adventure X2 – a dedicated 2-up machine from Polaris that is new to the lineup.

2023 Polaris S4 Switchback Adventure X2
2023 Polaris S4 Indy Adventure X2

     Breaking the lineup down further, Indy XC 129 or 137 models plus the Indy Adventure 137 will be available with the S4 plus the 650 or 850 two-strokes for 2023. The Adventure X2 137 is only available with a 650 or ProStar S4 (no 850 option). Utility crossover buyers can choose a Voyageur 146 in the Matryx chassis with either a S4 or 650 twin, or opt for older-style, fan-cooled 550 Voyageur 144 or 155.

     Also available are 550 Indy LXT 144 and 550 Indy Adventure (144, 155) models.

     The Titan lineup returns has been paired down to just its Adventure version, with either the S4 or the old 800 Cleanfire engine.

Indy XCR, Indy SP, Switchback SP: More Trail Options

2023 Polaris 650 Indy XCR
2023 Polaris 650 Indy XCR

Polaris’ Indy XCR lineup returns for 2023 as the best rough-trail, ricky-racer-wannabe option in the lineup, but the brand has also upgraded its Indy SP and Switchback SP cost conscience lineup.

     The oh-so-sexy XCR will once again only be available in the SnowCheck order system with either a 650 or 850 Patriot engine in the Matryx chassis, with upgraded shocks, reinforced rails and various upgraded parts in the driveline, suspension and brake that come right off of the race sled. Track length options will once more be either 128 or 136 inches. New is a magnetic tether.

     The base-level Indy SP and Switchback SP get a major upgrade for 2023 – moving out of the Axys and to the Matryx chassis, and dumping the old 600 twin for the more reactive 650 Patriot motor. They’ll be in-season-available sleds with the Message Center gauge, a unique LED headlight that’s different than the other Matryx’s Nightblade, and base-level Polaris IFP shocks.

2023 Polaris 650 Switchback SP
2023 Polaris 650 Switchback SP

     Other returning Indy trail-oriented sleds include the 550 Sport 121 and downsized 550 Indy EVO in ProRide trim, plus the 120 Indy youth sled. There’s also a 550 Switchback Sport 144 in the lineup, plus returning Switchback XC 146 units with Patriot motors.

10 thoughts on “2023 Polaris Snowmobiles: A Major Power Play For The Trail

  • polaris has taken a lot of time and resources 0n 2023 and I snow ckecked two 850 assaultes one year ago and I still do not have my sleds so now I feel as though if and when the sleds come in they are already out dated. I wish Polaris put that time in getting last years out first. They say they should not have the same delays for 2023 so why should I wait for the 2022s that might come in when the snow is gone. Should I cancel the tow sleds and order two 2023?

    Reply
    • If you take a look at the 2023 lineup, you won’t find many differences in the year-over-year models other than a steeper price in 2023. 2022 650 assaults started at 16099, this year it’s up to 17999, 2022 850 started at 17099, and this year it’s up to 19099, it’s basically the same sled. I feel the price is due to the 7s display which is not an option on more sleds this year compared to last.

      Reply
  • i tried to snow check my 2023 and picked my colors, etc. now i am being told that i cant have what i want. i have to take only what THEY want me to have. what is the purpose of being given options if you cant get them. not a happy snow camper!

    Reply
    • It’s just different this year due to supply issues, the Polaris dealers were allocated certain sleds and didn’t get variety as they did in the past. There was only a single 146″ sled that was available in the west that I know of, I’m sure there were others but all the snow-checks I sent out came back with nothing. I did land an RMK though, so we are happy here, but I didn’t get a color I wanted or the package that I wanted either.

      Reply
  • I would not purchase a new 2023 Polaris. As for my 2021 650 Matryx Assault that blew up with only 460 miles, good thing for the 4 year warrantee. Seeing lots of others that I have been reading about that have been blowing up and other issues all over the place is alarming. The Polaris quality is just not there. Major issues with oil pumps, oil caps, air in lines, wobbly clutched, jackshaft bearing, 7S displays, etc., etc. Polaris needs to pay way more attention to their quality control not just pushing these sleds out the door. They need to start and building a better product. Spending 15k on a new sled for this to happen is not good. You don’t have these problems in the motorcycle world and it should not be happening here either. Polaris is going to be spending lots of money earned on the last 2 years to repair these sleds on warrantee. Of the last 3 Polaris sleds I purchased, 2 of the engines went. One had the wrong jets installed at the factory and Polaris would do nothing for us just out of the 2 year warrantee with only 400 miles on the machine. No more Polaris for me, never again.

    Reply
    • You will not find much better build quality than Polaris, I have not heard the rumblings you mention on any scale. It’s across the board also with other producers but I find more blogs about Arctic-Cat and Skidoo than I do about Polaris when people are speaking about issues. I find that really hard to believe that they put in the wrong parts and wouldn’t replace them if they were the cause of failure.

      Reply
  • The bigger a company gets along with producing more units equals more problems with their product . Its that simple . They talk about more R&D and testing but problems and mistakes will always occur . How nice it would be to relive the 1980s again !

    Reply
  • Been with Polaris sleds for over 40 years supporting our local Polaris dealers and Polaris. Now I cannot order my “Snowcheck Sled”! My dealer only gets an allotment that does not include the model I desire. Sure, I can drive 100 plus miles to another dealer and get the model I want but with Polaris’s reliability over the past several years, I would spend more time hauling the sled than riding. Truly a disappointment! I am 70 and still ride, groom, and support the club. Our age was taught to support local business and taught loyalty. Our current administration is leading us into a different and wrongful life style.

    Reply
  • I currently own a 2008 IQ LX TURBO.
    it has 10990 miles. it has been the best sled i have ever owned.
    i have had a 91 indy 400, 93 xlt, 94 xlt,97 xlt special sp,99 xc 600, 2004 xc 600, 2005 xc 500.
    so i ride polaris.
    this Turbo has been bullet proof.
    all services by same dealership since new.

    Reply
  • i snow checked a 2022 xcr 650, received it jan 5th on the first ride Its trail north here in maine. i off loaded the sled from the trailer let it go threw the warm up cycle before we hit the trail on the trail leaving town 30-35 mph as we got out of town trails in great shape flat and groomed with some loose snow now running 35-45 mph were 13 miles away from the truck the engine quits i go to pull the pull cord and its locked up I remove the clutch side panel and twist on the clutch the crankshaft will barely turn over, the dealer tore down the motor to find both inner and outter crank bearings shot !!!!!!!!!!!!!! after picking the sled up from the dealer i find out the gas gauge didnt work and has a recall on the throttle cable being routed wrong i spent 15k on a piece on junk sled the dealer still has the sled the sending units on back order!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

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