For 2023, the Polaris snowmobile division is focused on adding more power options to its lineup, for trail riders, utility users, crossover customers and more. But nowhere is Polaris slicing that onion as thinly as it is for its mountain-riding customers – as evidenced by its new Patriot 9R big bore engine option.
This new powerplant plus the returning Patriot Boost and naturally aspirated 850 Patriot gives lovers of big power for high altitude some big decisions to make. You can read all about Polaris options for flatlanders and crossover customers by clicking here. Below, we’ll focus on the unique options the brand is extending to deep-snow customers for 2023.
Also highly notable is the fact that Polaris’ “SnowCheck” spring order program is highly condensed for 2023. Polaris is limiting its SnowCheck order 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.
New Power, New Outlook
In one strange sense, the Polaris mountain lineup is more focused this season. Last season, the brand offered a head-spinning smattering of Axys, Matryx and Matryx Slash combinations in Pro RMK and RMK Khaos lines – now the Axys options are gone.
But, in another sense, the top end of the brand’s lineup is more confusing than ever. Frankly, it might take some serious introspection to decide which of its two high-output engines and various brand platforms is right for you. Let’s start with the huge power news.
A year after introducing a limited build of the new 180ish horsepower Patriot Boost turbocharged two-stroke engine into its Pro RMK and RMK Khaos platforms, the brand has a new 900cc big bore option for 2023.
Labeled the 9R, this new powerplant is an up-power version of the naturally aspirated 850 Patriot. It features new cylinders with CNC-machined ports, new ceramic-coated pistons, a lightweight crank and a lightweight flywheel, all aimed at reducing inertia. It’s paired with a new exhaust system, lightweight P22 clutch and other components to make power quickly and then immediately light up the track.
Polaris is claiming a 7 percent increase in power and 12 percent more torque at sea level vs. the 850 Patriot. The engine package was previously tested in hillclimb racing’s Improved Stock 900 class. But, the brand also claims a 10 percent power increase in its Patriot Boost – and, with its turbocharger, that engine holds its increase in power all the way to 10,000 feet.
So how does one decide between the two, we asked?
“I’ll give you a quick example of what it looks like,” Snowmobile Product Manager Marty Sampson said. “If you line up a Boost and a 9R and you launch them forward, the 9R always jumps ahead by a sled length or two and then then Boost comes by it in the deep snow. So, if you’re a rider that’s riding in places where you are at lower speed and you need the sled to jump up out of the snow and move forward with blips of the throttle – think tight trees and technical terrain – you will love the 9R. If you’re a rider that’s in places where you can stay in the throttle and utilize that power of Boost, the Boost becomes the machine of choice.”
Both the Boost and the 9R will only be available to those who order in the condensed spring Snow Check program – if you wait, you’ll be “stuck” with a naturally aspirate 850 or 650 Patriot. Not a horrible situation, but knowing the big power options were out there might be tough for some to swallow.
Beyond the powerplant, there are some more choices to make. The first be between a Pro RMK and a RMK Khaos. The Pro models are aimed a backcountry precision while the Khaos models offer a lighter feeling front end and more playful nature.
The next choice will be over whether you want a “normal” rear end on your sled or the Slash package, which features a shorter tunnel, smaller cooling system and short or non-existent snowflap. New for 2023 will be Slash models available in-season instead of just being available in the spring
Then, of course, there are always track options to consider for mountain riders, and Polaris really stacks them up close to one another.
So, breaking it all down, the spring models will be the Patriot 9R or Patriot Boost Pro RMK Slash – or a RMK Khaos Slash with those same engine options – each with a 155-, 163- or 165-inch track. There’s also a 9R RMK Khaos 146 option in the lineup that our test team absolutely fell in love with during a recent test out West.
In-season models will be naturally aspirated Patriot 850 Pro RMK Slash and RKM Khaos Slash with 155-, 163- and 165-inch track options, plus a 650 or 850 RMK Khaos Slash 146. And, if that isn’t enough to get your head spinning, non-slash 850 RMK Khaos 155, 650 or 850 Pro RMK 155 and 650 SKS 146 models are also available. And, of course, you CAN order any of those sleds in the spring if you want to secure one and want some factory-choice options.
But at least we’re not talking about the Axys chassis anymore.
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! This story is from the November 2021 issue’s Cold Tested department. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.