For 2018, Polaris is breaking new ground in the crossover class, but it may not be what you think of when you hear of that category. Calling them “the world’s most extreme and capable crossovers,” Polaris officials unveiled a line of big, burly, high-end work-to-play crossover machines under the 800 Titan moniker, and the machines are unlike anything currently available from any other manufacturer.
Most of the company’s other big news is in the more traditional crossover categories, with two new Switchback XCR models aimed at the trail racer crowd, plus a new 800 SKS 146 aimed at the true 50/50 trail-to-powder riding audience. The company also provided a simple update to the 600 Cleanfire engine and gave a boost of new technology to its Timbersled family.
The most curious machines, though, have to be the Titans, so let’s start there. Polaris is the fourth brand to release info on its 2018 snowmobiles: click through to read about the new Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo and Yamaha 2018 lineups. To see the new Timbersled Aro platform, click here.
The New Titans
Each Titan machine is big – as in great big. Moved by a 20- by 155-inch track and propelled by the 800 H.O. Cleanfire engine found in a rather bulbous version of the Axys chassis, the Titans are tanks aimed at big floatation, big power and big work capabilities.
From its high-output new electrical system to its reinforced chassis, and from its two-speed, automotive-style transmission and purpose-built brake system to its oversized cooling system and innovative Versa storage platform, Titans are made to handle huge tasks. Those features give the machines a 1,200-pound towing capacity plus its 85-pound onboard storage capacity, and Polaris designers told us they far exceeded both of those limits in testing and validation.
Each Titan also has PowderTrac Titan running boards with huge openings, a 14-gallon fuel tank for big range, LED lights and electric start. The new Lock & Ride Versa storage platform atop the long and wide tunnel allows all sorts of carrying cases and accessories to be attached – and of course Polaris already has many add-ons designed. The cooling system includes a radiator and a fan – Polaris officials said these machines were designed so they could be ridden for miles on frozen, snowless ground without any problems.
The Titans’ also have a patent-pending electrical system that Polaris is adapting from the automotive industry. Called the Power Boosting Regulator, it’s designed to spin up a lot of electrical power and to provide maximum power at idle and low RPM so it can easily power standard equipment plus big-draw accessories like winches and heated seats while the machine is sitting still.
There are three Titan models:
- The 800 Titan SP 155 comes with a RipSaw track with 1.375-inch lugs, a large 20-inch windshield, rebuildable IFP shocks and mega-wide Pro- Float skis.
- The 800 Titan XC 155 has more trail-oriented features, including Gripper skis, Fox QS3 shocks and a 13-inch window but with 1.8-inch lugs on its Cobra track.
- The 800 Titan Adventure is the most full-featured, with the GPS-enabled Polaris Interactive Digital Display (PIDD) gauge, Lock & Ride Versa Touring passenger seat, large storage box and rear rack, monstrous 24-inch tall and extra wide windshield, mirrors, large front bumper, QS3 shocks and Pro-Float skis. It has 1.55-inch lugs on a Cobra track.
So what’s it like to trail and ditch ride a huge machine with a 20- by 155-inch track and an 800cc engine? Surprisingly easy. Over the course of two days, we rode Titan models for more than 100 miles. While we never forgot we were on a large sled, the XC model in particular had some impressive trail manners, with comfortable suspensions, roomy ergos and excellent wind protection. The other two models still handled OK but had super-wide Pro-Float skis primarily designed to offer great flotation, not blade-like handling. We also pulled a big weighted sled carrying 1,000 pounds behind the Titans. From a dead start, on and off of packed snow and over rough, undulating surfaces, the Titan plodded along nicely in low gear and never gave the impression that the tow sled, instead of the snowmobile, was in charge.
Polaris officials envision these machines to immediately be popular in Russia, Scandinavia and far northern Canada, and then grow in popularity farther south in traditional markets as people learn and accept the fact that a high-end, full-featured sled with a 20- by 155-inch track can be comfortably ridden and trusted on and off trails.
XCR Package Added To Switchback
A year after reviving its popular XCR name on 600 and 800 Rush XCR models, Polaris is bringing the same package to its longer Switchback lineup with 600 and 800 Switchback XCR models.
The spring-order-focused models very closely mirror the Rush XCR models – meaning they come with a race-sled package and trail sensibilities. The XCR package – called PRT, meaning Polaris Race Technology – includes upgrades to the suspension, driveline and brake system.
For added strength to make the sled ready for the most torture possible, Polaris added beef to many parts, including a chromoly rear pivot and front torque arm, a stronger mount for the center shock, reinforced rails and solid bogie wheels. A solid, hardened jackshaft ties to a race-ready brake system that includes a race rotor with increased surface area, durable Type 81 brake pads and added cooling thanks to a scoop on the side panel that routes air directly to the brake.
Hanging above the skis and on the skidframe’s rear arm are highly-tunable Walker Evans Hi/Lo compression adjustable piggyback shocks with special XCR valving. As the name implies, different controls allow the owner to separately dial in their preferred high-and low-speed compression damping. The Pro-XC 137 rear suspension is wrapped in a 15- by 136- by 1.35-inch Cobra track with a 2.52-inch pitch. Like the Rush, it’ll be available with a 600 or 800cc engine and is focused on buyers willing to put their money down in the spring.
New SKS 146
If a bartender blended the sweet success Polaris had when it launched its “deep-snow crossover” SKS line for 2016 with the tangy 800 Switchback Assault model released for model year 2017, he or she would pour the new SKS 146 out of the cocktail shaker.
From the longer SKS models and their sibling RMKs, the new SKS 146 shares the Axys RMK chassis with its adjutable ski stance (39-41 inches), Gripper skis and narrow bodywork. From the Switchback Assault 144 comes the IGX rear suspension. And from both, the new SKS gets PowderTrac Hybrid running boards, ProTaper handlebar, chaincase drive and 800 H.O. engine.
Fittingly, it gets a track that fits between other SKS models and the 144-inch Cobra from the Switchback Assault. Polaris designers settled at a 146- inch Peak track with 2.25-inch lugs. It also has Walker Evans Piggyback shocks and an underseat storage bag.
“It’s built for somebody who has to spend time on the trail but wants a sled that performs much better in the deep snow,” said Jason Miller, the Polaris snowmobile product manager.
600 Engine Upgrade
Polaris has an update to its long-standing Cleanfire 600 engine aimed at giving even more long-term durability to the bottom end of a powerplant that’s proven rather stout over time.
The center bearing on the crankshaft will now be enclosed in an oil bath, giving it permanent and dependable lubrication just like its 800 H.O. big brother. It’s a better system and thus an upgrade, though Miller admitted that Polaris hadn’t seen any problems in the field with the time-tested engine’s crankshaft. Instead, he said, it was about parts commonality with the 800 crank.
Otherwise, the rest of the Rush, Indy, Switchback, RMK and SKS lines return virtually unchanged except for colors and graphics.