We first met the Polaris IQ Cruiser in 2007. It was a new model for that year, and was described as a new kind of hybrid: a cross between a Mustang and a minivan. We gave it good reviews — the removable seat concept wasn’t new, but we liked the way it performed as a package.

We were not surprised to see it back in the lineup for this year. It’s much of the same, but in some ways better; including engine upgrades and ergo changes. It was almost like it went to finishing school, and came back with better-polished skills.

The IQ Cruiser’s publicist was kind enough to give us a morning with the 2008 model, where we were able to take it on a long trail ride and ask it some questions of a more personal nature.

Snow Goer: Well, your official name is the 2008 Polaris IQ Cruiser. That’s a bit of a mouthful. Do you have a nickname?

Cruiser: “I’ve been called everything from a land barge to a love bug. The Polaris folks tend to call me “The Cruiser.” Personally, I think I have enough gadgets to just go by ‘Q’.”

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SG: Last year, Polaris called you a cross between a Mustang and a minivan. Was that fair?

Cruiser: “Oh, man, I hate the minivan comparison. I can see their point: they want to show off my practical, versatile side. But a mini-van? Couldn’t they have said a Chevy Avalanche? Sheesh.”

SG: But you are pretty darn practical.

Cruiser: “Yes, that’s true. It’s one of my best features. I can haul one person and a week’s worth of gear in a pop-in trunk and saddlebags, or two people and some gear. I do try to be everything to everybody. That’s one of my strong characteristics, and I think I manage it well.”

SG: Some people might say you have a split

personality.

Cruiser: “I like to think of myself as the Bo Jackson of snowmobiling. I can give a smooth, leisurely, predictable ride for the Sunday afternoon crowd, or tap into the turbo and make a spirited sprint. The choice is that of the driver and his or her thumb.”

SG: What gets you going in the mornings?

Cruiser: “Give the coffee to the driver. I prefer 10.2 gallons of premium-grade gasoline and then a turn of a key. And just like the driver who drinks decaf, I can run on 87 octane, but with reduced performance.”

SG: What are your bad habits?

Cruiser: “I’ve heard complaints about my mirror placement. They’re mounted to my handlebars this year, and it’s easy for drivers to bump their shoulders or helmet chin guard into them when in a hard turn. The mirrors don’t rattle, though, so they will provide a clean rear view. Last year, they were mounted on the windshield and vibrated like crazy. That’s one plastic surgery I was happy to get.”

SG: Let’s get personal: what are your dimensions?

Cruiser: I’m 129 inches long, 48 inches wide, and 53 inches tall. My ski width is 42.5 inches. As for the track, it’s 15 by 136 by 1 inches. My trunk is more than 3,000 cubic inches, which is big enough to fit a helmet with room to spare. I weigh 645 pounds.”

SG: Do you know that you’re the heaviest machine in Polaris lineup?

Cruiser: “Cut me some slack. I’m down 12 pounds from 2007. But yeah, I top the Widetrak LX by 2 pounds. But really, the Widetrak is the nose tackle. I’m more the outside linebacker. I have the brawn, but also the maneuverability. The fact that I’m a long-track 2-Up with a four-stroke engine adds to my bottom line, but I do wear my weight well. When people ride me, they almost all say that they can’t feel the weight in the handling or the steering.”

SG: Tell that to the person trying to lift you when you go off the trail and get stuck.

Cruiser: “That’s what reverse is for. I have the PERC-4 pushbutton reverse. Actually, the engine was tweaked this year to provide some “get out of the hole” acceleration. As long as the engine is below 6500 rpm, the turbo will over-boost for four seconds and add 4 hp. Overall, it’s 6 seconds of additional power.”

SG: But really, what makes you tick?

Cruiser: “Underneath this tough exterior beats a heart of a two-cylinder, 750cc turbo four-stroke. It produces 145 hp. On acceleration, I rumble a bit like a diesel engine. Overall, though, it’s a smooth-running engine and the transition to turbo is so subtle that most don’t know it’s taken place until the powerband suddenly seems deeper.”

SG: What’s your preferred terrain?

Cruiser: “I’m a cruiser. I like to cruise. Tight and twisty trails are really not my thing. I can do it for a bit, but I can wear out quickly. The trail doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, but my dream vacation would be to a place like Quebec or across Michigan’s U.P.”

SG: What really pushes your buttons?

Cruiser: “Besides the driver’s finger? I have push-button reverse, buttons to toggle the gauge screen, and my favorite button for the M-10 ACE rear suspension adjustment. I’ve heard drivers complain of sore backs, but they don’t know the half of it. This miracle button will save them and me.”

SG: Have you changed between 2007 and 2008?

Cruiser: “There have not been any major changes, but a number of small upgrades that add up to some nice improvements. The engine has more horsepower and improved cold-weather starting. I also have a new spindle. My engine is better integrated into my chassis, so I look less like an octopus and more streamlined. Your mechanic will like me better than my 2007 brethren.”

SG: Put yourself in the driver’s mindset. What can he or she expect out of you?

Cruiser: “The driver can expect a tight ergonomic feel when first sitting down, probably due to the narrow, firm seat and the short-feeling handlebars. The handlebars are adjustable to five positions. Drivers should be able to see the ski loops from a seated position, off to either side. My windshield is large and protective. Once on the trail, I provide a smooth, predictable and powerful ride.”

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