Polaris 600 LX: is it a luxurious snowmobile?

For certain the snowmobile industry is less vibrant than it was a little over a decade ago. And many would-be luxury buyers are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for winter to return with fervor before reinvesting in a sport they still love. While the high-gloss paint, standard electric start and short list of “required” luxury items certainly positions the LX firmly in the luxury category, the 2010 600 LX might not have what it takes to pull buyers off the sideline.

There was a time when Polaris and luxury single passenger snowmobiles were nearly synonymous with each other. While other makers battled for sizzle supremacy, Polaris sold thousands of Indy-based models to casual snowmobile enthusiasts who were looking for reliability and comfort in an all-encompassing package that could nearly do it all, and do it well.

Those days now seem a distant memory for Polaris, and the current solo-touring offerings — 600 LX and Turbo LX — from the northern Minnesota snowmobile maker are now perhaps the most confused models in its line. From dropping the Classic moniker to dubbing it an LX to dropping the models completely and finally bringing the LX badge back for 2010 after filling the role with Switchback models in 2009, the LX models have become, to some extent, parts-bin footnotes in the Polaris arsenal.

A Great Foundation
Not all is lost when digging through the bins at the Roseau factory, however. At the foundation of the 2010 600 LX is the IQ chassis and suspension, the most stable and predictable combination on snow. The LX adaptation of the IQ utilizes a 136-inch section of rotating Camoplast rubber, giving the LX added traction, flotation, storage and bump-bridging ride quality.

Ride comfort is further enhanced with mid-quality shocks. Up front you’ll find RydeFX Pro internal floating piston shocks, while to the rear another RydeFX damper controls front arm movement. Further back, the fifth version of the Fox Position Sensitive shock delivers important rear arm ride quality.

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Power comes from the known and domestically built Liberty 600 twin, first introduced in 2006. While the engine has continually proven itself in the power department, ongoing changes to fuel delivery duties continue to follow the Liberty 600 into 2010. From four-injectors on the first EFI 600 to two-injectors on the prototype we rode last spring and now back to a four-injector system for production, Polaris claims run quality is improved but no word yet on fuel economy, which has been average at best.

Like many sleds in the luxury category, the 600 LX comes standard with electric start, a comfort-tuned suspension and mirrors. But if you’re looking for more extras to truly categorize the LX as a luxury snowmobile like multiple power outlets and an electronically adjustable suspension, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Aside from a taller windshield, a Sunset Red hue on the hood and new-for-2010 soft-sided storage at the rear tunnel, the 600 LX differs little from standard crossover models in the Polaris line.

Perhaps the best luxury front suspension on snow, the 600 LX’s front end is tuned well for high-speed trail exploits but we’d like to see more low-speed comfort for this segment.
Luxury Tuned?
On the trail we expected to the 600 LX to display many of the same traits we’ve praised the short-tracked Polaris IQ chassis — predictable and stable handling, exceedingly good front suspension comfort and above average ride quality in the rear. The longer tracked LX, however, comes up short in all those areas.

In the front, the 600 LX still delivers an oh-so-close level of IQ comfort, with the ability to literally swallow unpredictable trail conditions with uncanny straight-line tracking and little to no feedback to the rider. But be it the longer track or a slightly less balanced chassis, the LX is more unsettled, delivering a push in some snow conditions, leaving the rider feeling disconnected and less confident on twisted trails.

Luxury riders will however appreciate the light low-speed steering effort that delivers accurate turn-in to bar movement, reducing the possibility of over steer. In fact, the steering execution would be near perfect if not for the narrow handlebars, their funky upswept bend and the lack of the once ballyhooed Rider Select adjustable steering pole that seems to be a perfect addition for LX buyers (it remains standard equipment on the four-stroke Turbo LX).

In the rear, bump compliance is middle-of-the-pack average, with calibrations that improve ride comfort at higher trail speeds versus a moderate to slow pace where many luxury riders tend to live. With more than 120 ponies on tap, the 1-inch HackSaw track is often on the edge of traction, especially in the corners where minimal side-bite creates unwanted “tail-out” during deceleration. While you can apex the corners, back into them and power out, we doubt many luxury riders prefer this method versus steering though the corners with a planted, controlled feeling.

A mid-height windshield, handlebar mirrors and awkward bend handlebars greet riders to the 600 LX cockpit. Aside from the handlebars, ergonomics are near perfect for average-build riders.
Luxury Trimmed?
For certain the level of fit and finish from Polaris has improved dramatically since the arrival of the IQ chassis in 2005. The auto parts store switches once found on early Indys have given way to tooled buttons and multi-functional display gauges. Yet as Polaris improved, the competition did so to an even more compelling level. The 600 LX cockpit is uninspiring; with a demeanor that speaks more blue-collar work ethic than lap-of-luxury class. The parts and pieces certainly do the job, but they lack the fit, finish and touch-point appeal found on competitive models that are more luxurious.

The new-for-2010 standard soft-sided storage bag mounted to the rear of the tunnel is a welcomed addition to a chassis that has lacked adequate storage space since deleting the underseat cargo area a few years back. Mated to the cut and sewn Freestyle seat that touts softer foam density for the luxury crowd, the rear storage gives the LX a higher level of rear tunnel fit and finish than other Polaris models.

Handlebar mounted mirrors, which were introduced to the Polaris fold two seasons ago, are a vast improvement over the windshield flare “shakers,” but they interfere with riders who lean into turns. They require a concerted effort to lean around the mirrors to be fully functional.

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