May 25, 2010
Have some work that needs to get done but there’s 3 feet of snow on the ground? Fortunately, the snowmobile manufacturers build utility class sleds with big tracks, heavy-duty drivetrains and lots of storage space to help you get the job done.
We spent an afternoon with the 2011 Polaris Widetrak LX at our annual Rode Reports testing event in West Yellowstone, Mont., last spring where we took it deep into the bush to test the sled’s off-trail maneuverability, not to mention its pulling and hauling skills.
2011 Polaris Widetrak LX Chassis
The Widetrak LX is built on the Gen II chassis that Polaris rolled out way back in 1999, so it’s safe to say this backbone has stood the test of time. It has the legendary Polaris Independent Front Suspension (IFS) that’s clad with trailing arms and radius rods. IFS might be Polaris Indy-old, but it’s tough, and that’s important for banging around in the woods and driving over downed trees, stumps, rocks and other obstacles that can’t be allowed to stand in the way of a job well done.
Power comes from the 488cc, liquid-cooled Fuji engine that’s been around so long it makes the Gen II chassis that it’s bolted to seem young and spry. While this engine held its own for years in Indy 500s and other performance sleds in the 1990s, it lacked gusto in the prototype 2011 Polaris Widetrak LX we drove. Power delivery was soggy and there wasn’t much boost available when we needed to pin the throttle and get out of a hole or pull a log.
We were running at about 6,600 feet above sea level, so elevation certainly sapped some of its horsepower, but regardless, engine performance seemed more in tune with a 550cc fan-cooled engine, not to mention it had a hollow “ping, ping, ping” exhaust note at idle that resembled a blade spinner. We opened the hood and confirmed the powerplant was in fact the 500 liquid engine before we departed for our test ride because based on the sound, we weren’t convinced that it wasn’t fan-cooled.
Off-Trail With The 2011 Polaris Widetrak LX
When off the beaten path, the 613-pound (listed) 2011 Polaris Widetrak LX does surprisingly well to stay on top of the snow and creep through trees and brush. Good flotation is due to the big footprint of the 20- by 156- by 1-inch Camoplast Shockwave track. The wide turning radius, though, makes it difficult to drive in confined places, so multi-point turns were common for us, allowing the driver to get familiar with the transmission lever that pokes through the hood. This is a good location for the gear selector and makes it easy to change from high, low and neutral gears.
The 2011 Polaris Widetrak LX has two large storage areas: under the seat and behind it. These are good places to stash tools, clothing and supplies – and lots of that stuff! While this “old-school” sled is down on power and features, the basic, bulletproof machine is capable of hard work and it makes a decent way to go down the trail after work is done. But if you want a two-stroke Polaris utility sled with more power, a modern chassis and more features, check out the 2011 Polaris 600 IQ Widetrak.
— Andy Swanson
2011 Polaris Widetrak LX Hits
- Trusty chassis
- Reliable engine
2011 Polaris Widetrak LX Misses
- Engine performance
- Turning radius
2011 Polaris Widetrak LX Specifications
- Engine: Fuji
- Layout: liquid-cooled, piston port, twin cylinder
- Type: Two-stroke
- Bore/Stroke: 72mm x 60mm
- Front Suspension: IFS; Nitrex shocks; 7.25 inches of travel
- Rear Suspension: Adjustable coupled rail, Nitrex shocks, 9 inches of travel
- Track: Shockwave; 20x156x1