Totally new models don’t come every year. But for 2013, Ski-Doo is bringing an entirely new critter to the Summit family and from our first impressions, it’s a keeper. By now some hardcore powder riders may have memorized the updates Ski-Doo engineers impregnated into this all-new sled — it’s been a loooong summer, hasn’t it? But another trip inside the REV-XM chassis is totally worth it for this comparison — especially considering the impressions it left on our test riders.

The REV-XM platform is designed to simultaneously improve ergonomics, enhance a mountain rider’s ease-of-mobility and comfort and blow away your perceptions in the now-benchmark mountain handling performance category: banking and holding a line while carving through powder. The secrets aren’t discrete in the REV-XM-equipped Summit. Take a gander down at the running boards and you’ll see gaping holes where metal used to be. There’s actually 53 percent nothing and 47 percent metal there — more air than metal — so snow accumulation is zip, nada, nill. Traction on these stompers is sweet, too, and ’Doo engineers say the extrusions are three times stronger than the REV-XP running boards.

A more-rounded console on the REV-XM platform improves driver mobility.
A more-rounded console on the REV-XM platform improves driver mobility.

Peek at the front of the sled and you’ll see slimmer side panels and a lower hull designed to stay out of the way of the snow as you lean. You’ll also notice foot cut-outs where plastic-meets-running boards for 8 inches more forward foot-roaming room. All of these powder-dynamically engineered (Ski-Doo’s word) changes are significant. Heck, there are even new skis. But really, the biggest talk in Summit town is about tMotion.

Who would have thought that a manufacturer would invent a rear suspension system that actually pivots from left-to-right? Designed to break a sled’s natural resistance to tipping on its side or banking, tMotion provides 4 degrees of suspension lean — 2 degrees in each direction. Add in the FlexEdge track, which has 2 inches of flexible, non-reinforced width on each edge to enhance this tipsiness, and you’ve got a new concept in mountain sled handling.

Ski-Doo’s tMotion isn’t sticking to standard handling improvement principles like refining mass centralization and reducing buckets-full of unsprung weight. No, Ski-Doo is making stuff move — which is a different set of physics altogether. Every action has a reaction, right? Our reaction to the new Summit and tMotion is really good.

New side panels and footwells allow Summit riders to move their weight farther forward.
New side panels and footwells allow Summit riders to move their weight farther forward.

The improvement felt across our crew of test riders was impressive. One said the stability, predictability and mobility while sidehilling or setting up powder turns was, approximately, 1,000 times better than any past Summit chassis. Another tester predicted that average mountain riders will rapidly behave like experienced mountain riders on the new Summit X because it’s not nearly as tempted to fall down on the elevated ski, it’s easier to get up on an edge and more predictable all around.

All this praise begins at the tMotion system. But even our simple-minded test monkeys couldn’t ignore the sleeker body panels and awesome running boards during testing. The package, as one of our primates said, is the culmination of many small changes that make a big difference. Even the minimalistic seat performed well.

Running boards were also revised so they will hold less snow.
Running boards were also revised so they will hold less snow.

It’s hard not to be nervous about more moving parts inside already complex suspension systems. And while the majority of our experiences with the tMotion-equipped Summit were great, we did feel a few interesting things. First, the tMotion lean seems to hit a limit when sidehilling, almost as if the tMotion pivot runs its course and the FlexEdge track kicks in. It’s a transition some could feel repeatedly on downhill turns and sometimes on under-power uphill pulls. It’s certainly different. We’re looking forward to seeing how it stands up to the abuse of a season.

What’s not different with the Ski-Doo is the top-of-the-line fit, finish and quality of every component with which the rider interacts. From the new flatter-profile gauge to the slick controls and high-quality purr that comes alive once the E-TEC 800R is ignited, the Ski-Doo still exudes quality. The engine is fantastic. Smooth as silk and enough pull to go anywhere while seemingly perfectly calibrated with the fuel delivery system. It doesn’t stink, rattle or sputter. It sings.

Ski-Doo Summit X 154 E-TEC 800R  / $12,349
CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT: 459 pounds ENGINE: 799cc liquid-cooled twin, E-TEC direct injection, bore/stroke 82×76 mm TRACK: 16x154x2.5 PowderMax II


See how the Ski-Doo Summit fared against other sleds in it’s class at the 800-Class Shootout!

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