• 2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX: Is the Active Suspension Worth It? (First Drive)

    Photo credit: Polaris & General Motors

    Polaris’ newest and most advanced vehicle – the 2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX – takes the idea of what a personal off-road toy can be and elevates it another level with a high-tech active suspension system. Think of it as a regular XP 1000 Turbo with a significant suspension upgrade. Is the new DYNAMIX suspension worth the wait and the extra money? Does it make that much of a difference? We drive the latest “Razor” to find out.

    Full disclosure: Chevrolet and Polaris invited and flew out TFLtruck to Las Vegas, NV for a first drive of their new Chevy Tahoe and the 2018 RZR. While there, we filmed an abbreviated towing test with the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Custom and took the Polaris RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX into the Nevada desert.

    2018 polaris rzr xp 1000 turbo dynamix

    The DYNAMIX side-by-side is powered by the turbocharged 168 horsepower, 925cc, two-cylinder, four-stroke engine which sends power to rear or all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This four-wheeler has lots of power at any speed, and the power comes on smoothly without noticeable turbo-lag.

    According to Polaris, “DYNAMIX is smart enough to monitor driver and vehicle inputs hundreds of times per second, capable enough to continuously adjust each individual shock on-the-fly, and so dynamic that instead of having to choose between a plush ride or performance, you now get the best of both every time you ride.”

    For comparison, we also drove a regular RZR XP 1000, with its standard suspension, before trying out the new active suspension. What does this system feel like? Simply put, Andre and I agreed that, in “Comfort” mode, the Polaris RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX felt and looked like a “trophy” off-road racing truck, floating over nasty desert terrain. That’s a good thing.

    Suspension Modes:

    Comfort: This is a plush, comfortable mode. When engaged, it irons out small bumps and obstacles while easing the shock of rebound. The steering response was noticeably spongy. It turned out that this was our favorite mode for running the desert at higher speeds.

    Sport: Up one level from Comfort, the “Sport” setting sharpens steering feel/response and tightens the suspension a bit. This setting felt a lot stiffer than the Comfort mode, but the performance felt about the same. This setting feels close to how the regular Polaris RZR XP 1000 feels.

    Firm: Stiffer steering, suspension and overall driving response – the Firm setting is what you want to use when you’re serious about high-speed performance and anticipate doing a lot of jumping in your RZR. Everything is as tight as the system can make it, and it will rattle you on washboard trails.

    There are a variety of other benefits baked into the fully-adjustable suspension; namely, its ability to absorb a jump by automatically stiffening the suspension when the system recognizes the vehicle is in the air.  No one else is doing this, and they should. Polaris is definitely flexing their technical know-how muscle with this one.

    One final item of note: the technical upgrades in the Polaris RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX are immediately apparent when you turn the key. The center-screen is completely digitalized (LED touchscreen), there is a rear & front view camera moniter setup, and you can configure a full entertainment system via your smart-phone’s Bluetooth or other device.

    The Polaris RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX rings the register at an eye watering $25,999. Dealers will have this smooth-riding RZR soon.

    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

    41 thoughts on “2018 Polaris RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX: Is the Active Suspension Worth It? (First Drive)

    1. Lets hope they are going to at least bring back adjustable ride control in trucks like what I had in my 2004 Denali. It was a great feature in town on all the little washboard bumps, I could put it in soft/comfort mode and it rode like a luxury vehicle. On the highway or in rough terrain I could switch it to sport mode. This is just a newer system that should be an upgrade to what should never have left as an option on trucks. Back in 2002 we had electronic adjustable shocks. Only 15 years ago, maybe in ten more years they will find a way to install it back into their trucks.

      1. Magneto realogical shocks from GM. They are the best and now everyone licenses them. Ferrari, Ford well, everyone.

        I wonder if you can have magneto realogical shocks that are also spool valve?

        1. Nope, you can’t. Different methods of controlling dampening. One adjusts the viscosity of the fluid, they other has separate valves based on position and velocity.

          Really only three vehicles using spool valve shocks, the Ford GT, the Camaro ZL1-1LE, and the ZR2

          1. Spool valve shocks are used by many race vehicles as well.
            Magneto realogical shocks could be combined with spool valves, as a way of variability. It would be more expensive of course. Its probably been done in the lab a long time ago.
            Airbags feel great, but are much more expensive because they are less durable. usually $1,500 a wheel every 80,000 miles sometimes.

        2. If Magneto relogical shocks are the best then why is the Ram truck considered the best riding. I have tried the Ram and it is the best ride if you opt out of the air ride. I do not believe I have tried the Magneto realogical shocks in the GM, likely only on the Denali trims. If it is good than it is poor marketing again, this is why 4 wheel steering failed and why we lost ride control. Not enough consumers know about these features and they die off.

          1. Suspension design encompasses a wide variety of factors. The dampers are merely one part of the equation. The Ram typically has the best ride, however, that comes at the expense of having the lowest payload capability. The F150 typically has the harshest ride and most often, the highest payload. Engineering is a practice of balancing priorities and weaknesses, there are no “magic bullets” that do everything.

            1. The spool valve shocks in the ZR2 do an amazing job balancing ride and handling through both minor ripples and major impacts. However, part of that formula are the softer springs that reduce it’s payload capability. Throw some stiffer springs under the truck for more payload and the balance is ruined. It goes from being crowned “champ” to being a “nice try”.

            2. Daniel, why do you say there is no magic bullets when Oshkosh already proved you can have a soft ride with a massive payload and an adjustable ride height. It is possible and it works and Bollinger is bringing it in 2019. Citroen has successfully used it in Europe for decades now along with Mercedes. The reason the Ram has a poor payload is because they do not use these shocks. The reason Ford has a rough ride is because they do not use these shocks. The reason we pay premium prices for junk is because of knuckleheads like you that want more camera’s and moon roof’s. Honestly why do you play dumb?

            3. +1, You can certainly have it all. Oshkosh is a perfect example with 20,000 lbs payload and very long suspension travel, and it is not necessarily expensive. And there are many other examples.There is just not a well enough managed competitive market in the U.S. and of especially so elsewhere.

            4. Dan, I even had electronic shocks in my 2004 Sierra Denali that did a similar thing. On soft mode the suspension felt like luxury but had body roll. Put it on stiff and you felt the bumps more but it was sporty. At least I had the ability to choose based on my mood or based on my want and or need. That truck was a decked out Denali with an 1800Lb payload and 10,000Lbs towing. And it was the most agile pick-up ever built because of 4 wheel steering. Ok so we are more advanced with the software updates but somewhere along the way our mechanical advantages took a big sht and we are left with fluff that drives premium truck prices to the moon

            5. You can have it all but your going to pay for it. A system like that of the Oshkosh is very expensive and complicated. It will wear and breakdown and there will be additional service and replacement costs. Upfront costs are higher, upkeep costs are higher.
              Getting customers to pay for that and being able to re-coup your development cost from the few sales you do get is the key.

            6. Rambro / Dan – You aren’t looking at the whole picture. Compare the payload capability of the JLTV to what it weighs. There is a ratio of payload to vehicle weight that must be respected. The JLTV has a base weight of 14k plus an 8k payload for max 22k GVWR. That’s a 57% payload. The Chevy 3500 HD actually beats it, 7100 lb payload on a 6300 lb truck, 113% payload.

              Compare the off-road capabilities (ie ride quality) of the 3500 HD compared to the JLTV. Hmmmm… Coincidence? NOPE!

            7. So Daniel, how come the Raptor has a 20% payload. I would be happy with a 57% payload in the Raptor. Sht 3300Lb payload in a Raptor with hydro shocks. Where do I sign?

            8. The reason that trucks have all these high tech electronic goodies and lack the mechanical advances is that these electronic goodies are highly desired by most buyers and, relative to the development and manufacture costs of high tech mechanical improvements, are inexpensive. Cheap sugar for the masses.
              Something like adaptive suspension, being able to adjust both damping characteristics and spring rate is a very expensive endeavor-both to develop and to produce. It is much more complicated than some simple steel springs and a piston moving back and forth in a tube of oil. While there are some people who really want an advanced suspension and are willing to pay for it, they are a minority in the market. I think you will find that there are a good many who would like to see the technology available (like myself) but are not willing to pay the thousands of dollars more in upfront costs as well as the higher maintenance costs and reduced reliability inherent in a more complex system.
              Contrast this to the electronic gadgetry that some deride as the primary factor in driving up the costs of vehicles. All of it is fairly inexpensive to produce and the vast majority of the car buying public wants it and obviously is willing to pay for it-look at the number of vehicle sold with the upper trim levels. The amount of money spent on the newest smart phones and other gadgetry is further proof of this market desire.
              It’s not a matter of being able to produce these kinds of vehicles; it’s a matter of being able to make a business case for it.
              This works for Polaris because these are frivolous purchases in the first place (I really want one!) and the market has shown that people are willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money not only in purchasing these vehicles but upgrading them as well.

            9. Sparky 21, you have a valid point but when you question a limited run vehicle where only a few units are made, how do you justify a profit building an entire vehicle, only to sell a few of them. There are a tremendous amount of options on a truck and the biggest sell points are ride quality, payload, comfort, capability and convenience. By convenience I mean the truck could level itself with hydro shocks, lower itself for ease of loading and unloading and raise itself for another sell point which is ground clearance and further enhance highway stability by lowering itself and saving on fuel. SO, although you have a point it really does not sell me and or make sense. What makes sense to me is mismanagement, failure to compete, laziness, bureaucracy from the people with the ideas being shut down by the white coats who road block because they are impudent to anything new, which is why we need more competition because if you don’t hurt the top guys pocket book, they don’t care what is new or better, they play safe like Toyota and we are stuck with the same crap year end and year out. Every decade Toyota hits a high note and goes back to sleep. Good business so long as no one else is taking risks and the competition stays quiet. We should never have wasted our tax dollars bailing these companies out. We would have far superior options right now with companies reaching further for your business.

            10. Sparky, just a side note, Ram has the best ride but with the air ride the suspension is as stiff as a Ford, however, they do have the advantage of load leveling and lowering for ease of load and unloading and lower on the highway for stability. Good qualities in a truck but the air ride is stiffer than a regular Ram. So coincidence or not, Ram is the fastest growing company for trucks. Their percentages steal truck sales more than any other manufacturer right now. They have been on a constant upswing.

            11. Rambro,
              Do you have an example of a “limited run vehicle.” There are very few limit run vehicles that are truly unique vehicles. Some might consider the Raptor one of these but really there is only a few things that are different from a regular F-150, and they do sell a fairly large number of them. They also charge a premium for them-I suspect easily covering any added cost of production. And then there is a attention factor of halo vehicles to consider as well; one that leads to less obvious sales increases in other models.
              Agree with you on Ram. They started out pretty low and thus had a lot of room to grow. Much of this growth is a continued effort to offer a little more than the others-staring with the Cummins engine back in the 90’s. They were is a somewhat desperate condition that drove them to take some risks that have payed off. Many more auto companies have taken similar risks and sunk. I doubt the air suspension available in their trucks is responsible for much of that growth but it is an example of a worthwhile option that the others do not offer.
              I agree with you on the merits of active suspension. However, a company has to make a profit to survive. Companies like Toyota and GM have stayed in business as long as they have by playing it safe and building a relatively good product that panders to a large number of buyers. In the mean time, start-ups have an opportunity to break into the market due to the inaction of major companies to provide these cutting edge features. It worked for Teslsa. Maybe it will work for Bollinger, Nikola and others. Time will tell.

            12. Sparky there are limited run vehicles everywhere. Powerwagon 800 units a year, the 4 wheel lock and articulating suspension is harder to do then hydro shocks. The Raptor has a completely different frame, C’mon man that is not an F150, everything is different from the AWD to the body panels to the shocks and interior. JFC. The Pro lineup is limited to 100 units in my province. ZR2 is limited as well and countless amounts of SUV’s are limited to very small sales figures and those are entire vehicles. Changing a shock to hydropneumatic is not that difficult by comparison and you can surel sell more than 800 units with an option like that. Even the hellcat is a limited production of about 3000 cars, same for the Trackhawk. Watch Dragons, where inventors stick their limbs out to make a fortune with new and better products. And we know companies can do better. Hopefully Ram brings something new to the Air ride idea. 6 lug nuts on the wheel is telling us they did something better and hopefully its best in class payload with a soft ride, load levelling and adjustable suspension

              How many times did TFL comment on how easy it was to grab stuff in the box with the low frontier bed height. This is impossible with the F150 I drove and I am 6’3. I would pull my shoulder out of its socket the F150 bed is so high. No way can I slide a heavy object front to back in the bed of an F150, no wonder they invented a step, but it doesnt always work. My Tacoma is OK but the Ram is the best when in the kneeled position. Now the truck is low and I can grab the load in the bed from the side of the truck. Very handy and it makes life better for the worker.

          2. Rambro – – –

            R: “The reason we pay premium prices for junk is because of knuckleheads like you that want more camera’s and moon roof’s.”

            Now, now, Rambro. Be nice (^_^)…

            I think what Daniel was driving at was “all else equal”. Given a certain chassis with its limitations, you can contrive a suspension to get either a very soft ride or a very large load capacity, but doing both is difficult without changing the chassis (which is therefore no longer “all else equal”!).

            There are some exceptions that require a VERY high price and complex technology. Take a look at the McLaren MP4-12C supercar. It has a computer and sensor controlled hydro-pneumatic suspension that allows THREE contradictory conditions to be met: Flat cornering; good road feel; and soft ride, — all at the same time, when it worked!.
            But that vehicle was $275K. Yeah right: not my cup-o’-tea…(^_^)..


            1. Bernie, you say it worked and then say it costs 275K. That is false. The suspension does not cost 275K. The engineering in the car itself and its limited production and because of that they can put whatever price tag they want on it provided it sells. That is what drives the price up, not the shocks.

            2. Rambro – – –

              R: “The suspension does not cost 275K.”
              B: “But that vehicle was $275K.”

              What was there in what I said that led you to believe that the suspension alone was $275K? (^_^)…


            3. Plus it is not complicated. Its been used by the French Citroen cars for decades. And a few others. No need to buy a McLaren

          3. I hadn’t thought that magneride was available on any trucks-I had not seen it, but a quick internet search shows them being on the Denali’s. 1500 hundred only. I guess I don’t pay much attention to the 1/2 tons so maybe I just missed it.

          4. Is there a problem with the air ride? I read that for the new 1500’s,the air ride will be improved. But it never said what they are improving on the air ride.

            1. No, air ride is sweet. The Ram 1500’s just dont have the chassis or axles ratings for the air ride to make any difference in payload. It would be great if ford went air ride and retained 2000+ lbs of payload.

    2. Nathan – – –

      These Polaris UTV side-by-side vehicles are so impressive that the US Army is contracting Polaris to work out experimental versions that can be used for high-speed troop assault machines:

      How does an enemy shoot at something that is bouncing up and down and wiggling sideways at 60 MPH, while coming at you with guns blazing?


      1. On the flip side of that…

        How do you aim at a target while bouncing up and down and wiggling sideways at 60 mph with their guns blazing back at you? :p

        1. In both cases: with computers. The Abrams can AIM and fire its main gun while cruising at high speeds over rough roads.

          1. True true. Would the necessary hardware be defeating the advantage is starting with an extremely light weight vehicle?
            I think they would be the perfect application for electric power. Runs are typically short and you don’t have the range issue. Plus being quiet would be a huge advantage

        2. Daniel – – –

          D: “How do you aim at a target while bouncing up and down and wiggling sideways at 60 mph with their guns blazing back at you? :p”

          I have no idea. Maybe “Sparky21” is right: computers. But, as far as shoulder-fired weapons are concerned, didn’t I read somewhere that it is more successful to hit a stationary target while moving than moving target while stationary?


          1. Experienced gunners can and do hit moving/dodging and weaving targets while moving and dodging themselves. At least from the air,at treetop level.

          2. From experience, it’s easier to aim while stationary, not that there aren’t any incredibly talented people out there

            1. From my experience it’s just a matter of getting used to it.There were no computers to do it for you back then.
              And it doesn’t take long when someone is shooting at you,to learn how to return fire accurately.It’s all old school.

    3. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you want to have a real hoot in the dirt, forget paying extra for a Raptor, or a Power wagon, or a ZR2 chebby; just get a basic truck and a trailer and a Polaris RZR XP1000 turbo and use the money you saved over one of those “super trucks” for food,fuel,lodging and the adult drink of your choice.
      If you do it will put a smile on your face so big that if you died at that moment it would take the undertaker 6 weeks to get the smile off your face so you could fit in the coffin!
      Also, when those pickups are driving down the dirt road, doing all they can to stay on the road, you can pass them, driving so fast that they might make the mistake of getting out to check if they are in reverse.

      1. I have to agree, expensive as they are, something like a RZR is a lot more bang for the buck than a fancy Raptor. You can use it in a lot more (off-road type) places than a Raptor as well. With the ZR2 being only another $5000 over the price of a truck that one would likely purchase anyhow and still retaining most of the capability, not so much.

      2. We don’t need drunks on TFL or on our roads.
        By the way, the side by sides are a real bore. No one likes them because the passengers get bored. Just get 4 wheelers and everyone can drive.

    4. When you say only $5000 extra for the ZR2 package, did you forget the extra $10,000
      on top of sticker the dealers are asking for (and getting) and the fact that they are discounting the F-150, The Chev 1500, or the Ram 1500 by at least $5,000 and I see Chevs and Rams advertised at $7,500 to $10,000 discounts and dealers will drop an extra $1,500 to sell one.
      That said, the combo of a Chev 1500 2WD/RZRXP1000 looks even more interesting and you will get places off road that you would only dream of without scratching up your pretty 1/2 ton.

    5. Sure like to see the big 3 go to irs in there half tons. Ford has in the expedition for awhile now. I think I red that gm is going the same way to there full frame SUV’s.

      As rzr not into s x s so I’ll let you guys comment about that , which there hasn’t been much.
      Not much info towing on the Tahoe.

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