Friday, March 31, 2023

What Are the Best Polaris Snowmobile Engines?

If you are into snowmobiling or about to enter the world of sleds, What Are the Best Polaris Snowmobile Engines? you’ve surely heard about Polaris. After all, the American Powersports manufacturer has been revolutionizing the industry, producing powerful and durable engines for over eighty years now. 

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Currently, Polaris offers snowmobiles with a host of different engine types; entry-level models get smaller fan-cooled mills while liquid-cooled turbocharged engines are reserved for top-of-the-line stuff. However, the American giant’s massive engine lineup also makes it daunting to crown an ultimate winner in each category. 

But worry not; we’ve already done all the heavy lifting for you. Indeed, we rode and tested several models, gathered data found in our trusty Polaris snowmobile service manuals and asked a couple of experts, conducted a detailed analysis, and came up with the best Polaris engines out there. 

So let’s begin. 

Which is the Most Powerful Polaris Engine?

We had no other choice but to hand over the most powerful Polaris snowmobile engine award to the 850 Patriot, a modern-day engineering marvel and a flagship performance mill for the brand’s mountain snowmobile lineup.

The 850 Patriot engine is nothing like the company had previously built and is quite a step-up from its predecessor — the 800 Cleanfire. We recently tested the 2019 PRO-RMK equipped with an 850 Patriot engine and were impressed by its refinement. In comparison, the 800 Cleanfire feels like a relic of a bygone era.

The 850 Patriot doesn’t mind uneven mountainous terrain requiring frequent throttle twisting and still provides a buttery smooth ride, even on steep slopes and knee-deep powder. When going all out, you can feel the massive sled launching like a rocket as you do your best to hold on to it.

However, we can only elaborate on the driving experience as we are yet to hear about the 850 Patriot’s official power output. Indeed, the company hasn’t released horsepower figures but claims the Patriot is 9% more powerful than the 800 Cleanfire, which would add up to around 180 hp. But to be honest, we don’t really care about numbers — riding the Pro-RMK 850 stuck a smile on our faces, so job well done here! 

Besides, Polaris also claims that the 850 Patriot is built to be more durable, which is important considering it’s a two-stroke engine. On average, two-stroke mills tend to last only 5,000-10,000 miles before requiring top-end servicing, compared to about 20,000 miles for a four-stroke engine. Nonetheless, the 850 Patriot comes with a brand-new cylinder and cylinder head design to make it last a lot longer than most. Of course, we’d still recommend keeping a trusted snowmobile service manual handy, just in case things go south while you are miles away off the beaten paths — better safe than sorry, especially with snowmobiles. 

Which is the Most Reliable Polaris Engine?

When it comes to sleds, the secret to reliability is to have fewer and simpler components. Unsurprisingly, this is where high-performance engines like the 850 Patriot lose to the less powerful and cheaper 550 Liberty engine. It’s one of the cheapest snowmobile engines to maintain and even cheaper if you perform some of the basics services on your own using a snowmobile repair manual (not sure where to find one? Take a look at eManualOnline — you’ll thank me later). 

However, the 550 Liberty’s impressive reliability is challenged by another worthy competitor — the 488 cc twin. Widely regarded as one of the most popular snowmobile engines, the 488 Fuji was the star of its time. It had a simple design with straightforward, tractable piston port power, no reed valves, and no exhaust valves, reducing its complexity and making it an incredibly reliable option. 

Unfortunately, the 488 doesn’t actually count as a “true” Polaris engine since it’s actually the Japanese giant Fuji that made it according to Polaris’ specs. Still, it powered the company’s Indy 500 series until the early 2000s, when the 550 Liberty came to replace it in the latest models.

Which Polaris Snowmobile Has the Longest Range?

The range of a snowmobile depends on two things — tank capacity and fuel efficiency. Most modern snowmobile engines are reasonably fuel-efficient, especially four-stroke mills. However, Polaris doesn’t offer 4-stroke snowmobiles and continues to rely on a bunch of different 2-stroke motors, though the newer models are quite efficient.

When it comes to range, Polaris’ safest bet is the Titan SP155, equipped with a 14-gallon tank and providing 20mpg, good enough for about 280 miles on a single fill. Other models such as the Polaris Voyageur and Switchback PRO S also come with rather large 11.5 and 12-gallon tanks, for an average range between 230 miles and 240 miles. 

Having a decent range is vital for a snowmobile since you will mostly be traveling to remote places where you may not find fuel stations around every corner. You’ll either have to carry extra fuel or rely on a big enough tank, and the Polaris Titan SP155 is ideal for such scenarios, with the Voyageur and Switchback not far behind.

However, you can also play a role in increasing your sled’s fuel efficiency. For instance, start each season with an oil change (you can easily find the instructions to do that in your snowmobile manual). Also, make sure to clean your sled’s fuel system at the end of the season with a gas tank cleaner. 

In the end, it all comes down to what you put into your sled. Always use the recommended fuel with an octane rating of at least 87 with no more than 10 percent ethanol (E10). Using the right fuel will not only extend your range but will also prevent severe issues in the long run.

Last Words

Polaris snowmobiles are some of the best sleds you can get on the market today. From incorporating cutting-edge technology to stunning designs into its snowmobiles, the American Powersports manufacturer left no stones unturned in capturing a significant piece of the market. But at the heart of it all, it’s its impressive lineup of powerful and reliable engines that really makes a difference — those mentioned above are among the best, combining state-of-the-art performance and unmatched durability. 

Overall, though, if you want the best combination of performance and efficiency, any new Polaris engine will do the trick. They are fairly reliable, and you won’t need to perform any repairs for a while. Even the older 488 Fuji provides legendary durability and can still bring you places, though the newer 550 Liberty will certainly bring you there much faster.

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