I finally had the opportunity to trail test the Polaris Indy XCR. I’ve been wanting to ride the Matryx-based XCR for a long time, to see how it stacks up against other sleds in its segment, not to mention to figure out exactly where it falls within the Polaris lineup.
Polaris markets the 2023 Indy XCR series as a hard-core racer inspired big bump machine. Does the Polaris Indy XCR live up to the hype? Stay tuned to this XCR review and you will discover something quite unique to this sled.
Trail Test Review – Polaris Indy XCR
As can be seen from the pics, the color scheme is dominated by black with red accents. Gearheads know black is the color of sinister power. There is nothing quite like the image it portrays.
Rolling down the trail you know this sled means business. Not overdone or gaudy, the red accents go along quite well with jet-black. However, late season riding through snirt and mud quickly show on the dark panels, so regular washing is needed.
Based solely on color, I could picture this ride in my garage. But hues are just the beginning of this sleds allure.
650 Patriot Engine is Stout
To start, literally, one does notice clatter coming from the electric starter. I’ve written about this noise before and determined that it doesn’t sound right but gets the job done. It proved to be trouble free, nonetheless.
A small amount of smoke was detected by sight and smell but nothing objectionable. The 650 engine had 850 miles on the clock, so it was already broken-in and seen its share of start/stop cycles. After startup the engine happily settled down to a semi-smooth idle.
Oil consumption was good on day-one of the test, after 100 miles the level barely moved. Only on extended saddlebag rides would you need to carry oil.
Interestingly, after full warmup with resultant stops and starts, I noticed some classic two-stroke fade. Not quite as crisp as when cold. In my experience heat fade is cooling related but can be mitigated somewhat by increased fuel delivery. Maybe a slight fuel recalibration is necessary here.
The 650 engine had good run quality and felt eager during the Polaris XCR review. The power delivery was what I would describe as stout. Power builds around 3,500 and continues to 7,000 RPM. To be fair I was never able to really let the horses run free but the magic on this engine happens at 6,500 RPM.
Fuel economy was tops as 100-miles passed and no fuel warning light on the dash. The Cleanfire semi direct injection calibration by Polaris engineers was spot on. I will say that the gauge itself was wonky. At times it would show not much left and then a few miles down the trail it showed 3/4 of a tank. The gauge readings of low-profile tanks on late model sleds can be weird at times.
PRO-CC Delivers on Promise
The 137-inch rear suspension has the industry normal long front arm. That long front arm will gobble up the jigglers and couple later in the travel for less abrupt ride changes and yet still not wheelie or lose traction. Also, the long arms prevent inside ski lift, although the VR1 had loads of lift and was harder to control in the corners. More than likely that was related to the VR1’s short track, shocks, or calibration differences.
Not so on the Polaris Indy XCR, which really delivered on the promise. It rides nice and bridged the bumps due to its rail length. Damping was taut as you would expect on a terrain monster, but I found it quite pleasant for most normal trail riding. When the heat turned up, the ride got a little choppy for my 190-pound frame. Adjustments, adjustments…
The brakes are very capable but like all previous Polaris iterations, way too grabby, with an on or off switch feel. Navigating tricky downhills, off-camber turns took too much of my attention and wore me out early in the day. Continuous hard braking had to be handled by short duration pulls on the lever, similar to ABS brakes on a car.
On the other hand, panic stops were done in very short distances, as the deeper lug track was extremely grippy, relaying a secure built in safety sensation. I’ve written about the grabby nature of the Polaris brakes before and wish they would develop a more linear modulation into the master cylinder. It would be greatly appreciated.
7s Display with Ride Command Leads Industry
The 7S display was included on this unit and as stated in prior testing, it’s the industry leader in clarity and function. Navigating through the screens is easy, intuitive, and provided almost all the needed info.
One item I would like to see on the menu is ambient temperature. Monitoring outside temperature swings can help predict traction differences, AM to PM, and possible adjustment in riding style.
The user experience with Polaris Group Ride was impressive, as everyone with the 7S display knew where the next turn or route options were. When stopped, we gathered around the 7S to see what was ahead. As the days passed, and I was becoming more and more familiar with it, I tried to imagine how I would feel if the display went blank? Pretty terrible.
Although not used much, the texting function with other riders worked so-so. Canned text lines like “I’m OK” or “Stopped on Trail” seemed useful. Polaris has set the bar high in the dashboard wars, and so far, no one has yet answered the bell in terms of convenience and functionality. Cat and Ski-Doo are following this conversation closely with screens of their own, but I’ve yet to give them a real-world test. More on that front in future writeups.
Adjustable Walker Evans MATRYX Front Suspension
As far as handling goes, the front end was initially twitchy but the Walker Evans shocks can easily be tweaked. The adjustment differences are quite noticeable, I might add.
Further shock adjustments made it better, but not completely resolved. Darting was there at the beginning, the constant course corrections were somewhat annoying.
Again, after some adjustments, it was much smoother. Thank you, Walker Evans, a company Polaris recently purchased.
Despite these quibbles, the front end tracked precisely and that is what the hard-core rodeo-riders like.
XCR is a Balanced Machine
The Cobra track was the star of the day, for sure stealing the show. We rode in late spring conditions and sloppy mashed potatoes were the order of the day. The track length is 137 inches, and get this -1.375 inch lug height! That tall lug carried the sled up hills easily, without annoying track spin to keep speed up. It just plain hooked up and was such a pleasure to ride.
Corners in those less than perfect conditions were now just plain fun. It was so good, other sleds felt as though they were equipped with flat rubber belting without lugs. It delivered total confidence around corners, and up and down hills as well. Quite honestly, this is the most balanced machine, handling-wise, I have ever ridden. Not an easy feat. Congratulations to Polaris for making it real.
Another unexpected surprise was the seat. It was almost flat side-to-side but curved in overall shape front to rear. You had to wondered if the seat would allow the use of body English around corners or if it was going to be comfortable?
After a 100-mile day, my back and bottom were pain free, thank you very much. The padding is firm but not hard and transitions side-to-side were made with ease. It’s an idea that was so simple no one had really thought too much of it before. Congratulations once again to Polaris for executing such a simple design that works terrific.
Ergonomics Need Attention
The side panels were somewhat of a disappointment. Sure, they came off easily with their Dzus fasteners, but the panels were designed such that they were molded outwards in a concave fashion. Every time you hit a bump your knees tended to splay outwards. They also flexed a lot when putting knee pressure on them.
Polaris would be wise to cup the panels inward so your knees would have a point of rest and lock in solid. To be clear, when you are focused and riding hard, you don’t want any such distractions.
Night riding wasn’t tested so I won’t comment on the brightness and focus of the headlights but past Polaris sleds have been less than stellar in this department so let’s hope they redesigned the lighting system.
Tried and True Team Clutch
The clutching department is covered very nicely with the addition of the tried-and-true Team clutches. It’s funny but back in the day Polaris always had the best clutches of all of the sled makers. Everybody ran them or wanted to, as they were so good. Now Polaris lets Team do the clutching duties and man do they work.
In fact, the Team clutches bring out the best in this 650cc motor. Upshifts are crisp, as are downshifts, but there is always room for minor improvements. One thing that makes clutches so good nowadays is the tightness of the belt at full stop. Modern clutches have the capacity to be tight at idle so that when you hit the throttle you get instant acceleration. Gone are the days of the old school 1-1/2-inch belt deflection.
Does the Polaris Indy XCR Live Up to the Hype?
In closing the Polaris Indy XCR version of the Matryx chassis is the best iteration to date. It’s solid planted skis, adjustable Walker Evans shocks, deep lug track, superb seat, top notch gauge and two-year warranty make this a must consider sled for the stable.