• 2015 Polaris Sportsman Scrambler XP 1000

LISTEN 05:19

Polaris Industries ramps up the pressure on its competition with the 2015 Scrambler XP 1000. Aptly nicknamed, the ’White Lightning’ is a pure, go-fast machine that shuns most of the features common on hunting and work ATVs, and focuses instead on tire-blistering and adrenaline-pumping performance.

Test-rider opinions can vary, as each tester views the ride through the his unique lens, but one thing that they seem to all agree upon is that this is not a beginner-level ATV. The available power and speed is more than enough to get a ’newbie’ in trouble (quick, fast and in a hurry!) and it should be left to those with the requisite experience and reflexes.

Continue reading for the full review.

  • 2015 Polaris Sportsman Scrambler XP 1000
  • Year:
  • Engine:
  • Displacement:
    952 cc
  • Price:


2015 Polaris Sportsman Scrambler XP 1000 Exterior
- image 627174

Much like a Volvo, the White Lightning could be called boxy, but in a good way. The 48.6-inch width and 48.4-inch height, along with the hard-cornered fenders and rather abrupt lines, leave one with the visual impression of a solid, no-nonsense machine with no energy wasted on aesthetics or frou-frou. Polaris engineers show a ruthless pragmatism and single-minded mentality on this ride.

The cargo racks are vestigial at best, and the one-up seat precludes the possibility of carrying passengers. I suppose you could squeeze another butt onto it, but I wouldn’t want to be the one in back when the driver pulls the trigger. The large, red brushguard/crashbar stands out well from its black and white background, and makes the Lightning look even more intimidating from the front, while the dual exhaust and exposed suspension in the rear leave no doubt as to the designed purpose of this ride.


2015 Polaris Sportsman Scrambler XP 1000 Exterior
- image 627170

Premium Fox Podium X shocks work with the double A-frame front suspension and rolled independent rear suspension (IRS) to provide cushion and control over hostile terrain, with 9 inches of front suspension travel and 10.25 inches in the rear, and a lofty 11.5-inches of ground clearance.

Even though it is definitely a race-centric machine, the factory didn't completely neglect work-related features.

The travel and exposed suspension components make the Lightning look much like a bear romping through the countryside as the wheels seem to reach for their next foothold on the ground.

Even though it is definitely a race-centric machine, the factory didn’t completely neglect work-related features. The small front and rear cargo racks will carry up to a total of 75 pounds, and the 1.25-inch receiver hitch allows you to tow up to three-quarters of a ton.

Additionally, Polaris designed it to mount a winch and a plow, though to me that seems a bit like hitching up a thoroughbred to a plowshare – it will pull it, but it doesn’t seem right. My personal take is that these accoutrements were added for but one (very important) reason: so Dad can say, "Look, Honey. See? It is a work machine!"
Well played, Polaris.

Due to engine orientation, the Lightning enjoys a relatively slim waist that leaves the rider with more legroom and wider footboards. This reduces fatigue and leaves more room to shift your body weight when tackling the turns with some aggression. A Variable-Assist electronic power steering system reduces steering effort and kickback to further reduce fatigue and increase rider comfort.


2015 Polaris Sportsman Scrambler XP 1000 Exterior
- image 627172

Polaris built the 952 cc, four-stroke powerplant from the ground up rather than simply modifying its existing 850 cc engine. Though the two engines look similar from the outside, that similarity only runs skin deep. It is a completely different engine than the one that pushes the 1000 cc RZR XP. The mill cranks out 89 horsepower, which is more than enough. Don’t believe it? Just grab a fistful of throttle on a high-traction surface and watch the front end pull a moonshot. All doubts will vanish like so much trail dust in the wind.

An automatic all-wheel drive (AWD) system kicks in only when it is needed, and disengages when it is not, precluding the need to manually shift a gearbox or consciously calculate when four-wheel power is called for. Though the crankshaft has a 270-degree offset, a pair of balance shafts smooth out the power pulses and vibrations normally associated with V-twins.


Base price is $13,299, and it comes available in the ’White Lightning’ graphics only.

He Said:

“This looks like more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Though I lack the skills to fully unleash the power of this crazy-fast machine, I think I would have fun trying! I would probably prefer to have a more hunting-oriented machine for my own purposes, but it would be fun having this, if only to make my neighbors jealous!”

She Said:

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "For me, this is a strange animal. It’s an ATV that can’t really carry anything but one person and maybe a toolbag. I guess I’m too pragmatic when it comes to ATVs. It’s a performance machine with which folks do some awesome off-roading and it can tow an appreciable amount of weight. I’m not into ATVs for sport, but the folks that are look like they have a blast on the Scrambler XP 1000."


Engine Type: Four-Stroke SOHC Twin Cylinder
Displacement: 952 cc
Compression Ratio: 11 to 1
Bore: 90.5 mm
Stroke: 74 mm
Throttle Body/Size: Mikuni Dual Bore / 42 mm
Fuel System: Electronic Fuel Injected
Cooling: Liquid
Drive System Type: High Performance, Close Ratio On-Demand True AWD/2WD
Transmission/Final Drive: Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H; Shaft
Gear Reduction, Low: 5.034:1
Gear Reduction, Reverse: 4.508:1
Gear Reduction, High: 2.367:1
Drive Ratio, Front: 3.818:1
Drive Ratio, Rear: 3.7:1
Electronic Power Steering: Standard
Minimum Turning Radius: 84 inches
Front Suspension: Dual A-Arm 9 Inches Travel
Rear Suspension: Dual A-Arm, Rolled 10.25-Inches Travel
Front/Rear Brakes: Single Lever Four-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Hydraulic Rear Foot Brake
Parking Brake: Park in Transmission/Lockable Hand Lever
Front Tires: 26 x 8-14; 489 II
Rear Tires: 26 x 10-14; 489 II
Wheels: Cast Aluminum
Ground Clearance: 11.5 inches
Overall Length: 82.3 inches
Overall Width: 48.6 inches
Overall Height: 48.4 inches
Seat Height: 35 inches
Wheelbase: 53 inches
Maximum Weight Capacity: 290 Pounds
Front Rack Capacity: 25 Pounds
Rear Rack Capacity: 50 Pounds
Fuel Capacity: 5.25 Gallon
Payload Capacity: 290 Pounds
Person Capacity: 1
Estimated Dry Weight: 745 Pounds
Hitch Type: Standard/1.25-inch Receiver
Receiver Hitch Tongue Capacity: 150 Pounds
Hitch Towing Rating: 1,500 Pounds
Unbraked Trailer Towing Capacity: 1,914 Pounds
Cargo System: Lock & Ride
Instrumentation: Digital Gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Two Tripmeters, Hour Meter, Clock, Service Time, Diagnostic Indicator, Gear Indicator, Fuel Gauge, Hi-Temp/Low-Batt Lights, DC Outlet
Lighting: White LED; Hi/Low Beam; Single Rear Taillight
Color / Graphics: White Lightning
Price: $13,299
TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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