It’s an all-electric side-by-side UTV that can replace your pickup truck out in the fields while simultaneously being so much fun it feels like it shouldn’t be legal. The new Ranger XP Kinetic is by no means the effort of a single company. It’s the particularly fruitful result of a collaboration begun in 2020 between Polaris and one of the fastest-rising forces in American electric motorbikes, Zero Motorcycles.
As we can now attest, these two parties joining forces can create some real fireworks. The Polaris R&D Proving Grounds, in a small town outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, served as a fitting playground. As you’d expect it to be. Just look at who owns this property. On the grass outside the vast facility’s main office building was a fleet of new Ranger XP Kinetics for us to play with. Before we set off, Polaris personnel spoke with the press on site about their eagerness to prove they could fulfill the needs of their native gasoline-powered loving clientele and people desiring an electric alternative.
As mentioned above, the heart and soul of the Kinetic XP is a Zero Motorcycles-derived battery-EV powertrain that shares a large degree of functionality with their proprietary brushless DC electric motorcycle powertrains. In short, it’s 15 years’ worth of experience in lightweight electric drivetrains pairing up with an industry leader in 4×4 UTVs and off-road vehicles. The results of their efforts are nothing short of profound.
Polaris comes out of the gate strong with a special drivetrain energy rating of 28.9 kWh on the battery specifically for the top-of-the-line Ranger UTV application. Models lower down in the model lineup settle for a 14.9 kWh unit, both are lithium-ion batteries. The estimated battery range from full to zero for either package of 80 miles (128.75 km) with the Ultimate and 40 miles (64.3 km) with lower trims beats many highway-approved passenger EVs from only a handful of years ago.
Charge times to full vary depending on your choice of level one or two charging systems, and choice of 120 or 240-volt power outlets. Times range between 3.5 and 20 hours depending on these factors. The performance figures are nothing at all to sneeze at, either. With 110 horsepower on offer alongside 140 lb-ft (189 Nm) of instantly available torque in such a light body, road-legal subcompacts exist on the market in 2022 with far less power.
What does that translate to out in the dirt, sand, and gravel of the Minnesota forest? Well, if the fastest, meanest-looking thing you’ve ever driven is a crossover SUV, it both feels and looks like the fastest and most badass-looking thing you’ve ever driven in your life. It’s immediately obvious within the first few seconds of looking at the Kinetic KPs front fascia that it’s an electric vehicle. With smooth, sculpted plastic taking the place of grille slits for the engine’s radiator makes for an exterior that fits into the family tree quite well. All while remaining unique and special looking with its little, subtle changes. As it turns out, those little things add up fast.
Climbing inside this electric UTV reveals a remarkably more automotive-looking interior than anyone who’s only ever driven a car could have ever guessed. Sitting inside the cabin of the Kinetic XP could be a mind-blowing experience if you were expecting something more spartan. Plush foam bench seats are accented in a supple but durable vinyl material that almost tricks the brain into thinking you’re in a normal car.