Hunters and farmers have long used ATVs as land management tools, and with good reason. The machines are easy to operate, do many tasks including some that used to require a tractor, and are even a little bit of fun to ride.
There are limitations, though. Payload has always been an issue. For land management, it can be a big issue. This is one of the many reasons for the exploding popularity of the UTV or side-by-side. You do get a whole lot more cargo capacity with a UTV. What you lose, however, is the nimble, go-anywhere capability of an ATV. Even the skinniest UTV is wider than an ATV. Bridging that gap is the new 2017 Polaris Sportsman Big Boss 6X6 570 EPS.
The first thing you’ll notice is the Big Boss is a 6X6. The four 26-inch PXT rear tires are in constant drive, meaning you’re already in 4-wheel drive. You can activate the front drive with a handlebar switch that also includes an active decent mode for steep downhill rides. That’s a very handy feature if you’re hauling a load of fertilizer back to a remote food plot. In 6-wheel mode, you’re riding a beast. A friend and I took the Boss through a sandy area that has bogged down every ATV we’ve ever taken through it, and the Boss never flinched. You get true all-wheel drive with Polaris’ limited-slip system. There’s no locking differential like some manufacturers use, but we can’t see where it’s a problem.
The next thing you’ll notice is the massive bed. The Boss’ composite cargo box hauls 800 pounds of gear, dirt, fertilizer . . . whatever you want to haul. There are lots of tie-down points and the bed dumps as well. It’s also great for hauling a tank sprayer.
The front rack is pretty slick. It is composite and has an extender rail with tie-down points to keep your gear stowed. It has a 90-pound capacity, but the really cool part is underneath. Two quick release levers reveal a sealed 6.5-gallon dry storage area. We used it to set our scouting cameras. You can pull up next to the tree, open the storage area and place a camera, all without ever getting off the machine. If you worry about walking into an area and spreading human odor around, this works well. It’s also good if you have limited time and a lot of cameras to place or check.
The Heart of the Beast
Powering the Big Boss is Polaris’ proven, liquid-cooled, 570cc dual overhead cam, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine that puts out an impressive 44 hp. Power delivery is pretty smooth and constant thanks to the electronic fuel injection. Being a mid-sized engine, it’s not going to be a gas guzzler anyway, but if it were, the Big Boss comes with a huge 6.75-gallon gas tank. If you’re going way back into an isolated area to work on some habitat projects, or going on an adventure hunt, the Boss has the range to get you there and back.
If you’re towing a trailer, or perhaps using a small implement such as a GroundHawg Max plow, there is a 2-inch receiver hitch. With a 1,500-pound towing capacity, it’s a nice touch. Another really nice feature is that the Big Boss is a two-up, meaning you can safely – and legally – take a passenger with you. The passenger seat is pretty comfortable, and there are metal handholds. These handholds have mini composite racks located on each rear fender that have a channel molded in for a 5-gallon bucket. The handhold acts as a support for a bucket, which is great if you’re hauling out feed to go into a feeder, or bait if you’re a bear hunter.
Compared to a standard Sportsman 570, the boss doesn’t have the throttle snap, but you’d have to expect that due to the extra set of drive wheels, and weight from the cargo box. However, the machine does move right away thanks, in part, to those same extra drive wheels. Control wise, the Boss is identical to a Sportsman 570. Turning is aided by power steering, and the turning radius is pretty tight – tighter than you’d expect from a 6-wheeled machine.
Ride quality is very good. Polaris equipped the rear end with a sway bar, which would be needed with four independent drive wheels so close together. It feels a little stiffer than you’d normally expect if you were riding a straight-up four-wheeler, but with the 26-inch tires, it’ll clear trail obstacles with ease.
There is really only one thing that was a head scratcher when thinking about and riding the Big Boss – why only a 570cc? Don’t get us wrong, it’s extremely capable. One would have to think, however, that with Polaris having an awesome Sportsman 1000 in the stable, the marriage of the two platforms seems inevitable. Not going to lie – that’s a machine we want to ride.
Overall, the Big Boss is like having a very narrow and nimble UTV that can help you manage your hunting property, and go on the hunt. It bridges the gap between ATV and UTV, and with an MSRP of $10,999, it bridges the price points, too.
Polaris already offers 30 Big Boss accessories specifically for the hunting and working communities, including a bed extender rack, integrated winch and plow mounts, and yes, a tracks system – in case you need a tank this winter. You can bet we’ll put the 2017 Polaris Big Boss to work managing our hunting property this fall. And we can’t wait to haul a big buck in the cargo box.
For a glimpse of the new Big Boss in action, check out the video clip below.
Images by Derrek Sigler