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2009 Polaris Sportsman XP LE 550

Browning Model

Product Review

Product: Polaris Sportsman 550 XP Browning Edition

Test Duration: 1 day (6 months ATVPT)

Odometer: - 40+ miles

Tested By: - Jim Pardo

Machine: Polaris Sportsman 550 XP Browning Edition

Review Date: 05/02/2009  

I recently had the pleasure to test ride and do this review on the ATVPT Polaris 550 XP Browning Edition for a full day at the Silver Lk dunes in Michigan and I can tell you with confidence that Polaris came up with a winner here! I can also say for a fact that the new XP (Xtreme Performance) is much sportier than previous models with reduced body roll and no front end 'wallow' like the older models even though this was not the environment of choice for a Sport Utility Quad (with the emphasis on Sport!).


Polaris did an excellent job, apparently 5 years in the making, of designing this new XP version of the venerable Sportsman, keeping all of the good qualities from the past (read plushness and power) and adding a much sportier chassis. The torsional stiffness of this new round on square tube frame is much more so than its predecessor. Also adding two inches in wheelbase to 53 inches aiding in stability. This Sportsman is still heavy making it excellent for work and towing but also very sporty and plush! The chassis has a well balanced 48/52 weight distribution and “kick-up” front and rear ends for better approach angles on hills and ditches. The fuel cell resides low in the chassis for less tippiness and better balance.


The new rear Long Travel (10.25") IRS, is a rolled design, featuring shocks with a 4° tipback, taking its cues from the Touring Sportsman where the A arms are canted backwards to absorb bumps and jolts better.

Back to the front end where the big news is (other than the Power Steering), long awaited and anticipated all new design of unequal length A-arms (SLA, short/long arm) apart from the traditional Strut suspension a staple of Polaris’ past.

The A-arms are designed longer and reaching farther into the massive 14” wheels where it aids in lighter steering and reduced bump steer, anti-kickback steering. This design also assists in reducing severe angles of the drivetrain components such as CV joints and shafts inherently reducing wear of such components.


The XP models are shaft driven and feature new Roller clutches with the same proven EBS system and the superior switchable ADC (Active Decent Control) feature that will slow you to a snails pace on the slipperiest, steepest slopes. Turn off the ADC option would be best for coasting and minimal engine braking on open flat trails and fire roads, as the ADC and EBS was superb on the XP.

The switchable AWD is the same tried and true On Demand AWD as previous Polaris models where the front end locks in (all four) when the rears slip 1/5th turn (20%) which is barely noticeable and virtually instantaneous. This feature keeps the steering light while still providing locked 4X4 operation when needed, no 3 wheel drive here people! Gear selection features the traditional Polaris style Transmission with linier P/R/N/L/H selections but now the Low gear is good for up to approximate 39 MPH meaning less shifting on trail rides and while working, this is a big update welcome by myself and I’m sure many others.


The new XP Motors are EFI and longitudinally mounted meaning the crank runs North and South for better power transfer. The 550 cranks out an estimated 40 HP while the powerhouse 850 XP a whopping 70 HP! I did notice the 550 motor turned over with a kick and was a little disappointed with the perceived engine noise. It ran great afterwards and didn’t miss a beat. The clutch was only slightly touchy on engagement right after startup too.

This motor alignment allows for a much narrower midsection than its predecessor and even other comparable models, this is down to a 13” width for better rider control and handling. One downside to this design is the PVT location behind the motor making maintenance more difficult, but I was assured by a trusted local Polaris Dealer that a belt change is as easy as removing the rear left wheel, removing the vertical frame pillar (4 bolts) and the PVT cover accessing the belt and removing it with the provided tools included in the XP's tool kit.


Like I mentioned previously the XP is much sportier than previous models with little body roll and no front end ‘wallow’ like the older models. I feel the Sportsman XP kept the Plush Polaris ride yet is so much better handling and sportier! The machine is user friendly and placement of the controls and foot pegs are well placed although farther back than previous models for better rider control. You can ride the XP all day without fatigue!


Although the model I tested didn’t come with the new brushless Power steering option the quad handled effortlessly on all terrain experienced with more effort being needed on pavement, while maneuvering in a garage or while loading and unloading. I am told the new PS offers 1 finger turning of the handlebars with the quad parked or stopped and under full assist which reduces with speed when you don’t need it as much. I also feel the front suspension and its geometry is a big improvement here.

I found the seat and quad in general to be very comfortable, the quad did vibrate the Handle bars a little like most quads but usually my right hand and thumb get numb after riding awhile but never did on the 550 XP.

Its nice and narrow in the midsection too, sacrificing ease of access to the PVT cover which is now behind the longitudinal mounted motor.

While I am sad to see the integrated front clamshell storage box go away on the XP’s storage space is still ample with a large rear compartment, and there is a similar new interchangeable front rack box available from Pure Polaris. Speaking of the removable front rack, the fuses and radiator are easily accessible underneath the rack.

I thought the power was very good, especially mid range for this class of quad. The XP made it up all the sand hills, even the big test hill. If you crave more power get the 850 XP.

I also liked the PXT Tires on previous models but the 26” Terrathon tires worked well and I have no complaints with the XP here. And the 14” wheels add to the appearance. Overall a Homerun for Polaris and all the ATVing community!

Features & Specifications:

  • Anti-Kickback Steering: Takes the bite out of rocks, ruts and stumps because it has the longest A-Arms and largest diameter wheels on the market, so we could move the steering axis to near the neutral center of the tire.
  • New Ergonomics: Longitudinally mounted engine allows XP to be narrower at the knee and ankles, for a more nimble feel. Floorboards are 33% wider for extra comfort.
  • 14 in. Aluminum Wheels: Largest wheels on a stock ATV. Premium 14 in. cast-aluminum spoke wheels, with 26 in. Carlisle Terrathon tires. (Black stamped steel wheels on camo model.)
  • Rolled IRS: New rolled IRS features shock with a 4° tipback, and long travel 10.25 in. (26 cm) for the smoothest Sportsman ride ever.
  • On-Demand AWD: Automatically engages when the rider needs more forward traction, delivering full torque to all four wheels. Reverts to 2WD when AWD is no longer needed.
  • New Digital Instrumentation: Digital speedometer, tachometer, odometer, two trip meters, hour meter, fuel gauge, clock and service indicators.
  • New Roller Clutch: New roller-driven clutch reduces friction and provides smoother, faster clutch response and back shifting. Higher "Low" gear, with speeds up to 39 mph in low range.
  • Dual A-Arm suspension: New front suspension has longer control arms, class-leading travel 9 in. (22.9 cm) and geometry that creates anti-kickback steering.
  • 20% larger Radiator: Larger radiator enhances performance, is almost 5 in. higher to keep it out of the mud, and angled 5° steeper for easy cleaning.
  • Active Descent Control: Provides 4-wheel braking when vehicle is in AWD, works together with Sportsman's Engine Braking System (EBS) to give you optimum control when moving down hills.
  • 550 EFI Engine: Most powerful 500-class engine in Sportsman history. 550 cc Single, rubber-mounted for low vibration and consistent performance in varying altitudes and temperatures.

Limited Edition Features:

  • Mossy Oak® New Break Up™ bodywork
  • Camo-pattern rims
  • Hand and thumb warmers
  • Rear rack extenders
  • Gun scabbard with Lock & Ride™ gun mount
  • Rear work lights
  • Polaris 2,500 lb winch
  • Browning logos


  • Engine Type: 4-Stroke SOHC
  • Displacement: 549 cc
  • Carburation: 42mm Dual Throttle Body, EFI
  • Cooling Type: Liquid
  • Starting Type: Electric


  • Final Drive: Shaft
  • Transmission: P/R/N/L/H
  • Drive System: Automatic PVT, 2WD/AWD/AWD with ADC
  • Engine Braking System: Standard
  • Active Descent Control: Standard


  • Front Suspension: Short Long Arm (SLA) - 9" / 22.9 cm travel
  • Rear Suspension: Short Long Arm (SLA) - 10.25" / 26.0 cm travel


  • Front Brake: Single Lever Hydraulic 4 wheel disc
  • Rear Brake: Hydraulic rear foot brake


  • Front Tires: 26 x 8R14; Terrathon
  • Rear Tires: 26 x 10R14; Terrathon
  • Wheels: Cast Aluminum or Stamped Steel
  • Wheelbase: 53 in. / 134.6 cm
  • Dry Weight: 732 lbs. / 332 kg
  • Length: 83.25 in. / 211.4 cm
  • Width: 47.6 in. / 120.9 cm
  • Height: 50.75 in. / 128.9 cm
  • Seat Height: 37 in. / 94.0 cm
  • Fuel Capacity: 5.25 gal / 19.9 l
  • Front Rack/Box Capacity: 120 lbs. / 55 kg
  • Rear Rack Capacity: 240 lbs. / 110 kg
  • Hitch/Type: Std / Receiver
  • Hitch Towing Capacity: 1500 lbs. / 680.4 kg


  • Digital Gauge
  • Speedometer
  • Odometer
  • Tachometer
  • Tripmeter
  • Hourmeter
  • Clock
  • Gear Indicator
  • Fuel Gauge
  • Hi Temp/Low Batt lights
  • DC Outlet


  • Mossy Oak® New Break Up™


  • High quality Mid sized segment quad.
  • Great, plush ride and suspension feel.
  • Quality components and fitment.


Exposed wiring and rear brake lines.


The bottom line here is that you get a state of the art, latest and greatest in the Quading world!

This product is highly recommended!.

This product is recommended for all riders 16 years and older.

This product is recommended for All types of Riding.


Web Site:


Polaris Industries, Inc.

2100 Highway 55

Medina, MN 55340



Dealer Search:

All ATVPT Polaris service work done by Bergeron Marine:

Web Site:

Bergeron's Marine

7794 Highway 2

Rapid River, Michigan 49878

Phone: (906)474-9202


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