2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR

Stretching makes it all better!
2018 Polaris Switchback XCR
In the trail, and on the track, the new XCR Switchback 800 is a do-it-all performance sled.

For 2017 Polaris announced it was bringing the XCR moniker back, but they only offered the shorter Rush machine in the 121-inch length that year. For 2018 Polaris went a step further (as OEMs usually do) and offered the XCR in a stretched out 136-inch Switchback crossover machine. After a full season of testing our little blue pill, we were hooked.

■ Better than 2017

I tend to favor 136 or 137-inch machines for trail rides, but having long term tested BOTH the 121-inch Rush XCR and now the 136-inch Switchback XCR for full seasons, I am convinced the Switchback is the better option for most performance trail riders. Less sore muscles = more miles!
2018 Polaris Switchback XCR
In our Real World testing of the 2017 short-track XCR we were not as impressed as we were hoping to be with top speed. It was one of the fastest corner-to-corner sleds, but we wanted more in the long wide-open pulls. But our 2018 Switchback XCR was blistering fast going 94.87mph in our testing and completing the ¼-mile in 13.37 seconds! For comparison, the only other demo sled we had that was faster on top end than our XCR Switchback was the Yamaha Sidewinder with the 204hp 4-stroke turbo motor. That’s right, the XCR showed faster top speed under the ¼-mile and after the ¼-mile than both the competing 800s we had.

In addition, the XCR was the 2nd lightest wet weight of all our demo sleds at 589 pounds (that is full of fluids and totally clean of snow and ice). The only sled lighter was the Ski-Doo Backcountry X, but the XCR was also fitted with a full trail-stud package from Woodys. The Backcountry X was not studded, but did have the IceRipper track on it. We are happy to report that we did not experience any major issues all season long. It is one of the most positive steering sleds we have ever had (we also put 7+ inches of Woody’s carbide on the skis) and it was nimble off-trail in deeper snow. In two feet of powder, you can quite literally ride a wheelie for hundreds of feet from a dead stop.
2018 Polaris Switchback XCR
Like everything we ride, we find a few things we would change. For this sled, the first thing is to make the USB plug-in more accessible. Oh, you didn’t know there was a USB on most Polaris sleds? We didn’t right away either, but have been asking this question since. If you look under the hood near the top, close to the wiring harness on the throttle hand side you can find it there. The right boot area is also too small for most riders’ boots.

This sled also needs more stock storage than the tiny area in front of the handlebars. The skis are still loud and track noise from the 1.35 Cobra was more than usual. The lowness of the rear bumper on the AXYS sleds is a drawback off-trail. Finally, the fact that the Polaris gauge still draws power when you hit the kill switch is annoying. If the kill switch is on, it shouldn’t draw power even if the key is on. Having to remember to always turn the key off and then seeing a message on the gauge that says your system is still on is a pet peeve.

■ You should ...
Take this one through the bumps - justdo it! But make sure you set your suspension correctly first. Start soft on the springs and shocks and work your way up. That rear shock spring can be tough to move, but the range and performance is fantastic! We tested the matching LED hand-guards too. Nice job on those Polaris!
Tyler Nelson
Take 2!
The first time I saw the XCR was in the parking lot of our Polaris dealership. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, this was a good looking sled! Some criticize the looks of the XCR and its low bumper with exposed, functioning parts on the rear. “What happens when someone hits you?” I feel like those are the same people that get irritated when they see models in skimpy clothes, since they’ll be more likely to get sunburn. This was the first AmSnow demo sled I rode and I’ll never forget that January afternoon! Tyler Nelson– Test Rider
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