As a kid and teenager, you could get me to do any job as long as there was a motorized vehicle involved. 

With a smile, I’d muck out stables on the racecourse I worked every summer if I could drive to them in the Mule. If you had a ride-on lawnmower, I’d be tempted to pay you to let me cut your grass. Hell, if you had a power-assisted push mower, I’d cut your grass for free. For context, my family’s mower’s power-assistance drive broke and was never fixed because it “Built character,” apparently. 

The point is, growing up, I’d happily assume the role of any laborer as long as I got to drive something. I’d even go to cut turf in the summer at the bog—which I hated—if my father let me drive the car down the road. About a minute of supervised driving got him four hours of free labor—well played, Dad.

Then, one summer, I flipped a Yamaha Rhino and needed two surgeries as a consequence. That crash broke my leg, took me out of action for the best part of a year, and left me with a sour taste for UTVs. By then, I was 15 and realized it was time to stop trying to get adrenaline hits out of utility vehicles. 

You couldn’t have paid me to look at a lawn since. 

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So, when I got the invite to test the 2025 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Edition Ultimate, I was a bit perplexed. The last time I was in a UTV that was strictly utility-focused, it was uncomfortable and clunky, and I broke my leg trying to liven things up. I wasn’t sure how far these machines could possibly have come and whether I’d have to trash the Ranger or suffer relative boredom. 

But I was looking at things through the same lens as I did at 15. The 2025 Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Edition Ultimate showed me that the utility game is almost unrecognizable since then and even helped me see that, given the right features, maybe I could start laboring in the sun again. 

All The Beauty, None of the Problems

Great semi-arid plains, rolling high against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, with hot shimmers floating up. Beautiful. Like a picture. And a picture is where you’re best experiencing this landscape because if you spend more than a few minutes in these conditions, you’ll have dust in every orifice and sweat through everything you’re wearing. 

When I arrived, my eyes saw a playground with opportunities to drift, hill climb, and do top-speed runs. But by the time I left, I saw the 18,000-acre ranch for what it was—a place to take in the beauty of nature and roam amongst heads of exotic animals. And that’s down to the Ranger.

Hat’s off to the team from Polaris, who left nothing out of their presentation. But within a few minutes, the Rangers lined up behind the speaker started to look like a mirage in the desert. I was overheating and in search of shade. Once I got into a Ranger, I had the AC on full blast at its coldest temperature without realizing what I was doing. 

But, before long, I had to turn it down because my fingers were going numb from the AC's icy blast. I can’t think of an environment that the Ranger’s HVAC system couldn’t handle. When my heart stopped beating like I was going to have a heat stroke, everything slowed down, and I finally took in the beauty of what was around me. 

With the cabin at a temperature my Irish genetics were more accustomed to, I started to play with the rest of the features that make the Ranger's cabin such an enjoyable place to sit, namely the JBL sound system. But this almost never happened because I left my phone out in the blazing sun and drained its battery. Thankfully, the USB outlet in the glovebox meant I was sorted for the day. I was ready to go wherever this thing could take me.

As it turns out, that was anywhere I wanted. 

The Ranger's ready-for-business rugged exterior is perfectly contrasted by a smooth ride over the rough stuff. But in case you aren’t familiar with my work, calm, smooth rides aren’t generally my MO. So I pushed and pushed some more until things started getting squirrely, and I was leaving clouds of dust behind me. Although the Ranger took it well, it didn’t want it, and then I realized neither did I.


This model’s chassis and powertrain were more than capable of tackling everything I found at Ox Ranch, which is rougher terrain than most owners will ever see. And although I pushed the Ranger a bit/a lot faster than most people will drive it, my average heart rate for the day was 91 bpm–that’s lower than when I’m out for a brisk walk.

Everything was just easy, even the steering. This model uses adaptive steering, meaning I could turn lock to lock with one finger, but it’d provide heavier feedback as the speed crept up. It was the same effortlessness when it came to using the center-mounted shifter and engaging the Gen 2 transmission (PVT). While everything outside was seemingly designed to make life tough, and draining, it was the opposite in the cabin. 

Gone are the days when a UTV was good if it got you from A to B without an issue. A great UTV takes a hard day’s labor and makes it easier. It offers respite from the elements and entertainment in the form of your favorite tunes while working. Most importantly, it lets you know your day of work is done when you open the cabin door, instead of the drive home being one more thing you need to do before it’s time to relax.

The new Ranger is a UTV that doesn’t feel utilitarian when you’re in it, and going forward, that’s how the best working UTVs need to be.

Under The Influence 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what goes into being a rancher. But after spending a few hours in the comfort of the Ranger, I started unintentionally looking around the ranch and seeing work or at least potential jobs.

Looking at a herd of a species totally foreign to my eye, I said to myself, “I wonder what they eat and where the ranchers leave the food. I bet I could load up the back of this and feed them.” I saw fencing and started to imagine going out with a hammer and fencing nails and fixing wire that’d come loose. I started digging the idea of being a rancher, or at least I thought I did. But what was really happening was I was under the influence of the Ranger.

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Looking back, I realize what was happening. You see, between drives, I was partaking in activities on the ranch, like hikes and clay pigeon shooting. And as fun as those activities were, what was even better was getting back into the Ranger after exerting myself, feeling the relief of the cool air, enjoying mellow tunes to beautiful scenery, and relaxing behind the wheel. It was the respite. 

The 2025 Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Edition Ultimate made life in a harsh environment so easy and pleasant that I wanted to get out and get sweaty, just so I could get back in and enjoy it all over again.

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