The 2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command’s Navigation System is a Brilliant Party Piece

Around 8 PM I got a call from a kind man with a midwestern accent letting me know that he was five minutes out from my house, asking if there was anything he should know about my street. He was asking as he was driving a 53-foot semi and wanted to ensure that he didn’t have to worry about cars, power lines, or anything else that might impede delivery of the freshly-built 2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command that he had for me.

Sure enough – a full 53-foot truck shows up and a nice man hops out of it, opens up the back, and reveals the only thing in the trailer is the Sportsman (he left the factory full, I was his last stop). We get it unloaded, I ride it up into the garage, and that’s when I get my first full look at it.

Polaris Sportsman drop off in 53' truck

Tan, graphics on the side of it telling the engine size and professing its AWD, and the running lights. I know that everything these days has “angry lights”, but these look styled more than angry. There’s a hint of aggressive styling with these lights, but that is what sells these days. It looks good, and it looks of the time.

I Got It Stuck Immediately (But It Was My Fault)

Two days later I was able to get it loaded up in my truck, and head out to a local park with a lot of trails. No sooner do I get it unloaded, and start riding do I see a muddy patch. It’s been a rainy summer in the Berkshires, and that should have been my clue. Coming from four-wheel drive vehicles, I’m used to the age old adage of “keep it in two-wheel drive until you get stuck or bog, then shift to 4WD.”

Well, I made it less than 10 feet into the mud before the only hint of forward motion were the rooster tails that were shooting off of the rear tires. I toggled the AWD lock, and tried it again. This time I made it another foot and a half before the same thing happened. I’m stuck. This Polaris Sportsman 570 has less than one hour on it, and I’ve gotten it stuck. My truck is a mile away, and the thought of trying to lumber my Ford F-150 down a very narrow trail to undo my idiocy is a… less than appealing option.

2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command stuck in mud

That’s when I remember: the Sportsman has a winch! I climb off, sinking past my ankles, and start the process of pressing the “Out” button on the winch while keeping tension on the line so it actually does unwind (after a few attempts hoping it would just fall and start to coil below). I get enough winch rope and schlep my way through the mud toward the nearest tree. Wrapping the winch rope around it, and using the clip to complete the loop I schlep my way back to the Sportsman.

Starting the engine once again, but this time all I had to do was press the “In” button on the controls, and after some whine from the electric motor in the winch I started to make forward motion. Less than 30 seconds later, the front wheels touched solid(ish) ground, and the Sportsman was able to pull itself free from the muck that had been holding it hostage. Resetting the winch, I rode off to continue exploring the trails, guided by the fantastic built-in navigation system.

To be clear, I let the Sportsman down with my choice of route. It was able to get back up and get going again even with my idiocy. This would be a common theme during my time with the Sportsman. I would push its functionality and abilities, and each time it would guide me to the other side of the mess that I had gotten us both in.

2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command on bridge

Polaris’ Ride Command + OnX Navigation

Speaking of guidance, let’s talk navigation. If you’ve ever started to explore the unpaved (and unsignaled) parts of the country, there’s a good chance you’ll be familiar with a company called OnX. OnX is a specialty mapping company focused entirely on trail maps, complete with width, difficulty, and allowed/rated equipment information.

I’ve used them a fair bit during my time with my Subaru Outback Wilderness as a way to find campsites, or determine if I could fit down a path without a large threat of ‘Arizona Pinstripes’. The mapping software that came with the Sportsman’s Ride Command navigation system is actually OnX Offroad, and let me be clear how useful, helpful, and functional it really is.

I spent a week in Maine with some friends at a cabin on a river. I could hear the first day lots of single and twin cylinder engines behind the trees on the other side of the river, and it made me want to go play. I fired up the Sportsman, and was able to plot myself a course directly to the start of the trails. After getting on the trails, the guidance on how far a stretch was and the elevation change was fantastic and really allowed for me to get a good estimation on how long a ride was going to take.

2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command navigation

Stay Patient, Stay Thoughtful

On my first day out in Maine, I found some lovely groomed trails that had an excellent combination of slow rocky sections, that required leaning over the handlebars to push more weight forward and prevent the Sportsman from flipping over backwards, to some thick (but thankfully less deep) mud, to high speed sections traipsing around wind turbines on the top of a mountain. In no situation was the Sportsman out of place, and it never left me unable to accomplish what I needed (or wanted). 

At one point during the trip, we came across a downed small dead tree that was blocking the path. Once again, winch to the rescue. I hooked it up, put the Sportsman in Reverse, and pulled it off of the path. It had no issues pulling the dead tree out of the path, and out of the way. However, I attempted the same with a live downed tree of the same size and was unsuccessful. Chalk it up to it being still rooted, or the loose surface that I was trying to drag it on, but either way I’m not surprised that the winch ran out of steam.

At that point I used the 11+ inches of ground clearance to just go over it. This brings us back to the point I made earlier: if you’re patient and thoughtful, the Sportsman can do it.

2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command wind turbines

Nothing’s Perfect, Though

Now, not everything is perfect, and neither was this Sportsman during my time with it. During my time, a warning message with “Release Brake” started flashing when moving. A quick trip to the forums had a few others commenting with the same issue. Most of them had various solutions from the dealer, either a software flash or a replaced switch. Mine ended up being the latter which was handled by the dealer and would have been covered under warranty. Even brand new vehicles are occasionally imperfect, and to expect otherwise is naive. The best you can hope for is a competent dealer that is good to work with, and a good warranty, both of which I was lucky enough to have in this case. 

While on the larger fast trails in Maine (and some in Massachusetts) I did come up against the top speed of the Sportsman – around 52-54 miles per hour depending on the incline or decline. I wasn’t sure if the speed was power limited or if an electronic limiter was holding me back. The single-cylinder 567cc engine outputs 44 horsepower with over 900 pounds (not counting the rider) to move.

2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command on lake

Outside of top speed, though, the Polaris-Engineered engine was more than capable of throwing the back end out in 2WD and holding it there for a few seconds at lower speeds. The only transmission option is a CVT with a low and high setting which has no impact on the torque delivered, only the maximum ratio selected.

At first the CVT and I seemed to be at a disagreement on just how much power to deliver in certain situations. It was constantly upping the ratio to lower the RPM’s nearly immediately after lifting off the throttle was different to the way that I wanted it to behave. Having come from manual-transmission motorcycles, I was used to more control on the connection between the engine and the transmission. 

Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have preferred a manual transmission as in the offerings from Honda or other manufacturers. However, the CVT did make the Sportsman “point and squirt.” Point it in the direction you wanted to go, push the throttle lever, and away it went. If I did want some more control over the Sportsman, I used the ride modes, which mostly changed the throttle mapping. This would take the Sportsman from jumpy in “Performance” to muted in “Work.” I found that I spent most of my time with the Sportsman in “Work” mode, as I was typically tackling slower trails where the difference of throttle tip-in meant the difference between getting up a rock face, and ending up with a heavy quad pinning me down while on my back.

2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command dark garage

Final Thoughts

In all, I enjoyed my time with the 2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command. Since no other manufacturers offer a navigation system that comes close to the (excellent) setup in the Sportsman, it seemingly stands alone. However, if you remove the Ride Command system, this quad begins to have a lot more competition. 

For its $12,399 MSRP, if you’re in the market for an adventure companion that will help you plan an ideal route and easily take you over anything on the way there, I’d recommend it. 

…wait, is this the Subaru Outback of ATV’s?

2023 Polaris Sportsman 570 Ride Command hauling grill

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