The results are in! We have our list of the best used Polaris ATV models. Thousands of owner surveys don't lie but they do provide some interesting insights.
Owners were asked to score their Polaris ATVs in four categories:
Each category was scored from 1 for the worst to 5 for the best. Cumulative scores were totaled for each model. Our research found models with a total score of 4.75 or better. Models with too few survey results were eliminated because we didn't feel those average scores would be accurate.
Model years form 2001 thru 2013 are covered. Year and model are listed first, followed by the overall score.
2001 Sportsman 500 H.O. - (5)
The perfect score says a lot! Favorite features were ride, handling, and power. Not so favorite things were the weight (700lbs), and the variable locking front differential. Easily damaged footboards were a concern for a few owners.
Good mudding ability was mentioned but radiator clogging and overheating were a couple of things to watch out for. Some owners called it a "tank" because of it's ability to tow heavy loads and plow in low range.
Most owners mentioned outstanding reliability with only a few various problems after thousands of hard miles.
2002 Sportsman 500 H.O. - (4.83)
Favorite things were the same as the 2001 model with several owners saying this is their second Sportsman and many others claiming they recommended Sportsman models to friends and other riders.
Dislikes mentioned were the single linked braking system and the rear wheels only EBS (engine braking system). Easily damaged CV joint boots generated a few complaints. Overall reliability was listed as a plus.
2003 Predator 500 - (4.78)
Yeah, we were surprised a Polaris Sport Quad made the list too! Owners liked the power, handling, brakes, and good suspension. Dislikes included weight, and no reverse. A few owners complained about "notchy" transmission shifting.
Difficult to service air filter and rear axle bearings that need regular greasing were irritating to some owners. But properly maintained Predators seemed to have good overall reliability with very few problems reported.
2004 Magnum 330 4x4 - (4.83)
Owners actually seemed surprised by how well their Magnums performed. Maybe because of the smaller engine or lower price it's like they didn't really expect as much from this used Polaris ATV.
There were a few who thought more power would be nice. Most were surprised how well the Magnum handled trail riding and work chores. Reliability was rated as excellent with no significant problems.
We didn't really expect to see this model on the list, but would have to say it looks like the Magnum 330 over delivers!
2004 Sportsman 500 H.O. - (4.93)
Starting to see that owners like the Polaris Sportsman 500? The 2004 model keeps it up with several owners declaring it the "best overall ATV". Everything wasn't perfect with a few complaints about the lack of fuel capacity and the seemingly delicate CV boots. This was still the highest rated used Polaris ATV utility model.
2004 Sportsman 600 Twin - (4.88)
This model had a short run, but strangely had higher ratings than either of it's replacements - the 700 and 800 twins. Owners liked the low end torque and fuel mileage of the 600. More complaints about CVT belts getting wet and slipping showed up with this model for some reason. Several still didn't like the EBS.
As a best used Polaris ATV we don't know if the Sportsman 600 should be on the list due to concerns about replacement parts. Short run models sometimes aren't supported very well when it comes to parts supplies.
But it definitely scored well enough to be included, so we'll let you decide. We just recommend a little homework on the parts situation before you buy one.
2005 Predator 500 - (4.8)
Another Predator sport quad makes the list with an outstanding score! Guess all those "Sport Quad of the Year" awards weren't a fluke.
The 2005 models came with a reverse gear, Fox double adjustable aluminum shocks, chromoly axle, and radial tires. Owner loyalty for these things borders on a cult!
That shouldn't be a surprise - It just proves our point that a simple quad usually equals a reliable quad. And it doesn't get much simpler than a sport quad.
2005 Sportsman 400 - (4.76)
Good value is the favorite feature mentioned most often. More power is at the top of the wish list of features. Most owners felt the power was at least adequate for a 700 pound 400cc 4x4 ATV.
There have been a couple of recalls concerning carb jetting and an ECU problem that caused the electric fan to malfunction. Any used Polaris ATV should already have those updates.
2006 Predator 500 - (4.92)
Looks like the Polaris Predator has a lot of fans! It gets a lot of compliments on its' great all around performance. Dunes, tight trails, open trails, and all kinds of terrain in between are handled well by this sport quad.
Most owners felt it was easier to ride and more forgiving than the all out racing 450 class quads. Reliability was also regarded as better due to the less high strung tuning of the Predator.
2006 Sportsman 450 - (4.77)
Another Polaris Sportsman makes the list of best used Polaris ATVs. Best value for the money topped the reasons for buying the 450. There were enough complaints about belt problems to pay attention to that. Otherwise the reliability was good.
2006 Sportsman X2 - (4.92)
The X2 adds the ability to take a passenger with you. Longer wheelbase and more weight than the standard Sportsman. Owners liked the good ride and stable handling of the longer wheelbase. A little tougher to get through tight trails but the turf mode rear differential does help. A very few complaints about rapid wear of the transmission belt, but the X2 was the highest rated Sportsman on the list.
2007 Outlaw 500 - (4.86)
The Outlaw was the first sport ATV with an IRS rear suspension. Add the power from an engine supplied by KTM, and owners really loved this quad. Many mentioned the good ride, traction, and handling on rough trails as favorite traits.
Complaints were fairly minor. Several said they thought first gear was a little too tall for tighter trails. A significant number had problems with the seat coming loose, but most had found a suitable fix for it.
2007 Sportsman 500 EFI - (4.77)
Take a 500 Sportsman and add EFI (electronic fuel injection) and you get another favorite on the list. The EFI gives you more power, better response, and easier starting. The negative as a used Polaris ATV is the greater expense to repair the more complicated system.
2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI - (4.75)
Basically unchanged from the previous year model, so it's no wonder the mid size Sportsman makes the list again. Still a few minor complaints about electrical components, but most owners had very few complaints overall.
2008 700 Sportsman EFI X2 - (4.88)
Owners appreciated the versatility of this long wheel base utility ATV. They liked the interchangeable passenger seat/dump box combination. The X2 is one of a few ATVs designed to carry a passenger, and that was mentioned as a big selling point.
You would think with the availability of bigger engine models there would have been some dissatisfaction with the smaller 700 engine. But we found just the opposite with many owners stating they wouldn't need or want more power.
2008 Outlaw 525S - (5.0)
We don't see very many perfect scores in these surveys, but owners absolutely loved the big Outlaw. Many also mentioned being a little intimidated by it, so fair warning. This is a serious go fast machine! The KTM engine makes big power and the Fox suspension helps put it to the ground.
Judging by owners comments, the Outlaw seems to be equally at home on the dunes, trails, and motocross track. As a used Polaris ATV, it may have lost some edge as a racing ATV, but it should still be more than enough for most trail and fun riding.
2009 Sportsman 550 XP EFI w/EPS - (4.8)
This is the first appearance of an XP model on our list. Interestingly, it's the 550 rather than the more highly touted 850. We feel at lest a little vindicated because we felt after testing both that the 550 was the better ATV for most folks.
Owners mentioned the great balance of power and handling, the comfortable ride, and the ease of riding with the new electric power steering.
Reliability and durability were also mentioned as favorite features of the 550 XP.
Some thought the ATV was too noisy, and we noticed a few complaints about the clutch engagement. As competitive as the mid size class is, there were remarkably few negative reviews.
2010 Sportsman 550 - (4.8)
The base model 550 seemed to be favored by owners looking for more utility than any other feature. They didn't want or need power steering and didn't seem to miss it.
Several owners mentioned using their Sportsman for farm chores including plowing and towing. Others used theirs heavily for hunting. Oddly, not a single owner mentioned a lack of power with the smaller 550 engine.
They did mention the simplicity and reliability of the design, as well as the extra comfort from having more room in the footboard and seat area.
There you have it. The best of the best in used Polaris ATVs. That's not to say there aren't other good choices in used ATVs, but the ones on this list are tops. We don't think it's any accident that so many of the mid size Sportsman models are on the list. There's no doubt it's one of the best utility models on the used ATV market.