The 2016 450 H.O. is powered
by a 567cc, double-overhead-cam,
four-valve engine with 31 horsepower.
That’s only 1 horsepower more than
the 2015 325cc Sportsman ETX, but
the extra displacement fattens up the
low-end and midrange power. Different
fuel and ignition mapping allow the
567cc single to make 44 horsepower in
the Sportsman 570. Plugging the $425
570 engine control module into the 450
isn’t worth the gamble, since it voids
your warranty, and the 570 is only $600
more than the 450.
The new 450 shares a lot with the
2015 Sportsman ETX. The chassis and
bodywork are identical, but the new
450 offers more in several key areas for
the same $5999 price. There’s more
suspension travel— 8. 2 inches up front
compared to 6. 7—and the 450’s rear
springs are softer. The 450 also has
more ground clearance ( 10. 5 inches
versus 9 inches), and the 450 has a
more deeply padded seat too.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
The Sportsman 450 and Hisun’s
Forge 500 are both $5999. The
Sportsman 450 EPS is $6799.
CFMoto’s CForce 500 is $5149.
Honda’s base Rancher 420, Kymco’s
MXU 450 and the Arctic Cat Alterra
450 all sell for the same at $6199. Can-Am’s Outlander 450L is $6399.
WHAT KIND OF TRANSMISSION DOES IT
A fully automatic, belt-type
continuously variable transmission (CVT)
with high, low, neutral, reverse and
park positions. This is the simplest type
of transmission to use, but the shift
lever doesn’t have the greatest feel; it’s
notchy and a little vague. But, it works.
The transmission has no engine braking
feature, but it only freewheels if you’re
completely off the throttle. The park
position holds the machine securely on
WHAT’S THE 4WD SYSTEM LIKE?
It’s the same system the big Polaris
4x4s have—selectable 2WD/4WD with
an automatic-locking front differential.
Most smaller 4x4s offer selectable
2WD/4WD but don’t have locking front
HOW POWERFUL IS IT?
As you might guess, the 567cc
Sportsman 450 accelerates really well
for a 450-class 4x4, and it has more
than enough motor to tackle steep hills
and challenging terrain.
HOW DOES THE POWER DELIVERY
WORK ON THE TRAIL?
The Polaris’ power isn’t arm-stretching, but it has meaty
low and midrange power that
doesn’t quit on hills or soft
terrain. It’s amazing where this
thing will go. The Sportsman
450 is all about smoothness.
Punching the throttle only results
in powerslides where traction
is scarce. That’s a good thing
for riders who prefer even,
predictable power delivery,
and it makes for sure progress
in technical terrain and slick
HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
It’s stable and predictable.
The 450 is 40 pounds heavier
and a bit taller than the
Sportsman ETX, due to the
increased front suspension
travel, so it’s a bit less agile, but
it has no bad handling traits,
such as too much body roll or
sudden turn-in. The base 450
doesn’t have power steering,
but the steering effort isn’t heavy
unless you’re in 4WD and the
automatic front differential locks.
WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES
Up front, there are nonadjustable MacPherson struts
with 8. 2 inches of travel. In the
rear, it’s double A-arms and
shocks with 9. 5 inches of
travel. A rear sway bar limits
HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION
It provides a better ride
than we would expect from a
budget 4x4. The Sportsman
450’s suspension can’t
match the compliance of
the best ATVs out there, but
performance on small bumps
is very good, and there’s
enough suspension stroke to
handle big bumps at higher
speeds. The suspension
settings are on target, so the
450 offers a good balance
of comfort and capability in
rough terrain and at higher
HOW IS IT ON HILLS?
It’s gutsy. We climbed
some genuinely challenging
hills with the 450—the kind you don’t
The Sportsman 450’s double-overhead-cam,
four-valve engine actually displaces 567cc, the
same as the Sportsman 570. It’s tuned for
more low and midrange torque, though, so it
puts out 31 horsepower; the 570 makes 44.