Polaris adds power and convenience to its year 2000 ATVs and introduces an all-new model with manual transmission.

Number two in the burgeoning ATV market, Polaris hit the road in January with the early introduction of four new ATV models. The company has refined its 1999 ATV vehicles for the year 2000 and introduces an all-new, manual transmission model, the Xpedition 425. Until now, Polaris offered only automatic ATVs.

Polaris hopes the new designs will grow its ATV business from 26% of the market to more than Honda's current 30% of the market. Its entry into the manual-shift category signals an attempt to spread its customer base. Two-thirds of ATV customers buy models geared with manual transmissions.

Testing grounds. The Minnesota-based company headed south to North Carolina to present the new models to its sales staff, dealers and the media. Polaris chose a beautiful, 140-acre, wooded gun club to display its new wares. The club's streams, muddy bogs and rugged hills properly challenged the ATVs.

When running several hours through every bit of difficult terrain on the grounds, the new Polaris models proved their ability to handle the job. Even the smallest model, the Trail Boss 325, handled the tough driving by rolling through mud and up steep hills without a hitch. All models were comfortable and easy to drive, even for an ATV novice.

Most of Polaris's changes to its ATV models are under the skin. They offer a new 325-cc engine with a beefed-up oil cooler. Three models use a common frame with fewer and stronger components. Polaris also designed the new models for quick maintenance. The spark plug and oil gauge have been moved to be within easy reach.

The changes are coupled with attractive styling, tight turning radius (60 to 65 in.) and quality manufacturing. All Polaris models also have single-lever, all-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, with auxiliary foot brake and full floorboards.

Trail Boss. First on Polaris's list of new models is a higher-powered, entry-level ATV. Polaris took the 1999 Trail Boss 250 and installed a new 325-cc engine with four-stroke power, air cooling and a fan-assisted oilcooler to create the Trail Boss 325 ($3,299).

The red-and-white Trail Boss 325 is equipped with 2-wd, four-stroke power and an automatic transmission. The E-Z Shift lever with forward, neutral and reverse make driving the ATV simple. Plus, Polaris uses a concentric drive system on the vehicle that results in consistent chain tension and therefore more power on the rear wheels. The ATV holds 125 lbs. on its rear rack.

Magnum models. Polaris took its new 325-cc engine, put it on its new shaft ride system and created two new models. The Magnum 325 2x4 and Magnum 325 4x4 take advantage of the new shaft drive's rugged components, such as the large, 21/2-x1-in. swing arm tube.

Both Magnum models have automatic transmissions with a shift lever that snaps to high, low, neutral or reverse. Polaris's signature automatic transmission delivers a smooth, powerful ride. The transmission is dual-sensing and responds to engine rpm and vehicle torque load. It automatically delivers proper power to the wheels.

The Magnum 325 4x4 includes an on-demand system that senses when the rear wheels lose traction. The front wheels then automatically engage with full torque. In addition, you can quickly switch to 4-wd with a handlebar button while riding the ATV.

Both models handled well on the gun club terrain and remained stable on steep, rocky trails. The front racks hold 90 lbs. and the rear racks hold 180 lbs.

The Magnum 325 2x4, available in blue, retails for $4,499. The Magnum 325 4x4 model is priced at $5,399 and comes in forest green.

For the shifters. Polaris enters the manual shift market with its new, five-speed Xpedition 425, priced at $6,199. The shifting is easy with the automatic clutch and push-button reverse gear. A handlebar switch also lets a rider switch quickly between 2-wd and 4-wd while riding. Polaris's on-demand 4-wd system used in the Magnums also appears on this model.

The Xpediton's 425-cc engine is four-valve, four-stroke with liquid cooling for smoother operation while towing and handling big jobs. It boasts the same tough frame and shaft drive system used in the Magnum models. The vehicle also handles the same load capacity as the Magnums (90 lbs. front, 180 lbs. rear).

The Xpedition comes with other standard features, such as a speedometer and an odometer. It is available either in chestnut metallic or red. For more information, contact Polaris Sales Inc., Dept. FIN, 1225 Hwy. 169, Minneapolis, MN 55441, 612/542-0500.