Is This the Best Snowmobile? 2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR

2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR

Polaris has released its 2018 model of the XCR Switchback 800 and the new updates make this snowmobile something to look for. With updates to the CleanFire H.O. engine, rider centric comfort, interactive display, AXYS chassis, IQR handlebars and more, this model has the potential for blowing the competition off the snow.

2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR

800 Cleanfire H.O. Engine

The new thermostat on the XCR Switchback 800 has some of the most interesting updates. Instead of the usual 125° F (51.6º C), this engine runs at 110º (43.3º C) reducing the overheat margin and allows the engine to operate at a more consistent level. The thermostat also has a bypass that warms up the engine to operating temperature at 40% faster than the norm. This increases the durability of the snowmobile’s engine. This new thermostat will also come standard on all 2018 Polaris snowmobiles with the 800 H.O. engines.

Another fascinating feature is the lightweight crankshaft. This model’s chankshaft is lighter weight, a good 2.5 lbs lighter, allowing for a delivery of 25% quicker throttle response, lower inertia and smoother spooling. The crankshaft on this model increases durability and improves acceleration. It is a little fun fact that this same crankshaft was used in Polaris Race sleds in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 racing seasons.

2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR

In addition to the new thermostat and crankshaft, is the updated sealed cross-shaft cavity crankcases which give more lubrication and help increase the snowmobile’s durability on the 660 and 800 CleanFire H.O. engines. Also, the updated MAG end seal makes for better sealing on the 600 and 800 CleanFire H.O. engines.

Because the 800 CleanFire H.O. engine was developed to be paired with the AXYS platform, acceleration has improved. The integrated mounting position gives peak performance of the chassis’ balance.

This brings us to the electronic oil pump which no longer encounters power depleting gear drive. It also provides more precise oil delivery that aids in performance. This oil pump also reduces the throttle effort by a whopping 35%. Best of all it requires no adjustments!

High Efficiency Intake and Exhaust System

The updates on the exhaust system of the Polaris XCR Switchback 800 now has 3-stage electronically controlled exhaust valves. These new valves improves throttle response, provides better running quality, smoother idle and increased fuel economy. The valves also give more accurate fueling in short term situations through its active feedback. Combustion stability is also improved and contributes to a longer engine life. Polaris also used porous material on the intake and high-flow exhaust system. This allows for improved breathing in the engine package which results in increased power.

The VForce reeds enables better performance, throttle response and reed durability. And finally, the silencer keeps the sound levels lower while the Polaris XCR is on the trail.

AXYS Chassis and IQR Handlebars

Polaris engineered the 2018 model 800 Switchback PRO-S to be a good 35lbs lighter than previous models weighing in at 40lbs less than the competition. Although lighter, this sled doesn’t skimp on strength. Both the AXYS chassis and the IQR handlebars have an aluminum overstructure. This overstructure allows the change in rider positioning, centralizes vehicle mass, redesign the rear suspension, addition power, eliminate weight and enhance the overall rider’s experience.

As a result, the rider is given balanced control, better acceleration and comfort. Rider balance control and positioning help to flatten cornering, provide precise handling and control in larger bumps. Flatter positive cornering is the effect of the neutral riding position in the AXYS platform with some spice to it. Rough trails or jumps do not kick the rider off balance but lets the rider move back, making the frontend lighter in order to climb on top of the snow. Polaris does this by moving the rider forward to a balanced position. The seat is 4.5” forward and Polaris added PRO-XC™ suspension with Polaris Race Technology for rider balance control.

2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR

The progressive –rate rear suspension was engineered for optimum performance. Again, weight was taken away from the suspension making it light but not sacrificing strength. The front torque arm now increases travel and better rail profile because Polaris moved it rearward to control pitch. Also included were Chromoly Rear Pivot and Front Torque Arm, IQR Rear Axle Wheels, Solid Bogie Wheels, Solid “Hardened” Jackshaft, Heavy Duty FTS Mount, and Strength Optimized Reinforced Rail Beams.

The IQR handlebars have PRO-X Riser and this makes the handlebars taller to accommodate stand-up rides. The left hand controls have better ergonomics and an improved hand and thumb warmer control. The controls are easier to operate with or with gloves.

Because the Polaris Switchback 800 is on the AXYS platform, they come standard with LED headlights which are the closest to matching daylight with a color temp of about 5,000K and is also 11lbs lighter.

PRT Brake System

The new race rotor absorbs heat from the brake pads by increasing the surface area. This gives a more consistent performance and even wear on the pads. Brake Scoop and Type 81 Brake Pads increases cooling and can withstand increased temperatures that come with higher speeds.

2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR

Walker Evans Shocks

Polaris includes Walker Evans Hi/Lo Compression Adjustable Piggyback Needle Shock to compliment the XCR valving so that the sled is more tunable and allows adjustments to the compression to suit different riding styles and the trail’s conditions. This allows the sled to be durable on rough terrain at high speeds. The Walker Evans 2.0 Body Front Track Shock withstands higher speeds and increased oil volume for elevated temperature operation by increasing the diameter.

Interactive Display

Polaris is the first in the industry to have the most advanced instrumentation on any sled. The 4.3” full color LCD digital display includes: Sled performance, speedometer, tachometer, dual trip meters, average speed, max speed, engine’s trip hours, odometer, coolant temp, diagnostics and maintenance warning. It also has riding conditions, air temp, time of day in 12 to 24 hour clock format and Bluetooth functionality. This feature allows the rider to communicate with the rider’s cell phone and keep track of incoming calls or texts and phone battery and signal strength. The ID also has GPS mapping capability which a compass is standard. Full featured GPS can be installed which gives directions and information about area fuel stations, restaurants, lodging and Polaris dealerships. Also, a neat option is Ride Planning which allows you to use ride command to plan out a ride and save it as a GPX file and send it to the display through a USB interface.


Finally, Polaris used the AXYS platform to create storage that is semi-rigid and has sturdier zippers for better cargo protection and can be installed without tools. The body of the XCR Switchback 800 was also modified with interfacing surfaces that are in between the body panels and components. They are shorter to minimize gaps. The 2018 model is also priced starting at $13,799.

Polaris Official Site

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