Before the paint dried on the Polaris Titan, Ski-Doo was already at work melding its successful G4 850cc platform into, not just a response, but potentially, a one-up on the Titan.
It’s called the Expedition Xtreme and it completely exceeds any point of reference you may have surrounding its former, Lynx-built, 800cc Expedition namesake. Essentially, the 850 double “XX” is a whole new game.
The new G4 Expedition platform landed with a spicy top-of-the-market variant as the flagship – the Xtreme is only available with Rotax 850 E-TEC power. Its persona is undeniably hardcore performance – and it drips with it!
The result in terms of cache is pretty interesting. If an XX is coming at you head-on you could mistake it for an MX-Z or a Renegade. The giveaway this is a utility sled is only apparent when you get beside the Xtreme. The 154-inch, 20-wide track is imposing and the rear rack capacity is quite honestly, heroic. You can take just about anything, anywhere on this sled.
The double XX gets high marks for its articulating skidframe. A simple-to-select, no-tools-needed adjuster locks or unlocks the rear section of the skid including the back tires, allowing the last 12 or 15 inches of the rails to articulate.
When it’s unlocked you can back up in powder like you’re going forward. However, the real fun comes when going forward with the rail extension unlocked. You’ll pull throttle wheelies like a 500cc dirt bike every time you call up the ponies with your right thumb.
Locking the rear articulated section keeps the skis (mostly) on the snow and may improve handling incrementally, although we would recommend you leave it unlocked. This produces a Pro Stock drag car launch in head-to-head pulls up Kevlar Lake. Handy for embarrassing your Buds.
Of course, the other trait a good skid must possess is well-controlled bump absorption. On this front the XX excels. This particular skid is a unique design to the Expedition and shows up nowhere else on any other Ski-Doo models. There’s also quality KYB aluminum body, preload adjustable shocks working for you.
An interesting innovation debuting on the Xtreme is an all-new Camso QuietTrack. Virtually every 20-wide we’ve ever ridden produces annoying, sometimes agonizing, track howl and “thrumming”. This new 20 x 154 x 1.8-lugger has slits cut between every grauser and they stop the track from acting like a drum skin. Besides this, the tires all run in a super soft, almost “gummy” coating inside the track to reduce noise generation.
Under the hood is the familiar Rotax 850 E-TEC twin with all the reliability enhancing goodies this engine is known for. They include a forged 2-piece (not built-up) crank and cast iron ring lands. Also, the engine uses pressurized pinpoint oil delivery to the small end rod bearings.
Enhancing performance and belt life is Ski-Doo’s innovative pDrive roller-tower primary and BOSS (Built-On-Secondary-Shaft) secondary clutch. Expeditions use an electric shifting reverse gear activated by the Start/Stop switch and a Hi-Lo sub-transmission shifter is located on the right side key panel.
Because the Xtreme is 20 inches wide, some adjustments had to be made to the bodywork. First, the center of the hood and bodywork is right off the turbo Renegade. One important difference is the inclusion of a coolant radiator where the intercooler would reside.
On turbo Expeditions the intercooler and rad are stacked on top of each other. Hmm, this cooling set-up will allow you to fit wheels to the front of your Expedition and drive it to Florida in July. You just can’t overheat this thing.
Also, because of the extra track width there’s a resultant 5-inch wider tunnel and the side panels are now noticeably “plump”. They do, however, offer excellent wind protection even if the sporty low windshield does not.
This leads us to the most glaring negative about this otherwise stellar snowmobile: Width. The Xtreme will cause you to spread your knees an extra five inches. While this doesn’t seem like much on paper it does take getting use to. If you have bad knees, get a test ride before you buy any 20-wide sled – it’s the one ergonomic compromise you just can’t escape.
The XX comes with a solo saddle, but don’t panic, Ski-Doo has almost 100 LINQ accessories for the Expedition at this writing – and there’s more to come. The standard storage box on our test unit was big enough to carry a week’s worth of Harvey Woods and enough pemmican to feed a wedding party.
It’s fast. Really, legit fast. The Xtreme will provide all-day fun on trails and then power down a powder-covered lake at 70-per for hours. The only area of performance where it doesn’t equal its 850 E-TEC stablemates is all-out top-end speed. The Xtreme is geared shorter for more low-end pulling power, so triple digit top end runs are rare.
When it comes to handling, remarkably, this admittedly big, long snowmobile is a blast to carve twisty trails on. It steers well, turns-in predictably and only generates a tiny amount of understeer or push. If you fiddle with the aforementioned locking, articulated rail control you can improve corner bite or amp-up the sled’s ability to get up on top and float in pow, too.
Here’s where the Kevlar hits the road: The XX can legitimately keep up with your buds’ 121, 129 and 137 trail rides, guaranteeing you’ll get respect. In fact, you might even be heralded as an icon when you show up on one of these.