My 2019/2020 season was pleasantly busy! I had the chance to test drive the very versatile 2020 Expedition Sport equipped with the 900 ACE engine. I now have the pleasure to give you my review of the season on this surprising machine. I would also like to thank our partner, the dealer Roger A. Pelletier of Temiscouata-sur-le-Lac. Without them, this adventure would not have been possible. My winter was filled with lots of fun! Fun that I had the chance to share with my family and friends. Therefore, before sharing my own impressions with you, I will give you the ones from the people who accompanied me. Sometimes on the back seat to get to our chalet, sometimes behind the handlebars to experience their own adventures.
From the Back Seat
Lili – 8 years old:
“It’s the most comfortable ride I’ve ever taken to get to the chalet. Your Ski-Doo doesn’t make any noise. I wasn’t scared as usual. It’s my favourite Ski-Doo.”
Éliana – 5 years old:
“Can we do some more, Daddy? I really like your snowmobile very much. Can we keep it after this winter?” I was quite uncomfortable with that last question…
From Die Hard Off-Trail Snowmobilers
David, Owner of an Expedition Sport 600 ACE, on the REV-XS chassis:
“It’s clearly an upgrade from the previous generation. It floats better and is much more maneuverable. The power of the 900 ACE versus the added weight compared to the 600 ACE is worth it. It’s astonishing where you can go with this machine! I can go far with my snowmobile … but with this one, it’s insane!”
Jérôme, Owner of a Tundra LT 600 ACE:
“I was looking to add an Expedition Sport on the REV-XS chassis to my fleet. Now that I’ve tried the Gen4… I’m going to have to rethink my priorities. I was really impressed by this machine!”
My Thoughts and Assessment
I must admit, it’s hard not to recommend the Expedition Sport with the 900 ACE engine. There are so many good reasons to enjoy this snowmobile. It can do almost anything: go on trails, tow loads, ride in tandem and, of course, take you off the beaten track. Regardless of your driving style, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun at the helm of this snowmobile.
I nicknamed it, “White Fang.” Like the wolf-dog in the novel, the machine packed my winter full of adventures.
Now it’s time to dissect this snowmobile.
The Pilot DS 2 skis are specifically designed for deep snow, yet they perform surprisingly well on trails. Throughout my trial, there were rare occasions when I felt some darting. This, however, only happened when trail conditions were conducive to this phenomenon. Apart from these rare episodes, the skis performed brilliantly on federated trails. The skis provide a good grip in turns and require little steering effort.
Off-trail, the skis offer outstanding flotation and break through the snow easily. Not once did I wish they were wider. I love their rigidity; it helps initiate maneuvers. Thanks to this rigidity, it’s easy to counter-steer and break through the snow. It is easy to hold a line with these. The grip on the side of the skis keeps me feeling confident when travelling in soft snow.
The RAS 3 kit provides a lot of control: driving is precise, it’s well configured, and there isn’t any free play. I can take bends comfortably and without any oversteer. The Motion Control shock absorbers offer good bump absorption. However, they lack adjustability when compared to their KYB PRO counterparts. We can only affect the preload on these shock absorbers. During my trial, I kept them as soft as possible, not to diminish my ability to tackle the trail’s hazards.
For most of my test, I drove with a 38-inch ski stance. It did not affect my ability to take turns with ease nor my speed on the trail. On the other hand, at 40 inches, off-trail maneuvering was more difficult. My preferred configuration is to use the narrowest possible stance.
The suspension arms look strong and durable to me. The Tie Rods are well encased by the wide tubes of the suspension arms. I have the impression that they are quite safe. All in all, the front looks durable to me. I don’t feel like I should keep spare parts in my garage for this one.
Ultimately, the front is sturdy, agile, shock-absorbing, and precise.
The fourth-generation chassis has provided many benefits: fully equipped snowmobiles are much more maneuverable and require much less effort to drive. The Expedition Sport is no stranger to these improvements. Flotation, control, fluidity … they have all improved. The REV Gen4 is higher and better adapted to rugged terrain. The REV-XS feels stiffer on the trail, yet the new chassis feels softer. It’s easier to instigate and maintain maneuvers in rugged terrain. The driving style is certainly different, but it’s impressive to see where “White Fang” took me this winter.
The new running boards are far superior in terms of grip and preventing snow accumulation than the previous version.
The HD bumper provided by the manufacturer allowed me to tow with ease. Needless to say, the Expedition is an excellent towing machine. It is also great for ice fishing since it’s easy to maneuver, and you can tow all your fishing gear without any problem.
The combination of the pDrive and the 900 ACE engine offers great performance promises.
In terms of fuel economy, the Expedition Sport is incredibly good! During my big off-trail days, I used between 10 and 15 litres of gas per day. My companions, on their two-stroke machines, ended up with almost double the amount of fuel consumed. When I’m driving on the trail, I spend most of my time in sport mode, and I use an average of between 11 and 14 litres over 100 kilometres. Someone gentler on the throttle would easily get results between 11 and 12 litres per 100 km, especially in ECO mode.
The snowmobile is equipped with the ITC system so that you can control its performance levels. The ECO mode is the least efficient of the lot but offers excellent fuel economy. This is actually better for snowmobile initiation, as it stifles performance and provides a gentler introduction for new snowmobilers. In Standard mode, the snowmobile has good acceleration and is more nervous on the throttle. Finally, in Sport mode, the snowmobile is faster to engage, as it turns 200 RPM faster at idle. The engine response is much sharper and more sustained but expect to use more fuel in this mode. The only disadvantage is that the system seems to have a slight lag between the moment you press the throttle and the delivery to the track.
Trail acceleration is strong. Regularly, with my Off-Trail configuration, I find myself with both skis in the air. Off-trail, the 900 offers a lot of torque and lifts the front of the machine with ease. With its 95 HP, this machine is capable of good accelerations. However, they are not as breathtaking as those of the 850s of this world. Recoveries are impressive without being crazy. Of course, this four-stroke engine is a little heavier than the two-stroke, but that doesn’t make the performance any less attractive.
Smell? Noise? These might not be negative aspects for everyone, but I can tell you that my wife noticed it quickly. Noise is minimal with this engine, even at full speed. I surprised several animals that had not heard me during my rides. This snowmobile is excellent for hunters: you can move quickly, odorlessly and almost silently. I appreciated being able to come home late at night without disturbing the whole neighbourhood.
In the end, I never felt that the machine wasn’t powerful enough. It’s certainly not the machine that will win the most races at the end of the lake, but it will take you where you want to go.
The Charger track is equipped with 1.5-inch lugs, which offer a good compromise for on and off the trail. They are solidly attached and offer a lot of traction. In the end, I can’t complain about the trail performance of this track. It does the job very well.
Off-trail, this 154 by 16-inch track, offers a large contact area, which allows the snowmobile to float effortlessly on the snow. On uneven terrain, I had no problem with this track; it enables you to move smoothly. Where the 1.5-inch lugs lose their lustre is when the terrain becomes steeper. On steep slopes, it certainly lacks traction. We need to generate a lot of momentum to achieve our goals. I believe that “White Fang” would benefit from more grip with a more aggressive track. Otherwise, this snowmobile can go almost anywhere with the right momentum. Personally speaking, I would replace this track at the end of its life, with one equipped with 2-inch lugs.
In summary, the Charger is a good hybrid track that will appeal to most snowmobilers.
The SC-5U is certainly not new to the market, yet it offers interesting performance for this utility machine. The uncoupled rear allows a lot of transfer, which is necessary and highly appreciated for good off-trail performance. On the other hand, I had to find a way to reduce it for better trail behaviour.
For trail driving, I used the following configuration: the second-longest hole on the limiting strap. It would also be a good idea to use it in the third hole, especially if you want to limit ski lift when accelerating. The configuration I would use for the front shock absorber of the carriage: position three. This makes the skis light. With the rear springs in position three, this keeps the front on the ground during strong accelerations. I have to mention that I weigh 200 pounds, so it’s easy to make changes so that the configuration is ideal for your weight. This configuration provided me with light skis on the surface, allowing me to drive longer with less effort. The ski lift was under control, allowing me to take corners faster and more confidently.
Off-Trail: I recommend using the limiting strap at the longest hole or in the second position. This allows your track to go out more under the machine and gives you more pushing power on the snow. For the shock, I used the third position for more force on the front of the track. This keeps the skis higher on the snow. Rear springs should be at their softest as this frees the front of the snowmobile and facilitates off-trail maneuvers. In the end, this configuration allows you to have a lot of fun off the trail; the machine is easy to operate and provides good performance.
The rear hinge provides a more efficient way to back up in soft snow. Just take your time and be gentle on the throttle. Engage your reverse gear and back up until the track is in contact with the ground. Then, put it in forward gear and move forward slowly without sinking. Just repeat these movements, and you’ll be out of trouble. One of the benefits of having the hinge unlocked is that the snowmobile pushes less in turns. For days, when the snow has no bottom, I use the locked hinge for more traction and flotation.
Personally, I prefer the new digital gauge. It provides information quickly and can be adapted to our needs. The small storage box behind it is very practical to keep a pair of glasses warm. The elevation block is low enough to offer the best of both worlds. It has the right height to drive both sitting and standing. Personally, I would prefer to have a block a little shorter than elevated. For the Expedition, it’s great because it allows the positioning of the handlebars towards the hips versus at the trunk during side-hill maneuvers. This allows for a firmer hold.
The throttle lever is reversible and can be operated at the pilot’s discretion. I like this option. However, it’s important not to forget your safety cord, especially with forward use.
The huge windshield is certainly not a selling point for me. I understand its usefulness on a long ride and especially with a passenger. For my driving style and terrain, it, unfortunately, doesn’t do me any favours. I much prefer using my little Summit plastic shield. It allows me to move through narrower and more closed trails. Plus, the snowmobile has a more aggressive look, which I really appreciate.
The 1 + 1 seat and backrest with LinQ adapters is undoubtedly an added value for this snowmobile. It’s quick to attach and allows you to easily switch from tandem touring mode to the don’t wait for me for dinner mode; I’m off to have fun in the woods. I appreciate the quick change of vocation you can give to this snowmobile.
The End of an Amazing Season
“White Fang” will have given me a lot of good moments during my winter adventures. I can only thank, once again, the Roger A. Pelletier team and SledMagazine.com for giving me this opportunity. My season was filled with many discoveries and quality time in good company. I recommend this snowmobile to anyone looking for a versatile vehicle because it does almost everything with ease. Everyone who tried it was pleasantly surprised, and so was I!
I now have to grieve, since “White Fang” will soon be returning to the dealership.
Thank you, dear readers, for taking the time to read and follow us on SledMagazine.com. These adventures are possible, thanks to you.
Until our next meeting, I wish you a fantastic next season on the snow and wish you a great time in good company.