e are well into the snowmobile season and it is now time to give my first impressions of the 2023 Ski-Doo Summit X 154. There is a lot to cover, so let’s get to it!
Let’s start with what everyone has on their lips for 2023: the Gen5 platform. Riding a Summit snowmobile with the new platform is already a “shock” compared to the previous one, but the magic happens when maneuvering in the powder. It’s absolutely amazing! Let me tell you about it.
Gen5 Platform Additions
At first glance, the new version of the Gen platform offers several new features that optimize the riding and maintenance experience. The first example that comes to mind is definitely the new side panel giving access to the oil tank. There are no words to describe how satisfying it is to not have to strip an entire side of the snowmobile just to fill an oil tank. Especially when it’s a task you have to do after every ride.
Afterwards, I was really curious and skeptical to try out the new glove box. I must admit I was really disappointed: not only is fitting a pair of glasses a challenge, but the box is not waterproof. Imagine my surprise the first time I needed to change my glasses in the middle of a ride.
Considering how little storage space is offered as standard on a mountain snowmobile (and I’m not even talking about the retail price of these snowmobiles). I think that the new generation of the platform could have been used to increase the storage space available in the glove compartment, but also to make it a little more waterproof.
New engine mounts
Another change to the Gen5 platform is its new four-point motor mount. The difference in vibration is noticeable, and it’s a very nice improvement for 2023. Of course, you can still feel some vibrations when the sled is stopped, but I think it’s quite acceptable considering… there’s still an engine under there!
Think motocross. That’s exactly how it feels to ride the new Summit. When people say that the new platform is 3″ narrower than the Gen4, it may sound trite, but it’s exactly the opposite! The snowmobile has less resistance in the snow, which allows it to go further with even less effort. Plus, combined with the low-profile bench, transitions from one side of the step to the other are even easier.
The dashboard and the cockpit are relatively unchanged compared to previous years. Not having the new digital display, we get a very clean version, which I personally love. I understand the benefits and functionality of the new optional digital displays, but I personally can’t help but find it “gimmicky”, especially when snowmobiling off-trail.
One thing that has changed is the engine switch with a lower profile. While it’s still easy to turn off the engine, I find it more difficult to operate with relatively thick gloves.
The small screen gives me the information I need without any superfluity. The angle of the display is completely flat, so it is only visible when standing on the snowmobile, which is not really a problem since we are talking about a mountain snowmobile. On the other hand, it is always covered with snow and therefore requires a broom with your hand every time you want to check something.
My biggest annoyance is the fact that the temperature and fuel level are on the side ends of the meter. As well as buttons overhanging them, which accumulate even more snow and is even harder to clean up to access the information you need. I think having a more centred presentation of this information would be a huge improvement.
One thing I didn’t realize until I got back on a Gen4 snowmobile was the smaller diameter steering wheel on the Summit X 2023. This makes the maneuverability and steering precision better than the Summit X and X with Expert Package.
2023 Ski-Doo Summit X 154: Driving
Driving is probably the most changed aspect of the transition to the Gen5 platform. You can still recognize the Gen DNA, but I would say that the behavior is more changed than unchanged: and that’s positive!
First of all, what impresses me the most is how little effort is now required to initiate a move. Gen4 was not known for requiring a lot of effort, but Ski-Doo has taken it to the next level. I think the best way to translate what I mean into text is by giving the example of backing a foot (not much, say a boot length) onto the running board. Then, leaning slightly in that same direction is enough to put the snowmobile on a skid, and still have enough balance to stay there as long as you want.
I’ve often heard people describe the Gen4 platform as giving the impression that it “bends” when maneuvering off-trail. The Gen5 platform gives a more “rigid” appearance, making its behaviour more predictable.
This little effort is particularly useful because one sacrifice that Ski-Doo had to make on its new platform is to accept that the phenomenon of plunging when turning is accentuated. Indeed, in shallow snow, when you turn, the snowmobile tends to dive on the opposite side. Except when there is no powder at all, I found that counter-steering on the opposite side was the best way to cancel the dive phenomenon.
Although I’m not the best at it, I love side-hilling. I’ve never been particularly good at it with a Summit. With the Gen5, it’s the opposite! I think it even makes me better! The predictability and precision of the ride is absolutely incredible. I quickly gained confidence, allowing me to try more technical lines (for me) and get them right many times. The narrower body of the snowmobile also brings us closer to the mountainside, allowing us to stop or adjust our path with ease.
I attribute this side-hill improvement yes to the new platform, but equally to the new tMotion X suspension. The longer travel than its predecessor and the new angle of attack of the rear arm really make the snowmobile more precise, both in side-hill and technical situations.
If you’re worried that this new suspension will reduce wheelies on the Gen5 platform, you can rest easy. I don’t know if my adjustment is off or not, but I feel like the snowmobile lifts even more. However, the PowderMax X-Light track probably has a lot to do with it.
However, the platform is not perfect
I know it’s a very aggressive mountain sled, but sometimes I need to take short sections of trail or open road to get to the next snow hole. Even with the ice-scratchers, the snowmobile heats up pretty quickly. I realize that the 3″ track certainly doesn’t help, and that’s not the main purpose of a mountain snowmobile, but I still have to note it.
We also noticed some good ice build-up on the deck. This is visible from the end of the running boards to the middle of the tunnel. There were a few times when my front Linq attachments were completely covered in ice. I think I have also noticed a buildup at the front of the running boards, but I want to take more time to properly observe if this is recurring. I’ll come back to this in my season review.
I think we can all agree that the new iteration of the Gen platform is quite a hit! The off-road feel is completely improved and offers arguably the best maneuverability we have ever seen in the mountain segment from Ski-Doo. This seems to come with a price though; the experience when in shallow snow is degraded, but I think it’s a calculated risk that Ski-Doo took. After all, its model name is “Summit”!
I would like to thank Ski-Doo for making this test possible. I look forward to giving you my end-of-season feedback.
Other Ski-Doo reviews here:
- Pre-ride analysis: Ski-Doo Summit X 154 2023
- Ski-Doo Renegade Enduro 900 ACE Turbo (130) 2023 – First Impressions
- Pre-run analysis: Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC 2023