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2023 Switchback Assault: Between Performance and Comfort

2023 switchback assault 2023

We’re already nearing the end of the season. So it’s time for me to present to you my final test review of the 2023 Switchback Assault, graciously loaned to me by Polaris for the winter. This snowmobile belongs to the multi-segment snowmobile category. The manufacturer describes it as the ultimate hybrid snowmobile, capable of dominating both on and off the trails. I primarily tested it on trails, but I also found a few places to stretch its legs off-trail. Let’s take a look together at how it performs…

Good on and Off the Trails?

On the trail, the 2023 Switchback Assault behaves like a trail snowmobile. This observation truly surprised me. It handles turns exceptionally well, and its suspension performs admirably despite its firmness.

Off trail, it’s well balanced, light, and highly maneuverable. Keep in mind that it’s a multi-segment snowmobile; it’s not designed to tackle six feet of powder. Opting for a more aggressive track would be worth considering to enhance its performance further. A multi-segment track with two-inch lugs would certainly help. I’ll provide more details on this later in this article.

I noticed some characteristics reminiscent of two other Polaris families. I’m referring here to the RMK lineup, designed for mountain riding, and the INDY models, which are tailored for trails. This combination makes the 2023 Switchback Assault stand out a bit more in its category.

2023 switchback assault 2023

The Patriot Boost Engine: Surprising Performance… at What Cost?

The 2023 Switchback Assault I tested was equipped with the Patriot Boost engine. It’s one of the three engines available for this model. This turbocharged 850 engine purportedly delivers around 180 HP, compared to the 165 HP of the naturally aspirated Patriot 850. I found that very surprising… but.

Surprising? Yes, but at what cost?

The response of this turbocharged engine is sharp, regardless of atmospheric conditions. However, I question the relevance of the turbo considering all the additional expenses it entails.

Let me explain:

Apart from the initial extra cost of this powerhouse, two other significant factors must be considered before making the purchase.

  1. Since the turbo draws from the oil reserve for lubrication, it consumes more oil. It’s estimated at 1 litre per 150 km, compared to 1 litre per 250 km for its non-turbo equivalent.
  2. The fuel consumption, which hovers around 21 litres per 100 km, is excessive, in my opinion. Although we don’t buy these machines for fuel economy, we still need to consider this aspect given the current times.

Other aspects related to this engine:

This engine (turbocharged or not) really doesn’t like the ethanol content in today’s gasoline. To address this, it’s advisable to use an octane additive to reduce potential problems. Additionally, you must select the “ethanol gasoline” mode in the Ride Command system.

Regarding the known issue of spark plugs ceasing to function, I only experienced it once during the winter. I had let the engine run for too long after starting it up in the morning. So, my little tip: as soon as the engine starts to warm up (5 or 10 degrees), move it slowly. This will prevent the spark plugs from fouling up.

2023 switchback assault 2023

Matryx Platform

The Matryx platform provides a comfortable riding position that I adore. The narrower cabin allows for shifting weight from side to side, making it even easier to take corners.

Firm but Effective Suspension: Essential Adjustments

As I mentioned earlier, the suspension is relatively firm. However, this doesn’t prevent it from performing very well. The Walker Evans Racing Velocity shocks do the job regardless of the conditions. I witnessed this performance firsthand when encountering a series of bumps for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised because it didn’t bottom out.

With Proper Adjustments

Nevertheless, I still adjusted the suspension according to my preferences to find my desired level of comfort. Dealer standard adjustments may not suit everyone. There’s a lot of trial and error in the adjustment process. I advise you to watch explanatory videos online before attempting any adjustments.

Choice of Track: Trails vs. Off-Trail

The R Cobra track (15 × 146 × 1.35) is designed to grip the ground. It offers a smooth ride and is perfect for trail riding. If you want to venture off-trail, I recommend considering another track, such as the multi-segment track with two-inch lugs. This track is also designed for good performance on trails but provides better performance in deep snow.

7S Ride Command: Intuitive Navigation and Easy Control

The Ride Command navigation, control, and diagnostic system is comprehensive and easy to use. The touchscreen can even be operated with gloves on. It allows you to adjust thumb or hand-warmer settings, plan group or solo rides, and track everything on your screen. It’s a must-have, in my opinion.


The disc brake system is certainly the most efficient I’ve experienced so far. Regardless of the conditions, it always delivers consistent performance.


  • Powerful engine.
  • Braking system.
  • Quality suspension.
  • Powerful headlights.
  • Good performance of the track.
  • 7S display with Ride Command system.
  • Effective handlebar and thumb heating.
  • Ergonomic and comfortable riding position.
  • Excellent manoeuvrability.


  • High oil and fuel consumption.
  • Suspension slightly too firm.
  • Poorly placed mirrors at knee level.

2023 Switchback Assault: A Joy to Ride, Without the Turbo

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed taking the handlebars of this beautiful machine despite its minor flaws (every machine has them). It’s a machine you should consider for your next purchase. However, I do not recommend the turbo. I sincerely believe that the slight extra power the turbo provides is not worth it considering all the costs involved.

For more details, visit your Polaris dealership.

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