Polaris Switchback XC 2024: Preseason Analysis

For 2024, the American manufacturer Polaris, in collaboration with the Evolution-X Jonquière dealership, offered me the opportunity to test the 2024 Switchback XC 146 equipped with the Patriot 650 engine, with the CleanFire injection system. Over time, I believe I’ve specialized in testing models categorized as hybrids, and for several good reasons. While I primarily use this type of vehicle on trails, they occasionally allow me to venture off-trail voluntarily. Additionally, they prevent me from getting into trouble in an unintentional situation where I have to navigate through deep snow. Finally, the actual capabilities of some of these vehicles on trails are now very close to those of traditional “trail” snowmobiles.

Our driver Marc Thibeault, accompanied by Patrice Tremblay, during the acquisition at our partner Evolution-X.

A Customized Version to Suit My Needs

Based on Polaris’ renowned Matryx platform, my test model is the 2024 Switchback XC. The Switchback snowmobiles based on this chassis are also available in Assault and SP versions. For my part, I had the opportunity to make my choice and set my sights on the XC version. It was the one that interested me the most given the comfort and versatility I was looking for. This configuration, which is offered in other models by Polaris, comes equipped with Fox QS3 shocks, which are the best in the industry in my opinion.

The stage is set when you combine high-quality shocks with a recognized suspension, lest we forget the chassis. The Matrix suspension, supported by Pro-Steer skis, equips the front of the vehicle. At the rear, we find the IGX-146 version of the suspension. The 2024 Switchback XC is also equipped with the Cobra 146 x 15 x 1.6-inch track. It is known for its flexibility in various usage scenarios. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to have the 7S display on this model, but I highly recommend it.

An Underestimated Engine

Regarding the engine, I sought to explore one that often flies under the radar at the American manufacturer, the Patriot 650. This engine develops between 125 HP and 130 HP, according to what can be found online. This is much less than the three other versions offered, which develop over 160 HP. However, my research has taught me that after some minor adjustments in the first year of launch, dealers have reported very few issues with the Patriot 650 engine.

The problem with these displacements is that at a $900 difference compared to the Patriot 850, customers often opt for the latter. The price difference is not significant enough on a purchase of $20,000 to $25,000. It is worth noting that the Patriot 650 does not require premium unleaded gasoline like the other 2-stroke engines. That said, the quality of regular gasoline in Quebec is significantly lower than in the United States. That’s why I always use premium gasoline in my vehicles.

What Can I Expect?

My expectations are quite high for my test of the 2024 Switchback XC. The hybrid category has always been a double-edged sword for me. Wanting a bit of everything, while making several concessions at different levels. However, recent years have shown us that manufacturers are now working miracles to reduce the inherent “compromise effect” in this vehicle segment.

After analyzing my ride, every component seems to be the best in its respective category. But as with any type of vehicle, it’s not just about having good components. What’s important is having the right calibration of all these components to create an exceptional vehicle and provide an exceptional experience for its rider.

And so, it begins!

With a late delivery at the end of January, I am starting my trials on the trail with my new ride. The team at Evolution-X, a renowned Polaris dealership in Saguenay, has prepared my test vehicle with great care and quickly upon its arrival. Now, let’s see how my 2024 Switchback XC performs. Will it meet my expectations in terms of performance, handling, and comfort?

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