Trail Bliss: Reviewing the 2023 Polaris ProStar S4 INDY Adventure

prostar s4 indy adventure

The 2023 Polaris ProStar S4 INDY Adventure had a shorter season than I planned this year. Our test unit was with less than a year, but over two seasons. Neither the 2023 nor 2024 winters have been long seasons, but this sled has over 2,349 kilometres on the S7 gauge, as of early March 2024.

Like for you, the winter of 2024 never really came for us. We are all disappointed. However this is not the fault of the snowmobile. I just wish I could have ridden it more days, in more places, on varying trails. I had plans for at least three saddle bag trips in 2024. One in Quebec, one in Maine, and one here at home, none of which happened. I did manage, however, a shortened four-day trip in Western New Brunswick in February.

Season’s End Impressions

This article is about the 2023 ProStar S4 INDY Adventure that I had the pleasure to test and demonstrate in 2024. Note that it is natural to reach conclusions because maybe they are very obvious. I will cover some of these. It is also easier to form impressions when you have ridden so many other sled brands and their models. I say this not to boast but so you understand my statements are from a perspective most snowmobilers do not get the privilege of experiencing. For decades, I had the privilege and opportunity to ride above average distances in many regions while riding all the OEMs offerings and multiple models.

Still the Right Time

I believe it is the right sled introduced by Polaris at the right time. I said this was the right time in my first impressions article. Now, after a season, I am convinced the ProStar S4 INDY Adventure deserves to be considered by many riders. The provinces and states with vast groomed trail systems should be first.

This is a 2023 unit and since our team received it, Polaris has built and shipped their 2024 models. Remember that the 2023 and 2024 models are identical, except for graphics. Polaris has also just released their 2025 models available with the ProStar S4 engine. Thus, we are entering our third season with Polaris having a very capable four-stroke option.

Capable Trail Sled

The ProStar S4 INDY Adventure is very capable. What I wish to stress is that it is a trail sled. That is what it w’s designed for, and that is where it shines. Ride it on groomed trails and it will please you all day, every day.

Too often snowmobilers immediately focus on the horsepower or the potential speed of a machine. This is natural, but the answer to these questions do not accurately or properly conclude the strengths or weaknesses of most snowmobiles.

I was thinking how best to express how I feel about the ProStar S4 INDY Adventure, knowing that many snowmobilers immediately dismiss it because it boasts only 80–100 HP. I did have to look further than my friend and columnist Greg Gilbert.

In this article, published in March of 2021, Greg stated, “[…] your ego or elevation may need an 850 level of performance, but your thumb, riding environments, better judgment, budget, and eyesight probably do not.” And that is exactly how I feel about the horsepower, speed, and overall capabilities of this sled. It is very capable, despite its low HP.

Standard or Sport

The S4 Adventure comes with three modes; Eco, Standard, and Sport. The Eco mode is excellent for slow movements around trailers or on non-snow surfaces. It is also great for new riders. However, I am here to talk about the two other modes.

In the kilometres I rode, I tried to experience the difference between Standard and Sports modes. For me, there was no discernible difference. The top speed in both modes was almost identical. The RPMs were nearly identical when riding at trail speeds of between 50 km/h and 80 km/h. It was the same for the fuel consumption, which makes sense since it has a direct correlation with the RPMs.

The only difference was the sound. In Sport mode, when you accelerated hard, the sound underneath you was throaty, and quite pleasant for me. Others disagree with me, but as I stated in my first impressions of this sled, sound alone does not change the performance of this snowmobile.

Starts Every Time

I have been riding four-stroke snowmobiles since the first models came out, almost 25 seasons ago. This may sound overstated if you are not familiar with four-stroke engines, but the ProStar S4 started successfully even on the coldest days we had this year. This is non-negotiable for me.

I have owned other snowmobiles that you had to carry a battery booster, just in case. Too often did I have to use one of those in the past. I have also seen other sleds requiring spare relay switches. This was to keep the relays warm, which you can then use to replace the cold-wet relays when the sled wouldn’t start. I don’t have to carry any booster or relays now. The ProStar S4 INDY Adventure is how a snowmobile should be designed; it must start in the cold.

Suspension—Front and Rear Skid

The suspension Polaris has outfitted this unit with is easy to understand. It is also easy to adjust. If the trail in front of you is rough, simply adjust to one of the stiffer settings. If you want a plusher ride to utilize all of the travelling, the adjustment simply moves in the opposite direction. Most of us want simplicity in function and in application. Polaris’ choice of the TS shock package on the sled fits what trail riders require.

Better Carbide Options

I was going to try a single carbide on the ProStar S4 INDY Adventure. I ran out of winter, as well as snow, like most of us. So, unfortunately, I didn’t find the time to try the sled with a single runner carbide.

This sled comes from Polaris with dual runner carbides. This application is meant to reduce darting on the trails. Under certain trail conditions that are soft (warm weather) and new snow (before grooming), I find that dual runners want to float. This floating sensation creates a push in the corners that is not as precise and predictable for handling as desired. A single runner carbide may have given a different result, but I cannot say for certain.

Throttle by Wire

The throttle by wire (TBW) technology on the ProStar S4 INDY Adventure was pleasant to ride with. However, it was faulty on my unit. We sent it back to Polaris, in early winter, to decipher the problem. It was determined it was related to the brake lever. They thought they had fixed the issue, however, when the snow ran, out the sled was still acting improperly.

When I was coasting to a stop sign, or slowing for a hazard, I noticed a delay in the TBW when I wanted to accelerate. It was like the connection had been lost. This was disconcerting, but, as of late February, there was no service bulletin from Polaris on the matter. Thus, I have to assume it was an isolated problem with my sled.

On a positive note, the new TBW is very pleasant to ride with. At the end of a 300 km ride, I felt absolutely no fatigue in my right hand or thumb. After a season of riding, it feels very normal compared to decades of riding with a physical throttle cable.

TBW on the prostar s4 indy adventure

Unsold Units into 2025

The entire snowmobile industry has turned 180 degrees since the 2023 models were launched. Remember when riders were standing in dealerships in late 2022, screaming, “where is my Snowcheck?” That was just 18–20 months ago.

Twice already I have stated that the introduction of the ProStar S4 engine by Polaris was very timely. I stand by that statement. While their 850 Patriot (2019) and 650 Patriot (2021), and now Boost (2022) and 9R (2023) engines have allowed them tremendous momentum, these four engine variations do not address all riders’ needs. Many of us want these engines, but most of us do not need them.

The entire snowmobile industry is going to have to keep the customers it has. It is also going to have to become engaged to prove to current and potential riders that there is still value for dollars spent with the shortened snow seasons.

prostar s4 indy adventure


The 2023 ProStar S4 INDY Adventure, and all the ProStar S4 variations produced since 2023, is the value that the snowmobile industry needs. All three model year S4 variations (2023 to 2025) are available if you look. Most are priced lower than their 650 and 850 family members. The S4 choices and variations are one answer to the “value for dollars spent” conundrum.

A huge thank you goes out to Polaris for allowing us the opportunity to ride, test, and demonstrate their units. The ProStar S4 INDY Adventure is designed for trail riders. If you identify as such, you should strongly consider it as the next sled you need.

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