This is TMW’s Polaris Slingshot R Review & Rating Finale! We rate vehicles in eight categories; Comfort, Power, Handling, Range, Versatility, Style, Sound, and Fun! Notice that Oxford comma, we are professional grade here at TMW! Grab a coffee, tea, or whatever your favorite beverage is, and come join us for a discussion about how the Slingshot R rates. There may be some surprises along the way too.
Welcome to our Polaris Slingshot R Review & Rating Finale!
|Review Model||2020 Polaris Slingshot R|
|Review Dates||October 14 – November 9 2020|
|Price Point||Starting at $30,999 US MSRP|
|Reviewers||Eric and Carrie Leaverton|
How We Reviewed the Slingshot R
We put more than 1,000 miles during our Polaris Slingshot R Review & Rating Finale, and most of that was open road. The Slingshot took us hundreds of miles up twisty canyons and on scenic routes through Utah’s picturesque park regions. We did five hours on the slab too, north along the I-15 corridor on flat, straight asphalt. There were roadside diners, chintzy souvenir shops and cheap motels. We made lots of friends along the way too.
Not every day can be a road trip though. Like anyone else, we had jobs to commute to, errands to run, and groceries to buy. We took our Slingshot R along for all of it. Laptops and huge bags of dog food, bank transactions and stop-and-go rush hour traffic. No fair-weather friends, us. We have stuff to do, and so do you. We wanted to be sure the Slingshot was up to the task.
After we got to know the Slingshot, we asked some friends to take some rides with us to see if they noticed the same things we noticed. Some of them were long-time motorcycle veterans, while others were completely new to the world of powersports. Whatever their level of experience though, they were all real excited to spend some time riding shotgun with us.
‘You will feel like a celebrity rolling through town in the Slingshot R.’
Polaris Slingshot R Review & Rating Finale Scores:
The cockpit of the Slingshot R is comfortably snug and inspires confidence. It’s generously bolstered seats keep you tucked in tight, with enough space to accommodate most body types. The driver’s footwell can get a little tight with the speaker box in the way though, so I found myself thinking about my left knee more than I’d like. And the seatbelt pretensioner is extremely overzealous. More than once I let out a shouted expletive while trying to check my blind spots. Leaning forward any faster than a creep ends in a jarring full stop, which is sure to be appreciated the one time you need it. But the 1,000s of times before that are less than fun.
We drove all day without feeling any fatigue, either from body positioning or wind noise. Twelve or even fourteen hours at the wheel would not be hard to do.
The Slingshot R makes enough power to handle whatever road you’d like to take it on with confidence. The automatic transmission does a poor job of delivering that power though, and it performs best at a casual pace.
This is probably the thing that surprised us most during our Slingshot R review. With three tracks and the power pushing from the middle, we were expecting the Slingshot to be a little squirrely and uncivilized. Frankly, we thought that might be the whole point of the thing. Our first ride up Ogden Canyon laid that to rest.
The fat front tires and low center of gravity keep the Slingshot positively grounded, even when you push it a little. It will hold a line under spirited cornering and keep you smiling through it all, especially in Slingshot mode. If you make a conscience effort to misbehave the back end will step out, but it’s almost impossible to do with the traction control doing it’s thing. When it does break loose it does so predictably, and the prodigious traction from those two front tires will bring you back the moment you tell them to.
Our single complaint about the handling is all in the brakes. They’re wooden. No bite, no feel, no feedback. It’s like stopping a ceiling fan with a broom. They may as well be a switch instead of a pedal for all the finesse you can employ. Slow Down, Slow Down a Lot, and Stop.
The Slingshot R carries 9.7 gallons of fuel and returned 25 to 30 mpg during our review. That makes for about 270 miles between fuel stops, which is fantastic for a touring vehicle like this. The range computer is inexplicably optimistic though, so watch out for that. We once saw it project more than 350 miles after a fill up. Also, the manual insists on 91 octane or better. That’s not uncommon by any means, but it’s something to keep in mind.
As we said at the beginning, we went everywhere in our Slingshot R during this review. Weekend road trips, grocery runs, commuting to work. We carried luggage and cereal and hair dye and cameras and spare helmets. We rode through national parks in 85 degree sun, and raced rainstorms home on 35 degree evenings. The Slingshot took it all with a smile, and even something as mundane as dropping off the utility payments became an event to enjoy.
We could get into the details, sure. The hood vents, the trellis mirror stalks, the angles sharp enough to cut yourself on. Yes, it’s polarizing. No, this can’t be rated objectively. And yes, we’re partial to edgy hypertech design. But whether you like the style or not, there’s no denying there’s plenty of it.
And, the “Slingshot Effect”, as Polaris calls it, is a real thing. Everybody responds to the Slingshot in the wild. People passing on the freeway stick their phones out their windows to film it. Pedestrians in crosswalks will actually walk right up to you to talk at red lights. Park the Slingshot in the middle of an empty parking lot, and watch as every car passing through goes out of their way to roll past it. Herds of children follow it through apartment complexes, picking up extras along the way like the opening of the Drew Carey Show. You will feel like a celebrity rolling through town in the Slingshot R. A guilty pleasure, sure, but still a pleasure.
The Slingshot R makes a lot of noise, and it’s all good. Throaty intake and baritone exhaust, aggressive but with a refined note that rarely gets trashy. In addition to the motor sounds, the belt also plays a part. There’s a sort of humming, harmonic whine that starts around 2,400 rpm, and increases in pitch through 4,000 and 5,000 rpm until it quiets down. It’s literally a musical note, you could tune check a live orchestra with it.
And, if you ever get tired of all that mechanical growl and musical thrum, you can crank up the tunes on the Rockford Fosgate stereo system that comes standard in the R. It sounds great, even at 80+ mph. It’s a mechless unit with no inputs though, so bring your Bluetooth-enabled mobile device if you want to spin something.
It’s almost redundant talking about this category after how the rest of the article has gone, isn’t it? Yeah, the thing is fun. It’s a blast. It’s an everloving riot with The Stones jamming in the background and the smell of meat grilling in the air.
Even the things that are wrong with it – the seatbelts that grab too much, the brakes that don’t grab enough, and the transmission that’s always grabbing a nap when it should be working – fade into the background as soon as you settle in. The motor thrums through the steering wheel, the belt spools up with a whine, and you’re off. The neighbor who has literally never looked at you in the six years you’ve lived in your subdivision is suddenly waving every time you drive past.
It is not a performance vehicle. It is a pleasure cruise. More serotonin, less adrenaline, and we will miss it so.
Thank you very much for reading all the way down the end of the Polaris Slingshot R Review & Rating Finale article! We hope you enjoyed the Slingshot experience as much as we did.
‘Yeah, the thing is fun. It’s a blast!’
Missed a Previous Slingshot Long Term Review?
- 2020 Slingshot R – You Won’t Believe What we got! & Video – Part 1
- The mystery review and video we can’t show you – Part 2
- Compilation of 13 Slingshot Passenger Reactions & Video – Part 3
- Could You Live with a Slingshot? & Video – Part 4
- Exciting & Unique: Slingshot Speaks to You & Video – Part 5
- Polaris Slingshot R Review & Rating Finale & Video – Part 6 (this article)
Supporting Total Motorcycle and the Total Motorcycle Review Team
We would like to thank Polaris for providing us with the Slingshot R to review for you. We have more to come on our review of the 2020 Slingshot R. Stay tuned each week for yet another long term unbiased review from Total Motorcycle!
A big thanks to our readers, the YouTube and Facebook followers and our Patreon Supporters for joining Total Motorcycle for our Slingshot journey so far. Support us for just $1 a month over at Patreon. We don’t sell anything so every dollar counts.
Federally, the Slingshot is classified as a motorcycle, but not all states classify the Slingshot as a motorcycle. 48 out of 50 states classify the vehicle as an autocycle. Only 2 states classify the Slingshot as a motorcycle and require a motorcycle license and endorsement to operate it.
All other classification and helmet laws vary based on the state. They generally follow the state’s motorcycle helmet laws (i.e.: In California, the Slingshot is classified as an autocycle, but you must wear a DOT-approved helmet while driving it, like a motorcycle). As you would imagine, Polaris recommends all riders wear a DOT-approved full-face helmet.