Here’s what Millennial Farmer thinks of the new electric Polaris Ranger

When out walking in public, Zach Johnson is often recognized as the Farmer of the Millennial, thanks to his popular YouTube channel. Since 2016, Johnson has shared his life in west-central Minnesota with people around the world. Its video content has generated nearly 250,000,000 views.

“The idea behind the channel was to try to reach people about what’s really going on here in rural America on the farms, and why we choose the management practice that we do,” Johnson explains.

Managing the family farm includes choosing the best machinery for their corn and soybean operation. This spring Johnson had the chance to test the new electric Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic on his farm. He spoke exclusively with successful farming after a day with the machine to recap his experience.

Q: The Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic is different than many UTV farmers may be familiar with. Can you show us the machine?

A: This is a Polaris Ranger which happens to be electric. The first thing I noticed was that it’s quiet. There is almost no sound with it.

It’s smooth. I compared it to a variable speed drill where you squeeze the trigger as much as you want. With this you push the pedal as much as you want. If you want to go fast and you want to go now, step on that pedal. Like you pull the trigger and it goes. This electric motor takes off.

It’s quiet, fast and smooth. It’s really fun to drive and does everything a normal Ranger will do.

Q: What were your first thoughts when Polaris announced they were bringing you an electric vehicle?

A: I paid a little attention, so I had an idea of ​​what they were talking about. When it appeared and I was able to enter it the first time, I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t shocked because I kind of knew what was coming, but he does everything a Ranger will.

Many people mistakenly think that electric vehicles will be slower, heavy or underpowered. I promise you; it’s not that. If you’ve never driven an electric vehicle before, I think most people would be pleasantly surprised at how great they really are to use.

Zach Johnson pulls an auger with the Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic on his Minnesota farm

Photo credit: Natalina Sents Bausch

There are things that are different. When you’re driving and taking off, it’s different not to hear the sound of the engine. It’s something to get used to.

This morning a trailer was hooked up to it and we had a heavy load of seed on the trailer. When I took off with this trailer, it was the exact same vehicle as without the trailer. I just went there. It wasn’t about lugging around and digging for that powerband to kick in to really start pulling.

Q: When the machine was delivered, what questions did you have?

A: The first question for me was, what is the range? How long will this last? If I have to use it for farming I might have to go 5 or 10 miles with it. And then I have to get it back. The last thing I want is a vehicle that’s going to die on me 10 miles from my house when we’re busy. It was number one.

The other question I had was, does it have four wheel drive? It does. It has all the functionality of a regular Ranger.

Third, I wanted to know, will this pull anything? It does, and it shoots just as well. I haven’t pulled a heavy load very far with it, so I can’t say exactly how it compares to a regular Ranger going down the road, but I guess it would pull it better.

Q: Have you had a chance to test its battery capacity?

A: We started with 100% battery at 6am this morning. It’s now 2 p.m., so we’ve got eight hours on this thing. He was seated, but we also pulled trailers and drove through mud and snow. I went out and put it in the ringer for a bit. It was 19° F. when we started this morning, and it was cold all day. We’re down to 71% right now.

A man plugs in a Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic in a store

Photo credit: Polaris

They tell me the Ultimate has an 80 mile range. [The Premium trim has an estimated range of 45 miles.] Obviously, that changes a bit with what you do with it. So far I have been really impressed.

Q: Has anyone else on your farm ever had a chance to see this machine?

A: My kids have seen it and they say it’s pretty. They liked it when I turned on the dash and let them see the gauges and stuff, but neither of them got in it or drove it yet. I think my son will laugh when we take off for the first time and there is no sound.

Zach Johnson's dog Ana lays down on the dirt floor of the machine shed with a Polaris Ranger and John Deere equipment behind her

Photo credit: Natalina Sents Bausch

We have a German Shepherd dog. When you throw a regular Ranger, it’s all bloated. She’s all excited, she’ll bark and follow you. She will chase you all day.

When I first approached this thing after it was dropped off, it was super excited for me to start it up and chase me. I pressed the pedal, and off we went. She was so confused because I had never had anything on the farm and had no engine noise to go. It was funny!

Q: In terms of serviceability, does having an electric vehicle make you nervous?

A: If you like to put on the fancy exhaust and hear the sound of the engine, you’re going to be disappointed. If you don’t like things like spark plugs and fuel filters and transmissions, this is your choice here.

From my perspective, I think maintenance on this would be a lot less of a concern. You don’t need to change the oil every now and then. You are not going to have a faulty spark plug. If you want to jump in and don’t want to do a lot of maintenance, I think that’s another benefit that’s going to come with the Kinetic.

Q: It sounds like you’re pretty experienced with ATVs and UTVs.

A: I have never used anything else electric in the UTV or side-by-side category. We had Polaris snowmobiles and four-wheelers and side-by-sides. In fact, Victory and Indian motorcycles for years too. My family has been pretty hardcore Polaris for a long time – my whole life.

Q: For what tasks around your farm do you use a machine like this the most?

A: The number one thing I love a Ranger for is field reconnaissance. It’s super practical for running around in the fields and as a scout. Maybe I need to go mark a rock or check a tiled exit or entrance.

We used to do this with four-wheeled vehicles, which is also very convenient. These are a bit easier to get in and out of. And then you can get the windshield, you have a normal radio and steering wheel. It has everything your pickup truck would have, but you’re in for a much more compact machine that can have a winch, has four-wheel drive, and will go through a lot more than a pickup truck.

Often in the spring or fall when we are busy, if someone breaks down, you can have the tools inside and walk across the lot to them. So you don’t use a heavy pick-up on the crop or on the field, which creates compaction.

Zach Johnson's Minnesota farmyard in April with mud and snow

Photo credit: Natalina Sents Bausch

I use a Ranger a lot just for running around the yard. Our backyard is large. It’s not that you can’t walk, but sometimes if you feel like you spend half your day walking from point A to point B to point C. This thing will take you around the yard all day, and you can bring your tools with you.

We have no cattle. If I had cattle, I could check the fence with them. You could run straight to the cattle, or whatever you have. Maybe you run from barn to barn if you have poultry or pigs.

Evelyn C. Tobin