2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 Specs and Review

The 2008 installment of the Polaris Sportsman 500 is more than your average “working man’s ATV.” It is a dual-purpose, utility vehicle that not only helped establish Polaris’ current reputation as an industry powerhouse but also gave new meaning to the saying “work hard but play harder.” This guide focuses on this iconic, all-American four-wheeler.

The 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 is the 13th installment of Polaris’ best-selling ATV lineup. Featuring a powerful 499-cc engine, Electronic Fuel Injection, convertible trims, and rolled Independent Rear Suspension, this 4×4 is yet another step by the American firm in the right direction.

Reliable, powerful, and fuel-efficient, these quads can be seen virtually everywhere – on snow-capped mountains, muddy tracks, tight wooded trails, and hunting grounds. These hardy UTVs ushered the average folk toward the beauty and ruggedness of the outdoors. Even enthusiasts agree that these brutes were one of the firsts to introduce the concept of hybrid machines in the market.

Unsurprisingly, the 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 offered so much more – as you will later learn through this article.

Red 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO ATV

Setting the Bar Higher

There are many reviews on the Polaris Sportsman 500, given that the Sportsman is Polaris’ flagship utility vehicle. From a utilitarian concept, it has evolved into a formidable all-rounder, spawning 450-cc displacements and the XP series that went on to be among the American firm’s best-selling and most critically acclaimed quads.

For 2008, the Polaris Sportsman 500 received the same developments it did a few years before – Electronic Fuel Injection and the ATP-adopted X2 build. Prospective owners can also expect superb handling, versatility, and track-worthiness evident in the vehicle’s previous iterations.

Versions

Of course, Polaris retained the standard, and carbureted H.O. trims for enthusiasts who preferred a more controlled but challenging riding experience – alongside these versions:

  • 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection, Base)
  • 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. (High Output, Base)
  • 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 Touring
  • 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 6×6
  • 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI X2 (Electronic Fuel Injection, Two-Up)
  • 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. RSE (High Output, Remington Special Edition)

Choosing not to reinvent all Sportsman trims was good sense on the part of Polaris. This decision fortified the lineup’s multifaceted functionality. Because it offered both the old and new, riders of all skill levels and preferences get to enjoy the vehicle according to their whims and needs – as a hay wagon, trail tamer, two-up, or as a standalone.

This next section covers the full specifications of the fuel-injected base model while citing several of its differences from the other Sportsman 500 models.

2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI Specs & Features

Engine

A 4-stroke, liquid-cooled Fuji single-cylinder engine awakens the 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500. Most versions share a similar bore-stroke ratio of 92 x 75 mm (3.6 x 2.9 inches) and a 10.2:1 compression ratio.

Engine displacement is delivered by Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) with a Visteon throttle body for the EFI trims and a constant-velocity Mikuni carb for the High Output models. The 6×6 has a slightly smaller but still equally efficient 34-mm Mikuni carburetor.

Fuel & Lubrication

Oil capacity is 1.9 liters/2 US quarts of SAE 0W-40 Polaris Premium 4 All-Synthetic 4-Cycle Engine Oil or its equivalent. Alternative oil variants must have an API certification of at least SJ meeting JASO T903 MA and other manufacturer standards. Its lubrication is a pressurized dry-sump system that contributes to a more effective cooling system and longer oil change intervals.

On the other hand, the fuel system requires 16 liters/4.25 US gallons (High Output) or 22.7 liters/6 US gallons (standard/deluxe EFI, X2) of unleaded gasoline with a minimum PON 87-89 rating (oxygenated). Other components include an in-tank fuel pump (view on Amazon) and in-line/in-tank micron fuel filters.

Drivetrain

An automatic Polaris Variable Transmission (PVT) handles power, delivered by a Hilliard-type clutch assembly and a driveshaft with a H/L/N/R shift sequence. All trims have On-Demand™ AWD/2WD Drive System offering selectable driveline modes – 2WD, AWD, and Turf. Touring and X2 versions have ADC or Active Descent Control. But only the 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 H.O. is equipped with both parking and reverse.

Active Descent Control

This special feature enables all-wheel braking with the flick of a switch – perfect for descending steep inclines. Furthermore, these conditions must be met for this feature to work:

  • Release or close the throttle lever.
  • The AWD switch should be in the ADC 4WD position.
  • The quad speed must not exceed 15 mph (25 kph).
  • Transmission must be in high, low, or reverse gear.

Ignition

The ’08 model has a DC-CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) and electric start system, and ignition timing requires an NGK BKR6E spark plug with a 0.035-inch (0.9-mm) gap. A triple-phase alternator with a 350-watt @ 6,000 RPM output serves as its charging system.

Located under the back left fender is a 12V, 30 Ah/10HR lead-acid YB14A-A2 battery (view on Amazon) that powers up the 12V DC outlet and any electronic accessories. The stock battery is a conventional type, but compatible lithium-ion or LiPO4 variants can replace it. Going for YTX14AH or YTX14AH-BS formats will require 10-mm spacers to fit in the battery box.

Lighting & Instrumentation

Dual 37-watt grille-mounted lights mounted on the front bumper and a 50-watt Halogen pod light provide the Sportsman 500 superior light distribution. Lighting also includes dual 8.26-watt brake lights, 26.9-watt taillight, single-watt indicators, and dual 13-watt work lights. As for instrumentation, the quad’s digital gauge has a speedometer, odometer, tachometer, trip meter, hour meter, clock, hi-temp/low-batt lights, and a fuel gauge.

Blue 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI ATV

Tires & Brakes

Standard trims have 26 x 8-12 front and 26 x 11-12 rear Titan tires mounted on stamped steel wheels and same-size Polaris PXT tires mounted on cast aluminum rims on Deluxe models. Recommended cold-tire pressure is 34.5 kPa (0.35 kg-f/cm2, 5 psi) but can be slightly aired down or inflated depending on terrain. Plus, ITP 6P0530 Mud Lite II All-Terrain Radials (view on Amazon) are more than suitable rear-tire replacements in the event of wear or damage.

The Sportsman 500 has dual hydraulic discs at the front and a single hydraulic disc at the rear, completing its tire-and-wheel assembly. EBS (Engine Braking System), which comes standard on Deluxe trims but not on base models, supplements its stopping power. DOT3 brake fluid is required when assembling or servicing brakes to prevent contamination and swelling of rubber components.

Suspension

The suspension system uses MacPherson strut front suspension with 8.2 inches/208 mm of travel and fully independent progressive-rate coilover shocks with an anti-roll bar, preload-adjustable spring tension shocks, and 9.5 inches/241 mm of travel.

Minimum ground clearance is plenty at 11.25 inches/286 mm and enables riders to traverse bumpy terrain with confidence. However, it is not the case for the 6×6 version, which has a 6-inch drawback.

The 3/4-inch improvement in wheel travel in the rear coupled with a 5.4-feet/1.6-meter turning radius lends to impressive cornering angles. Moreover, its 50.5-inch wheelbase, raised rear-seat footrests, and ergonomic handholds support vehicle stability, improved passenger input, and active weight shifting.

Dimensions

Overall vehicle dimensions are 83 x 48 x 48 inches. The seat height is 33.8 – 34 inches/857 – 864 mm, which pairs nicely with the raised footrests. Dry weight is 715 lbs. and 324 Kg for the H.O. model, 722 lbs. and 327 Kg for the H.O. RSE/Mossy Oak® Break-Up™ Camouflage trim, 895 lbs. and 406 Kg for the 6×6, and 798 – 830 lbs. and 362 – 376.5 Kg for the X2 version.

Both wheelbase and length of the X2 units are 10 inches more compared to standard models. 6x6s are 20 inches longer but two (2) inches narrower than the rest of the trims. Touring versions are somewhere between these figures but still retain the same width and height as the base Sportsman 500.

Hitch towing rate remains at 1,225 lbs (556 Kg), while brakeless trailer towing capacity is 1,786 lbs (810 Kg). Hitch tongue capacity is 120 lbs (54.4 Kg) and should be at most 180 lbs (81.6 Kg) when combined with rear rack weight. GVWR is 1,200 lbs (544 Kg) – a combination of curb weight, total rack capacity, plus accessories and passengers.

Capacities

Base, H.O., and Touring models all share a front-rack capacity of 90 lbs./40.8 Kg, a rear-rack capacity of 180 lbs./82 Kg, and a 1,225-lbs./555.7-Kg hitch towing capacity. The X2 versions increased its rear capacity to 400 lbs./181 Kg to accommodate its two-seater functionality. In like manner, 6×6 Sportsmans slightly reduced its front carrier capacity to 75 lbs./34 Kg but doubled its rear carrier and hitch towing capacities to carry heavier loads and support a larger cargo bed.

Exterior

All 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 models have a tubular Spirited steel frame with a medium-gloss black finish. Plastic body panels are available in Stealth Black, Boardwalk Blue, Indy Red, Sage Green, Sunset Red, and Mossy Oak® Break-Up™ Camouflage.

Carrier racks are made of composite material – sturdy but best washed by hand or with a garden hose (low-pressurized water). High-clearance fenders and brush guards provide 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 parts needed protection from the elements, while full floorboards, hand grips, and handlebars add to the quad’s raciness.

Lock & Ride® Cargo System

This no-drill attachment system allows the 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 and other Polaris 4x4s to quickly bolt on utility carriers and other accessories to the machine. Overall, this feature enables riders to increase luggage, storage capacities, and all-roundedness of the Sportsman as they see fit.

Cost of a 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500

Depending on its make and trim (High Output, EFI, Touring, X2, or 6×6), the MSRP ranged from $5,999 to $7,999. H.O. RSE/Mossy Oak® Break-Up™ trims are the most expensive, followed by H.O. and EFI units. Currently, the resale values of the Sportsman are generally half the price of its original base models. Below is a non-exhaustive rundown of the 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 list and resale prices:

Year – TrimList PriceRetail/Trade-In Values
2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO (High Output)$5,999$2,100 – $3,780
2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 (EFI)$6,999$2,955 – $4,850
2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 6×6$7,999N/A
2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 NBU (EFI)$7,399N/A
2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 Deluxe (EFI)$7,699$3,410 – $4,490
2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 2 Up (EFI)$7,999$3,440 – $4,525

The rider’s choice of package inclusions increased the base price by at least $1,000. Dealerships offered cheaper add-ons – for instance, an additional $200 for body-matching paint and wheels. But if you were searching for Lock & Ride compliant or performance-enhancing aftermarket parts, it was best to source them from reputable parts dealers and other known trader sites.

However, you may stumble upon rare finds that would cost a bit more but be in much better overall condition, like Sportsman 500 Mossy Oak® Break-Up™ Camouflage trims for $4,500. More expensive options typically come with snow plows, a polycarbonate windshield, rear drop baskets or extenders, and the like. Similarly, you will find well-maintained units with a fresh 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 battery or new Mud/All-Terrain tires.

In terms of usage, they average between 1,928 – 7,908 miles and 282 – 829 hours. Units with lower mileage expectedly have fewer previous owners. However, always be keen to do a background check on the vehicle. And remember to ask about mods or any alteration done on these pre-loved quads.

Known Sportsman 500 Problems

Green 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO ATV

In addition to cosmetic and parts damage expected from secondhand Sportsman 500s, this section will go over some of the quad’s known issues, including 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 HO problems:

Active Descent Control

On some occasions, ADC seems inactive, failing on downhill slopes and making descending snow or mud a tad hairy. Riders have observed that adjusting the throttle and brakes is not enough to lock the front wheels into the drivetrain and effectively control wheel spin. The result is poor performance going uphill in reverse and a close-to-negligible difference between AWD and 2WD modes – a significant drawback for recreational riders but a coveted feature by serious trailers.

Rectifier/Regulator Failure

The first sign of this problem is a flashing battery warning light, followed by an unexplained decreasing battery voltage. If not severe, basic steps like inspecting the terminals and stator, tightening loose connections, or replacing the battery altogether should solve the root cause. Otherwise, you may be looking at a defective rectifier/regulator that would require replacement to fix.

Sputtering

For H.O. models, common causes include incorrect tuning, vacuum or gas leak, vapor lock, or an ignition issue. These are common and relatively easy to fix. Timely inspection and replacement of gaskets keep gas leaks at bay. Healthy intake boots and the absence of obstructions fend off vacuum leaks and vapor locks. And the elimination of fouled spark plugs and proper air-fuel adjustments prevent ignition issues and tuning imbalance.

For EFI-equipped trims, sputtering is accompanied by engine overheating, which may indicate a fault with the TPS sensor wiring harness. An error code should point you in the right direction when troubleshooting the issue. But in its absence, the exhaust manifold needs to be checked, and an aftermarket heat shield added.

Other symptoms potentially leading to the same problem source are stuck Idle Air Control (IAC) motor and damaged fuel injector plugs. Or the throttle body may require some deep cleaning to function smoothly.

Other known issues such as intermittent stalling, no-starts, power loss, and gear sensor malfunction are explained in detail in a previous article on the 2007 Polaris Sportsman 500. The indicators and fixes are pretty much the same as the previous model year of the quad – with some addressed permanently in succeeding iterations of the machine. But if you want to go about your secondhand purchase the clever way, make sure to stay away from water-damaged rigs.

About Polaris

Polaris is an American manufacturer in Roseau, Minnesota, recognized for spawning the snowmobile industry with the launch of the 1956 Sno Traveler. It also released its first-ever U.S.-made ATV in 1985, consequently shattering the Japanese monopoly of the ATV industry.

Polaris is a respected force in the ATV landscape widely known for its purpose-built four-wheelers like the 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 and other ground-breaking all-terrain vehicle and powersports innovations.

Conclusion – 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500 Review

The ’08 model carried on with the praiseworthy advancements of the Sportsman lineup by retaining proven-and-tested models while adding new options to the plate that end-users can enjoy. Thanks to this utility-oriented wheeler, casual riders feel less intimidated choosing a mid-size 4×4.

It is not a perfect vehicle, but its improved functionality and the slew of practical features under its belt are not short of amazing. Anyone who wants their money’s worth and more would be wise to choose the 2008 Polaris Sportsman 500!

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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