850 vs 850

Published in the December 2018 Issue July 2019 Feature Lane Lindstrom

When Polaris rolled out its new 850 Patriot engine in select snowmobiles for model year 2019, it was the first real challenge to Ski-Doo’s Rotax 850 for king of naturally aspirated horsepower.

Prior to the second 850 being introduced to the snowmobile industry, it was the Arctic Cat 800 and Polaris Liberty 800 H.O. powerplants trying to compete with the Rotax 850. While the new Arctic Cat 800 C-Tec2 poses a formidable challenge to the Rotax 850 and Polaris’ Liberty 800, which is what you’ll find in Polaris’ in-season RMK lineup (the 850 Patriot was a spring-only option) did its best to keep pace, Ski-Doo has the edge in horsepower in the mountain segment.

Now that the 850 Patriot is on the snow, 2019 is going to be a great winter to compare the two. Actually we are excited to compare the two 850s and Cat’s 800 C-Tec2 because the Cat engine is pretty competitive.

But for our purposes in this article, we’re just looking at 850 vs. 850.

Let’s dig in.

The Ski-Doo 850 E-Tec, manufactured at the company’s Rotax factory in Gunskirchen, Austria, was first introduced in 2016 for model year 2017 snowmobiles. It replaced the 800R E-Tec.

The 850 Patriot is new for this model year (2019) and is one of two high horsepower engines offered by Polaris. As mentioned, the 850 Patriot is a spring-only offering, Any sleds bought in season come with the Liberty 800 (or 600). Will the spring-only limitation continue for next season? Not sure. We guess time will tell. One more fact about the Liberty engine is that it is 25 years old.

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