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Man driving the Polaris Slingshot
Megan Johnson

Polaris Slingshot Review

SmarterTravel

If you’ve ever seen a three-wheeled, open-air vehicle cruising down the road and wondered what it was, how it drives, and if it was something you might want to try out, we are here to tell you about it. Classified as a 3-wheeled motorcycle, the Polaris Slingshot can be driven by anyone with a valid driver’s license and a taste for adventure. We were lucky enough to get one on loan to test it out, and we have everything you need to know about this unique ride. 

What is the Polaris Slingshot?

Person driving the Polaris Slingshot
Megan Johnson

As mentioned before, the Polaris Slingshot is a 3-wheeled motorcycle. Each model is available with either a standard or AutoDrive transmission, so anyone can drive it. The AutoDrive transmission drives just like a standard, so you get the same fun feel of a standard, without having to know how to drive it. It’s the perfect vehicle for driving around town, going to the beach, or a weekend getaway (when it is warm out!) 

What Makes the Polaris Slingshot Different?

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s described as a three-wheeled motorcycle, yet it’s not quite a motorcycle and not quite a car. I am someone who would never ride on a motorcycle, and I was a bit nervous getting in the slingshot for the first time, but once I got used to it, I loved driving it. I’m used to a family station wagon, and the Slingshot is pretty much the polar opposit of that. It is a statement piece, not a practical car for everyday use. 

Can you Travel with A Polaris Slingshot? 

As long as it is just two people and you don’t mind traveling light, the Slingshot is a great vehicle for taking a trip. The small cubbies behind each seat can hold a small overnight bag- you won’t be taking a suitcase! It’s waterproof, so you don’t need a garage, but you may want to take that into consideration in case it does pour and the interior gets wet.

The Slingshot is a fantastic vehicle for cruising around looking at scenery, because although you are low to the ground, the open air style makes for great observation of whatever surrounds you. We took it out in New England during (almost) peak foliage season, and it provided the perfect view of the gorgeous colors the Autumn New England landscape has to offer. 

One thing you have to be mindful of with a Slingshot is that they are open-air. They do offer a removable Excursion Top for some coverage, but even with that, you are still pretty open. As mentioned before, because of the openness of the Slingshot, you might want a garage or other covering for it when it is not in use, otherwise, you are in for a wet ride. They are waterproof, so if you don’t have a garage, you don’t have to worry about leaving it outside, which is a huge bonus.

Is a Polaris Slingshot Safe?

Since the Slingshot is classified as a three-wheeled motorcycle, it does not have to meet the safety requirements of typical car crash safety standards. However, like anything, how you drive it determines how safe it will actually be. 

For added safety, Polaris recommends wearing an full-face, DOT-approved helmet when operating or riding in a Slingshot. Many states require you wear one, so be sure to check with the state you will be riding in if you plan not to wear one. It is also recommended you wear the provided seatbelt. 

The 2022 Slingshot models do feature four-piston Brembo breaks which “improve the braking feel, aesthetics, and comfort of your Slingshot.”

What is it Like to Drive a Slingshot?

SmarterTravel editor Megan Johnson in the driver's seat of the Polaris Slingshot, giving a thumbs up to the camera
SmarterTravel editor Megan Johnson in the driver’s seat of the Polaris Slingshot.Megan Johnson

Slingshots are fun. When you drive one, be ready to see a lot of heads turning your way, and definitely be prepared to talk about it. Whenever we took it out, we got a lot of looks, thumbs up, and waves from people we didn’t know. Wherever we parked it, at least one person would ask about it, and we would always hear people commenting about it. This is not a vehicle for anyone who doesn’t like small talk! 

We drove around small country roads, as well as highways, and the feeling was always the same: exciting. Whether you are going from zero to sixty miles an hour in less than five seconds on the highway, or twisting and turning, going up and down hill on a country road, it’s thrilling. That being said, there were roads we could not drive fast on, and that was even fun, feeling the wind, and taking in the scenery.  To me, it felt a little bit like an over-sized go-kart, but in a good way. 

As far as what the handling of the Slingshot is like, it handles great, once you get used to it. When you take a turn, it is pretty tight, but because the weight was in the front it doesn’t feel like it is swaying. You do need to be careful, and remind yourself that it isn’t a car and there is no weight  in the back, it’s all in the front. 

It was great on the highway- fast with lots of power. Changing lanes was smooth, even with a lot of traffic. While nothing dangerous or scary happened to us, the concern is that it, once again, it handles differently than a car, especially if you need to make a defensive driving maneuver. It would be best to practice putting it into a skid and adapt to how it responds differently than a car. 

We had an AutoDrive transmission, and when you’re used to a regular automatic car, the feel of this one can be jarring. Our advice is, don’t fight the AutoDrive transmission- it responds like a manual would in that it will downshift to slow the Slingshot. It does take some getting used to at first, but once you get the feel of it, it’s easy going. It will happily stay in a lower gear for street cruising, which works well, especially when there are hills to navigate.

When you commit to speed- there is no hesitation in the transmission, it responds with as much acceleration as possible.

A regular car might try to downshift to increase acceleration but the Slingshot doesn’t; it only shifts up when you need the higher top end speed and only after maximizing acceleration requires shifting to a higher gear. 

Slingshot Features

Besides the look and feel of the Slingshot, there are several features that make this vehicle special. The seats are not only heated, they also can cool, so for particularly hot days, you won’t stick to the seat. We went out when it was about 50 degrees out, and that is probably as cold as  you’ll want to go. The heated seats helped, though, and we layered up so we were nice and warm, despite the cool air and wind. 

We were also able to connect our phones to bluetooth so we could listen to whatever music we wanted, which is key when you are open-air cruising in a statement piece! 

Slingshot FAQ

How old do you have to be to drive a Slingshot?

You must have a valid drivers license to drive a Slingshot, so whatever the age is for a license in your place of residence.

What kind of license do you need to drive a Slingshot?

In every state but Massachusetts, you just need a regular driver’s license to drive a Slingshot. In Massachusetts, you need a motorcycle license. 

Operational

All Slingshot models are available in manual or AutoDrive transmission. 

Insurance

Slingshots need insurance, and most companies will help you get it! 

How much do Polaris Slingshots cost?

Slingshots start at $20,799, and can be financed.  

How fast does a Polaris Slingshot go?

They can go up to 125 mph. 

Is the Polaris Slingshot a bike or a car?

It is classified as a three-wheeled motorcycle.

Can Polaris Slingshot drive on Highway?

Yes! You can drive the Slingshot on any road. 

Do Slingshots have AC?

There is no HVAC system in the Slingshot, however, some models have seats that heat or cool. 

How many miles can a Slingshot go on a tank of gas?

The 9.77 gallon tank can take you over 200 miles before needing to fill your tank.

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