Polaris Industries has updated its Slingshot three-wheeler for 2020, giving it a new 1997cc four-cylinder engine, an automatic transmission, revised suspension and a redesigned cockpit. In all, Polaris says the 2020 Slingshot features “70% new vehicle content” in its first major update since its introduction in 2015.
“We are excited to announce Slingshot’s first-ever automatic style transmission. Our new AutoDrive transmission will open the door for more people to get in, stand out, and take their driving experience to a whole new level,” says Mike Dougherty, President of Polaris Slingshot. “With roughly 70 percent all-new content, we left no stone unturned both inside and out. The all-new ProStar 2.0L engine delivers more power and more fun, while the completely redesigned cockpit and interior elevates the shared experience for both the driver and their passenger.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The issue of whether or not the Polaris Slingshot should count as a motorcycle has gone on, also since its inception. No, it doesn’t look like a traditional motorcycle, whatever your definition of that includes. From a regulatory perspective, however, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considers three-wheelers like the Slingshot to be motorcycles, though there are efforts to re-classify them as a new category called “autocycles”. In many states, a motorcycle endorsement is required to operate a Slingshot, and Polaris advises wearing DOT-approved full-face helmets and seatbelts while riding a Slingshot.
In our eyes here at Motorcycle.com, this makes the Slingshot worth writing about, even if some readers disagree. If you don’t want to read about the Slingshot, you don’t have to. But for those that do, we’ve got you covered. But if you still feel that strongly that Motorcycle.com should not write about the Slingshot, you’re welcome to leave us some feedback here.
As we were first to report back in November, the new engine was designed by Polaris and will replace the 2.4l GM Ecotec engine that powered the first generation of Slingshots. The ProStar 2.0l engine is actually the first four-cylinder engine ever produced by Polaris Industries, and will be offered in two states of tune. On the 2020 Slingshot SL model, the engine claims a peak output of 178 hp at the 8500 rpm redline and 120 lb-ft. at 5500 rpm, while the 2020 Slingshot R claims 203 hp at 8250 rpm and 144 lb-ft. 6500 rpm. By comparison, the Ecotec engine’s claimed 173 hp at 6200 rpm and 166 lb-ft. at 4700 rpm with a rev limit at 7200 rpm.
Along with the new engine comes Polaris’ new “AutoDrive” transmission. Polaris describes it as a “hydraulically actuated manual five-speed transmission”. It’s not a CVT as it shifts through five different gear ratios, but shifting is done completely automatically unlike, say, Honda’s DCT which still gives the rider the option of changing gears at the press of a button. For those who want complete control over shifting, the 2020 Slingshot R is also available with a five-speed manual transmission.
The 2020 Slingshot offers two ride modes, “Comfort” for more leisurely rides, and “Slingshot” mode for a sportier experience. The modes are accessible through the Slingshot’s new Ride Command infotainment system with a 7-inch color display. The updated system uses a new quad-core processor for a snappier response, and Polaris says the screen is brighter and more visible at further viewing angles than the previous system. The Ride Command system offers turn-by-turn navigation and phone connectivity, as well as AM/FM radio, with sounds pumping out of the Slingshot’s 100-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Other features include a new front end design, LED headlights, new front accent lighting, a 7.5-inch wind screen, revised suspension and an updated frame. The Slingshot SL comes with cast aluminum wheels while the Slingshot R’s wheels are forged aluminum.
The 2020 Polaris Slingshot SL starts at $26,499 and is available in Red Pearl or Blue Steel color options. The Slingshot R ups the price to $30,999, and a choice of Stealth Black or Miami Blue two-tone paint schemes.