Piloting the Extroverted Polaris Slingshot Three-Wheeler Is a Unique Experience

    Part motorcycle, part car, all toy

    Polaris Slingshot driving Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

    Polaris drew from its experience with ATVs, side-by-sides, motorcycles, and snowmobiles to create an extroverted three-wheel street machine called the Slingshot. It blurs the lines between a motorcycle and car, with a roadsterlike cabin complete with a steering wheel, pedals, and seat belts combined with an open-air experience propelled by a single rear drive wheel. The Slingshot is unique in its configuration and appearance, making it a peerless plaything.

    It was first introduced in late 2014 (as a 2015 model), and it has recently received several updates, from styling to powertrain. We thought it was high time to take one for a spin and rented one from Polaris.

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    Made in the U.S., the model line starts with the Slingshot S at $20,799. There are a total of five versions, topping out with the $35,799 Signature LE that we experienced. Those prices move the three-wheeler from plaything to fair-weather car alternative. They ultimately can color perceptions as the shopper wrestles with what else could be bought with that money, from a full-bagger motorcycle or Can-Am Spyder all the way up to a convertible car.

    Most Slingshots feature a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that puts out 178 horsepower (although torque is just 120 lb.-ft.). The higher-performance Slingshot R boasts 203 horsepower and 144 lb.-ft. of torque. 

    The promise here is a driving experience as unique and thrilling as the styling. We were eager to find out. 

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    What we rented: 2022 Polaris Slingshot Signature LE
    Powertrain: 178-hp, 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder; 5-speed automated manual transmission; RWD 
    Base price: $20,799
    MSRP as driven: $36,749

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