Handling, styling, and infotainment upgrades headline the 2018 Polaris Slingshot lineup. The biggest changes in the new Slingshots include a Ride Command infotainment system shared with sibling company Indian Motorcycles, upgraded shocks and wheels, and styling options. There’s also a limited edition top-of-the-line, fully-decked out model, the Polaris SLR LE with the highest ever Slingshot starting price. After a recent press ride, Digital Trends suggests riders who want the last inch of performance choose the SLR LE.
The 3-wheeled Slingshot speedster that looks like an escapee from a sci-fi movie set didn’t get a power bump for 2018, but you won’t hear complaints on that score. Since the Slingshot’s 2015 debut, General Motors 2.4-liter four Ecotec cylinder engines have provided fully ample power. Sticking a 173 horsepower engine with 166 pound-feet of torque in a 1,749-pound wet weight vehicle puts a smile on Slingshot drivers’ faces as they snick through the five-speed manual transmission’s gears.
You know the drill with the Slingshot by now. You sit in the Slingshot rather than on it. Your single passenger sits next to, not behind you. Slingshots have three pedals on the floor, a shifter, and a steering wheel. You drive it like a car — albeit an open and very low car.
States vary how they classify the Slingshot. Some states consider the 3-wheeler a motorcycle and require a moto license endorsement. Other states call it an “autocycle” and a regular driver’s license suffices.
Regardless of classification, you’ll want to wear a full face helmet with a shield to redirect incoming wind, rain, and insect-life, though the need is somewhat less with the short windscreen included with some models.
All Slingshot models include ABS and selectable electronic stability and traction control. During our 2016 Polaris Slingshot SL review, we noticed it was so easy to break the accelerating rear wheel loose, even with traction control engaged, that factor was the only serious ding in the evaluation. Thankfully, when we drove the 2018 models, we were pleased to see Polaris had addressed that particular issue. Read our full impressions here.
2018 Polaris Slingshot S
The entry-level Slingshot S starts at $20,000 and comes in Gloss Black only. This model hasn’t changed since 2017 but the look, the power, and the wide open design with no roof, no windows, no doors, and not even a tiny windshield is all many need for the Slingshot experience. The S model rides on cast 17-inch front wheels and an 18-inch rear wheel with a 265mm tire. S models can be upgraded with the same 305mm rear tire and wheel, premium audio kit, ride command system, and wind deflector that differentiate it from the higher level models. The only upgrade not available for the Model S is adjustable Bilstein shocks.
2018 Polaris Slingshot SL
The Polaris theme for the Slingshot SL is, “In the spotlight at every stoplight.” You can choose between Sunset Red and Navy Blue, each with hood accent graphics. The SL adds a slew of upgrades to the base model to earn its $25,500 starting price. You’ll find machine-cast aluminum 18-inch front wheels and a 20-inch back wheel, a clear wind deflector, a backup camera, and the new Slingshot Ride Command System. The standard Ride Command includes phone integration, USB connectivity, and customizable vehicle information screens with a 7-inch touchscreen that works with or without riding gloves. The SL model also has a premium Fossgate audio system.
2018 Polaris Slingshot SLR
Jump up to the $29,000 starting price Slingshot SLR and you get the open ride that Polaris equips for the track. Available in Electric Blue and Orange Madness, each with full body accent graphics, the SLR’s model theme is, “Track-ready. Street-legal.” The SLR adds to the SL’s feature list an extra-wide 305mm rear tire, Sparco racing components, a tinted wind deflector, high-performance forged wheels, and SLR-branded side-bolstered sport seats for cornering support. The SLR model also adds turn-by-turn navigation to the Ride Command System. Unlike with the S and SL, the SLR can be upgraded with the new Bilstein shock kit.
2018 Polaris Slingshot SLR LE
Life is best at the top. While the 2018 Slingshot SLR LE isn’t the brand’s first limited edition, but it’s definitely the best equipped and the priciest. The SLR LE’s $31,000 starting price includes every feature of the other models plus 10-way adjustable Bilstein shocks, an even higher performance, 200 watt Fosgate audio set up, premium sport seats with color-matched side bolsters, and an exclusive two-tone Ghost Gray color with Lime Squeeze accents and special edition graphics. The Slingshot SLR LE is the Polaris choice for drivers who want the highest performance and technology levels, stating this is the Slingshot, “For the devil on both shoulders.” Digital Trends agrees with that sentiment.
Polaris targets three groups with the Slingshot: touring bikers, attention-seekers, and performance enthusiasts. Tourers who want greater comfort than motorcycles can provide with a passenger sitting next to them and an open air, close-to-the-road experience are great prospects for the 3-wheeler. The second group of would-be Slingshot owners wants a performance vehicle that attracts attention and stands out as something different. The Slingshot scores for both groups, regardless of model. The Slingshot’s $20,000 to $31,000 price range is also about the same as big new touring bikes. Performance enthusiasts who routinely push their vehicles and themselves won’t settle for anything less than the top-end, Slingshot SLR LE.