(Photo Credits: Polaris)

Powersports giant Polaris has announced that the U.S. Marine Corps has ordered 144 MRZR-D4 diesel-powered buggies dispatch with each of the Corps’ active infantry regiments. These rigs will help Marines get around where speed and maneuverability are more important than armor.

The MRZR-D4, introduced back in May, is heavy duty, tan-painted variant of the popular RZR off-road toy with a 993cc 4-stroke single-overhead cam three-cylinder turbo diesel engine. This is a new fuel to get used in one of these vehicles, and it looks like this is the first time the U.S. military will actually be sending some to the front line.

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Like the gasoline-burning version, this diesel RZR puts down power through a CVT with switchable 2WD and AWD modes.

One of these vehicles can carry 1,500 pounds of payload, including 500 in the cargo box and weighs 2,100 pounds itself ready-to-drive.

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With just a 107-inch wheelbase and 12 inches of suspension travel the MRZR can get over and around most obstacles quickly and easily. When it does get stopped, four Marines and a winch should be able to get the buggy the rest of the way around whatever.

The MRZR-D4 fits into MV-22 Osprey twin-rotor vertical take-off airplanes and and CH-53 Stallion helicopters, which makes it easy to deploy all over the world.

The U.S. Army is working with these vehicles as well. Polaris reports that more than 20 allied countries already use MRZRs in expeditionary military work. Since they cost about a tenth of what an armored SUV-like JLTV truck does, I imagine we’re only seeing the beginning of a trend toward putting more of these vehicles to work in the military’s combat, rescue and humanitarian missions.

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As to whether this or a similar diesel engine will make its way to the civilian models, that remains to be seen. UTVs like the Polaris RZR aren’t governed by the same emissions standards or taxes as passenger cars, so I feel like the main driver of such an option would be “demand.”

The military can certainly benefit from a diesel RZR’s extended range, but would civilians want to give up the performance of petrol for that?