For some reason Can-Am has the reputation of
being the high-priced, exotic machine in the 4x4 market. What most
people don’t know is, Can-Am Outlander 4x4 ATVs are priced very
competitively with other models. The base Can-Am 500 is $7799, and for
comparison, a Honda 500 Rubicon is $7999 and the Polaris Sportsman 570
is $6499. As close as we can tell, Can-Am riders are so enthusiastic
about the brand that they rarely opt for the base model. The base
Outlander is a fine machine, but it is available only in red with black
stamped-steel wheels. When was the last time you saw an Outlander 4x4 in
red with black steel wheels? We can’t say that we’ve ever seen one out
on the trail. No doubt part of the reason why we don’t see base
Outlanders is thanks to the attractive Can-Am accessory packages. The
first step up is the $8699 DPS package. DPS stands for Dynamic Power
Steering, and the package naturally has DPS, but it also includes the
Quick-Engage Visco-Lok differential. The QE version has all the benefits
of the standard Visco-Lok differential, but with an even quicker
engagement point. The DPS model also has cast-aluminum wheels. Jumping
up to the $9299 XT package, the highest trim level for the Outlander
500, gets you a winch, heavy-duty bumpers and handlebar brush
deflectors. Can-Am makes more than one Outlander, but the 500 is
significantly the cheapest. The price for the base 650 is $9599, the 800
is $10,449 and the 1000 is $11,499.
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT
We played for a while in mud and
water. The Outlander 500 never hiccuped, and it always got through.
There is plenty of power, but the delivery makes it friendly for less
test unit was the yellow DPS model with silver cast-aluminum wheels
and, of course, the QE differential in the front. For many brands, when
you step down to a 500cc-class model, you end up stepping down in
physical size for the overall machine and even downgrading the
suspension. Sometimes the engine drops to air-cooled and carbureted.
With a Can-Am, the 1000, 800, 650 and 500 all share the same chassis and
suspension. You even get the same basic engine. The Outlander 500
V-twin has the same engine architecture of the 1000, 800 and 650—just
with a shorter stroke and smaller bore for both cylinders. Since it is a
V-twin, the engine is silky smooth and has that wonderful sound the
Can-Am ATVs are famous for, as well as more power than any other machine
in this class. When you consider the expense of making a V-twin engine
compared to a single cylinder, it’s impressive that Can-Am can be so
price competitive in this displacement range.
doubt that treatment like this was what Can-Am had in mind for the
Outlander 500, but with Cain Smead at the controls, it handled the
off the 500 stickers and you can’t tell the Outlander 500 from one of
its brothers by looking at it. As a result, you get all of the comfort,
handling and suspension that you get from the 800 or 1000. You also get
the new second-generation chassis. When Can-Am went to this G2 chassis,
the handling of the machine improved a lot. It employs a double A-arm
front suspension and the trailing-arm rear suspension. It keeps the
wheels tracking straight up and down instead of leaning up a little bit
like they do with A-arms. Can-Am calls its rear suspension TTI—that
stands for Torsional Trailing-Arm independent suspension. Travel numbers
come in at 9 inches on the front and 9.3 inches in the rear—about
normal for the class. CHASSIS POWER
Outlander’s somewhat unique rack allows machine-specific accessories to
clip on solidly without the use of tie-downs or bungee cords.
When Can-Am upgraded
to the G2 chassis, the 500 gained six horsepower. We’ll guess that the
increase was airbox-related. It’s interesting that according to the
specs, the 500 motor shares the same fuel injection, including the
same-size throttle body and injectors as the 800 and 1000. With the
twin-cylinder design and huge throttle body, the 500’s twin does come in
a little bit shy in bottom-end torque compared to some of the full
550/570cc singles that are in the class. Despite sharing a chassis with
those bigger brothers and the physically larger twin-cylinder motor, the
weight is about the same as the single-cylinder Polaris Sportsman 570.
Performance specs for the two machines are about the same as well.
Between the two racks you can carry 300 pounds, and the towing capacity
is 1300 pounds. The racks are somewhat unique. If you get Can-Am
accessories, they clip and lock onto the racks.
Sharing a weight
close to the 800 and 1000, and packing plenty of power and acceleration,
it’s a good thing that the 500 also shares the larger Outlander’s
brakes. They’re good ones: dual-ventilated disc brakes up front with
dual-piston calipers, and a single-ventilated disc in the rear with a
twin-piston caliper. The Outlander shares the basic Can-Am control
layout, so all three brakes are controlled by a single lever on the left
side of the bar. There is a rear brake pedal that controls only the
rear brake. The right side of the handlebar has only the throttle and
4WD controls. Staying a bit on the unusual side, the fuel-filler neck
peaks out through the right rear fender.
Can-Am chooses the
Carlisle Badland tire for the Outlander. The Badland is a good
all-around tire tread pattern, and it works best on packed and hard
surfaces, but not that great anywhere else. We can see why so many
Can-Am owners are running aftermarket tires for sand or mud.
Outlander 500 will even get the front wheels up when you need them up.
That isn’t always the case with other CVT transmission quads.
it doesn’t take a genius to realize that a big part of Can-Am’s sales
success is due to the motor. The 500–1000 V-twin engines have such a
great sound—something like a small V8 Trophy Truck. Throttle response is
silky smooth, the engine revs cleanly and is happy with rpm. In the
case of the 500, the power off the bottom is a little soft, but if you
get to more technical trails, you start appreciating that smooth and
slow roll. And in conditions where the 800 (and for sure the 1000) might
be too jumpy and hard to control, the 500 is just perfect.
engine is always willing with plenty of top speed. No 4x4 chassis is
that happy at full speed. They are set up to be nimble in the tight
rather than be rock solid at speed. The Can-Am is quite happy zipping
along, eating up two-tracks or even cranking it on smooth dirt roads,
but like any 4x4, it’s going to be happiest in a little tighter-going.
were able to jump the 500 a little bit, and it handled it fine. We also
got out to play in the mud—again, no problem. The 4x4 just pulled
through, smooth and clean. Our riding area for this test had a lot of
slippery roots and rocks coming up out of the clay. In all cases the 500
was planted, willing to go and had the gear ratios to maximize the
Unlike many CVT 4x4s in this class, when you do need
to get the front end up, the Can-Am 500 will allow you to grab a
wheelie to get the job done. One thing about the TTI suspension, when
you roll into the throttle, the back squats and pushes the tires into
the ground. It really has exceptional traction driving forward.
most cases the Can-Am’s traction-sensing Visco-Lok front end works
well, but even with the QE, we sometimes miss a true diff-lock. We could
also wish for a tire with more aggressive tread and more sidewall
strength, but those are minor issues.
A nice hitch comes standard, but it looks like it doubles as protection for the rear differential.
little bit of time at any sort of extreme 4x4 ATV competition, like mud
bogging or even endurance races, and you will see a lot of Can-Ams.
After spending some time with the 500, we completely understand. The
neutral feel of the chassis, the way the suspension works, the light
steering and, most of all, the smooth and energetic power from the
V-twin make this a package that makes you want to go out and have an
adventure. The riding position (seated and standing) is comfortable and
roomy. The machine is very attractive with top-of-the-line styling, and
it’s very effective at getting the job done. Add in the fact that the
weight and the price are right where they should be in the class, and it
makes the Outlander 500 a great value and a great 4x4.
This gated shifter handles gear selection. It is easy to use and has a positive engagement.
2014 CAN-AM OUTLANDER 500 Engine 99.6cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC V-twin, 4-valve 4-stroke Bore x stroke 82.0mm x 47.0mm Fuel system EFI 46mm throttle body, 2 Siemens VDO injectors Fuel capacity 5.4 gal. Starting system Electric Final drive Shaft Suspension/wheel travel: Front Double A-arm/9" Rear TTA independent/9.3" Tires: Front 26x8x12 Carlisle Badland Rear 26x10-12 Carlisle Badland Brakes: Front Dual 214mm ventilated disc brakes w/ hydraulic twin-piston calipers Rear Single 214mm ventilated disc brakes w/ hydraulic twin-piston caliper Wheelbase 51.0 inches Length/width/height 86"/46"/44" Ground clearance 11.0" Seat height 34.5" Total rack capacity 300 lb. Towing capacity 1300 lb. Curb weight 713 (dry) pounds Color Yellow and light gray MSRP $7299
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear. Copyright 2008 Hi-Torque Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Console Login