2014 CAN-AM MAVERICK MAX 1000R X RS DPS
Can-Am has a long and, at times, stellar history in the U.S. that started with off-road motorcycles in the early 1970s. Along the way, Can-Am became the only non-Japanese brand to win a Supercross title in the premier 250cc class, and an outdoor national motocross title in the 250 class, and then, after close misses in the national enduro chase, a few national hare-scrambles championships. One of the problems of those early days of making dirt bikes was the sheer size of parent company Bombardier. The massive production capabilities barely got moving before it was time to shut off the pipeline spitting out dirt bikes. That was then, and now—thanks to some really amazing Rotax V-twin engines, some seriously sexy ATVs and plush and powerful side-by-sides—Can-Am is the huge presence that it never was making dirt bikes. A SxS is just the sort of task that a big production line can sink some teeth in, and the king of the Can-Am fleet is the Maverick Max 1000R X rs DPS!
The standard-trim-level Maverick Max 1000R is already a powerful, well-appointed, big, bad dude, but the 1000R X rs DPS edition well and truly spruces the standard edition in a big way. No matter your frame of reference, the Max is a large-and-in-charge off-road machine. Like its main competition from Polaris, the Max is a full 65 inches wide, but where the longest Polaris has a wheelbase of 107 inches, the Max rates in at 113 inches. The Max is also a little heavier than the competition, but the reason is, the Max has had more attention lavished on comfort for the driver and passengers, and if we have to say it, we like being a little pampered.
LEGS TO ROOST ON
Can-Am took no shortcuts with the suspension. To start, there are 14 inches of travel at each end, and it gets that via double A-arms, and in the rear there is torsional trailing-A-arm independent rear suspension (TTA) with a sway bar. On the standard Max 1000R, the shocks are Fox Podium 2.0 piggybacks, but the X rs edition upped the ante to high-grade Fox 2.5 Podium performance shocks with adjustable low- and high-speed compression damping, rebound and preload! The X rs package is further upgraded via contrasting-color bead-lock wheels for the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 radials. Helping direct those tires is the tri-mode Dynamic Power Steering (DPS) that is also part of the X rs package. Can-Am’s DPS system offers variable steering designed to offer less assist at high speed and more assist at low speed. It also allows the driver to dial in his or her preference with three modes (high, medium and low). Drivers new to DPS played with the modes, but more experienced and precise drivers wanted the steering on high assist at all times.
A PLACE TO CALL MY OWN
When you climb into the Maverick Max, you get a very automotive-feeling, like you are sliding into a specialized off-road car rather than a farm implement or what we have come to expect from UTVs. That isn’t to say the interior needs a paper floor mat to protect the carpet. We got the Max in plenty of mud during our testing in Albany, New York, and it always took its pressure-washing with no complaints. The steering wheel (truly automotive with the X ras package), seat comfort and the location of the foot controls are all natural and very nice. Even when we jumped the car, the bolstered seats kept the driver and passengers in place. The driver’s seat is adjustable, and it and the front passenger seat are removable and free-standing so they can be used for lounging outside the car while camping or just digging nature. The rear seats are raised 3.5 inches above the front seats. That isn’t the best for the center of gravity while fully loaded, but it does let the passengers see what is coming up. Interior room isn’t unlimited, but the Max is roomy enough in the front.
Knee clearance in the rear seats is tight for passengers over 6 feet tall, but there is room between tender knees and the front seat. There is 4.5 gallons of in-cab storage, plus cup holders for every seat. If you need to carry more, the rack on the back is good for 150 pounds.
It was easy for Can-Am to mount the gas pedal in a position that allows the driver to easily rest a heel on the floor. The pedal uses Can-Am’s iTC throttle-by-wire system. There is no throttle cable to worry about or maintain (nice on a car this long), but most important, if your foot is bouncing around and making rough throttle inputs, iTC smoothes out the throttle inputs! The instrument pod has a tach, speedo and a variety of other helpful information, though the X rs version gets an upgraded gauge package. Rocker switches on the center console control the headlight’s high/low function, the three-mode DPS and allows you to select two- or four-wheel drive. A fourth switch allows the driver to select sport or economy engine-management modes. There is also a hidden power mode. The Maverick comes with two keys. One, the one you hand to friends to limit the car to 45 mph, and the other key allows full power and top speed. The keys are also “smart,” so a code in the key must match one in the CPU for the car to start.
Can-Am uses Rotax engines, and Rotax is a brand that has long been associated with performance. The potent 976cc, 101-horsepower V-twin Maverick engine will only grow the legend. Each cylinder has a single overhead cam and four valves. Bosch throttle bodies and Siemens injectors feed the beast. Much attention was paid to the intake and exhaust system to maximize performance. The dual-exhaust system even sports a catalytic converter for low emissions. Power is fed through a CVT belt and transmission. Direct drive reaches the rear wheels, but in the front, a Visco-Lock system senses traction and progressively locks the front differential as needed. It works well enough that, in combination with the power steering, you never really feel the front locking up.
DOWN TO BUSINESS
Entering the Maverick is pleasantly easy for the driver and passengers. There are no doors, but there are substantial side nets that secure with a single seatbelt-style buckle. Three-point retractable seat belts secure all occupants, and they have a sliding anti-cinch clip. After the belt has automatically snugged up, slide the cinch clip to lock the belt at the buckle. That keeps the auto-tensioning belt system from getting tighter as you hit bumps. The passengers have solid hand-holds.
You will find the engine is quiet yet throaty when you light it up. It settles immediately into a smooth idle, and runs as clean as you would expect from a well-sorted EFI. Park is at the front of the pattern for the gated shifter. You must stop to shift or to cycle between 2WD and 4WD. The control layout is well-designed, and between the adjustable seat and tilt wheel, most everyone should be able to get settled.
As you take off, the CVT reacts smoothly and pulls strongly with no hesitation. Even with the weight of the Max and three passengers, acceleration is strong with no lag or hesitation. Even with four people in the Maverick, it was rare to need to shift into low range. Mostly we shifted to low to avoid abusing the CVT belt. It felt like the Max would have negotiated the trickiest climbs we encountered in high.
Conditions were typical of the east: narrow, lots of trees to dodge and ground that ranged from grassy loam to rock to packed clay with rocks and giant exposed roots. Rain the night before we arrived ensured there was a grease factor entering turns, and there was plenty of mud and water to test the Max and the pressure washer at the wash station. The Maverick feels solid and planted and stays composed when pushed. Steering is light, and we did play with the levels of assist. Early in the day, the rear of the car wanted to drift out on the wet-packed clay of the woods, but that was more attributable to the conditions than any flaw in the handling.
Right from the first moment, though, you realize that the Max is an off-road limo in all senses of the word. It treats the humans inside well with comfortable accommodations and suspension that isolates them remarkably well from the cobbly trail surface. It also feels very long, and in the woods, you need to deliberately run the front of the Max a little wide to make sure the inside rear wheel is in the turn and not inside of it. That is especially true if the turn has stumps, rocks or logs on the inside. Can-Am had a lot of machines out when we were testing, and we didn’t see any with flat tires except the Max, and all of those were rears. No doubt pilot error was at least partially to blame. The length of the car means that you just don’t pitch the Max sideways. We tried. The rear steps out, then hooks up and falls back into line.
Can-Am’s suspension is impressive. The fully adjustable Fox 2.5 Podium shocks are usually seen only on modified race vehicles, not on production machines. The shocks, together with the trailing arm rear end, really get the power to the ground. As you start pushing the car into turns, it squats under acceleration, hooks up and pulls. It feels a lot like what an off-road race truck looks like. The jumps we encountered were short and steep, so we left those to the two-seaters. A smooth jump like a dune face would be fine, but you aren’t going to huck a little double right out of a turn.
There was a small gravel pit in the test area with steep, manmade climbs with sharp lips. Again, the long car made us select our lines rather than play tag with the two-seaters. It was actually impressive what the Max would do in the tight woods, but it really shone in the open. On the faster sections, the long wheelbase makes the car very calm and collected with a smoother ride than the two-seaters. Like any vehicle, it plays to its strengths. Anything that is reasonable to subject passengers to is more than fine with the Max.
Obviously, the Max will be better suited to more open areas. Buying a four-seater is about taking family and friends along for the ride. The Max offers the thrill for the driver but still lets you share the experience. If you are one of those who can make your own decision about a SxS, good for you. For many, though, this is a “family buy,” and you need the family on your side. Trust us, the Max will allow you a ton of fun and big-time performance in a package you can sell to the family CFO. Add in details like great lights and a six-month warranty that can be extended to 30 months and you have a machine that demands your consideration if you are shopping in this category.