ATV TEST: 2023 CAN-AM RENEGADE X xc 1000R

A new look and upgraded features highlight the GNCC 4x4 Pro-class dominator

Story and photos by Jeff Henson – Test rider David Ham

It might seem like an unlikely candidate for airtime, but the Renegade X xc flies very level with predictable precision, and the Fox suspension does an admirable job of softening landings.

Stabbing the thumb throttle on the Can-Am Renegade X xc 1000R for the first time is eye-popping. My peripheral vision blurred as acceleration took over. I could feel my arms stretching from my shoulder sockets, instinctively forcing me to tighten my grip on the bars and seat. All four wheels spun wildly beneath as the rear tires seemed determined to dig in and catch the fronts. With 91 horsepower on tap, power-to-weight ratio considered, this is the most powerful 4WD ATV on the market today. 

It’s not your typical sport quad, but it’s not a utility ATV, either. The Renegade X xc ($15,499) is part of an elite group of ATVs known as sport 4x4s. This class began with the Yamaha Wolverine before it became a side-by-side. Today, the class is defined by big-bore, twin-cylinder engines; suspension travel that rivals that of side-by-sides and limited to very little cargo capacity. Other machines in the class include the Renegade X xc’s closest nemesis, the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S ($17,799), as well as the Polaris Scrambler 850 ($12,399). And then there are more cargo-friendly options like the Can-Am Outlander X xc 1000R ($15,899) with rear rack only, and the Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 S ($17,799) with two racks.

The most common complaint we see about Renegade models is the lack of cargo capacity, but Renegades are pure sport machines. They were never intended for hauling hay bales or agricultural sprayers. It’s a cross-country woods weapon and the ATV of choice for 12 out of 14 current GNCC Pro 4×4-class athletes. If your ATV requirements include moving cargo, get yourself an Outlander.

NEW FOR 2023 

Aside from the new Catalyst Gray and Neo Yellow color scheme with two-tone stitched seats, the most visible change is the addition of LED headlights. Round halogens have finally given way to four faceted rectangular LEDs. Outer lights operate as standard headlights, or you can select all four for a brighter swath. Either way, night rides are more brilliant than ever. 

All-new intelligent engine braking is also new and allows you to select how much engine braking assistance is required for changing terrain conditions—more on that in a moment. As for the rest, well, it was already excellent as is, starting with the monstrous Rotax V-twin.

The Renegade X xc is the preferred choice of machine for most GNCC 4×4-class pros. It’s agile through the trees and fast as lightning as the crow flies.

GET UP AND GONE!

Seeing the 1000R engine up close for the first time is jaw-dropping. It completely fills the frame cradle! With the Digitally Encoded Security System (DESS) key engaged, the push of the e-start button brings the V-twin to life with a low Rotax rumble. The engine sounds as mean as it looks.

Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC) provides three different drive modes, which can be selected with a rocker switch. Eco mode restricts top speed to 42 mph, Normal mode smooths out power delivery, and then there’s Sport mode. When engaged, the latter emits an audible beep, warning you to hang on!

With 976cc of V-twin power producing 91 ponies, it goes without saying that the 1000R engine is not for beginners. No matter what your skill level is, power is always abundant. 

TRANSMISSION

Getting all that power to the ground is a tall order, and the fully automatic CVT transmission is up to the warp-speed task. Gear selections include park, reverse, neutral, high and low. The shifter is notchy and can be a little difficult when trying to slide it into the right gear. It doesn’t always connect on the first try, either. Sometimes it takes a little wheel movement to get it fully engaged.

The Renegade X xc comes with Visco-Lok QE, which is the quicker-engaging, automatic front differential lock. Unfortunately, you cannot manually lock the front diff, but we wouldn’t turn this machine away from any mud holes or extreme rock climbs. That said, if your choice of terrain consists mostly of mud, you might want to look at the more mud-specific Renegade X mr ($16,799) with its larger mud tires and Visco-4Lok fully lockable differential.

All four corners are fitted with Fox 1.5 Podium RC2 shocks, which are rebuildable and offer preload, high/low compression, and rebound adjustment.

CONTROLS

Intelligent Throttle Control also includes throttle-by-wire, which refers to the cable-less electronic thumb throttle. Thumb throttle tension is ultralight and doesn’t fatigue the thumb and wrist like traditional springs and throttle cables.

Intelligent Engine Braking (IEB) is a new feature for select Outlander and Renegade models, including the X xc 1000R. A toggle switch lets you select between three levels of engine braking assistance: minimum, medium and maximum. It’s a great feature for different situations. When paired with the transmission set in low range, maximum engine braking slows the Renegade to a crawl on steep descents. For dune riding, minimum braking assistance works best for keeping the tires above sand.

Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering (DPS) is another feature with three usable modes of assistance. With this much power and weight, we found ourselves using all three for different situations. Maximum power works great for rock crawling and lugging the wheels out of crevices, while medium and minimum DPS assistance modes work better for flatter surfaces, depending on how much terrain feedback you prefer. 

All these controls can be toggled through, on the fly, without letting go of the grips. The reverse-speed override button next to the left grip doubles as the DPS selector, and the thumb-throttle housing contains the IEB toggle on the back side, iTC toggle on top and the 2WD/4WD selector on the front.

For its size, the Renegade is very maneuverable when the terrain ahead gets technical. 

WOODS WEAPON

The Renegade is set up much like a small trophy truck with arched A-arms up front for a wider swath of ground clearance and trailing arms at the rear. Fox 1.5 Podium RC2 shocks are standard at all four corners, and offer preload, high/low compression, and rebound adjustments. The shocks are rebuildable and do allow spring and valving changes. Some of the top GNCC pro racers even run the stock Fox shock bodies with valving and spring changes made from aftermarket companies like DeRisi Racing.

The Renegade tracks straight with minimal feedback to the bars, even over rocks and off-camber trails. Front shocks allow up to 9.2 inches of suspension travel and 9.9 inches at the rear. We only bottomed the rear shocks a few times while hitting deeper cross ruts at speed. This was easily remedied with a click or two of added compression.

With its 48-inch-wide stance, the Renegade is just right for woods riding. It’s wide between the knees, but it’s easy to get up on the tank and motor around trees on tight and twisty trails. For its size, the Renegade is very maneuverable when the terrain ahead gets technical. 

Twenty-five-inch ITP Holeshot tires carve sharp corners in the sand, and Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering makes turning this 800-plus-pound beast almost effortless.

REAL-WORLD WEIGH-IN

Can-Am claims an “estimated” dry weight (no fluids) of 795 pounds, which we would say is close to accurate. We weighed the Renegade on our ProForm vehicle scale with all fluids, including a full 5.4-gallon fuel tank, at 855 pounds.

More interestingly, we found that weight is equally distributed between all four wheels with a slight bias to the rear. Each front corner supports approximately 24 percent of the mass, while the rear corners take on 26 percent. The result is a well-balanced ride, whether the wheels are on the ground or in the air. It might seem like an unlikely candidate for airtime, but the Renegade X xc flies very level with predictable precision, and the Fox suspension does an admirable job of softening landings.

This 976cc Rotax V-twin engine produces 91 horsepower and accelerates faster than you can say, “Yippee ki-yay.”

“BRAKING” THE BEAST

The Renegade 1000R scrambles up to 75 mph quickly. This much horsepower and weight require heavy-duty brakes, and Can-Am delivers with dual 214mm discs with twin-piston calipers up front and a single 214mm disc brake with twin-piston caliper inside the right rear wheel. The rear brakes work adequately since the rear axles are locked. However, it is interesting to note that the left trailing arm does have an unused bracket setup for a second rear caliper.

IEB also comes into play as an aid to the brakes. In high gear, the maximum engine braking assistance mode works well coming off high speeds. It won’t put you over the bars when you completely release the throttle, and it works well for setting up corners. 

The Renegade is a sport 4×4 with very little cargo space, and that’s the way it should be. This space behind the seat can handle 35 pounds. If you need more than that, get an Outlander.

OTHER SPORTY NOTABLES

A sport 4×4 should have sport-focused tires. Can-Am doesn’t cut any corners with 25-inch ITP Holeshot ATRs on all four wheels. The directionally mounted tires have a soft-to-medium knobby that works well in sandy terrain, but they really excel in slippery conditions, like hardpack sprinkled with pea gravel. The tires have tall sidewalls and rounded edges, perfect for handling ruts and hard-edged terrain. The tires are mounted on cast-aluminum wheels coated in a gloss black color and feature true beadlocks to guarantee maximum traction and zero slippage on the rim. The combination boosts ground clearance to 10.5 inches.

We mentioned earlier that there are no utility racks on this machine, not even a glove box, and we’re okay with that. There is, however, a small area at the rear of the seat where you can strap down up to 35 pounds with four standard anchors. It’s perfect for jackets, extra gear and/or a tool wrap.

And finally, the Renegade X xc comes standard with aluminum, tapered “fat” handlebars, providing strength and leverage when turning and taking on rugged obstacles. The bars are also fitted with full-coverage handguards. 

The thumb-throttle housing contains the IEB switch on the back side, iTC switch on top and the 2WD/4WD selector on the front, all of which can be toggled on the fly.

THRILL RIDE

Can-Am doesn’t leave much to complain about on the Renegade X xc 1000R. The Rotax V-twin is second to none for power output, the wide-range tunable suspension works well, and the entire machine is doused with features that allow tailoring the ride to individual preferences and changing trail conditions. If anything, we’d really like to see a West Coast version of this machine with a 50-plus-inch-wide wheel track packing even more suspension travel. Will that happen? One can dream!

Cast-aluminum wheels coated in the gloss black color feature true beadlocks to guarantee maximum traction and zero slippage on the rim. Ground clearance is good at 10.5 inches, too.

SPECS: CAN-AM RENEGADE X XC 1000R

Engine 91 hp, Rotax 976 cc V-twin, liquid-cooled

Fuel system EFI with Intelligent Throttle Control

Transmission CVT, P/R/N/H/L with Intelligent Engine Braking (IEB)

Drivetrain Selectable 2WD/4WD with Visco-Lok QE auto-locking front differential

Power steering Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering (DPS)

Handlebar Aluminum taper-profile handlebar with full-wrap handguards

Suspension/travel:

Front Arched double A-arm with front sway bar/9.2”

Rear Torsional trailing arm independent (TTI)/9.9”

Shocks:

Front Fox 1.5 Podium RC2

Rear Fox 1.5 Podium RC2

Tires:

Front ITP Holeshot ATR 25×8-12”

Rear ITP Holeshot ATR 25×11-12”

Wheels 12” cast-aluminum beadlock

Brakes:

Front Dual 214 mm disc brakes with hydraulic twin-piston calipers

Rear Single 214 mm disc brake with hydraulic twin-piston caliper

Estimated dry weight 795 lb.

Length/width/height 86”/48”/49”

Wheelbase 51”

Ground clearance 10.5”

Seat height 34.5”

Rack capacity rear 35 lb.

Storage capacity N/A

Towing capacity 1,300 lb.

Fuel capacity 5.4 gal.

Gauge 4.5” digital display

Lighting LED headlights and tail/brake lights

Winch Pre-wired

Factory warranty 6-month extended 

B.E.S.T. term available up to 36 months

MSRP $15,499

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