Shifting past the competition By the staff of Dirt Wheels


Can-Am’s 2024 Maverick R is the most exciting, high-performance side-by-side to hit the market in years. Whether it’s because of a unique new suspension system, 7-speed DCT transmission or an all-new 240-horsepower engine, the machine is definitely being talked about. We were able to stop talking and got in and drove the Can-Am Maverick R across the Nevada desert for our first test. Here’s how it performed.

We were very happy with the fuel mileage of the Maverick R. We were getting over 20 mpg in the wide-open desert.


The 2024 Can-Am Maverick R is direct competition for the RZR Pro R. For customers who live and ride in the desert southwest and enjoy wide-open dune riding, Can-Am wants you just like they did with the Maverick X3 seven years ago. Remarkably, in that time, Can-Am sold 180,000 X3s to customers all over the world. Even before the first X3 was sold, development had already begun on the 2024 Can-Am Maverick R, which ended up being a huge improvement over the X3 in many ways.

A full underbelly skid comes stock on the Maverick R. However, it is attached with rivets. Leave it to the aftermarket for a better installation solution.
Oil changes will be made easy through the access hole in the skid plate. This is a much-needed improvement over the X3.


This is the most powerful, factory turbocharged powerplant ever dropped in a SxS. It has 240 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm. It is an all-new, three-cylinder, 999cc engine built specifically for this vehicle. There is no power loss through a CVT belt. When you stab the throttle, the gear-on-gear system gets the 2,250-pound machine moving quickly. There is a small pause before the power kicks in if you go from idle to wide-open throttle. So, in a drag race, the RZR Pro R might get an early jump, but that’s not confirmed yet. However, the Maverick R’s roll-on power is amazing. 

Can-Am commissioned Rotax to build an all-new powerplant from the ground up. You won’t find this 999cc engine in any other machine. We hope it makes its way into an X3 chassis or smaller Maverick R without a turbo.

On the loose gravel roads we tested on, we were able to go from zero to top speed in under 15 seconds. Keep in mind, the top speed displayed on the dash was 99 mph; however, according to our GPS, the fastest recorded speed we saw was 96 mph. A stock RZR Pro R tops out at around 92 mph. The Can-Am motor is very quiet. At high speeds, you really only hear wind noise through your helmet. The opposite is true about the RZR Pro R.

The 7-speed transmission is as close to seamless as it gets. We can’t wait to hear this thing blipping through the gears in a Maverick R equipped with an aftermarket exhaust.

In the Maverick R, there’s a large intake scoop behind your head that is not loud, but it does allow you to hear the turbo spool up and the blow-off valve do its thing. You build speeds super fast, and the chassis feels so planted, it surprises you every time you glance at the speedometer. There are zero complaints here. Furthermore, we can’t wait to hear this machine with an aftermarket exhaust system installed. We bet GGB Exhaust Technologies will have one ready before you finish reading this test. 

The Maverick R is wide, and you can feel it on everything but a smooth dirt road. It will still work on tighter trails, but you have to slow way down. It should feel right at home in the dunes, however.


It’s effortless to bang through the gears using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, and there’s no CVT belt to worry about. There are seven speeds to choose from, as well as low range, giving you another seven speeds. You can also shift from low to high without stopping. There’s a brief interruption of power when you do this, but it’s much better than having to come to a stop to make the change like you have to on the DCT-equipped Honda Talon or any CVT-equipped machine. We have not gotten to do any type of rock crawling yet to test how low the gear set is and if the car will rock crawl. We did try to back up a steep ledge, but the car struggled some and eventually made it up. So, the verdict is still out on its crawling ability.

Shifting in automatic mode is lighting fast. Aside from the occasional downshift we wanted to do, we let the computer do its thing, and the timing of the shift points was spot-on. You rarely even feel it shifting, and the computer does a good job of preventing you from downshifting too early or holding a gear too long, preventing abuse on the entire drivetrain. Overall, the engine and transmission are super quiet and definitely best in its class.

Here you choose reverse, forward or low range. All the shifting between gears is done at the steering-shaft-mounted paddles. Or, you can let the computer do the shifting automatically.


Up front, the suspension arms are made of stamped and tube steel, and the tall spindle is a forged-aluminum construction. The silver coating really makes them stand out. Paint them black and you would hardly notice them. You can bet people will be powdercoating them all manner of colors or possibly even hydro-dipping them with wild designs. Of course, the aftermarket will be making awesome-looking products as well.

Wheel-travel numbers are 25 inches up front and 26 inches out back on this X rs model. The base unit, with its smaller tires, only has 25 inches of movement in the rear. That’s because those rear shocks have a spacer limiting travel, keeping the rear from hitting the ground at full bottom-out. So, you could put a set of taller tires on the base model and have a shock guy remove the spacer, allowing for a full 26 inches of rear travel in that machine, too.

The suspension action is night and day better than the old X3. It’s plush over the rocky trails and in the big bumps. The Smart-Shox system is easy to control and feel what it’s doing. Body roll is nonexistent, but the vehicle still corners predictably, and we never felt a hint of two-wheeling. Although the trails we drove were not super rough, we did test the bottom-out protection when flying over a few deep cross-grain ruts and driving into several big G-outs. Ground clearance is an amazing 17 inches that, after 175 miles of testing, was still at 17 inches. In those miles we only scraped the skid plate once on a big rock sitting in the bottom of a G-out.

Furthermore, the suspension is smooth right out of the box. We didn’t wish for more ride height, a different spring package or better steering like we always did with the X3. You rarely saw the suspension arms coming up through the hood. In fact, when you did, it was a good reminder of where the center of the front tires were. Finally, the suspension action was super quiet, too, which is another huge improvement over the X3. 

The tall knuckle suspension may stick out like a sore thumb in pictures, but they don’t in person. In fact, sitting in the driver’s seat, you can hardly see it unless you go through most of the 25 inches of wheel travel.


Everything is laid out well. The sharp edges have been softened. There’s more room for switches and accessories on the tunnel and in the dash. Legroom is excellent, and the seat height is a good 3 inches taller, so getting in and out of the cockpit is much easier. We had two different 6-foot-5 passengers during our rides. Neither had issue with their knees hitting the dash. For the driver, the dead pedal by his left foot was pretty far out, making overall fatigue nonexistent during our full days on the trail. You could see over the hood much better than in the X3, and again, the seats are adjustable forward and back or up and down, and there is some storage under them. The gas tank remains in the same location as the X3—in front of the passenger. Since it holds a couple of extra gallons of gas, it reduces the size of the main glove box. But, a secondary glove box has been added to the dash area, which is in front of the GPS unit.

Out back, the tall knuckle design still requires three long radius rods. The center one allows for toe adjustment. Suspension travel is an incredible 26 inches.


This list is small. The rivets on the skid plate have to go. On the X3 we have replaced them with Nutserts, but that’s not the perfect fix. The better solution for easier skid plate removal would be welding tabs onto the lower chassis and then bolt the underbelly protection to them.

And last, we had issues with the navigation, as you are required to tether it to your phone, and the BRP Go! updates have not yet included the iOS platform we use. Furthermore, we wish this system did not require any type of cellular connectivity. However, the front and rear cameras worked great, and the vehicle info was easy to access and read in all conditions.

An all-new dash layout is much cleaner than you find in an X3. There is a second glove box and center storage section forward of the shifter.


At the end of our two-day, high-speed test ride, we were pleasantly surprised that fuel consumption was way less than expected. Our test machine averaged 10–20 miles per gallon. So, with that larger 13.2-gallon fuel tank, there’s no reason to cut rides short. Without a heavy throttle, you should expect 150 miles of high-speed riding per tank full. Speaking of more ride time, we would be happiest saving $10,000 and picking up the base model to save cash to spend on riding trips. The electronic functionality for the steering, shocks, engine and front differential is nice, but it’s also a little overwhelming at times. We think the base model would do fine without any adjustability, and we prefer using a Garmin Tread that allows us to see other Garmin users, or a Trail Tech Voyager Pro if we wanted to connect with other RZR owners we might be riding with.

 Most important, the 2024 Can-Am Maverick R feels well built and rides way better than the X3. That alone would have us walking into a Can-Am dealer.

Whether you are comparing this machine to the competition or the X3, Can-Am hit a home run for a machine best used for the wide-open western deserts. Right now, if we had that kind of budget to spend and only played in that type of terrain, there’s no other machine we would consider buying.



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