FIRST TEST: CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 MAX X DS
Four-passenger dream machine By the staff of Dirt Wheels
In late 2016 Can-Am released its new flagship performance UTVs, the Maverick X3 lineup! At the time it had the most powerful powerplant, with 154 horsepower and 113 foot-pounds of torque from their turbocharged ACE (Advanced Combustion Efficiency) engine. Along with that, the X3 had the most suspension travel—20 inches for the standard X3 and X DS model, while the X RS model had a whopping 22 inches in the front and 24 inches in the rear, along with being the widest production UTV to date at 72 inches. We were impressed with our first full test of the X3 models. After close to 300 miles in Baja, Mexico, it was apparent that Can-Am built a machine that can handle just about anything. They are amazing machines.
Fast-forward to present day and Can-Am dealers are having a hard time keeping any of the X3 models in stock. Off-road enthusiasts are in love with the X3, but some were holding out for something more from the X3. A lot of these enthusiasts have families, and a two-seater wasn’t going to cut it. We knew it was inevitable that Can-Am would answer that call, and luckily that came in the middle of February 2017. Can-Am released pictures and a video of their new Maverick X3 Max lineup and got the entire online world buzzing. We’ve been waiting patiently for our first test, and we had the chance to drive the Maverick X3 Max X DS model at the famed Glamis sand dunes.
MAVERICK X3 MAX LINEUP
There are three models of the 2018 Can-Am Maverick X3 Max to choose from, but they all share the same engine, tires, wheels, quarter doors and suspension as their two-seat counterparts. Obviously, the biggest difference is the length. The two-seat models have a 102-inch wheelbase, and total length comes to 131 inches. The X3 Max models have a 135-inch wheelbase, and total length comes to 162 inches, making it the longest sport UTV to date. On average, the Max models have 1 inch less ground clearance than the two doors. Incredibly, the dry-weight difference between the X3 and X3 Max is only 250 pounds.
The Maverick X3 Max model is the lowest-priced X3 Max at $24,999. For comparison, the two-seat version retails for $22,999—a $2000 difference for the four-seat. This model offers Fox 2.5 QRS shocks, is 64 inches wide, has 28-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires, a full-HMW plastic skid plate and 14-inch black aluminum wheels. The X3 Max is offered in one color—white and black.
The Maverick X3 Max X DS model is an upgraded model from the standard X3 Max, and retail is $27,399, while the two-seat version retails for $24,999—a $2400 difference for the four-seat. This model offers fully adjustable Fox 2.5 Podium RC2 shocks, is 64 inches wide, has 29-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires, a full HMW plastic skid plate and 14-inch black aluminum beadlock wheels. The X DS Max is offered in Circuit Yellow or Triple Black.
Now for the big daddy—the Maverick X3 Max X RS! This model is different than both the X3 Max and X3 Max X DS. Retail on the X3 Max X RS is $29,099. The two-seat version retails for $26,999—a $2100 difference for the four-seat. This model features fully adjustable 2.5 Podium RC2 piggyback with bypass front shocks, fully adjustable rear Fox 3.0 Podium RC2 remote reservoir with bypass, is 72 inches wide, has 30-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires, 14-inch aluminum beadlock wheels, a full roof, and a heavy-duty full-HMW plastic skid plate. The X RS Max is offered in gold/red or triple black.
TESTING THE MAVERICK X3 MAX X DS
The Glamis dunes was the perfect venue to test the X3 Max X DS. We could stretch its legs to its fullest capacity, and the sand had enough moisture from recent rains to feel more like dirt. The Max X DS model that we tested had factory Can-Am bolt-on parts installed that added additional weight but enhanced the look, comfort and protection. The fit and finish of the X3 Max X DS were as good as expected, and everything was tight, and there was minimal noise while riding in the cab. The turbocharged ACE engine produces a lot of power, especially in the top half of the rpm range.
This engine package in the longer and heavier X3 Max didn’t feel as peppy compared to the same trim package in the two-seat version. In the same respect, it climbed every dune at Glamis without fail, and it did it quickly. Fuel mileage was also impressive; we put almost 200 miles on it over the weekend, and even with hammering it hard in the sand, it required a couple fuel stops for its 10.5-gallon tank. The four-wheel-drive system is actuated by a switch on the dash—a simple up/down for 2WD or 4WD. It works well. We ran it in 4WD for most of the test, and it helped propel the large X3 Max up hills or around large sand bowls. It also did well in 2WD; however, it did spin the rear wheels a lot, causing it to dig into the sand rather than staying on top. The X3 Max X DS had zero belt issues. The QRS-X CVT transmission kept the power to the ground, and the new belt design for the X3 models are tougher than woodpecker lips.
We’ve been impressed with Can-Am’s seat position in the X3 models. You feel that you sit in the seat instead of on top of it like other brands. That goes for every seat in the cab; the rears are just as comfortable as the fronts and have that laid-back feel. All four seats are four-way adjustable. You can lower each seat by an inch, which works great for taller occupants (around 6-foot-3), but for the shorter crowd, the standard height works just fine. There is impressive legroom in each seat as well. Having the gated shifter is nice, because you don’t have to look down to see what gear you’re in most of the time in the X3s.
The X3 and X3 Max share the quick 1.5 steering ratio, which made it easy to go lock to lock without a lot of effort. As far as turning goes, all of the X3s are winners in our books. The X3 Max did feel like it pushed in the front end, but that could have been from the extra weight from the added accessories. The car feels long as well, so we compensated while transitioning from dune to dune by making the turns a little wider. The braking on the X3 Max feels firm and, with the large rotors and calipers, brings the big UTV to a halt easily.
In our minds, and as far as stock machines go, we haven’t driven a UTV yet that goes through rough sections better than the X3 Max! It’s incredibly stable in high-speed whoop sections and didn’t get out of shape once. Mashing the throttle to speeds close to 60 miles an hour down corrugated valleys, it felt like we could push it further. We hardly moved in the cab while going over the whoops at speed, but it was apparent that the Fox shocks were taking all the beating. It was much of the same when traversing ruts or choppy sections. It just plain worked without breaking a sweat and gave us ultimate confidence in the machine. So much so, in fact, we got this monstrous machine airborne a few times, and the landing was as smooth as butter!
Although the long wheelbase did make for some high-centered moments, we did get it stuck only one time. Luckily, the powerful ACE engine pulled us out of the soft sand in reverse.
TO THE MAX
The Can-Am Maverick X3 Max X DS is an incredible machine, just like its two-door brethren. It’s not as playful as the two-door X3s, and it’s heavier, but there is no substitute for a longer wheelbase when it comes to rough terrain, and that’s where the Max shines. It will haul your family or your buddies anywhere your heart desires, and it will do it in a hurry. It corners like a F1 race car and goes through whoops like a Trophy Truck. We like to think of the X3 Max as a four-seat off-road Ferrari—yeah, it’s that good!
CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 MAX X DS
Engine Rotax ACE, liquid-cooled, turbocharged, 4-stroke triple cylinder with integrated intercooler & Donaldson high-performance air filter
Fuel system Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC) w/ EFI
Fuel capacity 10.5 gallon
Starting system RF Digitally Encoded Security System (D.E.S.S) w/start/stop button
Transmission Quick Response System X (QRS-X) CVT w/high airflow, L/H/N/R/P
Final drive Shaft
Front Double A-arm w/ sway bar/20”
Rear 4-link Torsional Trailing-arm X (TTX) with sway bar/20”
Front Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 29x9x14
Rear Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 29x11x14
Front Brakes: Dual 262mm ventilated disc brakes w/hydraulic twin-piston calipers
Rear Brakes: Dual 248mm ventilated disc brakes w/ hydraulic twin-piston calipers
Ground clearance 13.0”
Dry weight 1,735 lb.
Colors Circuit yellow and triple black