Long distance Can-Am X3 Test!
Dirt Wheels had our first test of the new Can-Am Maverick X3 in the December 2016 issue, and what a UTV it is. However, that initial test course was pretty short and not very rough, so we really couldn’t stretch its legs the way we wanted to. Luckily, we made a trip down to Baja with GoBajaRiding.com for a full desert experience in it. The over-200-mile test gave us an opportunity to see how great this UTV is. Here are 10 things that we didn’t reveal in the first test!
Despite the power of these new sport UTVs, we are always wanting more. Can-Am brought the heat with their 900 Ace engine that is derived from their popular Sea-Doo Spark watercraft, but they added the intercooled turbocharger to create 154 horsepower for the X3. When you slam the throttle to the floor it picks up the front end of the car and drops the rear, and you’re off at a staggering pace! It puts you in the back of the seat and keeps you grinning. It has plenty of power to push this big car to the limits and get you from 0–60 in just 4.9 seconds. It’s a rush, especially when you can hear the turbo spooling up since it sits in between the driver and passenger seat. Compared to the narrower base and X ds model, the 72-inch X rs didn’t feel as fast, but the base/X ds models have smaller
tires and not as much travel, so that can contribute to that feeling.
All of the X3 models have an Eco mode that cuts the available power by use of the electronic throttle. Eco mode is simple to engage with the flip of a switch in the cockpit, and you can do this on the fly. All three models have a governed top speed of 85 miles an hour, and it was simple to reach that in the desert of Baja. Even during short test runs on the beach we got the X ds model up to 80 mph, and it did quickly. These UTVs have close to zero turbo lag when you’re driving it in any situation. When the vehicles are in low, they don’t have that jumpy feeling of the older Mavericks. You get smooth throttle control that works great for slow-crawling situations. Top speed in low is right around 20 mph. The most noteworthy part of the X3 is the new belt design. It’s very tough. One of the X3 X rs models that we drove had over 500 miles on it after we finished our 200-mile jaunt. We had zero belt failures, and it was the original belt. That’s impressive for a high-horsepower machine!
The Can-Am Maverick X3 models now have a quicker, 1:5 steering ratio compared to the older Can-Am Maverick that was much greater and took more to turn the machine. This doesn’t seem like something to get excited about, but after a long day of driving, you won’t be as fatigued from steering the X3. It makes it very predictable, and not a lot of body movement goes into getting this beast around a corner. Even a 90-degree turn was simple, and we didn’t have to reposition our hands. The other great feature is the DPS (Dynamic Power Steering) system found in most Can-Am models. By holding this switch you can toggle through minimum, medium or maximum power-steering modes. We always opted for the medium setting as it worked great in the rough Baja terrain.
At this point we’ve all heard the awesome suspension numbers of the X3 models. The base and X ds models have 20 inches of travel front and rear. The big daddy, the X rs, has 22 inches of travel in the front and 24 inches of travel in the rear. For comparison, the 2017 Polaris XP Turbo has 16 inches of travel in the front and 18 inches of travel in the rear. Every X3 is amazing in rough conditions, and each one has its own great features on the suspension.
The base model has Fox 2.5 Podium QS3 shocks, which offers only three compression settings: soft, 1; medium, 2; and hard, 3. That makes it very simple to tune. The X ds model has Fox 2.5 Podium RC2 piggyback shocks that have dual-speed compression and rebound adjustment. The X rs model has Fox 2.5 RC2 Podium piggyback shocks with bypass in the front and Fox 3.0 Podium RC2 remote reservoir shocks with bypass. Both front and rear have dual compression and rebound adjustment. The base and X ds models felt very stable in highspeed situations. It handled anything we drove them through. We had to slow down for a bit for square bumps, cross-grain washes and bigger whoops, but it was us being cautious.
The X rs with the big suspension had to be our favorite out of the three in Baja’s big, long, rolling whoops. You could really feel all of the travel, as the car would squat landing on the down side of these rollers. You could pound whoops as fast as you dared to go, and this UTV would soak them up easily.
The biggest thrill was how well this UTV handled. It was really a point-and-shoot situation for each of the models. You would point the UTV effortlessly in a corner, and it would shoot right where you wanted it to go!
We would assume this is how most Trophy Trucks feel. With some smooth foot action on the brake pedal, the front end of the X3 would drop down and the rear would become a little loose, making it incredible to turn this big UTV. The X3 is very predictable and gives you a lot of confidence while driving. Things that you would usually brace for in other UTVs were just another small bump in the road.
The ultra-rigid frame is one of the reasons for the great handling on the X3. They took technology from the Trophy Truck world so that the suspension could be tuned more efficiently. They have found that it is much easier to tune the suspension and create better gains with simple adjustments. The entire frame is built to be one piece, including the roll cage. Can-Am claims in the event of a roll-over, the OEM welded-on roll cage will protect you better than a bolt-on cage. We didn’t feel at any time that we were going to tip this bad boy over. It’s a very stable UTV.
The interior of the X3 is very comfy. The steering wheel felt small when we first hopped in the driver’s seat, but after some time it felt like an extension of our hands. It didn’t have hardly any flex from the tilt steering wheel like other UTVs in its class. Everything, including the switches, are strategically placed so you can access them quickly on the fly. Whether you’re in the driver or passenger seat, there are rollers to slide you back and forth and adjustments that can lift you up or down. They work incredibly well no matter how tall you may be. You can also lower the seat by 2 inches easily with tools. The glove box is very roomy, and there are two cup holders located by the gear shifter. We wished the cup holders were deeper so they would hold our water bottles better, though.
In front of the steering wheel and on top of the glove box is a flat area where you can set your helmet when resting. To open the door, there is a latch with a nylon strap that you pull to allow access into the car. The X ds model that we drove actually featured a Can-Am/MTX custom audio system that they sell as an accessory for the X3. We ran our cell phones on Bluetooth pretty much the entire trip, and it sounded great and was simple to use.
It has an awesome four-wheelbraking system that we haven’t seen on another UTVs thus far. There are two master cylinders—one for the front and one for the rear brakes. That means if one system were to fail, the other system would still be working to slow you down. There is very little engine braking, so they had to make this big UTV slow down, and they do that with 262mm vented rotors in the front and 248mm vented rotors in the rear. When you slam the brakes, it drops the suspension and comes to a stop in no time.
Every one of the X3 models came stock with six-ply Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires. The base model comes with 28-inch tires and standard 14-inch black aluminum wheels. The X ds comes upgraded with 29-inch tires and 14-inch beadlock wheels. The X rs has 30-inch tires and 14-inch beadlock wheels. They all held up well in the unforgiving Baja, Mexico, terrain and created some great traction on these UTVs.
Can-Am made it simple as possible to access the most crucial features of the X3. The belt cover is super easy to access. It took about 20 minutes or so for one of the GoBajaRiding.com crew members to change out a belt on another driver’s X3. If you need to access the turbo for any reason, you can do so by pulling out a plastic cover (without tools) in between the driver and passenger. That goes for the air filter, brake master cylinders, radiator bottle and intercooler that each have their own plastic removable cover in the bed. They also made changing the shock settings simple since there is nothing covering them up.
After the 200-mile slamfest on these machines, you’re all probably wondering if they’ll hold up. Indeed, they will hold up to miles of heart-pounding pleasure driving. The units that we were driving had already seen many miles and tests from Can-Am dealers across the country. Some of the body panels had minimal scratches and scrapes, but there was nothing falling off of the machines or damaged. The chassis and suspension were straight, and each model we drove felt tight and ready for another 200 miles of abuse. In fact, Can-Am’s Murray Racing Best in the Desert team won the UTV Unlimited Pro class in the grueling Vegas to Reno event in a lightly modified (for racing safety regulations) Maverick X3 X rs. It’s ready for a rip, are you?!