4×4 TEST: 2009 Can-Am Outlander 800XT; The big yellow machine from the great white north
The Outlander 800XT is Can-Am’s flagship sport utility 4×4. For 2009, it does not yet come with powersteering like many others in its class. What is powering this 4×4 is a monstrous, SOHC, four-valve per cylinder, liquid-cooled, V-Twin, four-stroke engine.
That engine is cradled by a frame that is unique in the ATV industry. Can-Am uses this rectangular shaped, single spar cage for all of their utility machines and the Renegade sport 4×4’s. The steel frame basically is a large circle around the engine and provides mounting points for the suspension components and bodywork.
Equally as unique is the rear suspension system. Out back, you will find single trailing arms on each side carrying the wheel hub, shock and drive axle. The front portion of each steel arm is connected to the frame via a suspension cross member and links together with the other arm through a torsion bar.
This setup is very similar to what is found on high-dollar off road race buggies and sand cars. The torsion bar on the Can-Am is not adjustable, although we wish it were.
Up front, dual A-arms, with the top being aluminum, are used at each corner, carrying coil shocks. As in the rear, spring pre-load is adjustable and compression or rebound are not.
What gives this Outlander its XT moniker is also found on the front end. From the dealer, all XT Outlanders come with a 3000-pound winch, cast aluminum wheels (steel come on the standard 800), large front and rear bumpers, and handguards. We wish more quads came stock with handguards.
The XT package adds $1050 to the price of the standard Outlanders cost. The 800XT sells for $10,000. This machine comes in yellow, red, black or camo color choices.
Tight turns under acceleration or deceleration are more difficult at high speeds on this machine. The chassis has too much body roll, and pushes. The Outlander chassis is better suited for Can-Am 500 or 650cc engines.
All Outlanders have a very spacious cockpit and fit larger riders the best. Aggressive foot pegs give the rider plenty of traction in wet situations while the floorboards and full coverage bodywork provide excellent splash protection. One of the best features of the bodywork is that it has an integrated, 5.3-gallon, waterproof storage box situated in the center of the rear rack.
Up front, the controls are well laid out and offer tons of features like a digital instrument panel that has readouts including a speedometer, tachometer, odometer, hourmeter, gear indicator and fuel gauge. This display also doubles as a diagnostic center for the entire machine. Can-Am has programmed the Outlander’s electrical system to automatically shut down if the system sits idle (not running with the key in the on position) for more than fifteen minutes, to save the battery.
The overall package is much heavier than the big bore Japanese machines but lighter than the American-made models from Arctic Cat and Polaris. The standard Outlander 800 has a claimed dry weight of 663 pounds while the Japanese machines weigh around 600 pounds and the American made utility machines are closer to 700-pounds.
Overall measurements for this Outlander are 86 inches long, 46 inches and 45 inches tall with a seat height of 34-inches. Keep those numbers in mind when you go to transport this beast. This large ATV took up the bulk of the bed space in our full-sized Ford long bed pickup.
Traction is provided by a set of four 26-inch tall aggressive tires mounted on 12-inch cast aluminum wheels.
The Outlander’s V-Twin fires up instantly, thanks to a single 46mm electronic fuel injection system. That system gets its juice from a large 5.3-gallon tank mounted under the seat. An aggressive growl emits from the exhaust system that feels almost racy. It’s a perfect tone for our taste. However, many people opt to install a Stealth exhaust from Kolpin to quiet the beast down a bit.
This engine packs a serious punch. Warmup time is minimal so once you move the gear selector from park to high, the excitement begins. When you stab the throttle, the rear end squats while the whole machine lurches forward.
Even with its larger size, the Outlander is one of the fastest-accelerating stock utility 4×4’s you can buy. In fact, when we tested Josh Fredericks’ Desert racing modified Outlander a few years back, we drag raced it against a stock YFZ450 and the 4×4 won.
On the trails, the Outlander has plenty of power for climbing hills, crossing deep sand and speeding across an open desert. In low range, we were able to climb almost sheer walls and tip toe through a very rocky streambed with plenty of torque.
Back out on the faster dirt roads, we could get the 800 to 75mph without a struggle. Racers like Mike Penland offer head mods to make this machine run near the century mark.
To slow this machine down, hydraulic discs do a good job at both ends. A single lever setup operates the binders. We wish Can-AM would switch to a dual lever one-foot pedal set up like they did on the Renegade 800. When you have a machine this fast, you want complete control of the brakes.
Comfort levels are high when operating this machine at slow to moderate speeds. The suspension will soak up anything you throw at it as long as you are not riding too aggressively.
If you do get into race mode, the weight of the machine starts to show some weakness. The suspension is too soft for sharp corners and pushes under acceleration. It’s not that the chassis is bad; the motor is just too fast. For example, the 500cc Outlander handles perfectly using the same chassis package.
If you are looking for the fastest stock utility ATV on the planet, you can choose between this machine and the Arctic Cat Thunder Cat 1000. The Can-Am Outlander 800XT is lighter, more comfortable and looks better in our opinion, and that would be our choice.
The Outlander 800 is a great buy if you plan on installing big mud tires or heavy snow tracks and need all the power you can get. It’s a reliable machine that has lots of storage, is easy to operate, has tons of high-tech features and is thrilling to ride.
As an XT model, the Outlander saves the hassle of installing a winch and offers the needed hand protection we love. The extra beefy bumpers front and rear are also a plus. However, at $10,000, it’s a little steep for our budget. So, to save some green and have a better handling quad, you might want to opt for the 500XT ($8500) or 650cc XT ($9100) model.
2009 CAN-AM OUTLANDER 800XT