CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 X ds TURBO R
— Testing Can-Am’s best 64-inch car with no-brainer mods —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels:
Can-Am continues to have a huge presence in the UTV market with multiple iterations of the Maverick X3 platform. The X3 is available with a 64-inch track width and a 72-inch width. Of the 64-inch machines, the $25,399 Maverick X3 X ds Turbo R is the best equipped. Key among the updates are the premium Fox 2.5 Podium RC2 piggyback shocks with dual-speed compression and rebound adjustments.
The X ds also comes stock with bead-lock wheels and 29-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires. With its rock sliders, winch and 30-inch tires, the Maverick X3 X rc Turbo might look better equipped, but it has the 120-horsepower engine, Fox Podium QS3 shocks and no beadlock wheels. This brand-new 2018 is owned by a friend who purchased it retail at a dealer. After considering the used market and different brands, he selected the Maverick X3 X ds Turbo R for its good value and the two-seater version since it fits in his trailer and on his local trails.
As many owners choose to do, he selected (and paid for) a moderate number of Can-Am genuine accessory aftermarket parts that he felt were required for comfort, convenience and safety. Those parts included a roof, windshield and rear window. Those parts help, particularly for winter driving, and they are easily removable when it gets hotter. He also selected a GPS mount from the Can-Am catalog to mount a Magellan TRX 7. All of the Can-Am parts went on immediately.
The owner is an experienced on- and off-road motorcycle guy accustomed to performance cars and off-road trucks. After the first outing in the desert, he ordered up a few additional parts. The door lowers are no-name parts from eBay. After our testing and photos were finished, he added Pro Armor harnesses in the cab. Realizing that he needed to carry basic tools and supplies with him to be self-sufficient, he added a Can-Am rear trunk box. Since we never tested this model in 2018, this will be a combination test and look at its modest changes. We like that these are products that the owner felt strongly enough about to pay retail for them.
WHY THE MAVERICK X3 X ds TURBO R?
The X ds Turbo R received only minor changes for 2019. Can-Am had taken a lot of heat for four-wheel-drive performance on early X3s, but for the 2018 RC (rock crawler) editions, the company developed the Smart-Lok. Smart-Lok is a fully lockable, on-the-fly front differential with electronically controlled automatic modes. The idea is to provide maximum traction and precision cornering without forcing heavy steering common with diff-lock. For 2019 Smart-Lok has spread from the RC to all of the X3 models. All X3 side-by-side vehicles get a new, high-torque, tri-mode dynamic power steering (DPS) system to improve low-speed driving and to give the driver more feedback from the front wheels. We generally select the lowest assist level. The Can-Am engineering team redesigned the front sway bar link to be more durable, which also enhances cornering. A new electrical cover better protects the engine control unit (ECU).
The owner of this machine compared the price he could get for the 2018 with the benefit of the new technology, and he opted to go with the 2018. We have to say that on his trails we found no fault with the four-wheel-drive performance or the power steering.
This model has a turbocharged, three-cylinder Ace 900 engine. The X3 Turbo has 120 horsepower, but the other X3s, including this Maverick X3 X ds Turbo R, have a whopping 172 horsepower on tap. At low rpm the power is quite smooth and controllable, but it picks up energy as the rpm rise. Wind it up hard and the acceleration is prodigious.
In high range that translates to ground-eating speeds. In low range the same engine generates rock-oozing technical control thanks to smooth low-rpm delivery and a very low-geared low range. Park, reverse, neutral, high and low are selected with a gated shift lever. In our experience, belt life is very good despite the strong power output.
The 900cc Rotax Ace three-cylinder engine has proven that the engine can handle off-road abuse. Can-Am X3s just completely controlled the grueling two-week Dakar Rally in South America! Can-Am had the lion’s share of entries and swept the top-10 places in its class! We have driven extremely powerful modified X3s with Turbo and injector mods that push the power 30 to 40 percent over stock and even one 400-horsepower machine intended for sand drags. Even at that level the engine holds up.
We continue to be impressed with the Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC) throttle-by-wire system. When—not if—the driver’s foot is bouncing around on the gas pedal, the iTC system filters the input to smooth the response. Performance can be further smoothed by selecting the fuel-miserly Eco mode, but few people actually use that mode. There are two different ignition keys. The mellow key lets you relax a little if somebody less experienced is driving your X3, and the other key is for you to party with. Both keys are digitally encoded to aid theft prevention.
The current chassis and suspension are impressive, and especially on the X ds. All X3 models have low, almost sports-car-like profile that looks fast standing still. The trophy-truck-inspired front suspension is strong with 20-inches of travel. In the rear there are massive trailing arms precisely located by three radius rods on each side. The X3 X ds Turbo R features fully adjustable Fox 2.5 Podium RC2 piggyback shocks with front and rear dual-speed compression and rebound adjustments, as well as bottom-out control for the rear shocks. Most UTVs have three-position compression-damping adjustments if they have compression adjustability at all (very few advanced models have rebound adjustability). This Can-Am has spring preload adjustment, high- and low-speed compression adjusters, and rebound adjusters.
Inside, the low profile of the machine’s exterior is reflected in the interior layout. The low and reclined seats are firm and supportive. They have 6 inches of fore and aft adjustment. With tools the seats can be lowered 2 inches, but even our tallest drivers didn’t want the seats lower. This car’s owner is over 6 feet tall, but he has no plans to drop the seats.
The bottom seat cushions are removable for easy cleaning. There is ample leg and head room for tall drivers, and we like the vertical passenger grab bars and angled footrests for driver and passenger.
IT’S A PACKAGE
We tested this accessorized X3 during what passes for winter in Southern California. We had near-perfect driving conditions, but it was on the cool side. Obviously, the cold wasn’t a problem for the car. The turbo motor loves cool air. Generally, humans aren’t quite as enthused about chilled wind. The lower door inserts and the front and rear window were a great help. We didn’t have much dust, but the hard-coated windshield did not attract dust or compromise our vision.
Even though the harnesses had not been installed yet, with the full doors and sitting low in the cockpit, we felt quite secure. One drawback to the low and laid-back seating is forward vision. It does take a little time to learn to look a little to the side when you need to crest a blind rise. There are no vision shortcomings when you are on faster and flowing trails and routes.
You can push this car and its suspension hard when the terrain is rough and whooped out. It stays calm and lets you worry about where you are heading. Keep things reasonable, and the car jumps easily and lands softly. We always aim to land on downslopes to give the suspension a fighting chance.
On mountain trails and in rocky areas of the desert, the suspension action is crisp and you feel the terrain surface. You can help by softening the shock compression and playing with tire pressure. We had some loose, technical climbs littered with sharp rocks, and the four-wheel drive was effortless and positive.
It is appropriate that the X3 X ds Turbo R has a sporty look and driving/seated position. It is a vastly sporty machine to drive. Being a 64-inch- wide car, it is nimble and quick in turns for tighter trails, yet thrives on high-speed running as well. When the engine is producing boost and spinning, the acceleration is genuinely thrilling. The X3 just gobbles up the ground in a hurry.
With the X3 X ds Turbo R you get a comfortable platform to start with. This particular machine is even a nicer situation with the addition of Can-Am accessories. The machine isn’t weighed down with gingerbread, but outfitted with carefully thought-out options. What we have here is a comfortable, purposeful machine that craves speed. It works best when you push the engine rpm and the suspension hard. When the owner was UTV shopping, he determined that the X3 X ds Turbo R offered a lot of value for the money. Personalizing that basic package made it an even better ride. We’d have to agree with the owner. The car is a great value and a great ride.
CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 X ds TURBO R
Engine 172 horsepower Rotax Ace liquid-cooled 900cc triple with intercooled turbo
Transmission Quick response system X CVT
Final drive Shaft
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 10.5 gal.
Ground clearance .14.0”
Estimated dry weight 1490 lb.
Front Double A-arm w/ sway bar/20”
Rear 4-link trailing arm w/sway bar/20”
Front 29×9-14 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0
Rear 29×11-14 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0
Front Dual 262mm vented hydraulic disc with dual-piston calipers
Rear Dual 248mm vented hydraulic disc with dual-piston calipers
Bed capacity 200 lb.
Colors Platinum Satin, Phoenix Orange, Triple Black