UTV TEST: 2022 CAN-AM X3 X RS TURBO RR SS VS. X3 MAX X RS TURBO RR SS
Quick comparing the Maverick X3 two-seater to the four-seaterBy the staff of Dirt Wheels
Can-Am has kept the basic look and architecture of its Maverick X3 unchanged since its introduction in 2016 and the four-seat Max version since its introduction in 2017. It says a lot for the original design that the look remains fresh after six or seven years. While the shape is familiar, mechanically there has been an almost constant stream of upgrades and improvements during the production run. The 2022 Can-Am X3 X rs Turbo RR Smart-Shox and the four-seat Max version of the same equipment are rolling showcases of that stream of upgrades. Both models contain every significant technical improvement offered by Can-Am.
As far as headlines go, the boost to a monster 200 horsepower in 2022 from the original 154 horsepower in 2016 (with stops at 172 and 195 ponies along the way) has grabbed the most attention. While not as sexy as the horsepower numbers, the introduction of the Smart-Lok front differential and the availability of computerized Smart-Shox suspension are great upgrades. For 2022, all X3s get the sophisticated Smart-Lok front differential originally found only on the RC models. It allows selecting four modes on the fly, including differential lock.
NOW IT’S 2022
All updates for 2022 are not merely improved components; the changes begin at the skeletal level with 30-percent-thicker tubing in the frame and roll cage for a claimed 14 percent more torsional rigidity (resistance to twisting) in the chassis. All 72-inch-wide Maverick X3 versions, such as these X rs Smart-Shox models, have stronger lower front A-arms. In the rear, both the two-seat and four-seat X rs models have double-shear mounts where the radius rods attach at both ends. To resist damage, the bottom radius rod is thicker and stronger. At the rear center of the car is a heavier gauge and stronger radius rod plate that bolts to the stronger chassis.
A big reason for the suspension changes is new-for-2022 32-inch Maxxis Carnivore tires on 14-inch wheels on these 72-inch RS models. All four tires are the same size.
Engine updates include engine control calibration refinements that raised the RR models to a full 200 horsepower. All X3s get a new pDrive clutch utilizing sealed steel rollers with needle bearings instead of sliders. The advantages are four-times-longer service intervals, smoother engagement, quicker shifting, less CVT noise and reduced vehicle harshness. We could feel the improvement.
The RR engine package includes an 850-watt stator that should easily support most electrical needs. It also has a welcome belt-monitoring system that displays belt-case temps in degrees.
THOSE ARE SMART-SHOX
Suspension travel has remained the same as the original X rs: 22 inches in the front of both the X3 and X3 Max, 24 inches in the rear of the X3, and 22 inches in the rear of the X3 Max. Despite the lack of change, no other brand has significantly eclipsed those travel numbers. The suspension has improved, though, and never more so than with the new-in-2021 computerized Smart-Shox models.
Smart-Shox technology elevates a suspension package that was already very good. There are other brands with systems employing computer-adjustable Fox Live Valve shocks. Each brand employs them a little differently.
Can-Am uses a Live Valve shock with the DDA (Dynamic Damping Adjustment) valve. In the rear are robust Fox 3.0 Podium shocks with bypass and the fronts are 2.5 Podium shocks with bypass.
“Bypass” shocks let shock oil bypass the control of the shock piston in full extension. The bypass orifices close off gradually as the shocks get deeper into the travel. Damping gets much firmer as the shock nears full down travel, and the shock damping is speed sensitive and position sensitive. The Can-Am version of the Live Valve shock has the control wires running into the bottom of the shock, so the DDA valve can adjust both the compression and rebound. Can-Am is the sole brand that has electronically adjustable rebound. Other brands use Live Valve shocks with electronic adjusters on the compression valves on the shock reservoirs.
MAKING IT WORK
With Smart-Shox, nine different sensors measure wheel position, direction and speed to adjust the shock damping up to 200 times a second! The DDA electronic valves are claimed to be the fastest available. They can cycle from full soft to full stiff in just under 1/50th of a second. Smart-Shox relies heavily on input from wheel-travel sensors on all four wheels to determine what adjustments are made. Adjustments are made on the fly. At any given moment, each shock could have different damping from the other three!
Compared to “normal” suspension, Smart-Shox reduces body roll and squat under acceleration. Traction is improved, as is stability while cornering. Weight transfer while braking is also reduced. A dash-mounted switch allows the driver to make three manual suspension adjustments: comfort, sport or sport +.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Dirt Wheels accepted an offer to spend a couple of hours comparing a Can-Am X3 X rs Turbo RR Smart-Shox with a Can-Am X3 X rs Turbo RR Smart-Shox. Perhaps more than any other brand, the Maverick X3 two-seater and four-seater feel significantly different. The X3 Max carries up to four people in complete luxury. The four-seat 72-inch-wide flagship was truly groundbreaking with its width and monster wheelbase when it arrived in 2017. For example, the Max is a whopping 16 inches longer than the Polaris RZR Turbo S four-seater and has a wheelbase 18 inches longer!
There is a wheelbase differential of 33 inches between the X3 and the X3 Max. Polaris has a difference of 27 inches between the RZR XP and XP 4 and 29 inches between the Pro XP and Pro XP 4. The 29-inch measurement is the same for the new Pro R Turbo and Pro R. A Honda Talon only has a bit less than a 24-inch difference between the Talon and the Talon 4.
At 102 inches of wheelbase, the X3 has been the longest of all two-seat sport UTVs, but the new Polaris Pro R is 104.5 inches. To put those numbers in perspective, a Polaris RZR XP has a 90-inch wheelbase and a Honda Talon is 92.7 inches.
We can’t say that the X3 ever shows its length in a bad way. On the plus side, the X3 feels calm and controlled over obstacles and through the rough. As great as the X3 feels in the rough, the X3 Max outshines it. It is ultra calm and undisturbed at speed in the rough. If you have the right sort of obstacle, one that doesn’t drag the center of the car and high-center, the Max lets you stretch across gaps and stay planted on ridiculous steep climbs and drops.
On the other hand, we did touch the bottom of the car in whoops, and it requires thought while choosing how to cross some obstacle shapes. The same is true in turns. An X3 shreds turns like crazy. The X3 Max is surprisingly nimble at picking its way along tight trails, but it lets you know you are bending a long machine when you try to snap it into a sharp turn at speed.
With both cars we felt a tight, crisp feel to the handling that we attribute to the 2022 chassis upgrades. All facets of driving feel more accurate and precise.
CAN YOU FEEL FIVE HORSEPOWER?
With the X rs RR Smart-Shox you get all of Can-Am’s top features. The “RR” designation means you get 200 horsepower. The jump from 172 to 195 horsepower was a big one, and the five-horsepower jump is not so noticeable, but you do feel it. When it transitions from smooth bottom power to full turbo boost, the engine goes a little wild. In Johnson Valley we never found traction that didn’t allow the tires to spin wildly when the throttle was mashed. Some of our fastest and most experienced drivers drove trails in Eco mode to maximize control. Paddle tires and dunes? Let it rip! With a wet weight 300 pounds greater, the Max feels more controlled and calm at deep-throttle settings.
Major X rs features include the Smart-Lok front differential, 14-inch aluminum beadlock wheels, 32-inch Maxxis Carnivore tires, retractable four-point harness with shoulder pads and a HMWPE heavy-duty full skid plate. It also has a full roof, X-package graphics and seats, and a keypad-controlled 7.6-inch digital display that includes a readout for the Smart-Shox system.
Can-Am gave all X3s a sports-car, laid-back feel to the seated and driving position. The same is true of the Max rear seats, and the front and rear legroom is impressive. Retractable four-point seat belts (front in the X3 Max) keep you secure without feeling trussed up.
With the long wheelbase, stability is obviously a prized Max handling trait. Still, in no way is the Max as playful as the two-seat X3. In the two-seat X3, remarkable turning overpowers any other sensation of the handling.
Even with the limited time we had with the 2022 X rs siblings we hit a wide range of conditions. Johnson Valley—the site of the famed King of the Hammers extreme race—has fine sand dunes, coarse-sand gravel washes, silt, dirt and famous rocks gardens. Rock areas range from loose surface scree to boulders and even large slabs. Areas of whoops are large and deep but fairly round.
WHERE IT SHINES
Our two-seat X rs Turbo RR Smart-Shox is accurate, brutally fast and aggressive. It is an impressive machine for almost any type of driving, and the more intense you drive, the better it suits it. The suspension compliance cannot match the Max, but the Max never has the intense feeling of fury that the two-seater does. How can a UTV as lengthy as the Max be fun? Stick with a relaxed pace in tight conditions or find fast sections that are flowy to experience the Max’s best.
The steering on both X rs machines is nimble and quick. Low range is very low, and, in combination with the smooth power, they crawl well in the tight rough.
Remember, the main point of a four-seat Max is to take four people out for fun in comfort, and no respectful driver should push as hard with others in the car as they might driving alone. Save pushing the limits for the two-seater, and preferably with only the driver in the car.
If you need to carry three or four people, the only X3 choice is the Max or buying a second car. If you crave speed and like to drive hard and fast, you cannot go wrong with the Maverick X3 X rs Turbo RR Smart-Shox. With the new chassis updates, the X rs siblings are weapons that like pounding through fast rough. You get a six-month warranty that’s extendable to 30 months. Like all high-end sport UTVs with computerized suspension, the price of both is steep, but with the Max you get a friendly package for transporting people with gear for less than $3000 difference in price. If you want to push your limits, the two-seat X3 X rs RR Smart-Shox is priceless.
SPECS 2022 CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 X RS & X3 MAX X RS TURBO RR SMART SHOX:
Engine type: Rotax ACE liquid-cooled 900cc triple with intercooled turbo
Displacement: 900cc Transmission Quick response system X CVT
Final drive: Shaft
Fuel system: EFI
Fuel capacity: 10.5 gal/
Length/width/height: 132”/72.7”/68.5”; 165”/72.7”/68.5”
Ground clearance: .16”
Wheelbase: .102”; 135”
Estimated dry weight: 1646 lb.; 1942 lb.
Front Double A-arm with sway bar and Fox 2.5 Podium piggyback shocks with bypass and Smart-Shox Technology featuring
Rear 4-link trailing arm with sway bar and Fox 3.0 Podium remote reservoir shocks with bypass and Smart-Shox technology featuring
DDA valve/24”; 22”
Front 32×10-14 Maxxis Carnivore
Rear 32×10-14 Maxxis Carnivore
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: Triple Black, Desert Tan/Carbon Black/Can-Am Red, Intense/Blue/Carbon Black/Chalk Gray
Price: $31,299; $34,099