Can-Am’s Commander DPS 1000R is a fun and very functional rec-utility UTV, ideal for cruising mountain trails, desert paths and doing work in between the fun.

There might not have been anyone more disappointed than we were when Can-Am announced it was dropping the Commander from its side-by-side lineup for 2020. It had been one of the original sport models, but soon it slid down the performance spectrum to rec utility. Before the end, much of its competition had more travel and more “sport” than the original Commander. The Commander was back in the line for Can-Am’s release of mid-year 2022 models, sometimes called “2022 1/2.” Additional excitement hit when Can-Am assured us it was an all-new machine, not a simple update of the old one. Better news was Can-Am basing the new Commander on the Maverick Sport platform with a handy dump bed added.

It is impressive that Can-Am managed to improve the lines of the machine while adding the dump bed. We’re big fans of the new Commander, and for lots of good reasons. We were reminded of those reasons this past summer when we tested a Can-Am Commander DPS 1000R for several weeks over hundreds of miles of mountain trails and high-desert paths.


The thought that came to us every time we hopped into the Commander was, “This vehicle is perfectly wedged between the Maverick X3 and Defender models.” It’s not a horsepower hound like the X3, and it’s not a workhorse like the Defender. Oh, the Commander has plenty of horsepower and can work when called on, but it fits the rec-utility sector perfectly.

Our Commander was the base model, but the lineup has ballooned to seven models since it was reintroduced, including a trio of four-seat models. Our test vehicle had 1000 miles on it, so it was broken in, which had its advantages. We weren’t left wondering how it was going to ride when it had more miles on it. We knew immediately how it was going to ride and what its capabilities were.

Can-Am added a few BRP products that enhanced the ride and comfort of the Commander. It came with a sport roof, winch, rear-view mirror, cargo-bed cover and cute little shovel. None had any bearing on the performance of our 1000, but having used them, we would recommend them.

We tested/rode/played in the Commander DPS 1000R, which is one of seven different versions of the Commander and is the base model, although it has plenty of perks.


We chose mountains in southwest Montana to put additional time on it. We logged 147.5 miles in one day, which is a pretty good test of a vehicle. In most spots the trail was fairly wide and smoothish, but some stretches had plenty of twists and turns. There were also parts that were long, straight and throttle-friendly.

We cruised at a nice clip, enjoying the scenery and the vehicle. Comfort is a high priority on a long ride. The Commander has a comfortable cockpit with adjustable steering, cup holders, great-fitting and -feeling high-back bucket seats, premium doors, an accurate shifter, secure toggle switches, and ample storage.

The 62-inch-wide chassis stayed planted when whipping through the whoops and in the corners, even when you wanted to drift. We always felt in complete control. That is confidence-inspiring when you can trust a vehicle.

We drove nasty, rutted-out, rock-littered connector trails, and the Commander still felt secure and not tippy. If fact, those were such fun trails, we were looking for gnarlier parts rather than avoiding them. The ride is that good. 

This supple ride is a little surprising since the base Commander 1000R comes with twin-tube gas-charged shocks that are not adjustable. To get the adjustable Fox 2.5 Podium piggyback shocks with QS3 compression adjustment, you must step up to the XT-P model. We weren’t bouncing through boulders or over logs, but the suspension and ride handled everything we threw at it.

The Can-Am Commander DPS 1000R worked well in all trail situations, including playing submarine captain during required stream crossings.
The rear suspension (13 inches of travel) comes with twin-tube, gas-charged shocks, which got the job done on trails. These shocks are not adjustable.
Can-Am sent our Commander with a sport roof and winch, which are not stock on the base model. We appreciated the roof in heat, rain and hail, and the winch for home work.


Then there is Can-Am’s exclusive Dynamic Power Steering (DPS), which offers three power-steering settings—minimum, medium and maximum. Want more steering input/help? Drive in the maximum mode. Want less? Pick one of the other two settings. It’s that easy and very simple to switch, depending on the conditions you’re riding in. We prefer the minimum setting to feel feedback through the steering wheel.

Being able to switch from 2WD to 4WD and then back again on the fly is pretty standard in UTVs, but the Commander system really works on the fly. On some vehicles you must slow down or make other adjustments in speed for it to engage. On the Commander the engagement is nearly instantaneous, evidenced when we were crossing a wide creek that had a very muddy entry and exit. We started in 2WD, but when we felt the vehicle bogging in the thick mud, we switched to 4WD and easily clawed through.


The 976cc Rotax V-twin boasts 100 horsepower, and it feels like an accurate claim. In Montana we rode to 9500 feet, and while that elevation affects power, the Commander had plenty to keep the ride awesome and interesting.

At lower elevations the Rotax powerplant was even stronger. It’s not whip-your-head-back acceleration but “sneaky speed.” For instance, cruising along at 50 mph on one of those throttle-friendly stretches we would realize we were clipping along at 65 mph. Back off and a few minutes later the same thing would happen. Stomp on the throttle and the Commander would build speed. The horsepower curve was predictable.

We do wonder if a new belt would make the engine snappier. We don’t know how the Commander was driven for the first 1000 miles, but suspect it was put through the paces. We used the Sport setting the entire time. We were close to switching to Eco mode on that 150-miler because the low fuel light came on. It drove another 25 miles after the fuel light came on. That’s good distance on 10 gallons.

If you’re unfamiliar with Can-Am’s Eco and Sport modes, the Eco mode offers better fuel economy because it smooths out the throttle response. You get full power; it just takes more throttle travel to use all that power.

The Commander’s 976cc Rotax V-twin offers a claimed 100 horsepower, and that feels like an accurate number, even when riding at elevation, like here at nearly 7900 feet.


Here are five fun features we favored on the Commander.

Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC): This feature keeps throttle response even on rocky, rutted sections where your foot bounces while using the throttle. This iTC is one of our favorite features on any Can-Am vehicle equipped with it.

Storage space: There are cubbyholes and covered storage places all over the cockpit in the Commander 1000R. The glove box on the passenger side is huge. The driver’s side has a covered storage as well, and both bed sides remove to reveal additional storage.

Premium half doors/door handles: The half doors do a great job of keeping nature out of the cockpit. And they’re solid doors, not flimsy. Having handles on the inside and outside of the door is a nice touch, making it easy to enter and exit.

Sport roof: This adds about $400 to the price of the Commander but if you do any riding in the sun, rain or hail it is well worth the cost. If it’s installed properly, it is solid with no rattles.

Winch: Winch options start at $359.99. If you do decide to install a winch, there is a cutout on the base Commander, making for a clean, finished product when it’s installed. We used it to pull down a 3-inch-thick dead branch off a tree in our yard. Worked like a charm.


The cup holders aren’t overly convenient. We found that it was more effective to use the cup holder on the passenger side when we were riding alone. It was easier to reach and use.

We wish the Commander had the line of sight like that of the X3. You sit low in the Commander, which is why you feel so confident in the rough because the center of gravity is low, but with the high dash and hood, it is tricky to see over the dash when cresting a hill. The seat belt can get caught in the door if it doesn’t retract and if you didn’t notice that.


The comfort and capability of the Commander make it one of our favorite UTVs. The Rotax V-twin engine is satisfying and reliable, and the ride is predictable and trustworthy, meaning the Commander responds the way you expect it to. That may seem like a given, but not all UTVs inspire confidence like the Commander does.


Engine type Rotax liquid-cooled V-twin

Displacement 976cc

Transmission Quick Response System Electronic Drive Belt Protection, CVT w/ high and low range, reverse

Drive system Selectable Turf  mode/2WD/4WD w/Visco-Lok QE auto-locking front differential

Fuel system Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC) w/ EFI

Fuel capacity 10 gal.

Starting system Electric

Final drive Shaft

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Double A-arms with sway bar/12.5”

Rear Torsional Trailing Arm with sway bar/13.0”


Front XPS Trail Force 27×9-14

Rear XPS Trail Force 27×11-14


Front 2-piston calipers, dual 220mm discs

Rear 2-piston calipers, dual 220mm discs

Wheelbase 90.6”

Length/width/height 128.2”/62.0”/71.5”

Ground clearance 12.5”

Bed capacity 600 lb.

Towing capacity 2,000 lb.

Claimed dry weight 1,600 lb.

Fuel capacity 10.0 gal.

MSRP $14,799

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