Changing the game in the high performance multi-passenger UTV market
This past year and a half has been huge for the powersports industry, particularly the high-performance Side-by-Side market. While Polaris has seemed to have a strong grasp on the market with its line of RZR UTVs in both two and four-seat models, Can-Am responded in a major way with its new Can-Am Maverick X3.
Engine: 900cc Triple
Ground Clearance: 13.0 in.
Suspension Travel: 20 in.
Wheelbase: 135 in.
When the Can-Am Maverick X3 was unleashed on the world, heads turned and took quick notice of the 154 HP turbocharged and intercooled Rotax ACE engine that came stuffed into different packages with different suspension options. The high-performance community went wild over these new machines, but it didn’t take long for everyone to start asking when the four-seat model would come out.
It might have taken six months to surface, but when the new Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX was finally revealed, it is clear why it took time to deliver and it most certainly was worth the wait.
As for the standard features, the MAX models sport the same features you’ll find its two-seat counterpart. Where the engineers really paid attention in the design of the four-seat Maverick X3 MAX was comfort and handling. By extending the chassis a full 31 inches, the X3 MAX became the UTV with the longest wheelbase in the industry at 162 inches. This lengthening of the frame allows for the roomiest rear passenger seating of any high-performance UTV we’ve ever seen.
I recently had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a new Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX X DS on a recent trip to the Imperial Sand Dune Recreation area (AKA Glamis) to see just how well it would fair in a terrain this machine seems perfectly designed for. In addition, I also had a Maverick X3 X DS two-seat model there, so I’d be able to have back-to-back comparisons for handling and comfort.
Since this was a review on a four-seat Side-by-Side, I wanted to answer the million-dollar question: just how roomy did that extra 31 inches make this machine? As someone who is over 6 feet tall, I’ve always felt cramped in the back seat of most high-performance UTVs, but this was absolutely not the case with the Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX X DS. The rear stock bucket seats comfortably hold you in place and there is an abundance of room so you’ll never feel as if your knees are being driven into the person you’re sitting behind. Yeah, I know that it’s rare that I’ll be in the back seat, but if I were to spend the money on one of these machines, I’d want to know that my passengers were as comfortable as possible. Rear cup holders and passenger grab holds were placed in great ergonomic locations so passengers can brace themselves easily and with a more natural feeling grip than you’d find in other multi-passenger UTVs.
Once I finally got behind the wheel of the MAX, I was able to fire the heart of the beast up and head out into the empty dunes of Glamis. Since our group arrived mid-week and past the prime riding season, we pretty much had the dunes all to ourselves aside from a few brave souls who weren’t afraid to beat the late spring heat. After pulling the shift lever into drive and pushing the pedal to the plastic, it was safe to say that regardless of the additional chassis weight, there was still plenty of power to push this off-road car around with ease. The turbocharged Rotax ACE spooled up quickly and didn’t have nearly the lag I was expecting as I was pushed deeper into my seat the more I mashed the skinny pedal into the floorboard. The tri-mode dynamic power steering kept the feel of the steering light, just like I like it and allowed me to skate around the desert brush and bushes with ease.
As our group made its way to the dunes, we encountered plenty of sudden drop-offs and whoops that would put the limit of the MAX’s suspension to the test. As I’ve found with most multi-passenger UTVs, the extra wheelbase makes for a more stable machine when you’re tackling rough terrain and the Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX X DS is likely the most stable UTV I’ve ever driven. The faster and harder I approached some of the deepest whoops, the smoother the MAX seemed to handle! At times I was brave enough to glance down at the digital instrument cluster and saw that I was gliding across at speeds over 60 MPH, and yet felt like I was cruising across a smooth patch of fresh sand.
If that length made for great straight line performance, the nimble handling characteristics would surely suffer, right? That is something that was going through my mind after switching between the two and four-seat units. My first experience in the two-seat Maverick X3 X DS left me extremely surprised. I’ve spent countless hours in the Polaris RZR and had plenty of seat time in the Yamaha YXZ1000R, but hands down the new Can-Am Maverick X3 felt as nimble as a Sport ATV out in the dunes. It seemed that I could whip the rear end at will with the slight turn of the steering wheel and push of the throttle that made the engine break the rear Maxxis Bighorn tires loose.
Back to the MAX…
To see if the long wheelbase would affect the handling of the Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX, I took it through the dunes for a rollercoaster-like ride through the bowls and over various transitions and plenty of razorbacks where the sand just gives out from under you. What I found was that it didn’t necessarily have the quick feeling of the two-seat version, but it did make everything I did feel more controlled. Sure, the quick 180-degree whips on the face of a dune were a thing of the past, but the MAX never felt unstable or seemed to get hung up on the dunes during a transition.
Another thing you need to worry about with long wheelbase vehicles in the dunes is the fact that you WILL encounter g-outs and what I found with the MAX is that they didn’t seem that bad. Around the campsite were a few smaller dunes that would make a great launching platform, but the base didn’t have a smooth approach. Well, the lengthy Maverick X3 Max soaked up those g-outs with ease and allowed for us to snap a few stunning aerial shots. Regardless of where I drove this machine or how hard I pushed it, the Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX X DS never ceased to amaze me.
If you’re on the cusp of purchasing a new high-performance multi-passenger UTV and need some persuasion, let me give you a HUGE list of Pros. We can start with the 154 HP turbocharged Rotax ACE engine, 20 inches of travel in both the front and rear of the vehicle, super comfortable cockpit for the driver and class leading rear passenger space, fully adjustable Fox 2.5 Podium RC2 Piggyback shocks, Tri-mode DPS, tough 29-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires and the longest wheelbase in its class for superb handling and passenger comfort.
Now of course with a huge list of Pros, you’re bound to have a list of Cons. While it’s rare, if ever, that a Pro could also be listed as a Con, but that is very much a reality with this machine. The long wheelbase that I’ve raved about is also a huge drawback of this machine for me. The sheer length of this machine can prove to be an issue for many people who have limited space either in enclosed trailers or even on flatbeds since it is nearly a foot and a half longer than the competition. Second is the price, as the Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX X DS Max starts at $27,499. Once you start adding on accessories like four or five-point safety harnesses, light bars or even sport tops and bumpers, that price can quickly approach the $30K mark. I’m sure that if you’re in the market for this kind of vehicle, you’re already aware of this and are prepared for the shock.
Finally my last gripe on this machine is in regards to adequate tie-down points for safe transportation. This isn’t necessarily isolated to this one machine, because I’ve had the same issue on a few others, but it is worth noting that when you’re wanting to secure your investment for travel, finding an adequate point to put a tie-down hook can be a struggle, with or without soft-tie extenders.
With that said, the 2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 MAX X DS is an absolute blast to ride out in the dunes. Whether you’re riding solo or have a full house, rest assured that this machine has all the power and suspension you could ask for in a high-performance UTV.
While my time in this unit was limited to the sand dunes, I have no doubt that it would be a great trail rig with a little more underside protection. If you have the opportunity to get behind the wheel of this machine at one of the many Can-Am test ride locations, I highly recommend it so you can get a feel for yourself of just how fun of a machine this is.