2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000R X rs vs. Polaris 900 RZR XP LE EPS - Video

We crown the king of Sport Side-by-Sides

Story by Matt Allred, Photography by Matt Allred, Aug. 28, 2013

We've written plenty over the past couple of years about the Polaris RZR XP 900 and Can-Am Maverick 1000. Both of these Sport UTVs are groundbreaking and we'd be happy to spend the day kicking up dust in either.  But our readers regularly ask us which one is better.

To find out the answer, we borrowed a Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs ($17,499) and a Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS ($17,799) and tested them in every way we could over three months this spring and summer. After logging untold hours of seat time in each, we flew in our video producer to record the ultimate test session.

VIEW Read our review of the 2013 Polaris RZR XP LE EPS

Locations for the Sport Side-by-Side rumble-fest were the lava trails near Rexburg, Idaho and the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, St. Anthony, Idaho.

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The agenda was: 1) Report the weight of each in their ready-to-ride (RTR) configuration, meaning each side-by-side dressed out in with all fluids – oil, water and fuel; 2) Report the turning radius of each in 2WD and 4WD; 3) Report the time trial of each on a closed 2.5 mile course; and 3) Report rider impressions on sand.

To help us pick a winner, we invited along two guest drivers: Jerry Mathews, general manager of Starting Line Products; and Roger Raymond, a professional mechanic on motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and boats. Senior ATV.com test driver, Kevin Allred, would also get his hands dirty.

2013 Can-Am Maverick and 2013 Polaris RZR XP 900

By now you’ve hopefully read our two long-term reviews on the Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs and Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS. These two articles hold tech info and details on each from many miles of testing and are worthy companions to this shootout article.

Read To Ride Weight

Vehicle Wet Weight Dry Weight Difference Fuel Capacity Horsepower Power to Weight Ratio Dry Power to Weight Ratio RTR
Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs 1415 lbs 1297 lbs 118 lbs 10.0 gal. 101 12.84 lbs per HP 14.0 lbs per HP
Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS 1275 lbs 1204 lbs 71 lbs 7.25 gal. 88 13.68 lbs per HP 14.5 lbs per HP

2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Scale

Analysis: Overall the Maverick weighs more, carrying an extra 140 pounds in its ready to ride configuration. However, the Maverick, with its 101 horsepower, works less to move its weight. Each of the RZR's 88 ponies is charged with moving 14.5 pounds, whereas the Maverick’s motor has to move 14.0 pounds per horsepower. This spread widens when comparing dry weights as the Maverick holds nearly three more gallons of fuel.

Turning Radius

Vehicle 2WD 4WD Difference
Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs 19 ft. 18 ft. 8 in. 4 in.
Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS 18 ft. 9 in. 18 ft. 7 in. 2 in.

2013 Polaris RZR XP 900 LE Profile

Analysis: The two side-by-side UTVs were comparable in stitching out a circle in the sand. The RZR XP LE had an overall tighter turning radius, however in 4WD it did not cinch up its radius as much as the Maverick X rs. From these results, 4WD delivers a tighter turning radius than 2WD, as expected. What does this mean for you and me in real world driving? When navigating tight trails or moving the Sport Side-by-Side through and around crags, trees and trail obstacles, a smaller/tighter turning radius can make the maneuvering easier. But, we are splitting hairs here. One to three inches of difference is miniscule. Our mechanical engineer, Roger Raymond, says the small difference can be (most likely) sand slip and how well a particular Maxxis tire grips and rotates on sand. He also stated that these results could be wholly different if conducted on loam soil, pavement or in mud. Bottom line: The RZR and Maverick are close – no substantive winner.

Closed Course Speed Runs

Set between the Idaho farm towns of Menan and Rexburg is a high mountain sagebrush and lava rock desert where many trails sweep across course sand, busted lava rock and small river rock. Here we locked down a 1.25-mile closed-course loop complete with aforementioned rocks, ruts, deep and shallow turns, pear cactus and a couple of scorpions.

Prior to unleashing our two drivers, we prepped the two UTVs by setting each vehicle's front and rear suspensions to be softer than OEM shipped (to reduce wheel hop), and balancing all tire pressures to OEM specs – suited for the course's terrain and for driver want. Below are the each driver's fastest and slowest times, averages, and differences.

Vehicle Roger Raymond Jerry Matthews
Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Fastest - 1:44 (min:sec) Fastest - 1:50
Slowest - 1:50 Slowest - 1:54
Average - 1:47 Average - 1:52
Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS Fastest - 1:49 Fastest - 1:49
Slowest - 1:52 Slowest - 1:53
Average - 1:50.5 Average - 1:51

Analysis: By scanning the averages, the drivers almost matched each other's elapsed times. Now, there is some head scratching here. The 900 RZR XP LE EPS, having less horsepower than the Maverick and less weight, made efficient use of its smaller horsepower by hauling fewer pounds around the course. For horsepower efficiency, the 900 RZR XP LE EPS claims the prize.

2013 Polaris RZR XP 900 LE Action Course

However, the Maverick X rs turned out the fastest time with Raymond at the wheel with a 1:44 (actually, rounded up from 1:43:73). When asked about the six second difference, Raymond enthusiastically exclaimed, “I kept the Maverick pinned through the curves and bends, it felt more stable than the 900 RZR XP LE and I had greater confidence.” Raymond also added the Maverick X rs’ center-mounted motor was key at keeping the it squared up in the tight S-turns. We agree.

VIEW: Read our preview of the 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000

Now, there are three inconsistencies we must understand, driver skill, confidence and vehicle familiarity. Mathews is more familiar with the 900 RZR XP LE, thus his times were quicker on it than on the Maverick X rs, but by one second respectively. Raymond, on the other hand, had equal throttle time behind the RZR and Maverick prior to this shootout.

2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Action 02

The two test drivers bodly complained the two side-by-sides pulled 700-900-fewer RPM than they should; optimum should be 7900 to 8100 RPM where the Maverick X rs and 900 RZR XP LE were spitting out approximately 7200 to 7300 RPM.

Here comes a complaint. The two manufacturers, when they shipped these high performance Sport Side-by-Side UTVs to our high altitude-based dealer, primary and secondary clutch weights and springs did not compensate for the thin air. These OEMs do understand that vehicles which operate in thin air require different weights and springs than those vehicles that operate sea-level or 1000 feet. How do they know this? They build mountain-specific snowmobiles where clutch weights and springs are designed for high-altitude operation; high-altitude shipped RZRs and Mavericks should follow suit.

Yes, the ATV.com long-term evaluation test crew resides in the Rockies, where you may reside in Nevada, for example. But, here’s our point: customers appreciate a product that runs at their home altitude. If proper altitude-specific weights and springs are not shipped with the vehicle, then the dealer needs calibration charts to install proper weights and springs prior to new product delivery.

2013 Polaris RZR XP 900 LE Action Course

With that said, the Polaris RZR 900 XP LE, operated somewhat closer to its optimum RPM for the 5,000 feet we tested at – for trail speed runs only.

So, here is the give and take: Power-to-weight efficiency goes to the Polaris 900 RZR XP LE w/EPS; sheer speed and horsepower and high-speed balance goes to the Maverick 1000R X rs. You decide which is of more value.

Sand Dunes

At the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, we dumped the pressure from tires, dropping the Maxxis meats to 2 psi. This made the Maverick 1000 X rs and 900 RZR XP LE EPS stupid fun. We would like to have had paddle tires in the rear and baldies up front, but this is a stock test.

2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Tire Pressure

After unloading the two UTVs, we lit them up on a mogul-filled sand trail, where the test drivers – Mathews and Raymond, went off to school the Maverick’s and RZR’s suspension dampening and rebound, as well as steering and throttle control; their results are documented in our final score sheets. But in summation, they felt the Maverick X rs was more secure on the two-foot tall and four-foot spaced sand moguls; credit the Maverick’s Torsional Trailing Arm rear suspension and its center-mounted motor.

On the sand dunes, the Maverick’s clutching took advantage of the motor’s ample horsepower and torque better than the RZR.

VIEW: Read our review of the 2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs

On long pulls, the Maverick 1000 X rs pulled and pulled; credit its displacement. The 900 RZR XP LE, motoring up the same long sandy chutes, would crest a dune's apex and punch in, not breaking the top. This was overcome by giving the 900 RZR XP LE a longer run-up time than the Maverick X rs.

2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Action Dune

When jumping the two steeds, the 900 RZR XP LE flew flat, where on the other hand, the Maverick X rs would launch, fly flat then suddenly drop its nose landing on its front wheels at about the four o-clock position. Our guest test drivers tried to flatten out the Maverick’s nose by knocking the Maverick into 4WD and keeping the throttle pinned. They learned by keeping the motor running wide open and spinning the tires in 4WD, they were able to cancel some nose drop, but not all. We believe by softening up the rear suspension, we may have zeroed-out some nose diving, but this is an unproven theory. However, given the above, we feel the Maverick’s center-mounted motor mostly contributes to its nose drop. The 900 RZR XP LE w/EPS has a rear mounted motor where in flight the rearward-placed weight kept its nose from sinking.

2013 Polaris RZR XP 900 LE Action Jump

Scorecards

Jerry Matthews Scorecard
Vehicle Category Score Vehicle Category Score
Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Steering Input and Feedback 3 - Excellent Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS Steering Input and Feedback 2 - Good
Engine Power 2 - Good Engine Power 2 - Good
Clutching 1 - Poor Clutching 1 - Poor
Traction 3 - Excellent Traction 2 - Good
Cockpit 2 - Good Cockpit 2 - Good
Seats 3 - Excellent Seats 1 - Poor
Fit and Finish 3 - Excellent Fit and Finish 3 - Excellent
Overall Looks and Appeal 3 - Excellent Overall Looks and Appeal 3 - Excellent
Overall Score 2.5 Overall Score 1.625

Though Jerry Matthews had the Maverick as the winner on his scorecard, he says he'd still rather buy the RZR XP. Click here to find out why.

Roger Raymond Scorecard
Vehicle Category Score Vehicle Category Score
Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Steering Input and Feedback 3 - Excellent Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS Steering Input and Feedback 2 - Good
Engine Power 2 - Good Engine Power 2 - Good
Clutching 1 - Poor Clutching 1 - Poor
Traction 3 - Excellent Traction 2 - Good
Cockpit 3 - Excellent Cockpit 2 - Good
Seats 3 - Excellent Seats 2 - Good
Fit and Finish 3 - Excellent Fit and Finish 2 - Good
Overall Looks and Appeal 3 - Excellent Overall Looks and Appeal 2 - Good
Overall Score 2.75 Overall Score 2.0

Roger Raymond explains his scores in great detail here.

Kevin Allred Scorecard
Vehicle Category Score Vehicle Category Score
Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Steering Input and Feedback 2 - Good Polaris RZR XP 900 LE EPS Steering Input and Feedback 3 - Excellent
Engine Power 3 - Excellent Engine Power 3 - Excellent
Clutching 2 - Good Clutching 2 - Good
Traction 2 - Good Traction 2 - Good
Cockpit 3 - Excellent Cockpit 2 - Good
Seats 3 - Excellent Seats 2 - Good
Fit and Finish 2 - Good Fit and Finish 2 - Good
Overall Looks and Appeal 2 - Good Overall Looks and Appeal 3 - Excellent
Overall Score 2.375 Overall Score 2.375

Kevin Allred offers some thoughts on both the Maverick X rs and RZR XP 900 LE here.

Conclusion

From the final tabulated scores, the 2013 Maverick 1000R X rs walked out of the fight arena as the victor. However, I wouldn’t call it decisive; a spread of just over a half-point is small. The RZR 900 was more efficient at delivering power-to-weight than the 1000R Mav X rs, its speed on the closed course, though not as high as the Maverick X rs, was a few ticks behind the black and yellow ute. This tells me Polaris understands how to make its RZR 900 XP LE run.

2013 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X rs Action Jump

On the other hand, Can Am rolled out its Maverick 1000R X rs as a first model year sport UTV in 2013 and it did a fine job.

Kevin Allred, though his individual category scores were different, his overall scores for each vehicle were the same, whereas Mathews’ and Raymond’s scores reflected more criticism on clutching or engine power.

The above data is yours to take and evaluate.

Lastly, we give these final thoughts.

1) The RZR has power steering, the 2013 Maverick 1000R X rs does not; this changes for the 2014 Maverick 1000R X rs as it can be purchased with Can Am’s Dynamic three speed Power Steering (DPS).

2) The RZR 900 XP LE /EPS has a smaller motor; this changes in 2014 as Polaris introduced a RZR XP 1000, but the 900 LE EPS remains. The engine displacement and horsepower battle between the two tightens in 2014.

3) For money’s sake, the 2013 Maverick 1000R X rs comes with more standard features than the 2013 RZR 900 XP LE EPS, such as adjustable driver’s seat, recaro-style seats for both occupants, combo front bumper and brush guard, true beadlock rims, and adjustable compression-dampening and rebound-controlled shocks. The Maverick is the big-bang-for-your-buck stock side-by-side.

4) If you want aftermarket parts such as doors, a roof, a high output tuned exhaust system, EFI fuel controller, a turbocharger, front and rear bumpers, or five-point harness seats, then the RZR 900 XP LE EPS is your ride as aftermarketeers bless RZR owners with a plethora of goodies.

5) We did not have at our disposal an Arctic Cat Wildcat X 1000 LE, though we tried to secure one. Hopefully this will change next year.

 
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