Upscale Outlander has all the trimmings
Power and style is the message the new Can-Am Outlander 800 XT-P left us with. It didn’t take our group any time at all to get this impression from the XT-P during our test ride.
Style starts from the ground up on the Can-Am with the cast aluminum rims and yellow plastic inlays contrasting the deep black fascia that make the machine look sharp. This coloring choice compliments the aggressive looking racking and body moldings.
The XT-P has a bold graphics package of yellow and black that wraps the gas tank and runs up the mud flaps. The combination of matte and shiny black plastics give the XT-P dynamic lines. Despite the work on the styling this ATV wasn’t only designed for looks, it was built with performance in mind.
Powering the XT-P is the Rotax V-Twin 799.9 cc EFI engine. Can-am claims that this is the most powerful 800cc motor in the industry, churning out a claimed 71 hp. On a back road in Northern Ontario we got a chance to see just what 800cc of raw power felt like. We punched the throttle wide open and when the speedometer read 58 mph we had a distinct “Holy-crap” moment.
After the speed run we started to evaluate the machine’s ability to accelerate and decelerate. Putting a lid on all this power is Can-Am’s progressive throttle setup. This system helps to manage the power at low speeds and keep it controlled when wide open. As expected this engine provides a huge amount of torque, but it is kept manageable thanks to this system. It allowed us to pick our way through rocks and rough sections without the fear of engaging too much power and losing control.
Helping add to this sense of security in handling are the ergonomics of the Outlander that aide in keeping the machine under control while on your ride. The riding position on the XT-P is very comfortable and allows you to move from a sitting to standing position quickly.
The Outlander’s SST chassis was designed with relaxed cruising and aggressive trail riding in mind. This frame gives the machine a very nimble and confident feel on the trails thanks in part to its overall dry weight of 669 pounds. Navigating the tight portions of the forest trails was simple too.
One interesting feature on the frame we noticed when the machine was still on the trailer was that all the wheels feature independent brush guards protecting the drive shaft housings and workings. After splitting several CV joint boots on various models last season we all felt that this is an excellent addition to under-belly protection.
In addition to the guards the Outlander’s ground clearance is 12 inches, which allows ample room to clear obstacles that could damage your machine’s under-carriage. This height also helps you to get in and out of steep approaches such as hills, river banks, and over low obstacles like stumps and rocks.
Helping the bike sit up so high off the ground is its ample suspension setup. The front double A-arm setup allows for eight inches of travel and the TTi rear independent suspension allows for nine inches of travel.
At speed or when running slow we found the suspension was still fairly stiff. This is great for riders who are looking for an aggressive trail experience but not so great for anybody looking for a comfortable trail ride.
You can tune down the rebound and pre-set on the shocks, but we found this made the ride far too washy in the corners to be enjoyable as well. It can be a fickle balance to find the setting which is just right for you on the XT-P.
Tuning up the shocks was simple as well and required few or no tools. The tools we did require were located in the rear storage compartment and were easily accessible. The front and rear compartments are held down with rubber fasteners and are water proof which makes them perfect for storing and easily accessing gear on the trail. I had a couple of items stowed for my ride including some trail maps, extra gloves, a sandwich and water bottle, a tow strap, and extra goggles. Nothing got wet and nothing got dirty – perfect.
When in place the storage covers can still have gear strapped down on them so they don’t take away from the usefulness of the front or rear racks. The rider can place about 100 pounds of gear on the front while the rear supports 200 pounds. Plenty of tie-down points and hooks make securing your gear simple. The only problem with this is that when you have anything strapped down you can’t access the storage compartments without removing your gear first. Don’t store anything you need to get to frequently on the trail if you have a lot of gear on your racks. I had to remove a gear bag I had strapped down to get access to my maps, which was a bit annoying.
Up top on the handlebar the rider has all the controls easily accessible at their fingertips and the large print digital readout makes monitoring engine performance simple. The shifter is located on the side of the gas tank and allows the rider to select between high, low, neutral, reverse and park on the XT-P’s CVT transmission.
The transmission features a strong engine braking system that seemed almost too strong at times. The XT-P seemed to be either accelerating or instantly decelerating with no rolling or lag time in between. This meant that during our ride you had to either be on the throttle constantly or you’d slow down and hold up the group behind you.
Parking our Outlander XT-P outside for the overnight portion of our ride left us with the normal worries of potential theft. Along with our standard “padlock and chain” method of security the console of the machine is programmed with BRP’s Digital Encoded Security System (D.E.S.S.). This system will lock out the engine if someone attempts to start it without the encoded key.
An improved 650-watt magneto allows for a 12-V output mounted on the body just below the handlebar. This allows you to plug in any typically “car-style” accessories. On our ride we had chargers for phones and even had a GPS unit running on one of the units.
Other features on the handlebar include selectable 2WD or 4WD shaft driven Visco-lok Front differential. The Visco-lok system allows the machine to quickly engage more or less power to a wheel when it’s required. This is a benefit when riding in terrain with constant ups and downs such as rock crawling or slippery conditions like mud and rain.
The XT-P comes equipped with a BRP XL3000 winch. This winch is factory installed and has a pulling capacity of 3,000 pounds. We never really got a chance to use this winch (because we couldn’t get stuck!) but the controls are located on the handlebar as well as on a remote which is connected through a cord. This is a nice feature as someone else (up to five feet away) can operate the winch while the rider continues to work the machine out of whatever you’ve gotten into.
Another feature which helps to compensate for terrain is the XT-P’s dual mode power steering unit. This allows the rider to select either a maximum output or minimum setting. We played around with the two settings over the time we had with the machine a fair bit. Some of the other test riders left it on MAX the whole time and commented that they loved it that way. I found that I only had it on MAX while doing slow speed maneuvers and while towing a trailer.
Just to get a really good feel for the towing capability of this machine we used it to move around some equipment. Low end torque on the Outlander 800R is powerful enough to pull nearly any load you can put on it but the factory recommends that you only tow up to 1,300 pounds.
When we weren’t hauling a trailer we used the minimum power steering setting for traveling at speed because we found that the MAX provided the potential for over-steering in a situation where you wanted minimal output. The unit does decrease the output exponentially based on speed but we still felt that it was a little more than needed.
Also designed for traveling at speed are the machine’s handlebar-mounted wind deflectors. These are very nice at high speed for keeping your hands warm and also in the forest for protecting your hands from branches or other obstacles.
The overall feel in the saddle of this machine is confidence. The power is sufficient for any situation and the suspension and frame setup make riding either gently or aggressively comfortable. The XT-P will do or go wherever you want it too, and it’ll look good doing it. Those sweet looks and performance extras do cost, however. The Outlander 800R XT-P retails for $11,249, which is a whopping $2,000 more than the base Outlander 800R.