2013 Can-Am Commander 1000 XT Review
Commander now benefits from power steering
Story by Rick Sosebee, Photography by BRP, Dec. 07, 2012
When BRP began the promotional campaign for the Can-Am Commander a couple of years ago we knew it was on to something good. The fresh models from the Canadian company keep getting better each year, but itís the little things BRP adds that seem to hit home with consumers. Making the Commander even better for 2013 is the addition of Dynamic Power Steering (DPS).
Though we are excited about the introduction of DPS to the Commander, this UTV has plenty of other things to like. To start, it benefits from one of the most comfortable cabs in the industry. When you slip into the driverís seat of the Commander it is very apparent how much BRP paid attention to driver and passenger comfort.
To start with, the center console rises up in between the seats of the vehicle, which gives you the feeling of sitting lower than you actually are. In our opinion, the seats seem to wrap themselves around you and feel like they are specifically made for every riderís shape and size. It has always been important to us to have adequate support from the seating in a side-by-side so we feel connected to the car itself. In tight fast corners it is really nice to have seating that gives great support no matter what direction youíre going. The three-point anti-cinch belts also give a sense of security to compliment the seating. Throw in the heavy protection of the Commanderís passenger enclosure, made of two-inch steel tubing, and you have a confidence-inspiring ride.
Looking forward while seated, the gauge cluster offers up valuable information to its driver. The Can-Am Commander 1000 XT we tested was outfitted with an analog tachometer and speedometer, along with a variety of digital information as well. Just to the right of the custom-feeling steering wheel are headlight, 2WD/4WD, and Sport mode switches. An ample upper storage spot gives you space for the cell phone or GPS, while a large glove box provides even more space for your must-have off-road essentials. Finally, a twin bottle holder is found in the center console for the extra water you want to carry along for the ride.
As far as hauling is concerned, you will have plenty of space in the rear cargo box to tackle most jobs. This box has an open upper section and semi-sealed lower section for items you wish to keep out of the mud or rain from the ride. This big box will tilt as well to dump out whatever it is you need to move from one spot on the property to the next. The Can-Am Commander is not only a great play machine but it can get many jobs done over really rough terrain as well.
The engine in our test vehicle was the incredible 85hp 976cc Rotax V-Twin. This motor has become one of the most reliable engine platforms on the market with a deep throaty rumble and a lope that would make most Harley owners jealous. Pressing the gas pedal reveals the awesome power of this machine and with a large 54mm throttle body being coaxed along by Can-Amís iTC (Intelligent Throttle Control) system. Controlling the throttle via computer, the brain in the Commander can help control the off-on-off again throttle pumping you may get while riding really rough terrain as your foot bounces on the pedal.
Our Can-Am 1000XT was dressed in beautiful XT-specific Pure Magnesium colored plastic with the XT add-ons like 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires that handle rocky terrain as well as mud and hard pack with no problem. These tires have to be some of the toughest on the market and mounted on the cast aluminum 14-inch stylish wheels, the classy styling gains momentum. A heavy-duty bumper protects the front of the machine, which is also included in the XT package. Other XT items include the upgraded gauge package we mentioned earlier, mud guards, bed rails, leather steering wheel, and 4000lb WARN winch.
Of course, the cherry on top of this Commander sundae is DPS. And with DPS comes the Visco-lok QE front differential. This system is totally transparent to the driver as there are no buttons to push or switches to flip in order to get the Visco-lok system working. This really helped in the tight slower sections that became really rutted and root filled. The Commander was in complete control of itself during our ride.
Driving this 2013 Can-Am Commander 1000 XT was a pleasure to say the least. The comfort of the cab makes you feel right at home and with the power steering added to help give the driver much more control of the machine we felt it was all coming together nicely. The DPS is just a single-stage power steering unit. It does not have the multi-tier system like we find on the ATVs in the Can-Am family. Nonetheless, it is truly a welcome addition to the side-by-side.
Our test area was in the hills of Vancouver, British Columbia in western Canada. The trails were made up of many hard-pack roads as well as deep rutted and root filled tight woods to add in some excitement. The area also included sections of really small pebbles and sand to give us the variations we needed to test every feature of the Commander. The throttle-by-wire is definitely something to get used to and we feel it works as it should. As for the suspension, though it is sufficient for most circumstances and generally performed really well, it would be great to be able to swap any of the XT package items around with other model features such as the FOX piggyback shocks from the X-package Commander.
After a day of riding we were tired but not physically drained as the Commander kept us very comfortable. This machine has come a long way in a short period of time and by all indications BRP will only continue to improve and refine this platform for many years.