We take the mighty new six-wheel UTV for a test drive
The new 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 has an obvious difference from the rest of the Defender family – it has six wheels! No, this isn’t exactly a new concept for a UTV, but the Defender 6×6 utilizes the six wheels, extended chassis, large dump bed, and every other feature in a way that no other utility-based side-by-side does in this industry. Let’s take a deeper look at how this 6×6 will pave a trail for future UTVs…
HP / Torque: 82 HP / 69 lb-ft
Cargo Box Capacity: 1000 LBS
Towing Capacity: 3000 LBS
HP / Torque: 82 HP / 69 lb-ft
Cargo Box Capacity: 1000 LBS
Towing Capacity: 3000 LBS
Can-Am has obviously been on the gas releasing new products, and it has reason to celebrate the new Defender 6×6 as one of the ultimate adventure UTVs on the market. After all, how could you go wrong loading up a six-foot long cargo bed with all of your hunting or camping supplies and knowing that you have six-wheel-drive to get out to the most remote spot in the mountains? The Defender 6×6 will get you there and back, no problem…
You may be asking yourself why I didn’t call this UTV the ultimate “work” vehicle? Well, it really comes down to the fact that the two rear differentials are always locked on the 6×6, thus making it unusable when it comes to sensitive terrain. Places that would have “sensitive terrain” are certain job sites, golf courses, and any other work environment with ground that can’t be significantly disturbed. With its locked diffs in the back, the 6×6 has the ultimate traction, thus churning up anything in its path. While it is a detriment if you’re working in certain areas, this is the ultimate asset when you’re on the trail and tackling the gnarliest of terrain in your path.
With all of this being said, the 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 does have the most capability of any UTV, built right in from the factory. It can tow 3000 pounds (industry best!) and haul up to 1000 lbs in the rear cargo bed (tested and proven for much more than that – 1000 lbs is a specification regulation based on the vehicle category). So, again, if you don’t have sensitive ground and need the ultimate capability to do work, like hauling heavy cargo or towing trailers around the ranch, then the 6×6 is your vehicle. If you need a vehicle like this 6×6 but it needs to be able to go on many different job sites and still be a workhorse, then the Defender PRO will be your vehicle. You can check out our review of the Defender PRO, here.
Here is a fun fact for anyone looking to purchase a 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 as the ultimate mud riding vehicle. Can-Am engineered the rear 4 wheels to be far enough apart so that you can use 30” tires all the way around! So, are you ready to push through the mud like nothing else?! Yeah, the 6×6 is going to do just that…
Back to stock form, the Defender 6×6 is essentially a three-seat Defender chassis that has an add-on section behind what would normally be the back of the standard chassis. This add-on section is braced and bolted to the stock chassis, and it holds the back two wheels via A-arms, rear shocks and sway bar, and of course the two-inch receiver hitch, which is built to tow those heavy loads. The rear four wheels all have independent suspension, as do the front wheels, thus increasing articulation to incredible levels. Take a look at the photos – you’ll see how the front set of rear wheels can be almost a foot higher than the rear wheels (and vice versa) when you’re going over rocks, roots, and big obstacles. With the front set of rear wheels being mounted in the same place as the standard three-seat Defender, the wheelbase is still very compact and great for tough terrain. You won’t be scraping the skid plates very often, unless you are on extremely rocky or rooted trails. And, Can-Am engineers were able to keep the suspension compliant through the rough stuff. As the speeds increase, you’ll notice that the ride is a bit rough when you hit bigger rocks or roots, but it’s still smoother and more controlled than many other units on the market.
Yes, the articulation is great and the 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 has the ultimate traction, but the front differential still lets this vehicle down. A Smart-Lok front differential would have really put this vehicle over the top by providing quicker front differential lockup and better turning traction. Going into corners, the 6×6 actually delivers a very confident driving sensation because the vehicle still steers surprisingly well, even with 4 driven wheels constantly pushing this vehicle forward. But it still does push the front end in the corners, and a fully locking diff in the front would help this turning ability, especially in the tight corners. With the Dynamic Power Steering system on the Defender lineup, this steering is easy to modulate, whether you are going slow or fast. I found it to be very well weighted at all speeds, and it could easily handle the Smart-Lok front differential.
Powering the 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 is one engine, and it’s the largest power plant in the Defender lineup – the HD10. This engine has 82 horsepower and 69 lb-ft of torque. Even with six wheels touching the ground, I didn’t find this vehicle slower or lacking any certain aspect in the power band compared to other HD10 models. The 6×6 is surprisingly snappy on initial throttle, and it only gets better in the mid range. The clutching of the CVT transmission is really spot on in high and low range, too. The engine comes on smooth under load and lays down the power steadily as you climb in mph. I also like how quiet this engine and powertrain system is in the real world. The smoothness and quietness make driving the 6×6 a joyous experience, especially when I was behind the wheel for an hour or more at a time.
Keeping the driver and riders comfortable (it’s a three-passenger vehicle), the 6×6’s interior is typical Defender – comfortable, well executed with plenty of storage options, and driver-centric. The latest digital instrument display is clear and concise, giving the driver a straight-line view of the machine’s vitals and instrumentation. The only thing I didn’t like about this cluster is the fact that the different iTC (intelligent Throttle Control with three modes – Work, ECO, and non-ECO) modes are hidden and not readily apparent. Once you know which button to push on the dash to change the modes, it’s easy to do so. However, some people don’t want to remember which button it is time after time, so a little symbol would be very welcome.
Other than that, I found the driver’s seat very comfortable and easy to get into. The adjustable steering wheel allowed me to further dial in the seating position – everything is within easy reach. This seating position will be comfortable for many different body types, too. The passenger seats are also very comfortable and well spaced out. If you aren’t using the passenger seats, then the driver can simply flip up the seats and use the extra space created for storage. This is a great use of the cab, and I love this versatility. Even though the 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 uses nets on the side to keep passengers safe instead of doors, they are better than the competition and much easier to latch and unlatch.
I’ve saved one of the best attributes of this 6×6 for last… the cargo bed!
This was on purpose, because it finishes off this 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 with an A+ grade. The reasons for this are numerous, but it all starts with the fact that this bed is six feet in length. The extra space is SO useful when using this vehicle for work, or when you’re hauling supplies out to your next camp spot or hunting location. Speaking of hunting, this will be a fantastic vehicle for hunters on many different trails (except the super tight trails). Not only will you be able to haul all of your supplies, but you’ll be able to haul your harvest back, too.
The cargo bed is made of an extremely thick plastic, giving it density and durability that should absolutely last the test of time. Can-Am engineers didn’t just put a cargo bed on and stop there – they are much more diligent than that. The engineers analyzed work trucks and other vehicles that are used on ranches around the world, and they saw that many people use flat bed trucks for work everywhere. So, what did they do?! They gave us the ability to remove the sides on this cargo bed to turn it into a 6’ flat bed, just like a flat bed truck. Think of the possibilities… You can haul skid steer attachments, massive tractor tires, large fences, lumber, and so much more. You can haul a bunch in/on this cargo bed, and its versatility is absolutely category-leading in this industry.
There are two punch lines with the cargo bed, besides the fact that it still tilts and dumps, and the first one is the fact that the bedsides are so easily removed. Simply removed (two) rear screws from the back and slide the bedsides off – it’s that easy. The second punch line is the fact that there are so many LinQ accessories that fit up to this cargo bed that you can literally outfit a 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 in any way you need to for work or play. If you use it for work, there are a ton of accessories that make it faster and easier to load (plus, the cargo bedsides are slotted so you can put your own dividers in the bed). The versatility and durability of this cargo bed complete the Defender 6×6 so well, and the Can-Am engineers really outdid themselves with this.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 is more of an adventure vehicle than it is a work vehicle if you regularly work on sensitive ground and places that you don’t want four driven wheels in the back. The PRO is your better bet if you might need to unlock the rear wheels someday. Otherwise, the Defender 6×6 is the right six-foot cargo bed choice if you want a vehicle that can literally have the ultimate traction, haul the most “stuff” in the UTV industry, and still have a blast on the trails. If you’re a hunter, this could really be one of the ultimate vehicles for you. Think about the traction, larger cargo bed out back, option for Camo plastics, and opportunity to run 30” tires on here without making any modifications. You’re welcome…
These are arriving at your dealerships now. Take a drive, you’ll appreciate the ride, capability, and handling of this 6×6. Plus, I expected the price to be higher, so it’s welcome that you can get all of this capability and functionality for well under $20k. The MSRP comes in at $17,999.