The UTV industry is molding itself into a segment of the off-road market that resembles the automotive industry more and more, especially with each new model year. Manufacturers are unleashing refinements with yearly updates to each vehicle, and have you noticed how intense the horsepower wars are getting? There is some serious one-upmanship going on, and we have been taking notice…
Can-Am has long been in a battle for sport UTV supremacy, and they have a very competent entry with the Maverick. With a strong motor and excellent interior, the Maverick has showed that it is a top player in the segment. It just lacks a couple things, and one of them is adequate suspension to keep up with the other offerings.
Enter into model year 2017 and Can-Am has just unleashed a true-to-the-core sport machine – the Maverick X3. The new X3 lineup represents a true sport offering in the Maverick lineup with best-in-class power, suspension, and componetry. Will it take top honors this year and beat out the rest of the competition? Let’s dive into the specs and see what Can-Am developed for this vehicle to find out if it has the credos…
At first glance, the X3 doesn’t have the traditional Maverick look. Bold styling is found up front in the form of sculpted LED headlights and aggressive bodywork. As your sightlines transfer to the side of the vehicle, the molded doors and defined bodylines give it an aggressive stance. Behind the B-pillar, which is a mix of trigonometric shapes and low roll bar lines, the Maverick gets a hunched rear end to give it a sleek and fast stance. Equally impressive are the rear taillights that finish off the distinct look. And, be careful, because if you aren’t in an X3 then you might be seeing those taillights quite often. More on that in a minute…
Since you can visualize the outside now, let’s concentrate on what makes the interior unique. The first item you’ll notice are those nicely bolstered seats. Once you plop your tush in them, grab the seat slider adjustment handle in the front and notice how easily those seats slide. It’s a grab-and-go process, nice and easy, way better than other seat sliders we have used in the past. You’ll also notice just how much adjustment is present – a full 6”. Couple that with the 26 degrees of adjustment found in the steering wheel and you can pretty much find a comfortable driving position no matter what body type you are. Great job Can-Am!
Continuing on within the cabin we find a clean and concise gauge cluster layout that is mounted to the steering wheel so it adjusts with your sightlines. Switches in the accessorized unit we tested were found in 3 different places, which was slightly inconvenient trying to find the correct switch, but we found that playing with the light bars and other accessories was a delight. Per usual in Can-Am vehicles, you start the engine via a push button. We like this mechanism, but we also don’t mind just having one key to turn to start the vehicle. To each their own. There is a passenger-side glove box that opens from the top just above the passenger front grab handle. We wish there was a true latch for this glove box, but it seemed to hold up just fine for the short ride we took.
Last but certainly not least, the interior area is finished off with plenty of safety features. We really like how Can-Am integrates several passenger grab handles to ensure everyone keeps their extremities inside the vehicle at all times. To complement the grab handles, the half doors that come standard provide good, but not great, protection from the elements. We wish manufacturers would just put full doors on these vehicles and be done with it. They offer them as accessories, why not take the extra safety precautions and just include them as standard faire?
We know, we know, you all want to hear about the meaty stuff – engine, suspension, tires – the go-fast parts! Luckily for all of us, the X3 delivers in all of these areas, and it delivers in a big way.
Let’s start off with the suspension, since that is one of the premium and innovative features on this vehicle. The Maverick X3 comes with a massive amount of suspension travel – 24 inches in the rear and 22 inches in the front, to be exact! Trophy truck status? Almost, especially when you factor in that these are truly premium FOX shocks. The base model X3 comes with FOX PODIUM 2.5 shocks with QS3 compression adjustment, while the X DS and X RS models come with fully adjustable shocks that include dual rate springs, crossover adjustment capability, full compression (low and high speed) adjustability, rebound adjustability, and of course preload adjustability. If you happen to buy an X3, you’ll be happy to know that you will never need to buy an “upgraded” shock because of how tunable these units are. And, if you opt for the high performance version of the X3 – the 72” wide X3 X RS model – then you get full 3.0 PODIUM RC2 shocks. That’s a 3” wide shock! Crazy stuff going on here…
You wouldn’t be able to get anywhere and truly use that suspension unless you had engine and drivetrain components that were up to the task. Again, the X3 delivers with a turbocharged and intercooled 900cc ROTAX, inline triple-cylinder engine that puts out an industry-leading 154 horsepower. 113 lb-ft of torque back up the horsepower number with grunt down low, and you can definitely feel it from the driver’s seat. The X3’s transmission, known as the QRS-X CVT, is fine-tuned for a smooth power delivery and efficient cooling. There is a significant amount of cooling ducts found on the X3, and we think they do a superior job of making sure this machine doesn’t blow the belt. If you were to blow a belt, Can-Am seems to have simplified the process and at least put it in a convenient spot to access the belt cover. Note that we watched hundreds of demo rides at the UTV Invasion event with drivers of all different skill levels, and we didn’t see one X3’s have a failure in the dunes. Pretty darn good.
With all of that info, you’re probably wondering how the heck it drives?! Well, imagine putting yourself in a vehicle that rode over the bumps like the smoothest red wine you have poured (think – Cadillac-esque suspension) and had the power of a Tiger whenever you needed it. Wine + Tiger = Maverick X3. Mighty with a smooth behavior. You follow us? Yeah, maybe not exactly what it feels like to drive the Maverick X3, but it sure is a pleasure. Strap into the cockpit, push the start button, listen to that mean Rotax engine fire up, and unleash the throttle. It’s a whirlwind of distinct exhaust sounds (love it!), smooth suspension, and effortless acceleration.
Upon takeoff, the CVT is tuned to be very smooth, whether you are in high or low gear. Engagement also doesn’t come with any clunks; it is smooth and precise. Open up the throttle a little bit and we find that the engine noise is well contained in the back, and the power builds very consistently. Does it feel like 154 horses are on tap? Not really on our test drive, but we were in a controlled environment and also didn’t have a chance to dial in the tire pressures for the sand. We did find out that the power there is PLENTY and very readily available. Driver and passenger comfort in the cabin is top notch, and being comfortable allows the driver to really feel comfortable with this machine.
Besides the great engine power, the suspension is by far our favorite part of the X3. With full adjustability, the FOX shocks have a bottomless feeling to them. They easily soak up 2-3 foot whoops with buttery smooth dynamics. No kicking is found in the backend, and the suspension engineers were somehow able to control the 22” of front travel so that the car doesn’t dip and roll into corners. Granted, there is a tad bit of body roll on tap, but it is well managed and not bad at all for a car with this much suspension. We look forward to really testing its capability in the desert too because the unforgiving terrain will really show the true capabilities of the X3.
Gripes? Yes, there are a couple… The electronic throttle doesn’t immediately reengage when you get back on it after letting off. I’m hoping that more seat time in the vehicle would allow me to adjust my driving dynamics for this engine characteristic. Also, we had a shorter test driver in the driver’s seat on a demo ride (about 5’7”) and she commented that she would have liked to sit more upright in the driver’s seat. This is just an observation and something to look at when you go and sit in one.
Overall, Can-Am built a very well designed, pure-sport UTV that is sure to shake up the marketplace. It even has storage on the back rack, and we can see ourselves taking this machine on many long-distance adventures in the desert and open riding areas in the future. Look for more tests on this machine soon, and be sure to tell us what you think about the X3 on our social channels! (@c2offroad)