Can-Am vs Polaris Side-by-Sides: 75 Pros and Cons of the UTV Brands

The battle between brands has always been at the forefront of marketing, and business competition. Everywhere you look there are companies vouching for their products claiming that theirs are the best on the market.

It gets really difficult for consumers, especially many of us who might be indifferent, or simply uneducated about the various products that we consume to know the companies background or their quality.

The UTV world and market are no different from the rest of them. There are forums upon forums on the internet, where people sit and hash out, through their computers, what brand is best and why.

Two of the most popular names in the UTV world are Can-Am and Polaris. You will hear time after time remarks from opposing sides saying things such as “buy them cheap bury them deep,” “POOlaris,” or “Can’t-Am.”

With all the brand loyalists coming together on different forums all over the internet, it is hard to know what is reliable information, and what is just a brand loyal nut blindly vouching for a company just because.

Regardless of all of these screaming voices, there are sensible forums and reviews out there that can help one get a good idea about a brands product and its quality.

Obviously, it is near impossible to make a generalization about a company and say flat out that one company is better than the other. When you have to companies such as Polaris and Can-Am who make very similar products it is even harder.

So I will be taking one vehicle from both companies that are similar to one another and then I will be comparing them to one another to inevitably find the pros and con of those vehicles in that “class,” if you will.

There will be four different classes, amounting to eight vehicles total. We’ll compare the following sets of vehicles.

  • Trail Riding: Can-Am Commander Max vs. Polaris General 5
  • Can-Am Defender DPS MAX vs. Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000
  • Can-Am Maverick Trail 1000 DPS vs. Polaris RZR Trail 900 Sport
  • Can-Am Maverick X3 Max X vs. Turbo R vs. Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo S

Background of Can-Am Side by Side

First, a little background of Can-Am side by sides. Can-Am, a division of Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), is a Canadian company renowned for manufacturing personal watercraft, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles. In 1971, under its brand, Can-Am was led by Gary Robinson from the United States and development technicians from both the US and Canada.

Initially, Can-Am’s lineup consisted of enduro and motocross bikes developed in collaboration with the Austrian subsidiary of Bombardier, Rotax.

Can-Am riders participating in the International Six Days Trial achieved significant success, earning gold, silver, and bronze medals. By 1974, Can-Am vehicles became common at the American Motorcyclist Association’s 250cc motocross national championship.

These motorcycles and vehicles gained acclaim for their exceptional power, thanks to the innovative Rotax engine, featuring a rotary disc system that adjusted plates based on whether the rider was on a trail or a track.

However, despite their growing popularity, Bombardier shifted its focus towards manufacturing transit equipment and aircraft. Consequently, the Can-Am division, which had previously enjoyed Bombardier’s investments, saw a decline in activity. In 1983, all Can-Am manufacturing was outsourced to the English company Armstrong-CCM Motorcycles, and the production of original Can-Am motorcycles ceased in 1987.

In 2006, BRP revived the brand under the name Can-Am Off-Road. This brand now operates manufacturing facilities in Austria, Finland, Mexico, the US, and Canada, producing a range of side-by-sides, UTVs, and ATVs.

Background of Polaris Side by Side

When discussing UTVs, Polaris inevitably takes the spotlight. This company was established in 1954 in Minnesota by three visionaries: Edgar Hetteen, Allen Hetteen, and David Johnson.

Edgar and Allen, who were partners at Hetteen Hoist and Derrick, joined forces with David Johnson and employees Orlen Johnson and Paul Knochenmus to embark on an innovative journey – creating a vehicle tailored for smooth traversal of snow-covered terrains, enabling hunters to reach previously inaccessible locations.

The first prototype of what would eventually evolve into the inaugural Polaris snowmobile emerged in 1954. Admittedly rudimentary, it sported a grain silo conveyor belt for its track, Chevrolet bumpers repurposed as skis, and a Briggs and Stratton engine.

Despite the humble beginnings of this machine, the team remained undeterred, diligently refining their designs. Their perseverance culminated in creating the Polaris Sno Traveler, a vastly improved second prototype that entered production in 1956.

During this era, Polaris snowmobiles achieved remarkable sales figures while clocking in at a top speed of 20 miles per hour and weighing approximately 1,000 pounds on average. In an extraordinary testament to their capabilities, Edgar Hetteen famously embarked on a 1,200-mile journey across the Alaskan wilderness aboard a Polaris snowmobile.

As the 1960s dawned, Polaris snowmobiles transformed in size, adapting to the changing competition landscape from brands like Ski-Doo. By the 1980s, Polaris had ventured into the design of Indy snowmobiles. This legacy endured well into the 1990s and marked only the beginning of Polaris’ diverse vehicle offerings, including the beloved side-by-side.

Can-Am Commander MAX XT vs. Polaris General 4

As far as a classification for these two UTVs goes, I would put them in the 1000 trail machine class. Both the Can-Am side by side: Commander MAX XT and the Polaris General 4 are a better fit for trail rides than for utility work.

Both are four seater, trail UTVs that are top in their class.

They aren’t necessarily far into the sport category only because their suspensions and various other components are at more of a balanced stage instead of being tuned for racing.

Both vehicles, however, perform very well under pressure and really are just a good mix of utility power and sporting fun.

As for the numbers game, here is how each UTV stacks up against one another with specifications. At first glance, you might think that there really isn’t a big difference between the two vehicles.

Numbers do add up however and both machines have upper-hands in different categories.

EngineRotax 976 cc, V-Twin999cc 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder
Horsepower (bhp)100100
Driveline/DifferentialSelectable 2WD / 4WD with Visco-Lok QE auto-locking front differentialOn-Demand True AWD/2WD/ VersaTrac Turf Mode
TransmissionCVT, L / H / N / R / P, standard engine brakingAutomatic PVT P/R/N/L/H
Wheelbase106.1 in113.0 in
Overall Dimensions (LxWxH)149.7″ x 62.5″ x 76″150.2″ x 62.5″ x 75″
Dry Weight1,566 lbs1,424 lbs
Front Tires27 x 9 x 14 in. Maxxis Bighorn 2.027 x 9-14; Dirt Commander
Rear Tires27 x 11 x 14 in. Maxxis Bighorn 2.027 x 11-14; Dirt Commander
Ground Clearance11.0 in12.0 in
Fuel Capacity10.0 gal9.5 gal
Front SuspensionDouble A-arm with sway bar 10 in. Twin-tube gas charged shocksDual A-Arm 12.25″ Walker Evans Racing Shocks
Rear SuspensionTorsional Trailing arm Independent (TTI) with external sway bar 10 in. Twin-tube gas charged shocksDual A-Arm, IRS 13.2″ Walker Evans Racing Shocks
Front/Rear BrakesDual ventilated disc brakes with hydraulic twin-piston calipers4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front Calipers
Bed Capacity600 lbs600 lbs
Can-Am side by side vs. Polaris side by side

UTV Engine

The first obvious advantage that Polaris has over Can-Am with their engines is that the Polaris Prostar engine is slightly larger than Can-Am’s Rotax engine.

With that extra size, there is obviously a power boost that we can see from the difference in horsepower, which we will address later.

As I scoured the internet about the different engines used by both Can-Am as well as Polaris, I was able to learn quite a bit about the differences in their engines.

The most prominent difference is in the structural design of either engine. Can-Am uses their Rotax engines that are V configured engines, while Polaris, with their ProStars, use a straight twin configuration which is different from the V engines.

V engines, and in this specific case the Rotax V-twin, are configured in a way so that the cylinders of the engine are aligned in a V formation.

An advantage that the V engines have over the inline engines is that because of the V formation and varying angles, usually, anything above 0 degrees and below 180 degrees is considered V, they achieve perfect primary balance.

The perfect primary balance has to do with the interval firing rate of the pistons in the engine. Both engines are combustion engines and so their pistons activate through combusting gas within themselves.

As for the ProStar inline engines, the pistons are a bit different. While the ProStar pistons fire at an efficient and balanced interval rate, same as the Rotax engines, there are extra steps needed to get there.

The ProStar engines have individual crank pins for each cylinder whereas the Rotax engines would use a common crank pin for both connecting rods.

Because inline twin engines usually fire at irregular times due to the 180-degree configuration there needs to be a special 180-degree crankshaft configuration on the ProStars, which there is.

With a behind the scenes look on the ProStar engines, UTV noticed that “The counter motion of the pistons reduces the amount of rotating mass inertia that is counteracted with the balance shaft. This results in a smooth and lightweight design.”

So as stated before the inline twin ProStar engines achieve the same function it just needs a special configuration to get there.

In reality, both engines have their pros and cons and people usually have their preferences as to what they like more. Some forums say the Rotax V-twin engines carry more torque than the ProStar and vice versa.

Mostly though, it’s all about how you have your engine tuned.

Can-Am side by side Pros:

  • V-twin Configuration makes it easier to reach Perfect Primary Balance
  • Single Crankpin Makes things easier

Can-Am side by side Cons:

  • Smaller Engine
  • More expensive to make

Polaris UTV Pros:

  • Larger Engine
  • More compact Engine
  • Cheaper to make than V engines

Polaris UTV Cons:

  • Prone to more engine Vibration
  • Irregular firing intervals present in 180-degree crank engines must be counteracted

Side by Side Comparison: Horsepower

As you can see from the table above the clear winner in this face-off is the Polaris General 4. It has 15 more horsepower than the Commander MAX XT and with that 100 horsepower comes 65-ft.

So it is quite obvious as to which UTV here has better power, speed, and torque. It is impressive to see just how much 15 horsepower can really add to a vehicle and that truly does speak about the engines and their quality.

Suspension of Both UTVs

The real difference in these vehicles comes with their suspensions. A good suspension can make or break any vehicle and both of these UTVs have great suspensions.

However, there are differences with each suspension used. The primary differences are the Torsional Trailing arm rear suspension of the Commander MAX XT vs the dual A-arm rear suspension of the General 4, and the different shocks on each vehicle.

If you aren’t a car guy, UTV guy, or just a vehicle guy in general, then you probably won’t know what in the world a torsional trailing arm is and why it is different from a dual A-arm suspension.

This first video will help explain how a trailing arm works and then the other two show the specific TTi suspension on Can-Am’s vehicles.

Trailing Arms Explained
TTI rear suspension on the left and Dual A-arm on the right

As you can see from the videos that TTI suspension really helps with keeping the vehicle balanced and will help provide maximum traction to the tires while helping buffer any sharp blows caused by the terrain.

Granted that dual A-arm suspension will do a decent job, in fact, almost all UTVs have a dual A-arm suspension for the front and the back. Even Can-Am’s other vehicles use dual A-arm suspensions for their vehicles.

With the added trailing arm to help propel the vehicle forward from behind, Can-Am’s Commander MAX XT definitely has the leg up in this area.

The next big difference between the suspensions of these two trail gods are the shocks. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all shocks are the same because they most certainly are not. The shocks help define the vehicle and are what absorbs the impact of all those nasty ruts, rocks, and ravines that you might find yourself traversing every now and again.

Shocks work in a simple way, the inner, or working cylinder, is where the piston and shaft move up and down. The outer cylinder serves as a reservoir for the hydraulic fluid.

There are fluid valves in the piston and in the stationary base valve. The base valve controls fluid flow between both cylinders and provides some of the damping force. The valves in the piston control most of the damping.

Can-Am’s gas shocks are slightly improved in one simple way. Instead of using oxygen within the cylinder, there is low pressure nitrogen. This nitrogen helps lessen aeration and performance fade of the shocks.

That sounds all fine and dandy, Polaris has their own Ace up their sleeve with the Walker Evans Racing shocks. The position-sensitive needle shocks allow for race-style valving attributes without compromising low-speed handling.

They also feature a 16-way compression-adjustable reservoir and 3/4-inch, micro-alloy steel, chrome-plated shock shafts. So, basically the Walker Evans Racing shocks work exactly the same way as the gas shocks work, except for it has that needle that helps deliver more precise valving attributes.

You’re basically getting racing shocks on a trail based UTV which means you can ride it a bit more wildly and sporty than the Can-Am.

The only bad thing about those Walker Evans Racing shocks is that when the vehicle is fully loaded with four people, they ride lower and into a more harsh damping zone. When that happens your vehicle is more likely to bottom out.

The damping isn’t adjustable, just the pre-load of the vehicle, so in order to prevent that you are most likely going to have to adjust the pre-load of all four corners of the vehicle all the way up before going out to adventure.

Although that sounds like a minus on Polaris’s part, and it is, the good news is that Polaris has a larger ground clearance than Can-Am’s Commander MAX.

Polaris General 4 has twelve inches of ground clearance. Whereas the Commander MAX XT has only eleven inches of clearance.

Polaris Side by Side Pros:

  • Walter Evans Racing Shocks giving race-like attributes to suspension
  • More Ground Clearance

Polaris Side by Side Cons:

  • When fully loaded the General is more likely to bottom out
  • Damping Zone isn’t adjustable

Can-Am Side by Side Pros:

  • TTI suspension
  • Gas Shocks

Can-Am Side by Side Cons:

  • Only 11 inches of ground clearance

UTV Tires

One of the most underrated, yet crucial, part of any vehicle, especially UTVs, in my opinion, is the tires and the tires used on both of these vehicles are great quality.

There are so many different brands of tires to choose from as well and many companies use different tires for different UTVs.

Two of the biggest and most well-known tire companies for off-road vehicles are Bighorn tires and Dirt Commander and you can check those out along with their prices with our affiliate in the link provided.

While either tire has their differences and various uses but overall they are both phenomenal tires that would work for any UTV and not just the ones listed here.

Can-Am uses the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0’s on the Commander MAX while Polaris uses the Dirt Commanders on their General 4.

The biggest difference and factor that plays a part in any tire is the ply that that tire is and whether or not it is a radial tire or not.

In this day and age “ply rating” is actually pretty irrelevant. In the early years of tires, ply rating had to do with the number of layers of cotton were in the internal construction of a tire.

Now there are usually only two or three layers on any tire. You could say that ply rating of tires now is more synonymous with the dexterity or durability of a tire.

The other thing to look for in a tire is if it is radial or Bias. A radial tire is a tire that has transverse radial plies that run perpendicular to the direction of travel.

This helps with having less heat buildup in the tire as well as a softer ride. Radial tires are also manufactured with the plies laid radially which would make for a more flexible tire wall.

Bias ply tires are manufactured with the plies laid out diagonally, which causes the walls to not be as flexible.

So having a radial tire would mean you have more flexible tire walls, reduced fuel consumption, less vibration, softer ride, and a longer tire life due to the tire not heating up so much.

On the flip side you would be losing out on transport handling, and there would be more vulnerable to abuse when over-loaded or under-inflated.

Since the Can-Am Commander MAX XT uses the Bighorn 2.0 which is a 6-ply radial tire, the ride will be a bit more smooth than the Polaris General 4.

However, Polaris’s General 4, using its 8-ply Dirt Commanders, will have an easier time with traction control and grip, as well as, durability.

Polaris Side by Side Pros:

  • Better Durability

Polaris Cons:

  • Less Smooth and Comfy tires

Can-Am Side by Side Pros:

  • Smooth Ride
  • Longer Lasting

Can-Am Side by Side Cons:

  • Less Traction Control
  • More Vulnerable to abuse from overloads and under-inflation

My Pick

While both of these UTVs are great in their own unique way, The winner for me is the Polaris General 4. Everyone has their opinion on which one they think would be better and with everything laid out the way it is, I have to go with the General 4.

Having that bigger engine, more horsepower, more durable tires, and larger ground clearance, makes Polaris the clear winner in this debate.

Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 & Can-Am Defender DPS MAX

2024 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 10002024 Can-Am Defender DPS MAX
Engine999cc 4-Stroke Twin Cylinder DOHC650 cc single cylinder
Driveline/DifferentialHigh Performance On-Demand True AWD/2WD/VersaTrac Turf ModeTrue 4-mode traction system: 2×4 open rear dif., 2×4 locked rear dif., 4×4 open rear dif., 4×4 locked rear dif. Visco-Lok QE auto-locking front dif.
TransmissionAutomatic PVT H/L/N/R/P; ShaftPRO-TORQ transmission with Quick Response System (QRS), high airflow ventilation and Electronic Drive Belt Protection Extra-L / H / N / R / P
Front SuspensionDual A-Arm 11 in. TravelDouble A-arm 10 in. travel
Rear SuspensionDual A-Arm, IRS 11 in. TravelTTA-HD with external sway bar 10 in. travel
Front /Rear Brakes4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front Calipers4-Wheel 220mm ventilated disc brakees with hydrauic twin-piston calipers
Wheelbase113 in115.5 in
Overall Dimensions136.75 x 54.25 x 12.5 in152.5 x 63.5 x 76 in
Dry Weight1,936 lbs1,710 lbs
Front Tires26 x 9-12; PXT27 x 9-14; Maxxis Bighorn 2.0
Rear Tires26 x 11-12; PXT27 x 11-14; Maxxis Bighorn 2.0
Ground Clearance13 in11 in
Fuel Capacity11.5 gal10.6 gal
Bed/Rack Capacity1,000 lbs1,000 lbs
Payload Capacity1,750 lbs1,750 lbs
Towing Capacity2,500 lbs2,000 lbs


The engines of these two machines, as far as their make up /configuration goes, are the same as what I described above with the Can-Am Defender using its Rotax V-twin and the Polaris using its ProStar engine.

Once again we see that Polaris, as usual, has a slightly larger engine than Can-Am’s vehicle with the Defender being at 976cc and the Ranger using a 999cc.

There are more differences in these engines than just the size, however. Can-Am has a slight advantage by giving its consumers three different engine modes when driving.

The Can-Am has three driving modes normal, work, and eco.

Normal is exactly as you’d expect in a standard driving mode, while work mode limits the speed of the machine but allows for full use of the power and torque of the motor. ECO mode maps fuel consumption to optimize fuel use.

This differs with only offering two modes in its vehicle, standard and performance mode.

Another different thing that Polaris has is that with the performance mode there is a drive-by-wire throttle that gives you different power curves depending on your driving style and needs.

Can-Am Side by Side Pros:

  • Has three driving modes
  • Produces More Torque

Can-Am Side by Side Cons:

  • Smaller engine
  • Less Horsepower

Polaris Pros:

  • Performance Mode gives various power curves
  • Larger Engine

Polaris Cons:

  • Less Torque Produced


The two transmissions on these vehicles are actually drastically different. The Polaris transmission was actually completely redesigned for this model and it shows.

The ratios for the clutch were lengthened for the new Polaris transmission and has a newer, stronger, belt that is said to be the strongest ever for Polaris.

There are also redesigned under-hood air intakes and a new clutch cover which provides increased airflow for cooler, longer-lasting belt life. So once more Polaris is reinforcing the belt life on this transmission.

That very well could be because when driven hard, as most people do with their UTVs, the belts on these transmissions are known to break very quickly.

The Can-Am transmission really went the other way with their transmission. The Defender DPS MAX uses a PRO-TORQ transmission which is specifically designed to give amazing torque at low power ranges.

The Defender and the Ranger are both similar in the fact that both put belt safety at the top of their list. The Can-Am is specifically protected to ensure lasting belt life as well through the Electronic Belt Protection System.

Polaris Pros:

  • Long Lasting Belt
  • New clutch
  • Longer Gear Ratios

Polaris Cons:

  • Lacks in torque compared to Can-Am

Can-Am Pros:

  • PRO-TORQ transimssion gives greater torque
  • Electronic Belt Protection system

Can-Am Cons:

  • While Belt is protected, the life is still less than Polaris
cam-am vs. Polaris side by sides
can-Am side by side
Can-am UTV
polaris side by side
polaris UTV


Another area in which these two UTVs are drastically different is with the driveline and differentials of the vehicles.

The Defender DPS MAX uses Can-Am’s Visco-Lok differential which helps to allow an independent tire to rotate when traction is sensed on a specific side.

That’s to say if one of your front tires has more traction than the other, the Visco-Lok differential will automatically send power to the tire with more traction and stop the power going to the other tire so that you can get over whatever rock, bump, or object you are traversing.

I personally find this to be a real game changer for these two vehicles. Because the Ranger only has The High-Performance On-Demand True AWD.

This driveline has a similar function to the Defender, but it is used more to help correct the speed of both front tires instead of just one independent tire.

While the All-wheel drive functions on both vehicles seem to prove the same, the Ranger rides a bit more quietly and does have a turf mode you can activate so the vehicle will ride a bit more softly and not tear up the grass.

Polaris Pros:

  • Quieter ride
  • Turf Function

Can-Am Side by Side Pros:

  • Visco-Lok differential


While the tires are two different brands, they are both radial 6-ply tires, therefore there really isn’t much of a difference between the two.

In my opinion, it would just come down to which ones you think look better or feel better if you have a chance to test them both.

My Pick for Best Side by Side

I’ve laid out some pros and cons of these vehicles and I know that in a few sections I don’t list cons and that’s mainly because I just couldn’t see any of them. Just because a vehicle is different doesn’t mean it is bad.

I also didn’t want to restate the similar engine pros and cons from above that each of these vehicles have only because they have the same engines just in varying sizes.

As for what UTV I would go within this category, it would have to be the Defender DPS MAX.

Now one could argue with me in saying that the Ranger should be better. It has more horsepower, a bigger engine, and even larger towing capacity, 500 pounds more than the Can-Am.

However for me what wins me over is the Visko-Lok differential, the PRO-TORQ transmission and the external sway bar in the rear suspension. If speed is your game then the Ranger would have this beat.

However, these are more work-oriented UTVs and I think that the added torque in low power levels is just going to do better for harder jobs.

Plus with that Visko-Lok differential getting your heavy loads over rough terrains will be much easier in the Defender.

Can-Am Maverick Trail 1000 DPS & Polaris RZR Trail 900 Sport

Here we have Can-Am’s Maverick Trail 1000 DPS and the Polaris RZR (razor) 900 EPS.

While we have seen balanced UTVs that can cross between work and play, and full on work-oriented UTVs, these two vehicles are the lower tier sport UTVs that these companies produce.

Both of these UTVs are great for traversing trails, as well as, dunes and open fields. They are built to really allow the operator to go fast and have fun.

As you can see from the spec sheet though these vehicles are really very similar in just about every way. There are really only a few differences here to debate.

Specifications:2024 Can-Am Maverick Trail DPS2024 RZR Trail 900 Sport
Engine Type:SOHC, liquid cooled, V-Twin4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Fuel Delivery:EFIEFI
Transmission:CVTAutomatic PVT
Suspension Front:Dual A-arm w/10”Dual A-arm & 12.25 inc. wheel travel
Suspension Rear:Trailing lower arm & Link upper w/10.5”Dual A-Arm and 13.2 Wheel Travel
Brakes Front:Dual 220mm hydraulic discs4-Wheel hydraulic discs
Brakes Rear:Dual 220mm hydraulic disc4-Wheel hydraulic discs
Tires Front:Carlisle ACT 26 x 8 in. / 9 x 12 in.27 X 9-12; Trailmaster A/T
Tires Rear:Carlisle ACT 26 x 8 / 9 x 12”27 x 11-12;Trailmaster A/T
Overall length width height:118 x 50 x 69 in.110.9 x 60 x 69.3 in.
Maximum Ground Clearance:10”12.5”
Wheelbase:90.6 in.79”
Fuel Capacity:10 gal9.5 gal
Claimed Dry Weight:1364lb1,176lb
Cargo Box Capacity:300lb740 lbs.
Towing Capacity:1500lb1500lb
ColorsRed/Blk, Sun Ylw, Wht, Camo


An engine factor that I have not yet discussed, but is plainly stated here in the specification table for these two vehicles is that of SOHC and DOHC engines.

SOHC or “single over-head cam” engines are engines that utilize one cam rod that operates the intake and exhaust valves of the engine.

DOHC or “Dual over-head cam” engines are engines that have two cams located overhead operating various intake and exhaust valves. So with that, an inline engine will have only 2 camshafts as it has only one header.

Flat engine and V-engine, like the Maverick Trail, in this case, will contain 4 camshafts as they have two headers.

You could be like, “great Matt, I’m glad there are two different engines, which one is better.”

Well, it all depends. SOHC engines are typically more fuel efficient, while DOHC engines are usually not, but that can also be fixed with varying your driving efficiency.

Of course, you might not care for that because UTVs like these are used to have fun in, not be efficient right?

It is all slightly confusing for anyone who doesn’t know much about engines but if you want to know a bit more about how these two different engines work, you can check out this video below.

Can-Am Side by Side Pros:

  • Larger Engine
  • More Fuel Efficient

Can-Am Side by Side Cons:

  • Less control over Valve timing

Polaris Pros:

  • Cooler engine because of dual cams
  • Easier to tune
  • Greater payload capacity

Polaris Cons:

  • Smaller engine
  • Less fuel efficient


The suspension on these two rides is really the only other thing noteworthy enough to compare here.

The 2018 Can-Am Maverick Trail 1000 has over a 10” longer wheelbase than the Polaris RZR 900, but with almost the exact same horsepower and suspension numbers.

The longer wheelbase of the Maverick will make for a plusher ride and make the machine more predictable in high-speed corners.

However, it may make it harder to turn on super tight trails and definitely hurts ground clearance.

The Can-Am Maverick also has a trailing arm suspension that we spoke of before. That is, of course, different to the normal lower arm suspension of the Polaris Razor.

The Lower A-arm is just a simple control arm so that means it is a singularly connected suspension where the suspension is connected laterally from both rear wheels to the chassis.

Can-Am Pros:

  • Trailing Arm Suspension
  • Longer Wheel Base
  • More predictable and comfortable ride

Can-Am Cons:

  • Less Ground Clearance

Polaris Pros:

  • Better Ground Clearance

My Pick

So although it seems like the Maverick would be the better choice because of the suspension pros that it offers, I personally would go with the Polaris RZR EPS here.

I personally prefer DOHC engines to SOHC engines. Now that might be hypocritical since I picked Can-Am as a better choice in one of the other categories, and Can-Am usually uses SOHC engines in most of their UTVs.

The reason I like the RZR more here is because although it has a smaller engine, the horsepower is the same, not only that but since DOHCs are easier to tune, you could easily buff up the RZR no problem.

So since they cost about the same and I prefer DOHC engines, my pick in this category is the Polaris RZR 900 EPS.

can-am vs. Polaris side by sides
can-am UTV
polaris UTV
can-am side by side

Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo S & Can-Am Maverick X3 Max X rs Turbo R

These two UTVs are the top sports/racing UTVs on the market right now. They are literally the best that Polaris and Can-Am have to offer as far as more sport-oriented vehicles go.

Not only are they the top racing models, but they are also some of the most expensive UTVs on the market and that is because the engines, suspensions, and interior cabins are like none other on the market.

SpecsMaverick X3 Max X rs Turbo RRZR XP 4 Turbo S
Engine Type172-hp Rotax ACE 900cc triple-cylinder turbocharged engine168-hp ProStar 925cc Turbo H.O. DOHC twin-cylinder turbocharged engine
Engine CoolingLiquidLiquid
Engine Fuel Delivery SystemElectronic fuel injectionElectronic fuel injection
TransmissionQuick Response System X (QRS-X) CVT; L/H/N/R/P; belt driveAutomatic PVT; P/R/N/L/H; belt drive
Drive TrainSmart-Lok fully lockable front differential w/ 4 traction modesIsolated Xtreme Performance True On-Demand AWD/2WD
Power SteeringTri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering (DPS)Xtreme Performance; integrated steering angle sensor
Front SuspensionHigh-clearance, boxed dual A-arms w/ sway bar; 22-in. travelHigh-clearance dual A-arms w/ stabilizer bar, 25-in. usable travel
Front ShocksFox 2.5 Podium RC2 piggyback with bypass; Dual Speed Compression and rebound adjustabilityDynamix Active Suspension System; Fox 2.5 Podium Internal Bypass w/ Live Valve
Rear Suspension4-link Torsional Trailing-arm (TTX) w/ sway bar; 22-in. travelTrailing arm and high-clearance radius rods w/ stabilizer bar and 25-in. usable travel
Rear ShocksFox 3.0 Podium RC2 remote reservoir w/ bypass, Dual Speed Compression and reboundDynamix Active Suspension System; Fox 3.0 Podium Internal Bypass w/ Live Valve
Front BrakesDual 262mm ventilated discs w/ hydraulic twin-piston calipersHydraulic w/ triple-bore front calipers
Rear BrakesDual 248mm ventilated discs w/ hydraulic twin-piston calipersHydraulic w/ dual-bore rear calipers
Front TiresMaxxis Bighorn 2.0; 30 x 10-14 in. (aluminum beadlock wheels)ITP Coyote tires on aluminum wheels; 32 x 10-15 in.
Rear TiresMaxxis Bighorn 2.0; 30 x 10-14 in. (aluminum beadlock wheels)ITP Coyote tires on aluminum wheels; 32 x 10-15 in.
Length/Width/Height165.0/72.0/66.7 in.149.0/72.0/76.5 in.
Wheelbase135.0 in.117.0 in.
Ground Clearance14.0 in.16.0 in.
Dry Weight1,849 lb.1,975 lb.
Fuel Capacity10.5 gal.9.5 gal.
Interior FeaturesMultifunction analog/digital display w/ standard vehicle telemetry and diagnostics, DC outlet, 4-point passenger harnessesRide Command 7-in. glove-touch display w/ built-in GPS, digital instrumentation, topographic mapping, Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity, AM/FM and weather radio, in-vehicle communications optional, DC outlet, 4-point passenger harnesses
Exterior LightingLED headlights and taillights w/ Can-Am LED signatureFront blacked-out white LED low/high w/ accent lights and rear red LED tail/brake/accent lights
Factory Warranty6 monthsN/A
Notes1 year maintenance free, no break-in required upon purchase of vehicleN/A
MSRP (USA)$29,899$30,499


As far as these engines are concerned the specs speak for themselves. We have already covered the differences between SOHC and DOHC engines as well as the difference between inline and V engines and their pros and cons.

Can-Am is still sticking with their Rotax engines here, having a three-cylinder engine though this time instead of a standard two-cylinder engine. Polaris is using their trusty ProStar engine for the RZR as well.

It is pertinent to note that both engines are turbo-charged giving them some crazy performance levels with the Maverick X3 coming in with 173 horsepower and the RZR XP having 168 horsepower.

So while Polaris does have a slightly larger engine than Can-Am here, the extra cylinder provided by Can-Am and the added 5 horsepower really goes a long way. The Maverick X3 really crushes the RZR XP in top out speeds.

There are some reports though that the Maverick X3’s engine is a lot louder than Polaris’s and drivers can hear the difference within the cabins.

Can-Am Pros:

  • 3 cylinder engine
  • More horsepower
  • Higher Top Speed

Can-Am Cons:

  • Smaller engine
  • Louder engine

Polaris Pros:

  • DOHC engine
  • Larger Engine
  • Quiter Ride

Polaris Cons:

  • Less Horsepower
  • Slower Top Speed


Here is where the battle between machines really gets interesting. Both Vehicles offer Fox 3.0 Podium Shocks however they are integrated just a bit differently one from the other.

The Maverick X3 Max has fully adjustable shocks on the front and rear controlled through traditional manual adjusters, and that is what gives the RZR XP the upper hand in the suspension category.

the RZR XP 4 Turbo S has Polaris’ Dynamix Active Suspension Technology, which is electronically controlled suspension with push-button adjustability built right into the cab of the vehicle.

This allows the driver to alter the driving dynamics of the vehicle to changing terrain with just a few simple buttons. It really makes adjusting the suspension super easy and care-free.

With the larger wheelbase that the X3 has, the Maverick is better suited to taking those large whoops and dips of the dunes a lot smoother than the RZR XP is.

The XP, perform better on taking tighter corners and the like because of its smaller wheelbase, however, some drivers said that it could feel a bit tippy when cornering hard and fast.

Polaris Pros:

  • Dynamic Active Suspension
  • Suspension Control within the Cabin
  • Higher ground clearance
  • Better at taking sharp corners

Polaris Cons:

  • Feels Tippy when cornering fast

Can-Am Pros:

  • TTX trailing arm suspension
  • Larger wheelbase
  • Better stability within the whoops


The RZR XP uses Coyote tires which are specifically designed for high horsepower UTV and Side by Side vehicles. They are especially good in desert terrains.

These tires differ to the Bighorn tires used by the Maverick X3 which are 14-inch beadlock wheels. Beadlock wheels are designed to handle extreme off-road driving conditions.

They are also made to be much stronger than street wheels. They are heavily reinforced and bounce off rocks much better than a standard wheel.

These wheels were really designed for off-roading and greater traction control. Typically one would have to lower the psi of a tire in order for it to grip against the rocks, gravel, and rough terrain that one encounters when off-roading.

The beadlock wheel makes it so you don’t really have to give up psi for stability, which gives the Maverick a leg up when it comes to wheels, although the Coyote performs really well as well.

Can-Am Pros:

  • Beadlock Wheels

Cabin/Interior Features

The last section to which compare these vehicles are the interior features. While the X3 does provide the most space between these two vehicles, Polaris outshines Can-Am with its features.

The RZR XP has a 7-inch glove-touch screen in the center that controls all of the Ride Command functionality.

With a built-in GPS system, stereo controls, and so many more features to look at, this Ride Command system is definitely one of the best digital technologies on the market.

So obviously the winner with Cabins is the Polaris.

Can-Am Pros:

  • Most Spacious Cabin

Can-Am Cons:

  • Standard Digital Display

Polaris Pros:

  • Ride Command System (GPS, etc.)
  • Stereo

My Pick

Honestly, this would be my hardest decision this post. I really like both of these machines for various reasons. I think that only because I like the tech option would I have to go with the Polaris RZR XP.

I love the Maverick X3’s large wheelbase and spacious interior plus I believe it to have the superior engine, however, I think that the Polaris keeps up just fine and with the added features its more worth the buy.

Check out More UTV Make and Models HERE!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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