2018 Can-Am Maverick Trail Review - Video

Tight mountain trails reveal the beauty of Utah

Oct. 25, 2017 By Stephen Elmer.

In the open deserts of Nevada or Arizona, width is rarely a factory. But travel east and youíll find tight twisting trails through thick forests, where being too wide means scraping, rubbing and just plain not getting through.

Well Can-Am has decided to think small with its latest side-by-side, the new Maverick Trail. This is the first 50-inch wide side-by-side from the brand, setting its sights on the Polaris RZR. But although the width is the same, Can-Am takes a different approach to its small machine.

Long and Skinny

What makes the Trail unique is its wheelbase, sitting at 90.6 inches. Comparatively, the RZR has 79-inch wheelbase, while even the new Yamaha Wolverine X4, which can carry four passengers, has a wheelbase of 82.7 inches. According to Can-Am, the move was made in the name of a comfortable, stable ride and it certainly succeeded.

The length of the Trail means that the front-to-back bucking that many small side-by-sides suffer from isnít present. It allows the narrow machine to feel stable, and much less like jumpy than its competitors. That leads to long-term comfort on the trail, so a days worth of riding doesnít beat up the occupants.

Powering the new Maverick Trail is either an 800cc V-Twin making 51 horsepower or a bigger 1000cc V-Twin making 75 hp. Both are hooked to Can-Amís Quick Response System CVT transmission, which delivers smooth, quick engagement and is the same system used on the larger Maverick X3.

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Sitting in the Trail, you notice the width right away, especially when the doors are fitted. Can-Am skips the half and quarter doors that many manufacturers install these days, and goes straight for a full door which comes all the way up to the shoulder, standard on DPS models.

These are great for protection from flying mud, water and debris, though, especially for wider people like myself, it does force your left elbow in tight to your body. The result is a small, tight driving position that keeps your left elbow in, one of the compromises that must be made to have such a skinny machine. Opting for the nets does away with this problem, but I would still take the protection of the door over the comfort of the net.

A low seat with good bolstering has the driving position feel nice and deep in the machine, like a small, low-slung sports car. Thankfully the steering column tilts, so just about any size rider can fit comfortably and head room was never an issue.

Storage is ample and at hand thanks to a small bin just in front of the steering wheel along with a large glove box. Cupholders are neatly integrated with the floor, and best of all, contain rubber inserts to actually hold your drink, rather than let your cup of hot coffee slosh around loose all over the place. Exterior storage includes a hard-mounted box at the rear of the machine that is rated to a handle up to 300 pounds.

Towing is pegged a 1,500 pounds, while a full two-inch hitch receiver is found at the back, a nice addition that means buyers will only need one hitch that can be shared between their trucks and UTVs.

The Ride

Riding out of Bear River Lodge in Christmas Meadows, UT, we tackled some tight mountain trails, bringing the width and length of the Maverick trail into focus. The width because we couldnít have gotten to many of the most scenic lookouts with anything wider, while the length became a problem once or twice, making us do a few three-pointers to navigate the real tight stuff.

Excellent stability is the trade-off, and it results in a comfortable and more importantly confident ride that is a lot of fun to drive hard. At high speeds, the Maverick Trail has a steering wheel that communicates everything going on at the wheels to the driver through nicely balanced power steering, and even base units without power steering have a great feel to them, though the wheel is of course heavy at lower speeds.

Long sweeping corners would have the rear end of the Trail stepping out, but never in a scary way, once again leveraging the longer wheelbase to allow you to feel that sense of safety and stability.

Even the way the power is delivered lends to that overall sense of smooth confidence. With the 1000 cc engine in Sport Mode, power never overwhelms the machine, and jamming the right-foot pedal to the floor doesnít leave you feeling out of control. That's not to say the Trail isn't quick - it is - but instead of a huge hit of power it's rolled on in a predictable way. In a Polaris RZR, it isnít hard to feel like youíre on the ragged edge thanks to the short wheelbase and big horsepower, but the Can-Am leaves you with a sense of control at all times, even when you're riding hard.  

Itís that sense of confidence, built by a combination of factors, that leaves the Maverick Trail feeling like a true driverís machine with all of its capability and fun accessible to any rider. Cam-Am wants even the most inexperienced rider to be able to have fun on the trail, and unlike something like a Maverick X3, which takes a real pro to fully utilize, the Trail can make even a new UTV owner feel like Ken Block.

Even from the passenger seat, the Maverick Trail delivers an adjustable handhold, good legroom, great tilted footrests and a smooth ride.

Now one of the downsides of the longer wheelbase to remember is a worse breakover angle, which means it is easier to get hung up on things in the middle of the machine, but in our day of riding tight technical terrain, we never had an issue. And besides, Can-Am will sell you rock sliders as an accessory, so what else could you need.

The Price

Opting for a Maverick Trail DPS model will set you back $13,695 including transportation charges, while the basic model with power steering and those half doors costs $11,659.

The Verdict

Can-Am is setting it sights directly on the Polaris RZR, and theyíre doing it in a clever way. While 50-inches wide is the pre-requisite to play in this category, the brand decided to play with wheelbase to offer buyers something different in the 50-inch space: a calm, comfortable ride.

Combine that with clever storage solutions, powerful engines and great steering and the Maverick Trail delivers thrills for the occupants and transports them to places that many side-by-sides just canít get to.


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