2018 Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs Turbo R Review

For those who want to dominate the desert

May. 24, 2018 By Casey Cordeiro. Photos by Casey and Teri Cordeiro.

The powersports market is in a constant state of flux as new machines are released and manufacturers push their development and R&D teams to the brink of exhaustion with goals of creating the ultimate side-by-side vehicle. The evolution of side-by-sides in the past 5+ years has shown that the risk and effort has been well worth it, as many of these new vehicles have truly elevated the market to new heights. Case in point, the Can-Am Maverick X3 was released in 2016, and it has since set the market on fire.

Can-Am and Polaris have been duking it out for UTV superiority for years. With the release of the Maverick X3, Can-Am shook up the sport side-by-side segment, especially with an industry-first 72-inch wide model that is built to dominate the desert and the dunes. This wide "X rs" version set a new standard in the industry, and we recently strapped in to one of these vehicles to get an idea of how this machine performs in several terrains.

READ MORE: Polaris RZR RS1 Review

Can-Am Maverick X3 X RS Turbo R

Since it was first unveiled, the look of the Maverick X3 has become a staple in the industry, and the styling has made it's way to other models within the Can-Am lineup as well. While the standard front LED running lights, headlights, and bodywork cues can all be found on other models, the X3 has a distinct center mounted exhaust system that not only looks mean from the back but it also gives the turbocharged 900cc Rotax engine a very unique and menacing sound. The 3-cylinders, coupled with forced induction from the single turbo, give it that unmistakable "wail" of a sound at the top of the RPM spectrum. A Ferrari for the desert? YES.

In all, the EFI-controlled engine puts out an industry-leading 172 horsepower. All of that power is fed through a CVT, which engages with a very positive, smooth feeling through the gated shifter. It is more of a rev'r of an engine, making much of its power above 5500 RPM; don't count on a whole lot of bottom end here. The power to the front wheels is transferred through the Visco-Lok auto-locking front differential. While we like this auto-locking front differential for terrains that don't necessarily require fully locked 4WD capability (think: sand and open trails), the differential doesn't give enough traction to those who want to take this vehicle rock crawling. Luckily, Can-Am does offer the option to upgrade this vehicle to include Smart-LOK technology, which gives you a selectable, fully locking front diff. Take it from us: it's a wise choice to check the option box for this feature.

The boxed upper and lower front a-arms give the vehicle a strong basis for its 22-inches of suspension travel. We are a little mystified as to why the front arms are mostly mounted via single sheer attachment points. We hope this is one area that Can-Am chooses to improve in the future, as it seems like an obvious break point. Out back, the 4-link system offers stout control for the 24-inches of movement. FOX Podium RC2 shocks are found front (2.5") and rear (3.0"). They are fully adjustable with high & low speed compression, preload, rebound, and spring crossovers.

When we look at the X3 cockpit, we see that the well-bolstered seats adjust both vertically and horizontally. Our test driver's 6'3" frame fit easily with room to spare. The adjustable steering wheel was easy to grip and offered a clear view of the gauge cluster. Accessory switch cutouts are scattered around the interior, making the addition of accessories easy to do without any drilling. The passenger side gets a deep glove box installed. We wish the X3 came with the same driver's side glove box that is found on the Maverick Trail. Overall, the X3's interior gets an A rating because of its comfort, safety features (like the standard 4-point harnesses), and ease of use.

The view out of the cockpit is superior for uphill and straight terrain action. For those looking to rock climb regularly, the long hood does impede your line of sight when navigating boulders located right in front of the tires. The stock 30-inch Maxxis Bighorns provide good traction in multiple terrains, too - we really like how the beadlock wheels allow you to air down the tires for sand riding. We had them at about 7-8 psi for our sand adventures and the traction was awesome in 4WD. The 14-inch wheels, however, do have a drawback in that they tend to collect rocks in between the trailing arm and the inner wheel area. 15-inch wheels would alleviate this issue.

As with any machine we drive, overall ease of maintenance scores big points with our test crew. The X3 made great advancements in general serviceability over older Can-Am vehicles because of better R&D, even with full UMHW skid plates attached underneath.

Power, performance, exhilaration! These three words are several that come to mind when we think of this Turbo R's driving experience. Strap in and hold on tight - 172 horsepower ain't nothin' to joke about!

The power might be exhilarating, but it's really the entire package of the X3 X rs Turbo R that makes it special. Yes, it pushes slightly in the corners with the wide stance, but the endless power allows the driver to steer with the backend, easily wrapping the machine around a corner with smooth power slides while fiercely pointing it at the next obstacle. We were constantly impressed with the straight line tracking of this machine - it doesn't ever feel "out of shape" with this balanced chassis and DPS power steering.

The suspension is one place that takes some TLC to dial in. Upon delivery, it is a rough ride through small washboard chop. Elevating the preload at least 1.5-inch in the rear, adjusting the high & low speed compression almost all the way out (soft) on the front and rear, and dialing out the rebound a couple clicks in the rear helps with the smaller bumps. If you plan on riding sand, the high-speed compression adjustment will really help with the big hits.

At the end of our drive time, the overall takeaway was that the X3 offers a superior level of customization right from the factory. It allows you to truly dial in the handling of the machine to a driver's individual liking, which is something our testers really loved. Yes, it has a couple quirks, but it is the sum of the entire package that makes this Maverick X3 X rs Turbo R so special. It is built for the open terrains of the world - sand, desert, and fast mountain roads.

The power is the most abundant in the industry, along with the suspension travel and interior comfort. With a price of $26,899 MSRP (U.S.), it better have all of this and be fun to drive. Luckily, it is!

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