High Performance Turbocharged UTV Comparison
There are ton of high performance UTVs on the market these days, but only two claiming to be the best. Right on the heals of Can-Am Maverick X3 family launch, Polaris announced updates to their two and four seat turbocharged models for 2017. Quickly we began researching, testing and racing each model for comparison. Sure, most of you will have your own opinions and brand loyalty, but we cant make a professional opinion until we drive them at on the same day in the same terrain and around familiar terrain. This is our Shootout between the 2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs Turbo R vs. 2017 Polaris RZR XP Turbo.
You may ask why we didn’t choose to compare the mid-grade or even base model X3 to the RZR Turbo? We wanted to start with what Can-Am is touting as their best and the same goes for Polaris. When we get our hands on a base our XDS model, you can bet we will be comparing them to the RZR and hopefully Arctic Cat's new Wildcat XX.
As we did with our shoot out between the 2016 RZR XP1000 and the Yamaha YXZ1000R, we broke the machines down in thirteen different groups so we could explain why we rate the particular machines the way we do. In this test, the two were driven in wide open deserts where we could really push them to their engine and suspension limits.
Both machines are blindingly fast. As shown in our SPEED RUN VIDEO The Turbo RZR is a little quicker off the start and accelerates to its top speed of 80 MPH quicker than this X3. We actually feel, but have not yet confirmed, that the narrower X3 might be just as quick as the RZR Turbo, due to the fact, the wider X3 Xrs is turning heavier tires, that are 8 inches farther out, causing a little lag. On the top end, the X3 is not limited as much as the RZR Turbo and we were able to hit a 5 MPH greater speed before it hit its limit at 85MPH. Still, the Polaris RZR Turbo and Can-Am Maverick X3 are the fastest UTVs you can buy.
Polaris and Can-Am each rely on a strong, fully automatic, belt driven CVT transmission. For the X3, Can-Am not only increased the size of the clutches and belt, they moved the whole powertrain rearward making it much easier to access. Polaris has always had an easy to access belt and the belt strength drastically improves with each new model. In fact, the X3 and RZR Turbo almost have the identical sized belts. We have had to change one belt on each car so far. They both broke right around the 200-mile mark during hard driving.
It’s incredible how well each of these machines drive over nasty bumps. Certainly the extra wheel travel, wheelbase and width help the X3 in this department, but the Polaris holds its own and can skip over any bumps the X3 can. The Can-Am is a little more planted and mellow through them. Doing the same section in the RZR takes a little more skill, steering input and line selection or you will find yourself bucking or two wheeling through the rough and off-cambered sections.
The Polaris RZR is easy to throw around. It handles great and is easy to drive slow or fast. It does nearly everything prefect. But, when we compare it to this Maverick, it feels narrow and a bit tippy around the corners. The tighter steering box Polaris added for for 2017 is a plus and is really great in the slower, tighter turns.
Having a wider stance, more wheel travel and a good solid stance should allow the wide X3 X rs to top the RZR in this category. However, something in the steering system gives the driver a ton of steering feedback when braking hard into tight corners and accelerating out of them. Unfortunately, the undesirable sensation feels just the same in all three Dynamic Power Steering modes. Slow speed bump absorption is much better in the RZR, too. We have yet to find a compression setting, on the X3, that works as well in slow speed chop as it does on the fast bumps.
Cockpit comfort is great in both cars. We like the simplicity of the Polaris seat and seating position as well as the view out the front. The Can-Am also has great seats with lots of adjustability and leg room. The intake noise behind the drivers head is probably our only complaint and it's a small one.
When Polaris added a Turbo on the RZR, they added larger brakes. That must have been something their developers decided it need with the extra HP. We never complained about the brakes with the old RZR. The new set up is awesome and slows the RZR down very predicably every time and all day long. Several of our test drivers noted the Can-Am’s brakes were a tad soft and were fading after long runs. The brakes are not bad, they're just not as good as the RZR Turbo.
WHEELS & TIRES
Can-Am installed a great set of aluminum beadlock equipped 14-inch wheels with 30-inch tall 10-inch wide tires on this X3. It’s a common size for every long travel, high speed modified UTV. Both cars use Maxxis Big Horn tires which are very good for all around travel. The updated 14 inch wheels Polaris is using in in 2017 are some of the nicest looking non beadlock wheels anywhere.
Each car has great egos. Things are easy to reach in the cockpit and nothing feels out of place. Again we like the seating position in the RZR, but having the adjustability that the X3 does, will probably suit more people.
Nice digital displays are found on both machines with lots of features such as temps, milages, warning and diagnostics. Neither of these models have the GPS features we would like to see on all high end models these days.
FIT & FINISH
We are disappointed at the fact that both of these $25,000-plus priced vehicles come without full doors. We like the doors that the Polaris has slightly better than the X3 due to the RZR’s latch system. The X3 does come with a roof where the Turbo RZR does not. The rest of the fit and finish is pretty equal although we really don't like that the skid plate on the X3 is riveted on instead of bolted.
Although we like the cargo platform more on the Maverick X3 than we do on the older Maverick, we do not like how hot the platform gets. Engine and exhaust heat radiates through the vent holes in the platform and radiates to the cargo. The platform is hot to the touch after every ride we have done. Polars gives the Turbo RZR a deep cargo area to hold down what ever you want to bring along. However, we do wish the tie down hooks were a little bigger.
Can-Am’s 2017 Maverick X3 Xrs is the most expensive 2-seat UTV you can buy at $26,699. It does have some great features such as long travel suspension, a fast engine and beadlock wheels that can possibly save you thousands in the long run. The Polaris RZR XPTurbo costs $1700 less than the X3 but you get some of the best technology Polaris has to offer with its great brakes, fast engine, great suspension and cockpit.
After days of testing the two cars in this contest, discussing them with our test drivers and looking at the numbers, we actually came up with a tie between these two machines. Can-Am could have had an easy win, if the X3 didn’t have the steering issue we felt as well as the hot cargo area. We are working on fixes for both of those issues to share with you soon.