2017 CAN-AM DEFENDER MAX DPS
We get asked all the time what Side-x-Side is best for taking the entire family out for a ride.
Can-Am’s Defender Max DPS has been in our stable for an entire season and it is becoming increasingly tougher to deny it might be the best 6-seater utility UTV on the market.
With its ample and unique storage features, smooth ride and ridiculously powerful V-twin, we were impressed with the 3-passenger version at its introduction a few seasons ago, but stretch that out to comfortably seat six and you’ve got yourself a serious contender in the 6-seater class.
The Max DPS features a robust and powerful 72-horsepower Rotax V-twin with enough jam to climb steep inclines with ease even when it’s fully loaded with bodies and cargo.
With all six seatbelts clicked, it’ll reach over 62-miles-per-hour on a straightaway before the governor taps in.
Realistically, we like to think about useable power and this Defender will tackle trails and inclines better than most in this category.
The long wheelbase Defender Max’s DPS electric power steering is arguably the best in the industry for predictable, smooth response.
This system is different than BRP’s Tri-Mode power steering used on most off-road Can-Ams and with a single mode, has found the sweet spot between medium and high input. Even weighted down with bodies, there’s almost no resistance in the steering while tackling the gnarliest terrain and absolutely zero steering wheel whip has been detected. Zero.
There’s another element to the Defender we love and it’s coined in one word: Smoothness. The combination of an extremely vibration-free engine, velvety CVT engagement and smooth power steering system feeds tremendous feedback into the driver’s cranium. Sometimes you feel that any ride just isn’t long enough and you want to go back for more.
The cargo area is excellent and storage is abundant. Although the bed isn’t particularly striking or unique, it does have good tie-down areas and notches for 5-gallon pails. The tailgate works extremely well.
Our biggest gripe on the Max is the same we had with the 3-passenger Defender. The out-of-the crate settings on the aluminum body coilovers is too soft.
On smoother surfaces the Max rides great, but loaded down with all six seats occupied, you begin to notice its shortcomings. Ground clearance is impacted as the vehicle sags and impacts from big rocks and stumps can be felt grinding underneath by everyone in the cab.
We think this vehicle would be the perfect candidate for a set of Fox QS3 3-position adjustable shocks - even if they were optional.
You’d get quick adjustments between soft, medium and stiff settings as the vehicle filled up with passengers or emptied out.
We’re not sure if Can-Am has this in its sites for future models and, if not, we’d simply recommend a bit more adjustability for its shock choice.
As far as comfort, power and durability, we’d still give Can-Am’s Defender Max DPS top honors in the six-passenger category.
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