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2017 Maverick X3 Side-by-Sides Put the Heat on the Desert

Posted in Features on January 4, 2017 Comment (0)
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If you think the side-by-side you are driving now can hold its own against all comers running the dunes or desert, you may be in for a rude awakening. If you haven’t noticed, the SxS manufacturers have a full-on a turbo war brewing and Can-Am’s 2017 X3s are taking no prisoners.

We just spent two days tearing up 300 miles of dirt and sand roads south of the border in Baja behind the wheel of a trio of 2017 Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo Rs. Each one cranked out 154hp from a turbocharged 900cc Rotax inline-triple that pushes these sleek, near-race-ready side-by-sides from 0-60 in less than five seconds and top out at 85mph.

Those are smokin’ numbers from “bone stock” offerings right off the dealer showroom floor. The X3 Turbo R delivers both power and superb off-pavement handling with the most suspension travel in the class thus far, touting up to 24-inches thanks to Fox Podium 3.0 suspension components.

Laying into the throttle of the entry level X3, the mid-level DS, or the wide-track RS, the power surge is akin to that of nailing the throttle on a V8-powered sand rail or a Spec Trophy Truck. These third-gen Mavericks are incredibly fast and with remarkably good handling be it over the desert, flying dunes, or taking on the rocks.

Tuned Suspension Package

The X3’s handling is derived from a combination of design changes that make both driver and passenger feel comfortable at speeds where machines with lesser technology would be dicey at best.

They wheelbase has been stretched out to 102 inches and the overall height dropped six inches from the previous model. This significantly lowers the machine’s center of gravity and smoothes out the ride. The track on the base X3 and DS models 64-inches, while the top-end RS is 72-inches, giving the latter even greater high-speed stability on the trail.

But the biggest advantage Can-Am has in the current state of the performance war is they didn’t skimp on the suspension of any of the X3s: All three models have the best suspension of any current factory-stock side-by-side with the 64-inch-track models sporting Fox 2.5 piggyback shocks the provide 20 inches front and rear travel. The RS runs Fox 3.0 RC2s, which gives it 22-inches travel up front and a whopping Trophy Truck-like 24 inches travel in the rear.

Can-Am engineers actually used the basic rear suspension design of Trophy Trucks as inspiration to improve on the previous Maverick, adopting a four-link rear suspension design that keeps camber change at full droop (or compression) to less than one-degree.

The A-arm suspension up front respond similarly, so the suspension literally soaks up the biggest whoops, dips and ruts allowing the driver the ability to stay in complete control over terrain where earlier Mavericks and other competitor’s current side-by-sides would be at a distinct disadvantage.

The Hot Ticket

Pairing the Rotax turbo power with a suspension centered around Fox Podium shocks allows the driver to fine-tuning the ride and handling to perfectly match the driving conditions, which we found out during our Baja adventure. Each of the three X3s has a different personality, derived, of course, from the suspension tuning options and tires.

For example, the base X3 ($22,999) rides on 28-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires and Fox 2.5 Podium QS3 Piggyback shocks. It’s a great entry into the go-fast market and would be ideal for the person who just wants to tear up the trails and open terrain and have a blast doing it.

The mid-level X3 DS ($24,999), which was my favorite, gets shod with 29-inch Bighorns on beadlock wheels, and comes equipped with 2.5 Podium RC2 piggybacks for even greater suspension control. The RC2s allow more suspension tuning and the beadlock wheels handle the low air pressures needed for serious dune running. The DS is also a blast to drive fast through whoops and navigating tighter trails or picking one’s way through rocky sections.

Both the X3 and X3 DS models are 64-inches wide and tout 20-inches of suspension travel front and rear with 14 inches of clearance between skid plates and Terra Firma. Theya re fast, nimble, and comfortable.

Then there’s the X3 RS. When it comes to performance value for the dollar, it can’t be beat. Not only does it come with 30-inch Maxxis Bighorns and beadlock rims, it’s set up with beefer boxed front A-arms and a 72-inch-wide track. But the best bargain is it’s also equipped with Fox 3.0 RC2s with remote reservoirs mounted on the back bars of the X3’s roll cage. The shocks alone are about $4,000 if you bought the kit aftermarket!

The wider track and longer shocks give the X3 RS 22 inches of front travel, 24 inches travel in the rear, and 15 inches of ground clearance to really soak up high-speed desert runs or tackling the monster dunes. The RC2s also provide the serious go-fast owner the ability to tune the suspension perfectly for whatever the season or situation. This is one bad-ass ride that’s as close to being race-ready from the dealer showroom as you’ll ever find. The one draw back is the 72-inch track can present some challenges on trails designed for narrower machines.

The wide 72-inch track, beefier suspension, and Fox 3.0 RC2 remote-reservoir shocks gives the top-of-the-line Maverick X3 RS model gives it an advantage over the base and DS models, which have a 64-inch track.

Lasting Impressions

After spending two days and driving more than 300 miles across a wide range of Baja’s desert and mountain roads, the 2017 Maverick X3 Turbo Rs leave a lasting impression summed up by two words: Fast. Smooth.

Although the interior of the new sport machines are far more Spartan than one finds in the high-end sport models offered by Polaris and Yamaha, Can-Am did their homework in the redesign of the Maverick. They started with a clean slate and built a side-by-side that definitely feeds the inner racer in anyone who slides behind the wheel.

The roll cage of the X3 is fully welded to the chassis; there’s zero turbo lag; the seats are one-piece, yet comfortable; the steering is quick; the handling is precise; the overall height is low; and ground clearance is abundant. The 2017 Can-Am also has that no-nonsense, take-on-the-apocalypse-type ambiance to go with the muscle.

Put all that together with more power than the average side-by-side driver will ever be able to use to its fullest and you have an all-wheel-drive off-road machine that will never disappoint in bringing an immediate smile to the driver.

All X3s have locking rear diffs with viscous-type limited-slips in the front. With 20-to 24 inches of suspension travel and Fox shocks, the Can-Am Maverick X3 is a formidable off-road performer.

Fast Facts

Make/Model: 2017 Can-Am Maverick X3
Engine: 154hp Turbo Charged 900cc Rotax triple
Wheelbase: 102 inches
Track: 64 inches (X3/DS) or 72 inches (RS)
Height: 67”
Ground Clearance: 14-15 inches
Shocks: Fox Podium Series
Drivetrain: QRS-X CVT, belt-driven, 2WD/4WD
Dry Weight: 1,585 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 10.5 gallons
Tires: Maxxis Big Horn 2.0, 28-30 inches
Wheels: 14 inches, beadlocks on DS /RS
MSRP Price Range: $22,999-$26,999

A CVT belt-driven transmission helps deliver the 154-horsepower to the tires. Can-Am has very good acceleration and braking. The cross tube on the floor adds support to the full-welded cage that ties the seats into the frame.
One-piece monocoque bucket seats have six inches of slide adjustment fore/aft and two inches up/down via repositioning in the base bracket. Seats are setup to accommodate 4-point harnesses, too.
Rotax designed the turbo for the X3’s 900cc triple, and in doing so were able to positon it at the exhaust manifold to eliminate turbo lag for instant throttle response.
Two air inlets and two outlets to the CVT, with fins on the driven side to maximize air flow, have reduced heat by 20-percent over the previous model. Can-Am uses a six-roller drive and three-roller driven clutch assembly so the belt engagement is very fast, further reducing heat build up in the belt.
The front A-arms on the RS model are longer and stouter than on the X3 and DS model. They also give the RS a 72-inch track and allow the use of the Fox 3.0 remote-reservoir shocks.
The body height is six inches lower than the previous version. The intercooler is mounted flat on the rear deck to help keep the overall height of the X3 as low as possible and maximize rear visibility. The intercooler has a big fan underneath to force air through it.
Can-Am designed their own seat sliders, which roll on tubes so they will never stick or get clogged up from dirt, mud or sand.
Can-Am X3s have more than a 100 accessories available including multiple choices of tire carriers, bumpers, nerf bars and roofs.
Heavy-duty sway bars, front and rear, keep the X3 stable without compromising suspension travel.
Steering is faster and the steering wheel smaller than previous version. The instrument cluster attached to the steering column so it’s always clearly visible.
Torsional Trailing-arm X3 (TTX) with big trailing arms and three links, provide up to 24 inches of suspension travel. The design allows less than one-degree of variation in wheel alignment (camber) from full compression to full droop.
Full-welded the cage to the chassis so it’s one part. Can-Am says the X3 has53-percent more torsionall rigidity than their nearest competitor and 20-percent lighter. The new cage is ROPS-approved.

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