A lot as, I’ve by no means actually been a fan of side-by-sides. You understand, these little souped-up, golf-cart-dune-buggy-like stuff you see zipping across the desert and crusing off into the dunes. The reality is, my hate is a product of jealousy; proper off the showroom flooring, a side-by-side is quicker and extra succesful than any off-road rig I may construct myself. However a latest day with the Can-Am Maverick helped me see the sunshine.
Truly, it was two days, and for the primary, I solely rode shotgun. Can-Am let me tag together with skilled UTV driver Hunter Miller as he ready for the notorious King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, California — a week-long occasion the place each type of off-road automobile you possibly can think about will get its flip within the highlight.
With 16 inches of floor clearance, as much as 24 inches of suspension journey, a brief wheelbase, 200 horsepower and low gearing, UTVs just like the Maverick are nimble and just about unstoppable. Miller’s race rig wears 35-inch tires, which means it has no drawback climbing up over rocks which are legitimately taller than I’m. Miller’s race line selection is exact, placing the Can-Am on two wheels greater than as soon as, and sometimes pointing us straight up on the sky, straight down on the floor or sideways to the purpose the place rocks are 3 inches from my helmeted head. That is some next-level functionality.
We aren’t doing this slowly, both. In a Jeep, a course like this might take hours. However within the Can-Am, we make it by way of Johnson Valley’s Sledgehammer and Jackhammer trails in about quarter-hour. Miller goes round a couple of extra instances to strive another racing strains, doing his homework for the large UTV race a couple of days later.
Talking of which, when the race was all mentioned and executed, Can-Am swept the rostrum, with Miller coming in second. His brother, Cody Miller, did not make the rostrum however earned an eighth-place end within the Limitless collection, the place his side-by-side was up towards huge vans with 40-inch tires, V8 engines and ridiculous quantities of torque. He was the primary UTV to complete that grueling race.
Per week after the race, it is my flip to drive the Can-Am. The Maverick X3 has 16 completely different trim ranges, however I am within the X3 X RC Turbo RR, which is Can-Am-speak for a UTV that is constructed for rock crawling. Consumers also can go for trims which are particularly constructed for the desert, mud or dunes, with 64- or 72-inch widths and a selection of two or 4 seats. My two-seat tester is strictly just like the one Miller used through the race observe, simply with out all the protection tools and with smaller, 33-inch tires.
After I take off, I instantly head for Heartbreak Hill — a path I’ve seemed up at from behind the wheel of myand promptly discovered an alternate route. This path is severely steep, with gentle sand on the backside, free rocks within the center and huge rocks on the prime. Unfazed, the Maverick walks proper up it. I hardly even need to work in any respect.
Like most UTVs, the Can-Am Maverick is provided with a constantly variable automated transmission. I are inclined to hate the appliance of CVTs in street vehicles, however in a UTV, it really works. The CVT can preserve a constant engine velocity even because the automobile itself is touring at completely different speeds, so climbing the steep terrain is straightforward. Earlier than I do know it, I am up and over the ridge. No damaged hearts right here.
The Maverick weighs only a smidge over 1,800 kilos, and with 200 hp on faucet, it is fast to say the least. Desert whoops that might make my little Miata shudder and scrape, the Can-Am simply bombs by way of, no drawback. I suppose that is what occurs when you may have adjustable Fox bypass shocks, 2.5 inches within the entrance, 3 inches within the rear. This RC Maverick does such a great job within the whoops I am curious to see how a lot sooner I may go within the dune-specific UTV. Even so, my tester has dwell valve shocks that monitor wheel place, velocity and acceleration and might go from comfy-couch gentle to full-bore-racing agency in simply 17 milliseconds.
The Maverick mainly goes towards each cardinal off-road driving rule I’ve ever discovered. “All the time cease in gentle sand pointing downhill, or at the very least on flat floor.” Nah, this factor is so gentle and has four-wheel drive. Cease wherever you need; you will get going once more. “As gradual as attainable, as quick as obligatory?” Nope. You’ll be able to carry velocity or not. Both means, you will get to the highest. You’ll be able to carve round dune bowls all day lengthy and never fear in regards to the rear sliding out from beneath you.
The one factor that is arduous to get used to is the Maverick’s steering. I’ve to let it do a little bit of a hula dance in my fingers. If I attempt to actually grip and management each little enter I will doubtless put on myself out after 4 miles. It is all about sustaining a free grip and having a number of belief within the UTV. It is robust to do, however I rapidly study the Maverick tracks straight and quick on these trails.
It was once that, in the event you needed an off-road-specific toy, you needed to construct it your self, placing in a ton of cash and storage time to make your desires come true. Now you may get one in all these machines for comparatively little scratch. Whereas my tester is $31,599 excluding an unpublished supply charge and different surcharges, you possibly can snag one with a smaller 120-hp engine for a smidge over $20,000.
In the event you’ve by no means wheeled off-road earlier than, the Can-Am will likely be means above your talent stage. I like to recommend discovering a neighborhood group to exit with so you possibly can speak to different drivers and study from them earlier than heading out by yourself. Take a category led by somebody credentialed by way of the Worldwide 4-Wheel Driver Trainers’ Affiliation and familiarize your self with Tread Frivolously rules and path etiquette.
Driving and driving within the Can-Am Maverick allowed me to ditch my stodgy preconceived notions about what an off-road rig must be. It is among the most enjoyable I’ve ever had within the grime, with the reassurance that nearly nothing may get in my means.