Ride Tested - Scorching Hot
RAISING THE BAR
At Can-Am's dealer show we got a quick look and a couple test laps on a high-performance machine like no other. The new Maverick X3 didn’t just raise the bar for high-performance machines, it bounced it off the rev limiter. A quick rundown of the specs was highly impressive:
154 hp from a triple cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled ACE engine
Up to 72” wide
Up to 24” of wheel travel on the X RS model
All-new chassis designed for performance
We love the look of the new Maverick X3. It appears menacing and fast from every angle and Can-Am designers did a great job of creating bodywork that matches the machines personality, but is also highly functional. Only an extended ride would tell the whole story. Soon we were off to Mexico for some quality time with all three X3 models on the Baja race course.
SUIT UP and SLIDE DOWN IN
The goal is always the same; trophy truck like performance at a price something far less than six digits. While the high-end Maverick X3 XRS isn’t exactly cheap at $26,999 if you’ve ever been trophy truck shopping that is positively a fire sale price! And the X3 delivers on the promise of performance.
Climbing inside the cockpit of the Maverick X3 is a little different than sliding into the seat of all other high-performance models. It’s more like you slide down in and strap the machine on. The seats are easily adjustable thanks to a set of rollers, and if you really want to ride low and dirty, by changing how the seats are bolted to the frame you can get an additional two inches lower. Even in the standard position you feel as if you’ve just settled into a race car. Can-Am engineers had a reason for that. A lower seating position means a lower center of gravity, and that results in better handling. Ordinarily it would also mean a restricted view, but the hood lines are very low for the best view of the trail ahead, and with the speeds the X3 is capable of you don’t want to miss anything! Then again, at race speed if anything close is dead ahead you’re already too late. We found the seats to be very comfortable even on all-day rides and we even tried the seatbelts in an “incident”. They work even when hanging upside down!
One feature we really love on the Maverick X3 is the steering wheel. It’s small, easy to grip, and has a flat spot near the bottom for leg clearance. The dash switches and controls were all well placed and the glove box has the door on top which helps keep anything inside. Knockouts make it easy to install accessory switches, and the large digital display is easy to read, although at top speed we don’t recommend looking around for long. We do appreciate the rear view mirror Can-Am sends but when strapped into the cockpit the rear view is limited. Use the mirror for loading on the trailer. Nobody is going to catch you from behind anyway.
BEHIND THE WHEEL – UNLEASH THE FURY
The new Maverick doesn’t come with a key but instead uses a chipped plug that snaps into the dash. This is to prevent theft and a learner plug limits top speed, although nobody should be a first time “learner” in a machine like this. Don’t lose the plug as you can only get a replacement at the dealer and you better have the paperwork to match the machine. As with other Can-Am Side x Sides, pressing a button gets the engine stirring and we love the throaty, deep growl of the triple cylinder ACE engine which sounds similar to some Sea-Doo watercraft.
Heading out onto the trail, it doesn’t take you long to discover the X3 is wicked fast! We are talking serious performance. Like nothing you have ever driven on dirt performance! Stab the throttle and you meet the seat back like you’ve been nailed to it with an air gun. Thankfully it offers excellent support and comfort. As the RPMs spool up so does the turbocharger and there seems to be no lag. Now the engine sounds like a racecar as the trail begins to race by in a blur, and believe us, the X3 can cover a lot of trail in a hurry. The Maverick X3 engine is happy at any speed but at about 4500 RPM’s things really take off and it pulls hard and strong all the way until it hits the rev limiter. During hard acceleration the rear end will squat and dig for traction as the front end lifts slightly. We found the three roller, high-performance QRS-X CVT clutch on the X3 to be extremely responsive as well with no noticeable back-shifting lag. You can be on the gas, brake quickly for a corner, and jump right back into the throttle to rocket away with no clutch delay. This thing is addictive fun!
QUICK, FAST, PRECISE
There is a difference between being quick and being fast. A machine can be fast, but still have relatively poor performance, and likewise a machine can be quick, but not necessarily fast on the trail. The Maverick X3 is the best of both. It is extremely fast across any terrain, yet very quick in response to steering or throttle input. Put it anyplace on the trail and it will hold your line until you point it to another spot. It also feels extremely precise. The performance is absolutely laser sharp, and a big part of that has to do with the steering.
We can’t say enough about the steering action of the Maverick X3. The DPS lets you dial in the perfect amount of assist, but the turning ratio is PERFECT! We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how the steering perfectly matches the chassis. You only need to turn the wheel a quarter turn to carve through the trail. At any speed there is no need to take your hands off the wheel until it’s time to get out. Again, the steering ratio and response is PERFECT!
BUMP and RUN
The most important part of any high-performance machine is the suspension. Can-Am didn’t skimp on the suspension for the Maverick X3 and the numbers are astounding. Over 20 inches of wheel travel even on the base model, a suspension designed to optimize geometry and maintain consistent angles throughout the suspension stroke, and very high quality FOX shocks for supreme adjustability and reliability.
The FOX shocks are right at home in the desert and we did our best to pound them in every way. One thing we noticed on all the Maverick models was the shocks were a little harsher than we would have preferred over choppy terrain. We wouldn’t call them bad but if you’ve got shocks with this much adjustability you might as well dial them in. Our solution was to soften the compression slightly (a couple clicks was just enough) which took the hard edge off. You can hear a little bit of rattling from the X3 when pounding through rough terrain but Baja pounds everything, man and machine. Over big hits or deep whoops we never did bottom the suspension and it was almost scary how fast you could charge into a whoop section on the X3. It’s extremely stable up to 90 mph - we tested this at every possible opportunity - and beyond that you’re probably the unstable one.
There are three different models of the Maverick X3, all with their own unique personalities. They are:
MAVERICK X3 The base model. 20 inches of wheel travel, FOX Podium 2.5 QS3 shocks, 64 inches wide, 28” Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires on 14” aluminum wheels.
MAVERICK X3 X DSFOX 2.5 Podium RC2 HPG Piggyback shocks, 64 inches wide, 29-in. Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 six-ply tires on 14” aluminum wheels.
MAVERICK X3 X RSThe best in the desert, take no prisoners X3. 72” wide, 24” suspension travel, FOX 2.5 Podium RC2 PHG Piggyback shocks with bypass and dual-speed compression and rebound (front), and FOX 3.0 Podium RC2 HPG shocks with remote reservoir with bypass and dual-speed compression and rebound (rear). 30-in. Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 six-ply tires.
It’s hard not to love all three X3 models, but we were especially fond of the base model. It feels very quick thanks to a slightly smaller 28” tire and it has all the engine performance and features of its brothers but the QS3 shock adjustment is super easy. It’s a can’t-miss system for those who aren’t comfortable making huge shock adjustments. Our next pick would be the DS model for the same reasons and the shocks that offer much more adjustability. More adjustability can mean trouble for some though as you can actually make the ride worse if you aren’t familiar with shock adjustment.
ANYTHING TO IMPROVE?
We really like the stock shocks and they are excellent quality but as setup from the factory they are a little harsh over choppy terrain. A slightly softer dampening spec from the factory could cure that easily, or you could soften the compression like we did. Problem solved. The next area we would work on is the door latch. To get the door open you pull a strap on the inside which works every time but doesn’t really match the rest of the machine. Still, it’s not a deal breaker. Finally, we wish there was a little more on-board storage. You’re not going to cram much into the dash so do yourself a favor and get the accessory storage box.
One part everyone replaces eventually is tires. The X3’s stock Maxxis 2.0 Big Horn tires slide well and we survived over 250 miles of the Baja course without a single flat which in itself was a minor miracle. The Big Horns tend to lose their edge quickly though and we would like to try a set of Dirt Commanders since we’ve had great luck with them.
The new Can-Am Maverick X3 easily runs down everything in its path like nothing we’ve ever driven. It’s fast, precise, and it’s got more power and suspension than anything on dirt short of a half million dollar Baja racer. It positively seethes attitude, performance, and style. If Lucifer the Great Satan himself were to ride out of the ‘Nether regions this is what he’d be in. The Maverick X3 has already claimed our soul.
CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 QUICK SPECS
ENGINE: 154 hp, Rotax ACE (Advanced Combustion Efficiency) 900 cc, Turbocharged Triple-cylinder engine, liquid cooled with integrated intercooler and high-performance air filter.
THROTTLE Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC™) with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
TRANSMSN: Quick Response System X (QRS-X) CVT with high airflow, L / H / N / R/ P, Selectable 2WD / 4WD with Visco-Lok X auto-locking front differential
STEERING: Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering (DPS™)
FRONT SUSPN Trophy truck inspired Double A-arm with sway bar.
REAR SUSPN 4-link Torsional Trailing-arm X (TTX) with sway bar
GAUGE Multifunction Analog / Digital. Speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip and hour
meters, fuel, gear position, sport / ECO™ mode, seat belt and 4 x 4 indicator, diagnostics, clock, auto shut off
GROUND CLEARANCE 15 in. (38.1 cm)
FUEL CAPACITY 10.5 gal (40 L)
RACK CAPACITY 200 lb (91 kg) with
DRY WEIGHT 1,585 lb (718.9 kg)
TIRES & WHEELS
X3: 28” Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 – 14” Aluminum
X3 DS 29” Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 – 14” Aluminum
X3 XRS 30” Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 – 14” Aluminum
X3: FOX 2.5 PODIUM Piggyback with QS3 compression and bottom-out control
X3 DS FOX 2.5 PODIUM RC2 Piggyback with dual speed compression, rebound adjustments and bottom-out control”
X3 XRS Front - FOX 2.5 PODIUM RC2 Piggyback with bypass, dual speed compression and rebound adjustments
Rear - FOX 3.0 PODIUM RC2 remote reservoir with bypass, dual speed compression and rebound adjustments
X3: $ 22,999
X3 DS $ 24,999
X3 XRS $ 26,699