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Best Crossover Class Side-x-Side of 2012

The Can-Am Commander 1000 XT
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2012.can-am.commander1000xt.yellow.front-left.riding.on-sand.jpgWhen Can-Am introduced their Commander Side x Side, it set a new standard for performance, refinement, and handling.  With a limited number of Side x Sides on the market at the time, the Commander was widely considered a hi-performance machine, but since then there have been many other models introduced including several dedicated solely to going fast.  With a large dump box in the back and a receiver hitch at the rear, the Commander has the ability to do plenty of work and that places it squarely in the Crossover Class for those models that aren’t afraid of a tough day but still have a sporty side.  

All Commander models share a common chassis with dual A-arms at the front and CAN-AM’s TTI trailing arms in the rear, the difference being how each model is outfitted.  Both the driver and passenger are treated to superb ergonomics with comfortable seats that double as camp chairs and plenty of hand holds.  The Commander’s side nets are a stroke of genius and easily clip in place with a very secure, automotive style seat belt latch.  Instrument cluster gauges pivot with the steering wheel, all controls are within easy reach of the driver, and a beefy tube structure keeps the occupants well protected inside the vehicle.  Inside the Commander it is cozy and secure.   

Engine choices are an 800cc or 1000cc liquid cooled, SOHC Rotax V-Twin EFI engine.  We really like the flat, automotive style air filter under the front hood and we’re especially fond of the 1000 XT package which offers the benefit of stylish, cast aluminum wheels, 26” Maxxis Bighorn tires, and a 4000lb winch.  To achieve the desired weight balance, the Commander carries the engine between the seats which means it’s a little louder inside the cab and a little more difficult to change the CVT belt (which we’ve had to do) but the advantage is a well-balanced suspension.   

The performance from each Commander model is excellent, and once behind the wheel, you’ll quickly forget about any work duties.  It’s a blast to drive!  The ride is smooth and well controlled, especially with the X-package’s front sway bar, and a stab at the throttle gets an instant, eyes-wide-open response.  

Regardless of the model, all the Commanders offer excellent power, superb handling, and are the perfect mix of performance, suspension, and rugged, yet refined good looks.  For its performance on the trail and its ability to carry our hunting and camping gear, a few bales, or whatever else we want to stow in the box, the CAN-AM COMMANDER is our pick as the Best Crossover Class Side x Side of 2012.


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