It took an extra year of rumors and speculation, but when CAN-AM pulled back the curtains to reveal their 2011 new model lineup, there was not just one new Commander Side X Side but FIVE --and they looked stunning! Body styling fit in perfectly with the CAN-AM penchant for an aggressive, in-your-face, muscular look that hints at the performance within. From our first ride, it was clear this was a whole new level of UTV performance whether it was the COMMANDER 800, 1000, or the go-for-broke 1000 X-Package. All Commanders share a common chassis platform with dual A-arms at the front and CAN-AM’s TTI trailing arms at the rear, which is very much like the suspension on a desert racing trophy truck. The ride is excellent 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 you can feel in the seat. At the rear was a sturdy dump box with a nifty second, sealed box underneath, and the engine is center mounted for weight balance. We were especially happy to find easy access to a flat, automotive style air filter under the front hood, and all Commanders are powered by an 800cc or 1000cc liquid cooled, SOHC Rotax V-Twin EFI engine. Both the driver and passenger are treated to excellent ergonomics with comfortable seats with three point restraints. Also, we really like the side nets which easily clip in place with a very secure, automotive style seat belt latch. A beefy tube structure keeps the occupants well protected inside the vehicle. Even the gauges pivot with the steering wheel, and all controls are within easy reach of the driver. Just don’t expect to look at them much when your foot is on the throttle and your tightie-whities are in a bunch!
While all Commanders share a common chassis, the difference is how each package is outfitted. However, regardless of the model, all the Commanders deliver on their promise of performance. They’ve got excellent power, superb handling, and are the perfect mix of performance, suspension, and rugged, yet refined good looks. We’re especially fond of the 1000 XT package which offers the benefit of stylish, cast aluminum wheels, 26” Maxxis Bighorn tires, a 4000lb winch, and other upgrades. We’ve also bolted on the front sway bar from the X-package which makes it even better. After a year riding everything else, without a doubt, the CAN-AM COMMANDER is in charge of the class and is the best Hi-Performance Side x Side of 2010.