The Can Am Commander is the long awaited side by side from Can Am. This is the UTV many fans of the brand have been rumor mongering for a couple of years now. The big question is - Now that it's here has it been worth the wait? And the even bigger question - How does it stack up against the competition in this suddenly crowded class?
The Commander model line is actually made up of two basic models based on engine size. The 800R is the base model, joined by the Can Am Commander 1000 with the largest engine available. There are several different option packages for both sizes which we'll cover in a bit.
To get a better idea about the Commander and some of it's main features, you can check out this video review below.
As the video shows, it looks like Can Am's goal was to maintain a high degree of utility along with the high performance capability of the Commander. Other companies like Polaris and Arctic Cat seem to be focusing more on pure performance with some of their recent models. It will be interesting to see which of the models will be the most successful.
Rotax V-twin engine - liquid cooled and fuel injected with a new throttle by wire system designed for smoother throttle response. Best in class fuel mileage.
All wheel independent suspension -gives a smoother ride and better traction in tough terrain with 10 inches of travel at all four wheels. Adjustable gas shocks control the wheel movement more precisely and with less fade.
All wheel drive - Selectable 2WD/4WD shaft driven with variable locking front differential. The front diff locks and unlocks automatically depending on the available traction.
Adjustable seats and tilt steering wheel - quick ratio steering with instrument pod that moves with the steering wheel for better vision and fit. Seats have automotive type slide adjustment. These adjustments allow for the best fit for most driver sizes. The seats can also be removed without tools for use outside the vehicle.
Driver and passenger safety - 2 inch diameter steel roll cage, quick attach side nets on both sides, seat belts, hand hold and grab bars, form fitting bucket seats, and best in class lighting with a full 240W system.
Disc brakes - Individual discs on each front wheel with an inboard mounted single rear disc for both rear wheels. Each disc is stopped by a twin piston caliper.
Utility features - 1500 pound towing capacity, 11 inches of ground clearance, 2 inch receiver hitch, 10 gallon gas tank, and a 650 watt alternator with up to 300 watts available to power electrical accessories.
Convenience features - storage is easy with dual level cargo boxes in the back and a cockpit storage area up front. A unique maintenance center permits access to air filter, coolant level, fuses and electrical relays.
The Commander fits in the back of most full size pick up trucks which may be the most convenient feature of all!
Here's a quick video that shows many of these Can Am Commander features in action.
800R - Standard - $11,699
Commander 1000 - Standard - $12,799
800R and 1000 XT - $13,199 and $14,299
1000 X - $14,699
Can Am Commander 1000 Limited - $19,199
It seems that Can Am has employed the shotgun method with the Commander. They've tried to hit the most targets possible with one shot. This UTV isn't as narrowly focused on performance as was initially rumored, but that may not be a bad thing.
What it does offer is very good performance while maintaining a usable amount of utility. Pricing looks to be competitive with most other leading brands, and actually seems like a good value when you consider everything the Commander can do.
Complaints? The steering is a little stiff and can wear you down after a long day. I look for a power steering option on the next model update.
There were some problems with overheating reported on some early models. We're told there has been an update with a relocated thermostat in all current models.
So if you're in the market for a high performance UTV, and have a good Can Am dealer in your area, we definitely recommend you take a look at these Commanders.
UTV Guide - Guide to all the most popular UTVs.