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2013 Can-Am Commander X Test Ride Impressions


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Can-Am held a demo day at Lost Trails ATV Adventures in P.A. today following their dealer demo event in the morning. So far none of the NJ dealers have taken shipments of their 2014 Maverick 1000R X XC units so I took the ride over to finally see one in person and get some seat time with it. While I was there I also drove a 2013 Commander X. They had 2014 Commanders there as well but currently a few dealers here in NJ have leftover 2013 Commanders and are offering huge discounts to clear them off their lots making room for their 2014 shipments. I have always liked the looks of the 2013 Commander X in Carbon and that is the model they had set up for the demo.

I have been in a Commander before but never had driven one so I really didn’t know what to expect from it. The interior is laid out well with all controls within reach and the display is right above the steering wheel where I believe all SxS displays should be. The seats were very comfortable and there was plenty of room for 2 riders to ride all day and not constantly be rubbing shoulders. The stock steering wheel was comfortable and had plenty of grip and felt very good in my hands. My left foot rested naturally as if driving my truck and the brake and throttle pedal were positioned just right for me. All in all the cockpits of the Can-Am SxS models seem to have the best ergonomics, are the most comfortable, and arethe most well appointed to me of all the manufacturers offerings I have been in to date. The only one I haven’t sat in yet is a XP1K but will later this week.

Since the Commander X has a bed I really wasn’t expecting it to handle like a sport SxS, (and it didn’t) but I was surprised it handled as well as it did. With the addition of DPS the steering never felt heavy, but since it isn’t speed sensitive it felt light in certain instances. I guess floaty is a word that best describes it. Overall it is a great feature, but the TRI Mode DPS now listed as an available option for the 2014 Commanders would be better suited so you can choose the level of assist that feels best to you. The suspension did a decent job of tackling the whoops, ruts and rocks at lower speeds but began to struggle when riding through the rougher sections at higher speeds. That is when you realize it isn’t a sport SxS, but a Utility SxS. It never felt uncontrollable but the ride definitely gets bumpy when trying to mash the throttle through some rockier rutted terrain. Viewing it as a Utility SxS the suspension on the X is actually quite good compared to a few other Utilities I have driven in the past. If you want to drive aggressively down some rough terrain and expect a Cadillac ride you might be better off looking at a SxS with a bit more suspension travel. The other thing I noticed was it took a bit more room to turn the Commander X when compared to the Maverick X XC I tested. With the Commander X I had to come to a complete stop a few times to maneuver around some trees, but that’s to be expected on tighter tree lined trails I suppose.

The power of the Commander X was decent. It probably has more power than any other SxS I had previously driven before today, so why am I saying it’s just decent? If I didn’t drive the Maverick X XC prior to the Commander X I would probably have said it was great. The Commander X is putting out 85 HP and the Maverick is 101 hp, and you can definitely feel the difference between the engines in the 2 machines. I guess it would be fair to say the power of the Commander X engine is great for a Utility SxS. The sound of the engine while idling even with the stock exhaust is pleasing, but mashing on the throttle and hearing the V-Twin engine roar is addicting to say the least. I also didn’t experience any lag when pressing the throttle like others have said in the past so maybe that was an issue that was addressed from their earlier models. I didn’t really need 4 wheel drive on any trail we rode but I turned it on for a bit just to see if I could tell it was even on and could definitely feel it pull through a few areas over some smaller whoops. Overall the power was great on the Commander X for a Utility SxS and I really enjoyed driving it.

Another thing worth mentioning is the Commanders engine breaking, this feature alone was a big surprise to me. It was that good! I barely used the brakes on any of the demo rides today with the exception of slowing down the units back at the staging area after getting them up to 50 mph, and even then I just tapped them and then let the engine breaking do the rest. The trails we rode on and the guide limited how fast we were able to drive these units. On the trails I never got it over 35 mph and when I did get to open it up it was when we were on blacktop heading back to the trailer. I will say that even though the engine is only pushing 85 hp and we were restrained from really opening it up, acceleration was quick from 5 to 50 mph.

If I was in the market for a SxS with a bed to pull double duty, I would probably buy a Commander tomorrow. It was a great machine capable of handling anything I would probably ever need it to do. The 2013 leftovers are being offered at great discounts and the 2014 Commander DPS model comes with the Visco Lok QE and Tri Mode DPS for under $13k so it’s priced pretty competitively. Unfortunately I drove the Maverick X XC prior to the Commander, and the Maverick X XC was way too much fun for me to forget about lol. To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed the Maverick X XC , I forgot to take pictures of the Commander X lol. I did take a few pics of a Commander 800 they were displaying with some of their accessories on it so I will post them for ya’s…

Rocksandruts.com Can-Am Commander Accessories image 3Rocksandruts.com Can-Am Commander Accessories image 2Rocksandruts.com Can-Am Commander Accessories image 1

Here is a video from the Commander Test Drive. I will apologize in advance for the shaky video. The only mount I brought with me was a bar clamp mount and it really wasn’t built too solid. The camera vibrated badly where I wound up having to mount it and it moved alot on me as well. So when you see the video get real shaky keep in mind it was the camera and not the Commander. For some reason YouTube is taking forever to process this video so I added it to Vimeo as well…

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