Off-Road Assassin

Vehicle Review: Can-Am 2021 Commander Max XT 1000R

For many people in the Southwestern United States the term side-by-side is associated with a desert toy, but more a larger part it is a purpose-built utility task vehicle (UTV). The 2021 Can-Am Commander checks that box and is set to change the view of everyone everywhere.

We had the chance to get behind the wheel of the 2021 Commander Max XT 1000R to see just how purpose-built this UTV is. To test the vehicle we had something different than a traditional workhorse, farm test for a vehicle like this.

Built To Do The Job

Built to do a job is one thing, but to do the job right is being built on a different level. The 2021 Commander Max XT 1000R is produced with plenty of features to do the job right from an engine and transmission package to an improved suspension. All the tools are there.

One of the biggest changes and features that many Commander owners have wanted was a rear-mounted engine. Can-Am listened and the change improves the overall driving experience.

The Commander platform features a 120.6-inch wheelbase, 13 inches of ground clearance, 15 inches of suspension travel, a 2,000-pound towing capacity, and Dynamic Power Steering. Not everything is new, but the signature LED Can-Am lights and color options all stuck for 2021.

Powering Through

Powering the Commander is the Rotax 1000R engine delivering 100 horsepower, but the UTV has a higher ground clearance and improved suspension for a better ride experience in varying conditions.

The Rotax 1000R is a Rotax 976 cc, V-twin, liquid-cooled engine. It features a fuel delivery system intelligent throttle control (iTCTM) with electronic fuel injection (EFI), a transmission quick response system (QRS) CVT with high airflow ventilation and electronic drive belt protection, drivetrain selectable turf mode/2WD/4WD with Visco-Lok, QE auto-locking front differential, driving assistance electronic hill descent control, SPORT/ECOTM modes, and power steering Dynamic Power Steering (DPS).

Having a comfortable ride while out working is a front suspension arched double A-arm with sway bar and twin-tube gas-charged shocks allowing for 15 inches of wheel travel. In the rear is an arched TTA suspension with twin-tube gas-charged shocks and like the front, allowing 15 inches of wheel travel.

Put the power to the dirt are XPS Trail King 28X9R14 front tires and XPS Trail King 28X11R14 rear tires all on 14-inch cast-aluminum wheels.

Built Tough

Unlike the Maverick lineup of Can-Am vehicles, the Commander line is built for both play and work. The Commander has a 2,000-pound towing capacity and a large dump cargo box with a 600-pounds capacity.

The Commander Max XT 1000R has an estimated dry weight of 1,930 pounds, and ROPS approved chassis and profiled cage. Carrying 600 pounds of cargo is easy in the large 29.5 x 45.2 x 10.6-inch box. Allowing the Commander to do more work is a 4,500-pound which with roller fairlead, XT front bumper, full skid plate, and a two-inch hitch receiver.

A distinctly Can-Am look lets owners stand out in the crowd, whether on the ranch or the trail, all with enhanced passenger comfort for long days of riding. Newer vehicles tend to need to visit the dealership more than some of us would like, but Can-Am made do-it-yourself-friendly maintenance access points for those who like to tackle it on their own.

The interior of the Commander doesn’t go by the wayside and has plenty of features UTV owners have come accustomed to. From tech to driver and passenger comfort the Commander Max XT 1000R has it all.

Inside features a 7.6-inch wide digital display with keypad that can show: speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trips and hour meters, fuel, gear position, SPORT/ECOTM modes, seat belt and 4×4 indicator, rear diff lock indicators, diagnostics, clock, battery voltage, and engine temperature. There is also an instrumentation Lighter-type DC outlet in the console, Anti-Theft System RF Digitally Encoded Security System (D.E.S.S.TM)
with Start/Stop button, and a 650 W magneto.

Capable Commander

In an area of the United States where we see more X3’s than we do workhorse UTV’s, we underestimated what the 2021 Commander Max XT 1000R could do. From the start, we knew the Commander was a workhorse, but how would it do when taken off the ranch.

To see exactly how much of a workhorse the Commander was, we headed out to Barstow, California. We wanted to see what it could do if it were used as a dual-purpose vehicle.

On the first ride down the desert, we mixed feelings. We felt out of place but were impressed by what the Commander was capable of, and we didn’t take it easy.

We took it down the washes, through the whoops, over the rocks, and after everything we threw at it, it was still asking for more. The Commander Max XT 1000R surprised us in all areas, but most in the rocks.

Being narrower than the X3, the Commander could get through some of the tighter trails with ease. In the rocks, we could take lines that wouldn’t have been an option in a wider vehicle.

We were more than shocked at how the Commander handled the rough Barstow terrain. For those that need a UTV to get the job done during the week but want to be able to enjoy a trip out with friends, the Commander is the vehicle for you.

For more information on all of Can-Am’s vehicles, be sure to visit their website.

Steven Olsewski

He grew up with a true passion for anything with an engine. During the year he can be found enjoying the outdoors, building Legos with son, and wrenching in the garage on his race truck.

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