The Can-Am Defender line goes bigger, and Team FIN puts the machine through its paces.
Can-Am expanded its line of Defender utility vehicles with the 2017 Defender Max. Inspired by a pickup, the new side-by-side offers cargo and storage space along with seating for up to 6 adults.
Team FIN tested the Defender Max in multiple capacities including performance and handling, comfort, suspension, hauling, towing, and traction control, and rated it on a scale of 1 to 5.
The Defender Max model is available with two heavy-duty Rotax V-Twin engine packages – a 72-hp HD10 and a 50-hp HD8. Team FIN tested the HD10, and said it is a responsive motor that provides more than enough power for farm use. The UTV comes standard with a pro-torq transmission with a quick-response system that transfers power to the wheels. Team FIN was impressed by the UTV’s low-end power and top speed of 65 mph. It features a 1,750-lb payload capacity and a 2,000-lb tow rating. Team FIN tested the unit by pulling a hayrack with 2,000-lbs worth of round bales in low gear, and the Defender Max performed effortlessly.
The Can-Am side-by-side vehicle has 3 driving modes and a 4-mode traction system with visco-lok QE front differential. This provides multiple choices and control for varying terrain and tasks. Team FIN said the features are easy to use and the unit provides great traction. Its adjustable suspension offers a smooth ride even over deep washouts and through bumpy pasture ground. The machine is stable even at 65 mph, has impressive braking, and feels solid while towing.
The unit comes equipped with a dumpable cargo bed. Rated to haul 1,000-lbs, the bed has a well-thought-out design including anchors and tie-down points as well as multiple recesses designed for dividers and to hold 5-gal buckets in place. Team FIN said the cargo bed provides ample space for daily farm tasks and the added features make it very convenient. With the cargo box tilted back, the engine is relatively easy to access and service. In addition to the rear cargo bed space, the unit has a large amount of onboard storage options including a removable toolbox and folding passenger seats.
The Defender Max features a bench seat in both the front and back that can accommodate 3 adults each. Overall, the cab is roomy and relatively easy to enter and exit. While the front offers generous legroom, tall individuals may find the backseat relatively tight. The cockpit includes passenger handholds and fold-down armrests with cup holders for convenience. Team FIN said the seats are comfortable and the unit is ideal for taking long, recreational rides.
Compared to the smaller Defender model, this unit is a little more difficult to steer. Due to the 6-seater UTV’s size and length, the steering isn’t as responsive and doesn’t turn as sharp. Often, the power steering isn’t consistently smooth or effortless. Other than that, the only downside was the seatbelts – they bound up and were difficult to pull, making them a nuisance to put on.
Team FIN found the Defender Max a fantastic side-by-side overall. Whether transporting a work crew or going on a recreational trail, this unit provides plenty of passenger and cargo space as well as a comfortable ride. It has ample power and an impressive towing capacity making the Defender Max a great farm-tough asset.
Rated: 4.8 out of 5
The Can-Am Defender Max price starts at $14,399 For more about Can-Am, visit