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The Can

Jul 09, 2023

This is the most extreme side-by-side to ever come to market. It's also the first Can-Am with a dual-clutch.

Anyone who has off-roaded for long enough has come to realize one thing: side-by-sides are often a better tool for the job than a pickup or large SUV. Can-Am wants to lean on that theory even further with its most extreme SxS offering yet. This is the Maverick R, a turbocharged, 240-hp off-road specialist complete with a brand first dual-clutch transmission.

At the heart of the Maverick R sits a new chassis constructed from dual-phase tubular steel. This layout is narrower and more aggressively “V” shaped than the standard Maverick X3, owing to the Maverick R’s focus on outright speed. The roll bars retain the beloved rounded effect that Can-Am customers know, however. The overall track is 77 inches wide, keeping the Maverick R legal on most trials and certain roadways. The 108-inch wheelbase should help keep things tidy at speed. Tucked inside that chassis sits an all-new powertrain, which is the most extreme setup you’ll find in the side-by-side market today. That starts with the Maverick R’s new turbocharged 3-cylinder engine from Rotax, which displaces just 999cc.

The four-stroke engine features a closed deck aluminum block, which is bolstered by forged aluminum pistons housed in plasma-coated cylinder bores. Each cylinder also benefits from two fuel injectors, as well as an oil sprayer for additional cooling. The 54-mm turbo is also new, and comes complete with an electronic wastegate for the first time. In order to keep the boosted three-pot together, the motor also features eight tension rods connecting the crankcase to the heads. Output is rated at 240 hp, which is the most power provided by any production side-by-side.

Off-road fans familiar with side-by-sides might expect that raucous engine to be somewhat hampered by a belt-driven transmission. Such an experience wouldn’t suit the Maverick R, so Can-Am fitted it with their Rotax's dual-clutch gearbox on the SxS market. The seven-speed transmission features both high- and low-range gears, which can be adjusted on the fly. Changes are made by way of paddles mounted on the column, ensuring you never lose them during a slide.

The Maverick R’s powertrain has three drive modes: Normal, Sport, and Sport+. Normal mode eases back the throttle response and drops the shift points down to the mid-range. Sport makes sure that shifts take place at 8500 rpm, while sharpening inputs. Sport + retains those features, but enables the brand’s Advanced Response Technology (ART) system. This unique anti-lag system for the turbocharged engine functions by shutting down ignition for the middle cylinder, while retarding timing for the other two cylinders. The pumping action of cylinder 2 combined with a cracked open throttle body allows boost pressure to build at idle. When you tap the throttle pedal, cylinder two fires back up to deliver maximum performance.

No off-roader is complete without a serious suspension setup, and the Maverick R is no different. The package is based around Can-Am’s new heavy-duty tall-knuckle design. This layout has the upper and lower control arms spread apart, with the ball joint visible above the front tires. While funky to look at, the setup brings quite a few benefits to the SxS. It improves wheel travel, reduces overall stress on the hardware, and cuts back on the spindle length, scrub radius, and kingpin angle. Working in conjunction with a trailing-arm setup in the rear, the Can-Am provides 25 inches of suspension travel up front, as well as 26 inches in back. The Maverick R features 17-inches of ground clearance, and can support a maximum tire size of up to 35-inches. Maverick R and Maverick R X models feature 30-inch ITP Tenacity XNR rubber wrapped around a set of 15-inch aluminum wheels. The higher spec Maverick R X RS models get an upsized 16-inch wheel, as well as a 32-inch tire package. They’re the first 6-lug wheels with a 139.7mm bolt pattern to arrive for a SxS, opening up more wheel options from the truck market.

Front and rear brake rotors measure in at 10.4-inches and 10.0-inches, respectively. Up front you’ll find a three-piston caliper, while a two-piston unit handles the rear. Maverick R and Maverick RX models are supported by a set of Fox Podium 2.5-inch piggyback internal bypass coilovers, complete with compression adjusters. Maverick R X RS swaps that setup for some Fox Podium RC2 shocks, which feature dual-speed compression and rebound adjustments. For those who still need more however, there’s the Maverick R X RS with Smart Shox. This package includes Fox’s latest semi-active suspension setup, complete with automatic compression and rebound adjustments in the blink of an eye. There are actually nine seniors around the SxS feeding information to an Inertial measurement unit, which adjusts the kit up to 200 times a second.

With all of that hardware onboard, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that the Maverick R lineup starts at $35,499 before destination charges. The RX model sees that price jump up to $38,399, whereas the RX S rings in at $42,599. The range-topping Smart Shox model is fairly pricey at $44,299. That said, you can push that figure over $60,000 with additional options, if you so choose. While that’s a lot of money to spend on something that isn’t a genuine car, you’ll struggle to find a better off-road companion for less cash.

Born and raised in Metro Detroit, associate editor Lucas Bell has spent his entire life surrounded by the automotive industry. He may daily drive an aging Mustang, but his Porsche 944 and NB Miata both take up most of his free time.

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