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We recently had the opportunity to test drive the 2020 Can-Am Defender Limited, Defender PRO HD10 and its 6×6 version through the trails of Mountain Home, Texas. YO Ranch Headquarters provided a picturesque backdrop to Can-Am’s three-day media event. Driving through the dirt trails and rocky terrain beside the perfectly awkward loping of the resident giraffes transported us away from Hill Country and into a Sub-Saharan African overland adventure — the perfect setting to test out UTVs.
Can-Am brought three separate models of the 2020 Defender — The Defender Limited, The Defender Pro HD10 and the Defender 6×6 DPS HD10. Over the course of three days, we got an inside look into Can-Am’s theory behind their latest changes, as well as an opportunity to put them to the test.
In a flooded UTV market, the details set companies apart. This has never been truer than with Can-Am’s 2020 upgrades and options. Every improvement was a purposeful response to its customer base, with each version designed to meet the interests of different customer groups.
Of the many changes Can-Am introduced in 2020, we focused on these practical upgrades:
Goodbye air compressors, sticks, and your girlfriend’s small hands. The 2020 version of all Defenders comes with a removable grill that enables you to clear debris, mud, and grass which might otherwise block the airflow and lead to overheating. It's always nice to see companies making it easier to maintain vehicles in the field, because you're rarely going to have a clean shop full of tools when something goes wrong.
Increased Ground Clearance
In many small off-road vehicles, there never seems to be enough ground clearance when you’re traversing through rocks and rutted terrain. Can-Am responded by not only increasing the ground clearance of its Defender models (12-inches for the Defender Limited; 13-inches for the Defender HD10), but also added an arched double A-arm front suspension. The end result is less bottoming-out and scraping as you drive over rough trails.
With a massive 6ft by 4.5ft bed and a payload of 1,000lbs, the Defender HD10 is an incredibly capable utility vehicle. If you need more space, the sides can be easily removed to quickly turn the cargo box into a flatbed. Additionally, the PRO HD10 can tow 2,500lbs, while the 6×6 DPS HD10 can tow a staggering 3,000lbs. With a width of just 64 inches, this UTV can go where most trucks cannot. (Note: Airtight Cab with HVAC: Can-Am’s HVAC with industry-first automatic mode provides both heat and air conditioning through their strategically placed eight-vent, air-filtered system. Only available in the Defender Limited, the HVAC system is complemented by an airtight cab. Hitting the dusty trails, you’ll have to remind yourself you’re sitting in a UTV, not a truck cab.
With these new details fresh in our minds, we were ready to test the vehicles on the trail.
We first jumped in the new Defender 6×6 DPS HD10. By far our favorite of the three based on capability and ruggedness, this thing is a beast. The first thing we noticed was how smooth the ride is for a utility vehicle. We barely noticed the divots, ruts and rocks the six tires soared through. We were even more impressed with its maneuverability — despite its long wheelbase and six wheels we were able to take sharp corners like a pro.
Of course, this vehicle really shines traversing rocky terrain and steep inclines. Always in 4-wheel drive, a quick flip of a switch sends this into 6-wheel drive and easily up hillsides. More tires means more contact patch on the ground, which translates to less loss of traction on slippery terrain.
Next, we jumped into its cousin, the PRO HD10. We utilized the 83.6 gallons of new space located under the cargo box to hold our bags. After a quick lesson on how to use the new 4.5-inch digital display to switch out of ECO mode and into the more powerful WORK mode, we were back on the trails.
An incredible machine, this UTV is best suited for those who do not require the extra towing capacity or off-road capability of the 6×6. Additionally, the PRO HD10 comes with “Turf” mode that provides traction without ripping up your lawn.
We saved this vehicle for last. We claimed it was to compare the performance on a shorter wheelbase, but, in reality, we wanted the enclosed cab with air conditioning for our Texas-hot afternoon ride. Without the AC blasting, we would have questioned whether the UTV was on; the thicker firewalls on the 2020 model greatly decreased noise pollution.
Additionally, the fully sealed cab not only kept the temperature cool, but prevented all dust from entering. This is a game changer in the UTV market.
In the past, UTV customers often had to determine if they were going to sacrifice comfort for capability or utility for luxury. With the new Can-Am Defender family, you really don’t have to choose. Depending on your needs, whether you’re looking to haul firewood through narrow two-track trails, tie down fence posts on a flat bed, find your perfect backwoods hunting spot, or load a bug-out vehicle that can go anywhere, the Can-Am Defender offers a configuration that fits your needs.
For more information on the 2020 Can-Am Defender, go to Can-Am.BRP.com.