By Seth Fargher
Our friends from the north delivered the platform rock crawlers have been begging for in the Can-Am Maverick X3 X RC Turbo. Despite the new Smart-Lok front differential and a few other features that are (mostly) unique to rock crawling, this X3 is in no way shape or form limited to scaling obstacles at low speed. In fact far from it.
We had the opportunity recently to put the Maverick X3 X RC Turbo R through its paces at the Coos Bay sand dunes in Oregon and were reminded yet again of what an incredible dune platform this machine really is.
For starters, the vehicle utilizes the same geometry and power features as the Maverick X3 X RS. You get an industry leading 172 horsepower and gobs of torque out of the now iconic sounding triple cylinder Rotax engine. What does that mean to someone who’s never experienced that much power? Imagine running out of hill before you run out of horsepower. It’s kind of like that.
It also means the machine is easer to drive because you don’t have to plan your route so carefully and it’s forgiving in the event you get yourself pointed in the wrong direction. Any avid dune rider knows that with underpowered machines you have to pay close attention to your path and be aware of where you stop or risk digging a hole when you get going again. With the Maverick X3, you really don’t have to worry about any of that. Should you find yourself in a bind or off course while carving a dune, just put your foot into it and steer accordingly, nine times out of ten it will get you out of a pickle without issue.
Thanks to the same 72 inch width and 102 inch wheelbase as the X RS model, the Maverick X RC Turbo is long (a full foot longer than the Polaris RZR Turbo S) which provides superior handling especially over whoops without feeling like you’re driving granny’s Buick. Stability is hugely important when duning because the ground is very seldom level. When you have as much horsepower as this machine does, it’s hard not to want to use it and the overall width provides piece of mind when carving on tall dunes.
The suspension is a thing of beauty and one of the key factors in making this such a sweet dune machine. We had already swapped out the stock A-arms for a set of high clearance No-Limit RD arms (because that’s a necessity when rock crawling) along with ZRP billet aluminum high clearance radius rods in the back which has more to do with weight savings and durability than affecting the performance.
Much like the horsepower, it’s suspension makes the car easier to drive and more forgiving. There’s no shortage of square edges and “G” outs in the dunes and because they blend in so well, you might not see them until it’s too late. I commonly find myself tensing up expecting a bone jarring “thud” when the shocks bottom out and the frame contacts the ground but nearly every time I expected to feel something, the suspension took the hit.
As another illustration, we found a small jump that, from inside the cab, felt like the wheels were barely getting off the ground. After hitting it a number of times and reviewing the video, it turns out it was actually bigger than I thought and the suspension was doing it’s job by softening the landing. As a guy who grew up riding stock ATVs most of my life, I guess I’m just accustomed to hard landings and it’s a tough expectation to shake.
Worth mentioning is our X RC model currently has Walker Evans 2.5 needle shocks while we’re awaiting the larger 3.0 Velocity Series shocks. Although the 3.0 shocks will be a welcome addition, the damping capabilities in the needle shocks ate up the choppy, well tracked sand dunes left over from the night before. We only expect the suspension to get better with the improved needle valve technology in the 3.0 Velocity Series shocks offering multiple stages of internal bypass and additional compression and rebound control. We also added a set of Walker Links to the factory sway bar which provides a little bit of extra give when making hard turns. Without the links, the margin between “controlled drift” and “up-on-two-wheels” is a lot narrower.
You might think a winch is a waste of space and weight in the sand but that’s not the case here in the tree lined coastal dunes of Oregon. You won’t have to look far to find someone who’s gotten themselves in a bind and wandered down a tree-lined shoot or “tree-hole” as they’re commonly called. On a busy weekend, you could probably make a bit of cash retrieving rental units and their inexperienced drivers from said tree-holes or play the hero and do it just because you can.
As far as the cab goes, it feels like a cross between a sports car and a fighter jet with a cab and seat that hug the driver without making you feel cramped. Gone are the days of stock seats that feel like a piece of plywood (at least in the top of the line sport side by sides) and I love the factory four point harness that doesn’t keep you pinned against the seat back at all times. As far as seat positioning, this may be where my millennial-ness comes through. I love the low seat position and lower center of gravity for duning. The closer you can get to the sand the more stable and in control you feel. The caveat to that is when cresting the top of a dune, it can be difficult to see over the hood. Maybe a few degrees up and forward in seat positioning would help but then again, I might just be getting too picky.
As an all around vehicle with a few rock crawling specific upgrades, the Maverick X3 X RC Turbo is a phenomenal dune machine. It has the power and suspension to keep you out of trouble and simultaneously enough to scare even the most fanatical thrill seeker. For casual go-anywhere duning, you can’t go wrong with four wheel drive but if you’re wanting a more spirited experience, slam it in two wheel drive and steer with the back end.
Maverick X3 X RC Build Specs (Dunes):
- No Limit cage, gusset kit and front a-arms
- Vision X LED Lighting
- Assault Industries Mirrors and Fire Extinguiser
- Buggy Whips LED Whips
- Walker Evans Racing Velocity shocks and Walker Links
- Four Werx carbon Fiber dash
- Rugged Radios Intercom, radio and helmet blower
- ZRP billet radius links and rear knuckles
- UTV Wiring 12V distribution center
- Alpine UTV 12V Installation
- Sand tires spec’d by Fullerton Sand Sports mounted on HiPer beadlock wheels
More Can-Am Maverick X3 X RC Videos: