By Jon Crowley
In today’s battle for the top of the UTV food chain, the spec charts don’t always tell you the whole story. They don’t tell you how a 154 horsepower Maverick X3 can walk away from a 168 horsepower RZR XP Turbo in the rough. They don’t tell you that the 102 inch wheelbase on the Can-Am leads to a much more relaxed seating position with far more leg room. However, they do tell you that every UTV in this class is blazing fast, extremely capable, and wonderfully fun to drive. While I have built my fair share of RZRs in the past, this is my first X3, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
The Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs’s 102-inch wheelbase, which is a full foot longer than the Polaris RZR XP Turbo, improves off-road capability by supplying a more comfortable and confidence-inspiring ride at higher speeds. The elongated wheelbase, optimal weight distribution (44 Front/56 Rear) and ample ground clearance (15 inches on the X3 X rs!) translates to optimum performance and stability in even the most challenging terrain. Now, that may read like a brochure, but take one down a rough trail at speed and you’ll be preaching the gospel, too! The 8-inch broader stance on the 72-inch wide Maverick X3 X rs Turbo R also provides favorable stability, when combined with its superior FOX Internal Bypass shocks and longer chassis. The X rs also features an industry-leading 24 inches of suspension travel. In my opinion, the Maverick X3 X rs is the top of the food chain when it comes to sand dunes and desert type terrain.
I’ve been patiently waiting to get my hands on an X rs to build, and that became a reality back in March 2017. I have put plenty of miles on loaner X3s since their introduction, but I was wanting for more, with UTV Guide’s aftermarket partners itching to put a car together. While the Maverick X3 is fairly new, the aftermarket has jumped in with both feet to create new products that allow enthusiasts to customize their rides. Knowing that summer time was fast approaching and I wanted to hit a few dune events this summer, I decided to do the buildup on my new X3 in phases so I wouldn’t miss any trips. After all, how good is a UTV if it just sits in a shop while you could be out riding?
Phase 1 Maverick X3 X rs Buildup
The X3 X rs is very capable right out of the box, but I wanted to add a custom look to the car. Already, you see a swarm of Gold and Red Maverick X3s at popular dune spots on weekends, as the dealerships struggle to keep them in stock. I started the build with a cage and doors, an audio system, radio and intercom for car-to-car communication, whip flags, LED lighting, sand tires and wheels plus a wrap to set the car apart from the crowd.
Cage and Doors – SDR Motorsports
SDR Motorsports’ classically-lined Coupe Cage is 100% CNC notched and mandrel bent for accuracy, and fully welded in precision jigs for perfect fitment. SDR’s fit and finish is top-notch, and the cage bolted up without any drama. All cage tubes are 100% US-made DOM steel; no standard mild steel tube stock here. SDR’s doors feature a full steel tube frame, and come complete with new latches to replace the weak, flimsy stock units. Dzus-fastened aluminum full coverage panels make dent and paint repairs very easy. SDR designed and engineered a new single-pivot hinge system with a Delrin-lined pivot bushing for smooth opening and closing. Custom fit door bags offer padding and storage and finish off the doors nicely.
Audio System – SSV Works
The decision to go with SSV Works on this build was a no-brainer. They recently introduced a total audio package for the X3 that is truly a bolt-on kit with incredible sound. Even the wiring harness is now plug and play- simply unbolt the necessary body panels, lay the loom in place, and plug it in. The SSV Works system for the X3 includes a new MRB3 Bluetooth multi-function audio controller, a 10″ amplified underseat subwoofer, a dual 4-inch dash pod kit, and cage mount pods for 6.5-inch Kicker speakers. The high-fidelity system sounds great, and is extremely easy to operate from a smartphone.
Radio and Intercom – Rugged Radios
Filling the rather large void behind the X3’s shift lever is one of the most useful tools in a UTV enthusiasts’ arsenal: a car to car radio. Rugged Radios provided a brand new compact 60 watt car to car radio and a Bluetooth-enabled passenger intercom system. Simple operation and an uncluttered face makes the RM-60 radio easy to operate, and it packs 20% more power than the industry-standard VX2200 radio. The 660 Plus Intercom is based on the tried and true RRP660 Intercom, with a few new features. The new RRP660 PLUS offers wireless music streaming from any Bluetooth device including your phone. Simply pair your device with the RRP660 PLUS Intercom, and anyone that is connected can hear the music through the helmet kit. A high output amplifier provides high fidelity audio while using Bluetooth devices. This is great for trips where you don’t want to blast the SSV system, such as early morning rides or when riding behind a particularly loud vehicle.
LED Lights – Baja Designs
While Baja Designs has been manufacturing high-tech lighting for desert racing for a long time now, the RTL, or Rear Tail Light, is something new from them. With a choice of four lighting configurations available for race or play, the Baja Designs Rear Tail Light (RTL) bar is perfect for the recreational enthusiast looking for more safety on the trail, or for racers powering through the course. The RTL I chose has a running light, a brake light, and a white cargo light. Other options include amber turn signals, as well as blue or green safety lights for racers. The RTL mounts easily to the cage with bar clamps.
Up on the roof, I chose to go with Baja Designs’ 40-inch S8 single row light bar, which puts out a massive 16,000 lumens of pure power at a low amp draw of 13.32 amps. The bar is also projected at nearly 50,000 hours of LED life, which will long out last this X3. The S8 also features upgraded reflectors over the less expensive BD light bars, an amber backlight feature, and a new scalloped housing design. It makes for a radical addition to the X3’s lighting spread at night, with a slim and lightweight profile. In addition, I also added a 10-inch S8 LED Bar on the hood, utilizing Baja Designs’ X3 shock mount kit. Having just a little light when you don’t need the full bar is great on the trail.
Lighted Whip Flags – Buggy Whip
The LED Buggy Whip® is engineered with the highest quality components. I chose two of their 4 foot lighted whip in red and it puts out a TON of light. Buggy Whip has been around since incandescent bulbs atop a fiberglass whip were a thing, so they know a thing or two about how to make a whip setup last.
Electronics Installation – Alternative Offfroad
Since wiring is a job best left to the professionals, I took the car down to Alternative Offroad in Chatsworth, California to have it all tied together. They wired the Maverick with possibly the cleanest setup I’ve ever seen! The job included the SSV Works audio system, Baja Designs Lights (3), Rugged Radios radio and intercom, plus the Buggy Whip LED whips. All the wiring was done internally for minimum exposed wires and a super clean look. An easily-accessible fuse block means troubleshooting any wiring gremlins in the future will be a breeze.
Sand Tires and Wheels – Fullerton Sand Sports + HiPer Technology
For sand tires, I always turn to our friends at Fullerton Sand Sports. They know sand and what works best for each vehicle and location, because when a new car comes out, Fullerton invests the time and money to test each one individually in multiple locations for first-hand performance experience. You can often find the FSS boys out in Glamis playing with different tire and wheel setups on their UTVs, so feel confident that when you call, they aren’t just reading off forums and manufacturer claims like some other tire sales websites do. Fullerton Sand Sports mounted up a set of 32-inch buffed Skat Traks on HiPer Falcon beadlock wheels and they look and perform awesome! I can’t be the only one who loves the look of the buffed smoothies, right?
Graphics Wrap – Wolf Designs
Customizing the look of your UTV makes it really stand apart from others and it something we at UTV Guide do quite often. Wolf Designs has done several wraps for us in the past, and I am always blown away by their keen eye for design and their fit and finish. Our X3 was gold and red from the factory, and you’d never know it now. The Wolf wrap really sets the car off, and I’ve yet to see another wrap on an X3 with this design.
Dirt Tires and Wheels – ITP
I chose a bit larger tire than stock – 32x10R15 ITP Ultracross R-Spec tires mounted on 15×7 ITP Tsunami beadlock wheels. The ITP Tsunami wheel looks stunning in its black and machined aluminum finish, adding some contrast to an area that is often left far too dark. UTV Guide recently reviewed the 32″ ITP Ultracross R Spec tire, and we loved it. There is a link below that will take you to the full test:
Read more: 32-inch ITP Ultracross R-Spec Review
Our first trip with our Maverick X3 X rs was the UTV Takeover up in the Oregon Dunes. We brought a couple cars for comparison, but I found myself in the driver’s seat of the X3 most often. We drove all over the south dune area (Horsfall to Spinreel) and had an absolute blast. The X3’s power and suspension work phenomenally well for a completely stock setup, as we found ourselves just adjusting clickers and preload to get the car to ride the way I wanted it. The extra wheelbase and width really do make a huge difference in confidence levels, especially on high speed runs and rutted, off-camber turns. The car feels planted, stable, and willing to push speeds to a ridiculously high level.
For phase 2, we plan to update the suspension with new aftermarket arms and links, as well as revalving and springing the stock Fox RS2 shocks. Then, we will add some chassis bracing, seats and harnesses, and bump the horsepower level up to 172 HP (see 2017 CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 POWER UPGRADE KIT). To test phase two, we will head to Idaho for the UTV Invasion over Labor Day Weekend! Stay tuned for more updates, images, and videos of this mild to wild X3 build!