Industry News

Rec-Utility Segment Expands with all-new 2021 Can-Am Commander

Rec-Utility UTVs

By Jon Crowley

When Yamaha first came out with the Rhino, a new market segment was born.  Back then, we didn’t call them rec-utility, sport or utility because there were no “sport” UTVs until Polaris created that segment with the RZR 800 in 2007 (or was the Honda Pilot the first sport UTV?).

2006 Yamaha Rhino

2006 Yamaha Rhino 660

Back in 2006, the Yamaha Rhino had 7 inches of suspension travel, 12 inches of ground clearance and a 660cc engine that put out about 23 HP. For 2006, the Rhino was incredible, but we’ve come a long ways since then!


Basically there are pure work type UTVs like the Defender, Ranger and Gator, although the Defender and Ranger are very capable off-road and can almost be put into the rec-utility segment. These vehicles are built for work with large dump beds and upright seating. They typically don’t have much more than 12-inches of ground clearance and suspension travel around 10-inches

2020 Can-Am Defender 6x6

King of Utility: 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6


From 2007 with the first RZR until now, we’ve seen an amazing transformation of the Sport segment.  First off, Sport models definitely do not have a tilt bed and you won’t see they hauling bales of hay. They are known for big horsepower and big suspension – pushing 200HP and over 20-inches of suspension travel.

2021 Can-Am Maverick X3 Xrc Turbo RR

King of Sport: 2021 Can-Am Maverick X3 Xrc Turbo RR


Rec-utility UTVs are somewhat hard to define, but we do know that they lie between Utility and Sport.  They are built to Do It All – sporty enough to go trail riding and utility enough to haul and tow. They have more ground clearance and suspension travel that utility, but less that sport.

2021 Can-Am Commander XT-P 1000R

2021 Can-Am Commander XT-P 1000R

I have put 5 vehicles into the rec-utility segment for the purposes of this article in 2021:

  • 2021 Can-Am Commander XT 1000R
  • 2021 Polaris General XP 1000
  • 2021 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX 1000
  • 2021 Honda Pioneer 1000 
  • 2021 Kawasaki Teryx S LE 800

And of these five, the Honda Pioneer and Kawasaki Teryx really aren’t in the same league as the Can-Am Commander, Polaris GENERAL and Yamaha Wolverine RMAX. Look closely at the specs and you’ll see that the Pioneer and Teryx lack in the suspension travel, ground clearance and horsepower columns. 

Rec-Utility UTVs

2021 Rec-Utility comparison – image by Joshua Carper

One thing I noticed when looking over the specifications for the top three rec-utility UTVs is the Commander has a longer wheelbase and overall length. Extra wheelbase can definitely help smooth out rough terrain, but it may also increase the turning radius. Otherwise, if you are just looking at specs, the top three are very comparable.
One thing I know for sure.  Expect the rec-utility segment to grow and features to expand.  There are more people out there that want to trail ride and work on their property than there are people that just ride the dunes. The manufacturers know this and it will be interesting to watch this segment of the UTV market mature.

All-New 2021 Can-Am Commander is Built for Those Who Play Hard and Work Hard

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