A Texas-focused side-by-side

Product review: Can-Am launches a special Defender Max edition for the Lone Star State, and we give it a ride.

Everything's bigger in Texas. That's what they say, and for sure they're not kidding. Recently, Farm Progress got a chance to visit a wildlife ranch — not to see the giraffes, but to experience a new utility vehicle. Can-Am is launching a special edition of its Defender Max machine in Lone Star trim. And right now, you can only buy the machine in Texas. So why write about it in the Farm Progress brands? It's a good look at a unique design exercise; and if you want to drive to Texas and get one, you're welcome to.

Built on the Defender Max HD10 chassis — which seats up to six people — the Lone Star machine includes a range of specialty features, including the usual special badges and trim.

For seating, operator and passengers, it has two-tone dual Versa-Pro bench seats with added trim. The machine rides on 28-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires on 14-inch aluminum rims. The wheels are mated to a suspension that includes front- and rear-arched A-arms and a 13-inch ground clearance.

Up front there's a special bumper package with an optional winch. The machine also features a full hard roof, and it's painted in a deep metallic black finish. This machine is an attention-getter, and on the trails it simply moves when asked, thanks to its 72-hp Rotax HD10 V-Twin power plant. The engine offers 61 pound-feet of torque, as well as peak torque at lower rpm for best delivery during recreational use.

There's no shifting with this machine. The engine puts power to ground through what the company calls its Pro-Torq transmission, which features a quick-response system to enhance low-speed riding. The transmission is designed with larger continuously variable transmission ratios, with a work-specific low gear. Electronics mated to the transmission make sure the operator is in the right gear.

For the operator, the shift is simple — park, reverse, neutral, high and extra-low are the settings. Just pick one and hit the gas.

Can-Am has designed the machine so there's zero break-in maintenance required. This can reduce costs to owners. Maintenance is advised every 200 hours, or 1,865 miles.

This is a feature-filled machine that's also fun to drive.

Driving impressions
Can-Am held an event in Texas at a wildlife ranch. Ox Ranch is known for its diverse array of animals, from zebras to giraffes to impalas to water buffalo, and during the ride we saw all of those and more. Situated on 18,000 acres at the southern end of the Texas Hill Country, the rugged trails offered provided all riders along for the event a chance to test the machine's mettle.

First, the fit-and-finish of the new machine is solid. Can-Am claims automotive-style manufacturing techniques. It works: We were driving machines with serial numbers like 003 and 005 right off the line, early-build models that drove as if they were showroom-ready.

Second, the Lone Star features — especially the seats and the higher stance — gives the driver confidence. You're sitting up in the air, but there's no feeling of "toppling over" with that higher ground clearance.

Third, this is not only a machine that can crawl its way out of a creek, but also a machine that can get you from point A to point B in a hurry. Yes we had it over 60 mph — and even at that speed the machine was sure-footed and secure.

In rugged terrain, that high ground clearance comes in handy. Bombing over what the locals call mountains (the author was born in Colorado and sees mountains a little differently) was no trouble. Limestone trails with a fair share of big rocks were no challenge to this machine, even moving at a steady speed.

The views were excellent; the ranch is beautiful in its rugged wildness, and seeing the occasional exotic animal added to the adventure. This Defender is a fun drive with a sure-footed stance, even in rough terrain conditions.

We ran through a fair share of creeks, including a run through a "hole" that the author was not supposed to attempt. Gunned it out, and it was all good. Going fast also dries you out.

While only sold in Texas, this special machine package shows how far the side-by-side business has come. Check out the slideshow for more information about all the features offered for this machine. Retail price for this special edition machine is $19,499. Learn more about the Defender lineup at can-amoffroad.com.

TAGS: Technology
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