I was lucky enough to sign up for the demo ride through Can Am and have it be in my favorite playground, Glamis. I was able to drive the 3 models and had the most seat time in the XDS and XRS. The demo ride was over an hour and half and the places they choose to take us gave you a good variety. We had whoops along sand highway, small and medium dunes, some snake trails near the canal and some mild cruising areas. It was a good mix to give you a good feel on how the X-3 drives.
If you are familiar with Glamis, we started off in the vendor row area and they took us over to Competition Hill. From there we rode to Gecko and cut across the smaller dunes toward Roadrunner. From Roadrunner we crossed the road and played in the snake trails that run through the bushes. We crossed back over the road and played in the dunes heading back toward sand highway by Comp Hill. From there we headed back to Vendors mostly in the whoop section with some small dunes thrown in. I would say we did around 30 miles of riding. All the cars I drove were on stock bighorn tires and I was told air pressure was between 8-10.
The interior and seating:
It is a fancier brand of plastic that has a comfortable feel and everything is very easy to reach. All the buttons you can reach seat belted in and there are a ton of blank switch plates to hook up your lights or other accessories. It is a very nice layout.
I was not sure about the steering wheel as it seemed kinda small. But after a few minutes of driving I love it. The quicker steering really helps. I like that the gauges are right there in front of you and the adjusting the steering wheel is easy. The seats are very comfortable and I just can’t believe how nice the seat sliders work. I don’ think you have to buy aftermarket seats for this car. The Can Am person showed us how you can add a 5th point on the harnesses. There is slot built into the seat base and you just have to cut a hole in the pre-designated area in the seat cushion. Plus the seats come with shoulder harness slots in the head rest.
It is very easy to lower the seats with the removal of a few bolts and some bushing in the rear mount for the seat. As I am not a giant (5’7′ or maybe 5’8″ with afro). I preferred the stock seat height. I was able to see very well and I did not feel like there were any crazy blind spots. I did ride in one car that had the seats lowered and my line of sight was not great for the dunes.
The question you guys are all waiting for – Is the interior nicer than the Polaris XP? Yes it is nicer layout, it is wider and the plastic looks nicer. The steering wheel does not move up and down and the seats do not move when you grab them. Funny thing is once you start driving you really don’t give too shits about what the interior looks like in either the Polaris or the X-3. Both interiors are functional and easy to wash out with a hose.
Now to the ride:
This was my least favorite of the models. The suspension never bottomed out, but the car was very sketchy in the whoops when I got up to around 50mph. I could feel the rear of the car moving side to side. It was a lot more twitchy in the dunes as well. This could be because of the smaller 28″ tires. The suspension to me was a little rough over what chop I came across, but for a base model shock it was not a horrible ride. This car also had the most body roll of the 3. I felt like my XP1000 rode nicer than the base model.
Interestingly, of the 3 cars I drove the base model was the one that I heard the intake noise the most. Not sure why on this model I heard it.
I liked having the power steering set at minimum for this model (Can Am offers a 3 setting powering steering set up).
This is the car I spent the most time in and I kinda did it on purpose as most of you guys might end up with this model. The suspension is very nice on the XDS. I hit a lot of stuff and if never felt like it was going to bottom out. In the whoops the car is very stable and soaks them up, I think I was going anywhere from 30-55 or slightly faster. In the dunes it was very predictable and nimble. It never had any issues with any g-outs, but keep in mind we were not in the big dunes. The suspension soaks up stuff very well. I could blip the throttle and glide over stuff and it was smooth.
I never notice any significant body roll on this model. The front sway bar really helps keep the car planted and not nose dive as much. The intake noise was not loud at all. The XDS I drove I only heard the exhaust and motor noise.
On the this model I also liked the power steering at minimum.
XRS (The sand caddy):
This is the car that made the demo ride worth it. For some reason, when I sat in the XRS it just felt different than the other two. The layout of the cockpit is the same and the seating is the same. There is just this feeling you get when you see those 30″ tires sticking way out past the fenders and you know you have those big Fox shocks giving you 22/24″ of wheel travel to play with. The other two cars I felt like I was getting into a SXS. When I sat in the XRS it felt like I was getting into an off-road car/sand car that was ready to eat whatever comes in its path.
This is by far the best driving SXS I have driven in the dunes. The Fox internal by-pass shocks are the bomb and the stock settings were spot on for the riding conditions. I was concerned the wider stance and huge amount of suspension travel was going to give it a lazy feeling. The XRS is surprisingly nimble and stays planted, no matter what you hit. It is just not fair to the desert or dunes what this car can handle. Coming across bowls you can mash the throttle and the car just sticks like a slot car. You brace for the transition and you feel nothing. No sand splashing over the nose and no feeling of the rear hitting. This was just in the smaller to medium dunes. I can only imagine hitting the big bowls doing 70-80mph (yes this car will get you going that fast!) and it just soaking up the transitions. Things I would normally slow down for I found myself giving it throttle to lighten the front end and just cruise right over it. The 30″ tires really help roll right over stuff.
I was very sad when I had to give up my seat time to let someone else drive it.
In case you can’t tell – I love this car!!!!!!!!!!!
The power on all three cars is great. It is not mind blowing, nor was the Polaris Turbo when I drove it. The 154hp is not going to throw you in the back of your seat, it just does not have that type of violent hit. It is a very workable power band that comes alive around 30mph and up. It gets from 30 to 60 very quick and if you are not careful you can get yourself in trouble. The power band is perfect for the dunes – the power is there when you need it. In the dirt I am sure this car could be a handful when the power kicks in.
With the suspension of the XRS and even the XDS you do not realize how fast you are going sometimes.
If I were gong to buy one it would be the XRS. The suspension and stability are everything you could ask for in a dune machine. The power of the motor is the icing on the cake. Even if this car had only 110hp and was not a turbo I would still buy it (okay I am lying, it still needs the 154hp). The XRS is the most complete overall package for the dunes and desert. The XRS is the perfect combination of suspension and wheelbase.
For me the base model and the XDS just do not give me enough to want to run out and buy one. Don’t get me wrong they are great SXSs. They just do not give me enough wow to want to ditch my current ride.
My opinions on the cars is strictly from a dune/desert perspective. For trail riding, lets be honest a turbo car is overkill. Most of us are more than content with any of the non-turbo offerings.
The X-3 is leaps and bounds better in every way over the Maverick and even the turbo Maverick. This is the car they should of released instead of the Turbo Maverick.
So you want to know how it stacks up compared to the Polaris –
Most of my Polaris experience is from my XP1000. I have driven the turbo XP 144hp, but not enough to really give you a true comparison on the power and suspension. Others that own the XPT and also drove the X-3 can pipe in with there thoughts. I know Glamisfan has posted his impressions.
The interior hands down the X-3 is the winner in layout and over all looks. Both the Polaris and X-3 are functional and give you amble storage. What I really like about the X-3 is the seating position, the steering wheel and gauge cluster. If Polaris went to the the interior layout they use in the General it would really improve the XPT/XP1000 and I think it would be a toss up of which is nicer.
Suspension – the XRS wins, but it is truly in its own class. I think the XDS and XPT are very comparable in ride quality and handling (this is based on my memory of how the XPT felt when I drove it). The XPT comes with big internal by-pass Fox shocks. Like I posted earlier, I felt my XP1000 rode nicer than the base model.
Now to the stuff some may not want to hear or maybe the do. I am going to give it to you anyway:
I asked the Can Am person how the belts were holding up in the sand and he told me they killed 3 belts in the dunes. They apparently were letting the dealers go at it in the dunes for the past two days and as the Can Am guy told me the dealer drivers are worse than general public. LOL! (Just watch the video of the guy that rolled one at Olds – which killed all demo rides to Olds). I do not know if they were new belts are the same belts from all the demo rides. He did not give me an answer to this question. By the way every car I drove had around 1,100 miles on it.
Someone managed to kill a front axle on the demo ride I was on. It was a XDS model. Looked like it popped out of the front diff. You could smell gear oil and see it all over the inner fender. This could of been one of the units that was rolled (there are a few). I do not know.
Overall – I think Can Am did a great job on the X-3. If it would not cause a divorce, I would have an XRS in my garage tomorrow.