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When the CanAm Defender arrived at this Team FIN operation of course there was snow on the ground But off to work it went and performed a range of tasks well
<p>When the Can-Am Defender arrived at this Team FIN operation, of course there was snow on the ground. But off to work it went, and performed a range of tasks well.</p>

Team FIN test: Can-Am Defender XT

Only way to judge performance of a side-by-side? Put it to work as we did in this test with a little hauling, and heavy work around the farm.

Can-Am rolled out the new Defender XT side-by-side, available with a Rotax V-twin 72-hp HD10 or 50-hp HD8 engine. Team FIN tested the Defender XT HD10 in multiple capacities including performance and handling, comfort, suspension, hauling, towing, and traction control, and rated it on a scale of 1 to 5.

The Defender offers 3 different driving modes: eco, normal, and work, which can be selected depending on workload demands. The eco mode limits power and saves fuel, the normal mode has no speed or torque limitations, and the work mode adjusts for payload and towing. Can-Am boasts that the Defender has 20% more torque at a lower RPM than the top selling competitor. Team FIN believes the claim – the Rotax V-twin engine provides exceptional power. It has quick acceleration and lots of torque. The Defender is rated to tow up to 2,000 lbs and has a 1,500-lbs payload. Team FIN said the unit has more than enough power to handle the towing and hauling capacities of the machine.

The Defender has a pro-torq transmission that features a Quick Response System (QRS). Team FIN said the Defender responds immediately. It has a lot of low end torque, holds a smooth power band, and has consistent engine deceleration. The breaks work exceptionally well, bringing the Defender to a quick stop. Electronic drive belt protection monitors the CVT belt condition and warns the operator if the machine is in high gear, but should be in low gear. The added feature helps protect the investment.

For traction needs, the operator uses toggle switches to change between 2x4 and 4x4 as well as rear differential lock. Equipped with Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires, using 4-wheel-drive, Team FIN found the Defender has ample traction. The side-by-side effortlessly drives through snow and springtime mud, while maintaining traction and a smooth ride. With dynamic power steering and a 13.1 ft. turning radius, Team FIN was impressed by the unit’s maneuverability and how sharp it turns. The Defender also has great suspension and offers a very comfortable ride. Team FIN especially appreciated how smooth and comfortable the ride was while driving across bumpy pasture land checking cattle and fences.

Carrying the load

If you're going to test a machine, test the machine. in this case cargo capacity matters.

The cargo box has a 1,000 lb load capacity and has dump-assist levers. Team FIN said the box is very versatile and is designed to allow the operator to create a customizable setup and easily create compartments by using 1x3 in. separators. Strategic features include 5-gal pail recesses, integrated anchors on the sidewalls, and several tie-down points for added convenience. The tailgate is reinforced with metal bars and cable supports and can hold up to 250 lbs. Team FIN found the Defender’s design was durable, well thought-out, and farmer-focused.

The side-by-side features a bench seat that can comfortably accommodate 3 adults. The seat height and spacious cab size makes it easy to enter and exit the vehicle. It has an open-dash design that features a handy water-resistant and quick attach 1.7 gal toolbox. It also includes 6-gal under-dash storage and a 5.6 gal enclosed storage beneath the passenger seat that is waterproof and removable. The passenger seats can be flipped up to improve onboard storage. The Defender comes with a foldable central console with an armrest and 2 cup holders. All the storage compartments are handy and accessible, according to Team FIN.

The V-twin engine is located in the rear of the Defender chassis to reduce noise, vibration, cockpit heat, and improve access. Team FIN said, with the cargo box tilted back, the engine and transmission are easy to access in order to service. The Defender also includes a winch that handles heavy-duty loads with its 4,500 lb capacity and roller fairlead. The winch is operated by a button on the left side of the steering wheel. Team FIN found the winch a little difficult to operate single-handedly. Ideally, one person would operate the switch while another helps feed the cable out by hand.

Overall, Team FIN found the Defender XT an ideal machine for farm use. It’s powerful, versatile, and comfortable to drive. Team FIN found the Defender seemingly designed with a farmer in mind. The side-by-side would be a great addition to any farming operation.

Checking out the accessories

Team FIN also tested add-on accessories for the Defender including a half windshield, headache rack, bed wall extender, front bumper, and front bumper corner protectors. The headache rack is designed to protect passengers and cab components from the load in the cargo bed. It costs $349.99. The bed wall extender increases volume capacity of the cargo bed and has 2 rear doors that can be closed, latched open, or removed entirely.

Team FIN liked the versatility and added cargo space the bed wall extender provides and especially liked the side mount options to carry shovels, etc. on the sides of the wall extender. It costs $699.99. The front bumper and corner protectors are made from heavy-duty steel and add to the durability of the Defender. The front bumper costs $229.99 and the front corner protectors cost $159.99.

Rated: 5 out of 5

The Can-Am Defender XT with HD10 motor costs $17,949. (Pictured in pure magnesium metallic color.) For more about Can-Am, visit

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