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Testing out the Can-Am Defender HD5

Slideshow: Can-Am’s new side-by-side offers work and play for under $11,400.

The side-by-side utility vehicle market continues to be hot. There are many models and styles for farmers and ranchers to choose. Often, it comes down to price. Can-Am tried to take that factor out of the equation when it introduced its 2017 Can-Am Defender HD5 for under $11,400.

But does the lower-priced model stand up to the rigors of farm life? Farm Progress put the Can-Am Defender HD5 to the test in terms of traction, performance, handling, comfort and overall machine perks. Here is what we found while testing it out on a cattle farm in the hills of northeast Missouri.

Time to prove
The Defender HD5 is like the little brother with a lot to prove. It is built on the same chassis as its larger family members. It has a HD5 Rotax single-cylinder, four-stroke engine that delivers 38 horsepower — enough to handle those everyday farm chores like feeding cattle.

Its continuously variable transmission offers park, reverse, neutral, high and low positions. It is also equipped with engine-braking and drive-belt protection.

Adding to its already low-entry-point price is its year of no maintenance costs. The Defender HD5 engine requires no break-in service free for one year, or up to 1,865 miles or 200 running hours — good news for farmers and ranchers looking to lessen the chore load.

Tough terrain
Climbing a hill with a washed-out road proved simple with the Defender HD5. For traction control, the operator uses a toggle switch between two- and four-wheel drive. It has 25-inch Maxxis tires on 12-inch wheels, which improves the ride when heading off road and into the pasture.

This UTV met the uneven condition with ease, in part due Torsional Trailing A-arm (TTA-HD) rear suspension with gas-charged shocks. This allowed for a smooth ride across all terrains we encountered.

However, when at a stop on a steep hill, Farm Progress found the machine had a tendency to roll back before applying the gas.

Hauling cargo
The Defender HD5 has a 600-pound-capacity cargo box. It can tow up to 1,200 pounds and comes equipped with a 2-inch receiver. Its overall payload is 1,500 pounds.

The cargo box offers a tilt bed that empties at two different degrees. With just one hand, the operator can release the lever to tilt the box up. Then, by simply removing a pin, the box tilts to a 90-degree angle, allowing the entire cargo to release — helpful when hauling square hay bales around the farm.

The tailgate is fully functional. Just like releasing a truck bed tailgate, the driver simply lifts the handle and the gate folds down. Farm Progress found it an easy resting spot after a day’s work, as the gate itself can hold up to 250 pounds.

And for hauling more than feed, hay or tools, the Can-Am Defender HD5 offers a 40/20/40 split bench seat, similar to those found in pickup trucks, that can fit three people.

Perks of the product
While this UTV may be smaller than its older siblings, it sure offers a lot for its size.

Inside the cargo box are cutouts for 5-gallon buckets. Farm Progress found that these held the buckets in place with or without feed while traveling up and down hills.

Inside the cab is a water-resistant removable glove box that is simple to remove. Farmers might want to consider purchasing additional glove boxes for a variety of chores, like animal health tasks or fixing fence. Just grab the toolbox for the job, snap in place and head to the farmyard.

There is ample space under the seat for additional storage. Can-Am offers storage boxes as an add-on. Other options include a bed-wall extender, full cab, snowplow, lights and more.

More than work
Can-Am Defender HD5 is great for work around the farm. However, it is also a machine for play. Traveling through the woods and trails was comfortable and fun. It proved it could handle just about any type of work or play.

Despite the frugal price tag, the Can-Am Defender HD5 does not skimp on power, performance, comfort or versatility. It looks like this “little brother” is making a name for itself in the Can-Am family.

If you are looking for an even bigger break in price, Can-Am offers the Defender HD5 without power steering, starting at $9,999. For more information on either version of the Can-Am Defender HD5 visit Check out the gallery for more on the Can-Am Defender HD5’s features.

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