This year I had the chance to do a short test drive of the Can-Am HD10 Limited 2021 and here are my impressions. I first tested the Defender HD8 DPS in 2019 which is a close to entry level model. Today, my article is following the test of the Limited version which is the top of the line version. This will allow me to compare the evolution and improvements of this vehicle over the years.
The Limited version was released in 2020 and Can-Am made several changes for the Defender. First of all the engine, still the same 976cc v-twin for the HD10 version. Power has been increased to 82hp as well as an impressive 69lb ft of torque. Considering that this is a work vehicle, the gain in torque will make a better start with a heavy load. The vehicle has had the CVT recalibrated, resulting in quieter operation, but it also has electronic protection and better ventilation for the drive belt. Speaking of quiet, the vehicle also has a new muffler. They also put in a new thicker firewall, as well as more insulation throughout, which reduces sound, but also has the effect of limiting the heat generated in the cabin. The chassis has been strengthened and is 30% more rigid, also note the 5% weight reduction for this chassis. Although the press release mentions that the Defender has been given a new fascia and a new grille, I must say that it is quite subtle. Another new feature is the addition of bowed suspension arms to allow a total of 12 inches of space underneath the vehicle, which is better than the version I tried in 2019.
Still, the Limited version really has a lot of accessories, some of which are exclusive to this version. On the outside, note the quality of the automotive-grade paint on both the front and the box in the back. It looks good in blue. The Limited version has its two signature LED lights just below the headlights at the front as well as LED lights at the rear. We also note the addition of a front bumper, a 4500lbs winch and a full synthetic plate under the vehicle. The test vehicle also has two optional front headlights, which are a must in my opinion and which also give the vehicle a great look!
We also note the addition of a completely enclosed cabin on the Limited version, with glass windows in the front, sides and rear. I find it interesting that you can lock the doors. Inside, there are many things to list. First of all, the seats have been greatly improved, especially with the addition of side support. The seats exclusive to the Limited version have a nice reinforced contour, which improves durability. The sliding surface and the seat profile improve entry into the vehicle and that’s a good thing. In terms of ergonomics, the interior is better made than before, more spacious and well thought out for work. Although there is not as much storage capacity as before, I much prefer it to the old version. I start with the small compartment on the front console of the driver’s seat to store your wallet and cell phone, but also be able to charge it with the USB plugs. There’s still a small detachable tool box on the passenger side that hasn’t changed. There’s still a large detachable box under the passenger seat, and the Limited version also gets door storage compartments. The vehicle has not two, but four places to put your beverage, two under the backrest in the third passenger seat and two in the center console. I really liked the idea of putting a plastic to hold my bottle in place and prevent it from vibrating or spilling out during my ride. It’s subtle, but a great idea. The 7.6 inch driver’s display has all the important information and the small keypad for changing settings is intuitive. This small keyboard also allows you to change the 3 driving modes (ECO, ECO/OFF, WORK). All buttons are within reach and well located.
For work, I have to note the different drive gears, i.e. “turf mode” to not damage the turf, 2X4, 4X4, rear locking differential and the Visco Lok quick engagement system that automatically locks the front differential.
Working vs riding
Within the first few minutes of riding, I was amazed at how this vehicle, already very quiet in the past, is much quieter than before. We can easily talk and make ourselves heard without shouting. The vehicle doesn’t vibrate, we don’t hear much noise from the engine or CVT. With the cab and windows closed it is even more impressive. I’ve also noticed that it’s great to drive in a closed cabin in the middle of summer with air conditioning, especially when the dust rises. I can’t imagine how interesting it would be to drive this machine with tracks and interior heating in the middle of winter or to clear my driveway with a shovel or snowblower in the middle of a storm. In terms of handling, the acceleration is very smooth and really better adapted than before. Although it is not a performance vehicle but a work vehicle, I still enjoy my Defender rides because it is extremely comfortable and quiet for long hours on the road. It easily seats three adults with enough room. Speaking of work, it’s capable of 1000lbs in the bed and can pull a total of 2500lbs, which is great. It is equipped with 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires, which are tires that perform well and are also durable. The downhill control system is better than before, it has less tendency to lock the wheels on steep slopes. I would have liked to try it with a good load. The weight of the Limited version is significantly increased because of all the additions, when pushing it you see a difference in acceleration, stability and control, but for a work vehicle it is very acceptable. Steering response is not as responsive as a sport model and it takes a bit more arm to turn. Still, I appreciate the power steering and the steering wheel response in general. The vehicle turns in a very acceptable radius, I like that. I’ll now move on to the most interesting part of the Limited version: its fully enclosed cabin, heating and air conditioning system. First of all, I notice that the doors do not open excessively wide. However, they are well sealed to eliminate almost all the dust and I was impressed to see how well it did its job when there is thick water. Also, don’t expect the heating/air conditioning system to be as efficient as in a truck, but it does the job nicely. First of all, we’re talking about the electric windows, just like in a car, it’s practical. Same thing for the light in the roof. As for the front window, it can be set in 3 positions, i.e. closed, semi-open or completely open and it is possible to drive with the window open, it’s well done. I really liked the fact that the wiper fluid is integrated to the blade to wash the window, you always have a good visibility.
Another practical thing is the two hatches near the windows to defrost as well as the ventilation hatches near the windows and in the center. I must note that the button for the air conditioning could be a little more intuitive.
I still find the vehicle wide with its 65 inches. It will certainly be tolerated on trails, but be aware that it is not so easy to go everywhere with this vehicle. Some accesses in narrow trails will be more difficult, same thing for passing between cement blocks. Visibility is good, but it’s hard to properly assess the size of the vehicle, maybe a matter of habit on my part. Compared to my 2019 test, I find the vehicle releases way less heat from the engine inside the cabin. The chassis still does a great job, whether riding or working, it is made strong. The adjustable gas suspension also does a good job but I must admit that for a vehicle costing over $30,000, I would have liked a little more luxury on this side. I would also have liked this vehicle to have standard mirrors on the outside, another must-have, maybe even a standard radio for a “Limited” version. If I compare to the version I tested in 2019, excluding accessories, this is a nice evolution for the Defender.
All in all, the Defender Limited is a very well equipped vehicle. It will be enjoyed by the whole family, whether it’s for work or for pleasure. Getting out in the rain, staying warm in the winter and cold in the summer is a luxury. Its reliability, durability and ease of maintenance always make it an excellent choice. Thanks to Can-Am and Infoquad.com for allowing me to try it.