This summer, I had the chance to do a very short test of the Commander XT 2021 in its new version. Here are my impressions.
First of all, the design. The Commander gets a new look in 2021, after 10 years! The line is much more aggressive than before, especially on the front end which, at first sight, looks a bit similar to what we did with the Maverick Sport. The chassis is also very similar to this one. There are three choices of models for 2021, either the DPS, XT or XT-P version, two of which are also in MAX version, that is to say 4 seats (DPS and XT). It is also available in three colors, either Oxford blue, black or camouflage. Finally, I note the small LED signature lights at the front and rear, but I would have liked the main headlights to be LED as standard. On the side, finally full doors, I would have liked the base version of the Commander to also have a roof as standard, but I think Can-Am is banking on the fact that the majority of buyers will turn to the well-equipped XT version.
For 2021, there is only one engine choice, the 1000r V-twin 100HP engine, which is a very good choice. It should be noted that for 2021, the engine is positioned a little further back in the vehicle, which reduces heat and noise in the cabin, but also increases ease of maintenance. In terms of the transmission, still the same quick engagement CVT (QRS) transmission with high ventilation and belt protection system. The vehicle uses the electronic throttle control (ITC), two modes are available, SPORT mode and ECO mode. Several drive gears are available, similar to the Defender, namely the Turf/2WD/4WD mode with the Visco-Lok system to lock the front differential. Note that this vehicle also has a hill descent mode as well as four-wheel disc brakes, which is useful for carrying a load.
Dimensions and suspension
The commander has a width of 64 inches, 90.6 inches between the front and rear wheels, 13 inches under the vehicle and 130 inches in length. The suspension at the front is double wishbone arched while at the rear, an independent suspension and gas shocks at all four wheels.
Note the stabilizer bars at the front and rear, but especially the 15 inches of travel for all wheels, which is excellent. What I also like is that the vehicle has a full plate underneath. The tires on the XT version are 28 inches on 14 inches rims. There is a 38-liter fuel tank. New for Can-Am in 2021 is the use of XPS Trail King tires, which are the tires designed by Can-Am. In terms of capacity, the bucket can hold 600lbs and the total load capacity is 2000lbs, which is very acceptable. There is also a receptacle to put a 2-inch tow ball. The XT model comes with a roof, a 4500lbs winch and a front bumper.
My driving impressions
Before sitting down, I notice the quality of the doors. They close well and there is no gap. Although I never drove the first version of the Commander, my comment is that the driving position is similar to what you find with the Maverick Sport. A fairly low seating position in the cabin, but with plenty of room. The seats are quite hard, but still comfortable. Ergonomics are very good, all buttons are easily accessible. The 7.6-inch LED display does the job, is easy to read and displays everything that is needed. I like the fact that I can adjust the seat and the steering wheel to my liking.
Within the first few minutes of riding, I found the power to be sufficient for this type of vehicle, a good choice of engine. The acceleration is good for a vehicle that is not a sport model. Although I am very critical of the ITC system on ATVs, it works very well on the Commander, regardless of speed. I have to say that the vehicle is fairly quiet, the only thing I heard knocking at times was the dump panel which I suspect may have been poorly adjusted on the test vehicle. Excluding that, no real bells or whistles. In terms of driving, the steering wheel is not as responsive as on the Maverick X xc that I did a mini ride on this year, but it’s still good. The computer (ECU) programming isn’t quite the same either, I guess the Commander programming is more work oriented. The power steering is well calibrated as on all Can-Am products. The suspension is big enough and works well, the standard shocks do the job, no adjustments required for me. All in all, the vehicle is still comfortable for long rides. The vehicle has a stable handling in turns and it is still quite well balanced, the chassis does a good job and does not twist too much. For the size of the vehicle, the steering is quite impressive. The XPS Trail King tires have a nice smooth ride and they still have good lugs. I can’t confirm that these tires will have good long term durability, only time will tell. Also, 13 inches under the vehicle is great for avoiding obstacles and working in the woods.
There are quite a few storage spaces in the Commander, my favorite is the one in the side of the box to put an extra belt and a little space for some tools, it’s well thought out. As far as the passenger side box goes, I’ve noticed that if you put something heavy enough in that box, it will tend to open while riding, if you ride aggressively. So I would like a fixed closure. I would also have liked a USB port in the driver’s console. I still can’t understand why they don’t put LED lights as standard, considering that the current headlights tend to get water and humidity, something I’ve noticed for a few years on other models.
What I really like about the Commander is that everything is well thought out for the long-term maintenance of your vehicle. For example, it’s a great idea to be able to remove the plastic on the front to clean the radiator, or the front center panel on the hood can be easily removed to access the fuse boxes or the fluids. You lift the dump body and the engine and CVT are easily accessible for maintenance. Can-Am put the CVT air intake on the driver’s side and the engine air intake on the passenger’s side with a small air filter access box easily accessible just above the fuel cap, which is a very good idea. I have to note that the vehicle was not 1000km old and that the pre-filter on the driver’s side was already perforated, probably by a tree branch.
To conclude, the Commander is a robust vehicle designed for both pleasure and work. Its bucket makes it more practical for hunting, a woodlot, a farm or long hikes. Even if it’s a new vehicle in its first year, we’re reusing mechanics and components that have been proven over the years, so no worries. I would like to thank the dealer Jean Morneau and Infoquad.com for allowing me to do this test ride.