When you are in the market for a side by side (UTV) you will soon end up with Polaris and Can-Am. These are two top brands that both have a side by side model range. But what is the difference between the two brands, and what are the similarities?

Maybe you don’t know which brand you prefer yet, and you’re still researching, then this is the article you need. We mention the similarities and differences between Polaris and Can-Am side by side to help you make a choice.

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What Is Their Side By Side (UTV) Model Range?

Polaris and Can-Am side-by-sides are popular choices for a wide range of activities, including trail riding, hunting, mudding, adventure, desert/dune riding, farming, ranching, and property maintenance.

Side by side vehicles can mainly be divided into three categories, these are:

  1. Sports Side by Sides: For mudding, trail riding, dune riding and adventure.
  2. Utility Side-by-Sides: Ideal for farmers, ranchers, hunters, and property owners.
  3. Recreational Side by Sides: Ideal for trail-riding, hunting, and family activities

Can-Am and Polaris also produce three-wheel motorcycles and snowmobiles.

Can-Am Maverick vs. Polaris RZR, The Sport Side-by-Sides

The Polaris RZR is an actual multi-terrain side-by-side. Thus, if you are looking for a vehicle that can take on any terrain, the RZR is your best pick. On the other hand, Can-Am Maverick is a performance monster, making it the faster of the two on well-used trails.

Polaris RZR models:

  • Trails: RZR Trail and RZR Trail S
  • Multi-terrain: RZR XP 1000, RZR Pro X
  • Tough terrain: RZR Turbo R, RZR Pro R
  • 4 Seaters UTVs: RZR XP 4 1000, RZR Pro XP 4, RZR Turbo R 4, and RZR Pro R 4
  • Youth: RZR 200 EFI

The Can-Am Maverick is available in the following models:

  • Trail: Maverick Trail 700, Maverick Trail DPS 700, Maverick Trail DPS 1000
  • Sport: Maverick Sport 1000, Maverick Sport DPS 1000R, Maverick Sport Max DPS 1000R, Maverick Sport X MR 1000R, Maverick Sport X RC 1000R and Maverick Sport X XC 1000R
  • Maverick X3. There is an endless list of X3 models, to long to mention.

Polaris Ranger vs. Can-Am Defender, Utility Side-by-Sides

Most people prefer the Polaris Ranger when looking for a utility side-by-side for work-related chores, such as towing, hauling, etc. But if you are looking for a tough, long-lasting UTV with good handling qualities, choose a Can-Am Defender.

These two are considered to be some of the sturdiest UTVs around, and their engine performance shines through. If you want a bigger engine, you should go with a Can-Am. If you don’t, then you should go Polaris.

The Polaris Ranger’s suspension is set for lower speeds, while the Can-Am Defender’s is set for higher speeds.

Polaris Ranger models:

  • Mid-size models include the two-seater Ranger SP 570 and the four-seater Ranger Crew SP 570.
  • Two-seater full-size models include Ranger 570 Full-Size, Ranger 1000, Ranger XP 1000, and Ranger 1000 NorthStar Edition.
  • Four-seater full-size models include Ranger Crew 570 Full-Size, Ranger Crew 1000, Ranger Crew XP 1000, and Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Edition.
  • Special editions include the three-seater Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Edition Trail Boss and the six-seater Ranger Crew XP 1000 NorthStar Edition Trail Boss.
  • Electric model: Ranger XP Kinetic
  • Youth model: Ranger 150.

Can-Am Defender UTVs:

  • Two-seater Defender. A few models are Defender DPS HD 10, Defender DPS HD9, Defender DPS HD7, Defender HD9, Defender HD7, Defender Limited CAB HD10, Defender Pro DPS HD10.
  • Six seaters. A few models are Defender MAX DPS HD9, Defender MAX DPS HD10, Defender MAX HD7, Defender MAX HD9, Defender MAX Limited CAB HD10, Defender MAX Lone Star CAB HD9, Defender MAX Lone Star CAB HD10, Defender MAX X MR with half doors HD10.
  • Six-wheelers are Defender 6×6 CAB Limited, Defender 6×6 DPS HD10, and Defender 6×6 XT HD10.

Note: Not all models of the Can-Am Defender are listed above because there are to many.

Polaris General vs. Can-Am Commander, Recreational Side-by-Sides

The Polaris features an extra inch of ground clearance and suspension travel and is popular with riders who traverse unbeaten trails: the rugged, mud-covered  driver. On the other hand, Can-Am Commander offers a smoother and more comfortable ride on well-used, well-maintained trails.

The rig features torsional trailing arms that maintain the exceptional stability of the camber under various circumstances. The camber also facilitates revving higher over obstacles, such as bumps and debris, at higher speeds.

Polaris General side by side include:

  • Two-seater General 1000 and General XP 1000 and
  • As a four-seater General XP 4 1000.

Can-Am Commander side by side include:

  • Two-seater models include Commander DPS 700R, Commander DPS 1000R, Commander XT MR 1000R, Commander XT 700R, Commander XT 1000R, and Commander XT-P 1000R.
  • Four-seaters include Commander MAX DPS 1000R, Commander MAX XT 1000R, and Commander MAX XT-P 1000R.

What are the Specific Features of Can-Am UTVs? 

Unique Can-Am UTV features include:

  • Smart-Lok system
    Smart-Lok is the most advanced off-road traction system on the market. It gives the UTV enormous grip.
  • Smart-Shox technology
    The suspension is fully self-adjustable.
  • pDrive clutch
    Rollers are used instead of sliders to limit wear and tear.
  • pDrive primary and Quick Response System
    This technology is used to provide near-instantaneous response and reliable all-terrain performance.

What are the Specific Features of Polaris UTVs?

Unique Polaris UTV features include:

  • Dynamic, active suspension
    The suspension is adjustable, so you can ride on every road or terrain
  • Rear- or front-facing cameras
    Great for checking blind spots at the front and back
  • Infotainment system with Polaris® Ride Command GPS
    Plan your rides, share your experiences, and connect with other riders.
  • Polaris® Lock & Ride system
    For quick installation of a broad range of Polaris® Accessories

What is the Mileage of the UTVs/Lifespan?

Like any off-road vehicle, a side-by-side or UTV’s lifespan mostly depends on how well it is maintained and how frequently it is used. Your UTV can keep you traveling through the wilderness and the back forty for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of miles if you adhere to the suggested maintenance schedule and protocol. That said, Can-Am UTVs rank higher than Polaris in durability.

Remember that, despite how robust they may be, using an off-road vehicle aggressively on challenging terrain or rocky trails will result in extra wear and tear on the vehicle.

How Does the Price Compare to the Quality?

Can-Am side-by-sides are popular and affordable vehicles. They are hand built, which makes the tough and reliable. Can-Am is also one of the leading innovators in the industry and produces high-quality UTVs.

Polaris also produces high-quality vehicles, with the Ranger being the most preferred work side-by-side. It is more suited for towing, hauling, and other work-related duties for a reasonable price.

For a price indication, the Can-Am Defender starts at $14,000 and the Polaris Ranger starts at $10,000.

What are the Maintenance Intervals and Costs?

When inspecting and maintaining their side-by-sides, some riders adhere to the 50-hour/500-mile rule, while others follow the book’s instructions and change their fluids after 200 hours or 2,000 miles, whichever comes first, for mild riding, or after 100 hours or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first, for heavy usage.

Yet, it is best to check the Can-Am or Polaris owner’s manual because the service intervals depend on the model. The average annual servicing cost for a side-by-side is around $500.

Comparison between the Can-Am Rotax Engine and the Polaris ProStar Twin Engine

The Rotax engines on the Can-Am side-by-sides are rugged and potent powertrains that deliver excellent horsepower, torque, speed, and acceleration. The average horsepower of a Can-Am ATV and this engine are rated higher overall by drivers than Polaris can offer. Additionally, it works better in more challenging terrain types.

Drivers rate this engine and the typical horsepower of a Can-Am UTV higher overall than what Polaris has to offer. It also performs better on more difficult terrain types. Yet, the two-cylinder Polaris ProStar Twin engine is bigger at 999cc, while the three-cylinder V-Twin Rotax engine has 976cc.

Other characteristics of both engines:

  • Fuel consumption
    Polaris engines are less fuel efficient
  • Torque
    Can-Am Rotax engine has more torque
  • Horsepower
    The output varies with the model, overall the Can-Am engine is more powerful

Both companies design and build their own engines.

What about service points/dealers around the country and worldwide?

Can-Am vehicles are available in the USA, Canada and more than 100 countries through a network of over 4,200 dealers, distributors, and service centers. Use the Can-Am Dealer Locator to find a dealer near you.

Polaris has around 1,800 independent dealers in North America. It also has over 1,700 independent dealers and service centers worldwide through 23 subsidiaries and 75 distributors in more than 100 countries. You can find your Polaris dealer if you use the Polaris Dealer Locator.

The pros and cons of Can-Am UTVs:

The pros and cons of Polaris Side by Sides:

Making a choice between the two brands can be difficult, but now you already have a lot more information. However, don’t just go by the technique and facts, but also follow your gut!