Can-Am Commander First Impressions Hot
So this year at the 2012 High Lifter Mud Nationals, we at ATVESCAPE.COM had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of two different Can-Am Commander models including the Commander 1000 X and Commander 1000 Limited. After a little seat time, we can see the Can-Am Commander is a beast to be reckoned with and in summary: WE LOVE IT!
Plenty of time passed between Polaris releasing the RZR and Can-Am releasing the much anticipated Commander into the market. Rumors swirled about what Can-Am would bring to the table, ghostly spy photos appeared on the internet, and everyone knew (or thought they knew) Can-Am would come to the party with a roar. Can-Am holds a reputation of being a power hound with its engines, and everyone inviked in the gossip about what the Can-Am team would develop as a sport side-by-side assumed a lot of power. So when the heavens opened and Can-Am did come to the side-by-side party, they came with power out the yin-yang but with so much more than just that. We at ATVESCAPE.COM poured over specs and pics drooling over what the Commander embodied as a side-by-side. We were simply thrilled to see the Commander bring so much to the party with the power being icing on the cake. No amount of specs and pics can replace the experience of the entire machine working together with us behind the wheel, so it would be an understatement to say we have been dying to get into this beast, turn the key, grab the wheel, hit the gas, and remember to breathe.
Rolling into the Can-Am tent at the 2012 Mud Nationals, I was on a mission to do whatever it took to get into the Commander even if it required wading in four foot mud and waiting in a line for hours. As it turned out neither of those things was necessary. A helmet, seat belt, and a pre-ride lesson was all that was required. The downside however, was four (count them, four) laps around the track was all I was going to have to get a feel for the Commander. I gladly was willing to take what I could get though.
From the moment I climbed into to Commander, the thing that came racing to my mind was the technological innovation in this machine. Items like different keys controlling the top speed, a button which changed the level of sensitivity of the gas pedal, drive-by-wire throttle system, and on the Limited Commander the ability to increase the tension in the shocks electronically to name a few innovative items. Before even turning the key to start the massive engine something became clear; the Commander was built to redefine what we should expect from a side-by-side. The dash and center console completely envelop the driver, which lead me to the impression you really are in the proverbial “cockpit” rather than a side-by-side. The driver’s seat offers the feel of complete control of every system of this jet like side-by-side.
Once I got settled in the comfortable and supportive driver’s seat, and was acclimated to the Commander 1000 (yes the 1000 not the 800), I turned the key to run and hit the “Start” button on the bottom of the dash. The Commander had me at hello with the engine roaring to life with a guttural sound as if to say I was about to have the fun I had dreamed about. Now came the part I was really looking forward too; I moved the gated shift lever to H for High and hit the gas pedal. As I started moving I immediately got that smile on my face you get, when you finally get what you have been hoping for. Off I went into the sunset (or onto the track) but in a way I did not expect. I gently started moving with no jerk at all. Now I didn’t hit the pedal hard, but I didn’t barely touch it either. I had given it a firm push forward, but the Commander was in regular mode not sport mode on the pedal sensitivity switch. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this once I figured out what was going on. Now I purposely let the machine in front of me get out a head so that there was a gap between us, and in doing this went down a small incline while taking my foot off the throttle. This lead to my immediate education on what engine braking feels like on a side-by-side. All the Polaris RZRs I have driven, lead me to a standard in side-by-sides that included the lack of engine braking. This new found knowledge of engine braking resulted with the smile on my face becoming bigger yet.
What happened next cemented the smile on my face and led me to find my inner bliss in a way I hadn’t in several months. I simply switched the pedal sensitivity switch to sport mode and hit the gas. As the Commander lurched forward with me aboard as if riding a bucking bronco, a legend was born! The Commander came out of the hole so fast it was simply ridiculous. The first turn on the track came up quick with my only recourse being to get into the turn with the brakes, and then hit the gas breaking the back wheels loose accompanied by a small slide which reinforced my smile. Coming into the really bumpy part of the track, a simple push of the pedal sensitivity switch took my Commander out of sport mode to allow my foot to bounce up and down on the throttle without it translating into rough acceleration. The shocks soaked up the bumps well, and there was no noticeable flexing of the frame. The Limited edition Commander 1000 came with a switch that adjusts the amount of tension in the shocks from one to ten. I played with the tension level before entering the bumpy part of the track, and there was a noticeable difference in the comfort of the ride. Ground clearance is also increased or decreased based upon where you set the shocks. The system worked well, and it was easy to notice a difference in performance as I ran the track.
After a measly four short laps and a huge smile on my face, my personal time with the Commander X and Commander Limited came to an end. I reluctantly climbed out of the Commander supremely enlightened with the beginning of knowledge of how this much anticipated vehicle fairs in field of side-by-sides. The Can-Am Commander is here to leave an impression. My four laps led to many more questions that only real seat time and many miles can answer. Things like how the Commander corners at higher speed, how the four wheel drive performs, what is the ride like on rocky trails and 100 miles in a day, what about all the details of the machine, and is the Commander a good work and play machine? The only way I can answer all the questions in my head is going to be with a good long play date with a Can-Am Commander, and we at ATVESCAPE.COM hope to have one for a long term test soon!
The Commander is a winner for both Can-Am and more importantly the side-by-side market. Can-Am leaves us with the impression they offer the “Cadillac” of the side-by-side field, and clearly is focused on bringing innovation along with raw power to the side-by-side market. After just a short amount of seat time and compared to the other side-by-sides we have ridden, Can-Am is stretching the boundaries of what we can and should expect from our side-by-sides. They indicated they are going to play in all the segments of the side-by-side market, and we at ATVESCAPE.COM await with baited breath the different offerings from Can-Am. Even now the smile is on my face from just four little laps in a Can-Am Commander!
- Incredible brain sucking power
- Innovation including keys for different speed controls, throttle sensitivity control, and electronic shock tension control- All which mean you can customize your ride
- Engine breaking
For more information about the Can-Am Commander check out Can-Am's website at www.canamoffroad.com