2020 Can-Am Defender PRO First Ride Impressions- Review
2020 Can-Am Defender PRO First Ride Impressions- Review
When you think about the word “PRO” what comes to mind? I know what comes to my mind: Professional! It seems obvious that is exactly what Can-Am wants to come to our minds when we hear the name Can-Am Defender PRO. Guess what? That name fits this Defender’s purpose perfectly. The Defender PRO lineup is designed to fill a need in the market for those who really want a true work side-by-side with a six-foot bed designed to carry a lot of stuff.
I just got back from having a day or so to drive a Can-Am Defender PRO at a big Texas ranch with lots a rocky trails and lots of work to do. Below are my initial impressions of the Defender PRO after having a few hours to test it. The Defender PRO is built on a Defender MAX frame, which means it carries over many of the things that I love about the Defender MAX platform, but with some additional innovations.
We talk about the Defender PRO likes and dislikes.
2020 Sees A Refresh Across The Defender Lineup Including The Defender PRO
The Defender lineup has gone under the knife for 2020 and now sports a “refresh” of updated features. The front-end facia/grille is more pronounced, the firewall has been thickened, great lengths have been taken to make the cab quieter, the transmission shift points have been lowered in the RPM range, and the engine not only sports more power at 82-hp and 69lbs-torque but includes more torque at a lower RPM. Add to that the a slightly wider suspension across the lineup, and a “standardized new instrument cluster. Can-Am has also taken steps to reduce the interior noise by 30-percent in open cab models, and 60-percent in closed cab models. When all of these improvements combine what you get is a really really good UTV that has become more refined and harder working.
I Love The Large And In Charge 6-Foot Cargo Bed On The Defender PRO
The first and most obvious thing about the Defender PRO is its gigantic six-foot long bed, making the Defender PRO the perfect work companion. Did I mention I love the huge six-foot bed? Not only is the size of the bed six feet long and 4.5 feet wide, but you can take the sides and tailgate off in a matter or a couple of minutes to turn it into a flatbed. That makes it super handy at loading things onto the bed from the side using a skid-steer or tractor. The bed is rated to haul 1000Lbs but with the 2020 frame strength increase it will haul significantly more weight. The bed is a dump bed to boot, which I can attest to the fact this comes in handy. A final note here is that if you will be hauling a bunch of weight all the time you can order heavy duty springs for the rear suspension on the Defender PRO.
Storage & More Storage On The Defender PRO
I greatly appreciate items that squeeze every little ounce of capability out of a machine. A perfect example of that is the passthrough storage behind the cab and underneath the front of the bed. Because the Defender PRO is built on the Defender MAX frame, there is space underneath the bed where occupants feet and legs would be. Can-Am turned that space into a sealed storage area. There are swing down sealed doors on both sides, where you can store quite a bit of stuff in a weather-sealed area. What a great idea that I can get behind! I would say I wish the sealing was a little better because I found dust to be able to squeeze in like a champ. I would also suggest Can-Am find a way to divide that space so your gear doesn’t slide all over the place, but do it where long items can still pass-through to the other side. Don't forget about all the storage inside the cab like spaces in the dash, the removable glove box, and underseat sealed storage.
The Defender PRO Is Quiet….Really Quiet
I have spent many-a-mile in the cab of a Defender MAX with my ears noticing the lack of noise and being happy about that. The Defender may very well be the quietest UTV on the market prior to 2020, but it is even quieter for this model year. I mentioned the thicker firewall already, but the Defender PRO has more “quiet” going for it. Just like the Defender MAX the Defender PRO’s engine is all the way at the back of the machine, and the under-bed storage acts as a buffer for noise coming into the cab. It is astounding how quiet this model proves itself to be.
Defender PRO Suspension, EBS, EPS, & Brakes
I am continually impressed with the trail chops of the Can-Am Defender models with the Defender PRO being no exception. I drove it over all over very rocky terrain on a Texas Hill Country ranch with what seemed like no effort by the Defender PRO. With 28-inch tires, 13-inches of ground clearance, 11-inches of travel, and a wheelbase of 115.5-inches, the ride was very very smooth. I kept waiting for more “jerk” going over rocky sections and caught myself wondering why I wasn’t feeling much. The ride is unbelievably good. It just is that good. The machine is also remarkably stable feeling, even when I was trying to rock a good power slide for your photograph pleasure! Both the EBS and the EPS shine on the Defender PRO. I crawled the Defender PRO down a steep decline in Low and 4WD, with no need to use the brakes. That was impressive. One thing I do appreciate is when I do need to use the brakes, the brakes have more than enough braking power to bring the Defender PRO to a stop. That stopping power is really important when hauling 1000lbs or towing 2500lbs! Whether you are going to work or play with the Defender PRO you will have no problem getting to remote and rough areas in the Defender PRO.
Interior Is Comfortable
Another area I am always impressed with on the Defender lineup is the comfort of the cab. Entry and exit into the cab is simple because of the large door frames coupled with the arrangement of the seats. Shoulder and legroom is massive even for 3 full-size adults. Both the middle and passenger seats can fold up for more in-cab hauling capability. Seats in all Defenders are well padded, shaped correctly, and offer the right amount of rest while going from point “A” to point “B”.
I mentioned earlier that Can-Am is working to standardize instrument clusters, and that means the Defender PRO has a new instrument cluster. I like it and find it easy to read. Casey made a good point that some of the functions that used to be on rocker switches have been moved over to the instrument cluster which is a bit confusing. An example of this is the drive-mode selector that used to be a rocker switch on the dash. Now it is controlled in the instrument cluster. Though I understand why Can-Am went in this direction to safe space, I wish the switch was on the dash.
Defender PRO Will Tow 2500lbs
Being the Defender PRO is born and bred to be a work vehicle then it better be able to work. It will tow 2500lbs, and that seems like a work capability to me. Even with its 6-foot bed, there are many times more storage space is needed, and that is where a trailer comes in to play. With the Defender PRO being able to tow 2500lbs, that is quite a bit of extra gear you can bring to the job. I can tell you that around the ATV ESCAPE Proving Grounds that towing a trailer is a must, so I am “all-in” on this kind of capability.
Defender PRO Summary
So what do I really think about this Defender PRO work-focused vehicle? I am a big fan. Yep, that says a lot don’t you think? Here is the deal: The Defender lineup may very well be the best all-around utility/rec side-by-side on the market. Yes, that is a bold statement but I am sticking by it. The shear amount of “utility” baked into the Defender PRO is impressive with the numbers to back that up. Hauling, towing, suspension travel, ground clearance, bed capacity and size, power, and capability all have numbers, with the Defender PRO being on the top of the heap. Add to that the comfortable cab, quietness of that cab, ride comfort, quality, and innovations like the pass-through storage and convertible cargo bed, and what you come out with is a leader in the work-capable UTV segment. Oh, and you can trail ride with it too. I would say the Defender PRO is a home run machine in this segment, boom! One might say it is a “Pro-level” side-by-side. Do you see what I did there?
Can-Am Concept Vehicle
Around the auto industry there are many many concept vehicles floating out in the public eye showing what could be done, and those machines are super popular. That is not typically done by a manufacturer in the ATV/UTV industry, until now! Can-Am has rolled out this Defender PRO overland concept vehicle, and it is pretty cool. I mean, I would absolutely take this Defender PRO out on an adventure.
The Defender PRO is offered in two trim levels for 2020. There is the Defender PRO DPS starting at $17,899 and Defender PRO XT starting at $20,099.
For more information check out Can-Am's Defender PRO Website