The 2022 Can-Am Maverick X3 is performance-driven, user-friendly, and approachable. And it’s a blast to drive.
When I venture onto the trail, I generally prefer it to be on my own two feet. But when Can-Am called, offering the chance to test drive some of its 2022 Maverick X3s at Georgia’s Iron Mountain Resort, what was I supposed to say?
With a base price of $20,499, this family of side-by-sides is known for its angular geometry and racing pedigree. With massive springs and turbocharged engines mated to continuously variable transmissions, they’re designed to devour all manner of terrain.
Can-Am’s marketing for the Maverick invites you to “drive on the edge, and back.” So, I packed my anxiety and a change of clothes and headed south to answer the call.
In short: The Can-Am Maverick X3 is a customizable performance monster. Its aggressive styling and engine snarl hide a deceptively approachable package: equal parts capability, comfort, and user-friendliness. And the price isn’t bad, either.
2022 Can-Am Maverick X3
Upon arriving at Iron Mountain, members of the press were allowed the choice of a half-dozen X3 demonstrators. There were some with four seats, others with two, each with a variety of graphics and technology packages.
While the dimensions varied a bit depending on the model, my Octane Blue pick measured some 64 inches wide, with a 102-inch wheelbase and 14 inches of ground clearance. The aluminum wheels were likewise 14 inches, sporting 30-inch Maxxis Carnivore tires.
As is my tendency, I grabbed one that seemed to be on the budget end of things — no roof, quarter-doors, and a basic (but comfortable) two-seater cabin. As I learned later, this is the Turbo RR model of the Maverick X3 DS, with a $22,999 price tag and an upgraded and intercooled Rotax ACE engine lurking beneath its cowl.
This 900cc, turbocharged triple-cylinder bumps the X3 from its stock 120 horsepower all the way to 200. That’s 40 more ponies than my daily driver, propelling a curb weight of just 1,546 pounds. And (spoilers), this $1,500-ish bump from the base price is worth every penny.
Look — I could go on for pages about brake diameter, suspension geometry, and cupholder capacity. Can-Am’s site has the details on this particular trim, as well as its other models.
But as a relative novice, let’s get to what I was really concerned about.
And by “concerned,” I mean “terrified.” My previous off-road experience was limited to deserts, some questionable mountain roads, and piloting 4x4s around the flat terrain of construction sites. Heavy rain was in the forecast, further complicating the ride.
But the leader of the pack (Mint 400 and UTV World Champion Dustin Jones) set a great pace along the trails. We started with some easy dips and swells, scrambling through ruts and over debris from the surrounding evergreens.
Then, both the clouds and the trail opened up. By the end of the second hill, I’d gotten a feel for the steering and throttle. Our group picked up speed, and the 20 inches of suspension travel swallowed rocks and chewed through thick divots in the landscape. I soon found myself fixated on the next corner, and then the next, lost in the snarl of the three-cylinder and its turbo.
‘Push Gas, Get Growl’
Speaking of sound, the CVT is an interesting beast. I had poor memories of these contraptions, thanks to a few years with a Dodge Caliber. But while that vehicle moaned like a fleet of broken lawnmowers every time I came to a rise, the QRS-X transmission in the Can-Am absolutely devoured the hills.
Push gas, get growl — it’s that simple. And when you lift your toe from the pedal, there’s an engine braking effect that’s rather comforting for beginners. For most of the ride, I was able to eschew the brakes and modulate my speed using only the throttle.
And with rain churning the sands into mud, this was a welcome convenience. The Dynamic Power Steering provided a decent amount of feedback, but at no point did I feel as though it was fighting me. Even when mounting rocks on a particularly aggressive climb, the wheel in my hands told me everything I needed to know about the four on the ground.
The Maverick makes you feel like a superhero. Everything I asked it to do, it did. And with a lockable front differential and four traction modes (2WD/4WD with front diff. lock/4WD TRAIL ACTIV/4WD TRAIL), I get the sense that we barely scratched the surface of the X3’s potential.
When I was asked to test-drive these vehicles, I’ll admit I had my doubts. Who really needs a loud, scary dirt-slinger to enjoy the wonders of nature? The answer is, I do. I need an X3, and a trail that goes on for miles.
And if “need” isn’t exactly the right word, “want” certainly is. I appreciate the engineering and craftsmanship that’s gone into these smile machines, and I think they’re well worth the price.
Plus, Can-Am offers a wealth of trims and configurations, allowing you to spec a Maverick to your preference and budget. If you’re even remotely in the market for an off-road adventure vehicle, be sure to check out the X3, especially with its 200-horsepower configuration.
That’s it for part one of my experience with a pair of 2022 Can-Ams. Stay tuned for part two, where the weather gets particularly nasty — “The Can-Am Defender, or, I Left My Jeans in Georgia.”