has taken the trend of explosive growth in the sport utility ATV market to new levels with the 2012 Outlander 1000 XT. Once parent company Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) introduced the Commander side-by-side, the migration of its burly Rotax engine into an ATV was only a matter of time. This year Can-Am has finalized the transition with an entirely new chassis setup to make the whole package work as a sport-utility quad.
Thundering from underneath revised bodywork and a new chassis is the 91 x 75mm bore and stroke V-Twin engine. The 80-degree cylinders use four valves each and offer 976cc of total displacement. Can-Am claims the Rotax mill cranks out 82 horsepower, and riding the 1000 XT makes it obvious right away that it’s a no-nonsense engine. A CVT transmission offers High and Low range, and the Outlander will do wheelies from a dead stop in High – it’s impressive to say the least. Dual Siemens fuel injectors monitor the output from a 46mm throttle body and 5.4-gallon tank.
With that much juice on tap, riding the Can-Am demands respect. A secondary ignition key helps tame the beast by retarding the power delivery. Considering how unbelievably powerful the engine is, this feature is a very useful tool for riders with less experience. We don’t prefer riding with the detuned ignition key, which is extremely invasive, but having the full amount of power available demands care and, at times, restraint.
A new SST G2 chassis has more rigidity and a removable anti-sway bar. The chassis has a tough job of controlling what the massive Rotax engine can dish out.
Instead of wedging the big V-Twin into the existing Outlander chassis, Can-Am developed the second-generation Surrounding Spar Technology frame (SST G2). With the new welded-steel frame, Can-Am lowered the amount of components while increasing rigidity and strength. Updated geometry affects handling along with a lower center of gravity. When building the SST G2, care was given to allow for a new airbox placed higher in the chassis, which uses dual screening to deliver clean air to the engine. The intake is higher than previous Outlanders as well.
Suspension components on the Outlander are unique. Torsional Trailing arm Independent rear suspension (TTI) is similar to the components found on the Commander
, and conceptually like those found on a trophy truck or the Polaris RZR XP
. A trailing arm allows the rear wheels to move directly up and down rather than in a butterfly motion, which minimizes changes in the chassis geometry as the suspension moves through its stroke. A removable sway bar helps provide increased stability and the shocks have 9.3 inches of travel. Can-Am revised the pivot points to make them lower. While riding, the Outlander is very composed within its chassis. However, the suspension is set very soft. It does offer preload compression adjustments and sporty or aggressive riders will want to stiffen all four corners.
Up front are shocks with nine inches of travel using double A-arm components. Can-Am uses what it calls “dive-control geometry” for positive cornering and braking dynamics. Handling on the Outlander is fairly precise for such a large vehicle, but the overall weight of the machine holds it back and taxes the suspension. Even though the SST G2 chassis and TTI suspension use fewer moving parts, the Outlander 1000 XT still weighs in at 898 pounds with a full tank of fuel. That’s an incredible amount of mass to support and it’s the biggest challenge in the handling department. The XT definitely isn’t a racer, and at lower speeds while on a comfortable trail ride, the Outlander works great. Start picking up the pace or getting into aggressive situations on technical riding, and the beast can get away from its rider. Again, like with the engine, caution and respect. This isn’t some featherweight that a little body English is going to rope back in when things get hairy.
LInQ rack systems are attractive, durable and
can hold up to 300 pounds. An extra hand-
operated brake lever would be nice, but the
rest of the features are outstanding.
BRP says the Outlander 1000 is capable of towing 1300 pounds via its standard two-inch hitch receiver, and it holds 100 pounds on the front rack and 200 on the rear. The racks use Can-Am’s LinQ quick-attach system to accept factory accessories. The composite racks are supported with aluminum brackets and also feature rubber pads on their surface which help secure cargo with minimal slipping. The seat is wide and cushy, making for a comfortable and leisurely platform. Removing the seat reveals the battery, rear brake reservoir and solenoid starter and relays for easy access.
At 5’11” our tester is comfortable standing and sitting on the Can-Am. The physical stature is large and wide, making for a potentially intimidating ride for smaller pilots. The handlebars are a bit too wide, and they make it difficult to turn full-tilt when leaning to the inside as they interfere with the rider’s leg, hip or stomach depending on how they need to hang off the machine. Floorboards drain quickly and provide a large, stable platform with raised footpegs that allow easy reach to the brake lever. One ergonomic concern is the lack of a right hand brake. There is only a left-side handlebar lever and a right foot lever. This can cause problems when the rider needs to position their body in certain ways. The addition of a right brake lever would be nice.
Speaking of brakes, the trio of 214mm perforated disc brakes is sufficient for slowing the Outlander, but just barely. There’s a lot of power and weight to control and with only a single hand and foot lever it can be difficult to get enough pressure to slow it down effectively. Both front brakes (one in each wheel) and the rear brake (right wheel only) use dual-piston calipers. Fortunately, the CVT transmission has an engine brake feature that is perhaps the best we’ve ever tested on an ATV. Many big-bore engines have so much torque that they keep the rear wheels locked once a skid is initiated by the brake pedal. This is not the case with the Outlander. BRP has done a fantastic job of tailoring the engine brake to allow sufficient back torque without upsetting the drivetrain. It works very well in High range or Low range, and obviously is most efficient when the quad is in 4WD. We are happy to flip the toggle switch on the fly any time we approach a steep hill to activate the front wheels and let the beefy Twin do the braking work for us.
The Can-Am comes with many nice features that make everyday life a joy. The enlarged fuel cell is handy for a long ride, the 230W dual headlights and dual taillights crank out illumination and increase safety on the trail. A 12V power adapter makes running accessories possible and the 650W generator will have no problems powering them. Riders have plenty of information available to them via the digital display unit. A speedometer, tach, odometer, trip meter, trip hour meter, diagnostic center, gear position indicator, engine hour meter, 4WD indicator, temperature and engine lights, fuel gauge and clock keep the operator in the know. The Digitally Encoded Security System (DESS) helps protect the hefty investment necessary for owning one of the Outlanders. A rear trunk holds 5.7 gallons of cargo and is easily one of the larger storage options we’ve seen. It uses a simple and effective latch similar to a tailgate.
The Outlander 1000 is impressive enough in standard trim, but Can-Am goes overboard with the XT package to add further refinement. Topping the list is Tri-mode Dynamic Power Steering (DPS). This three-position steering assist makes a huge difference in the handling character of the Outlander. Weighing just under 900 pounds, muscling this beast isn’t something we want to do. Pushing a left-side, handlebar-mounted button toggles through a trifecta of steering aids. Of the available options, we prefer the High setting, which provides the greatest amount of help turning the handlebars. At low speeds it’s awesome to be able to navigate with only one arm. At high speeds even the High setting is controllable and doesn’t allow nervous handling. For prolonged high-speed riding we switch to medium, but on the varying trails, random mud holes and surprise roots and rocks of Southern Oregon, it was generally left alone. Switching between settings can be done on the fly and takes virtually no effort. We love the performance and benefits of the DPS system, and consider it a must-have upgrade for such a large, powerful ATV.
Adding DPS is the best thing Can-Am did for the Outlander XT. We love being able to toggle through different levels of steering assist as the terrain calls for it.
An XT model also comes with a different spec Visco-Lok QE front differential. The QE is designed to engage quicker than the standard model which helps the rider get over difficult terrain without issue. We couldn’t notice any difference without a standard Visco-Lok system on hand for direct comparison, but the QE system works great with the 1000 XT. With this much power and weight, there’s usually a lot of traction available, but in the event that it runs out, the Visco-Lok system engages almost unnoticeably, keeping the rider headed down the trail without worry.
Cast aluminum wheels are designed to be lightweight and have a special paint job for the XT model. They’re wrapped in 26-inch Carlisle ACT rubber. As a package the wheels and tires give the Outlander a sinister look and they work very well on a mixed variety of terrain. Our trails range from hardpack roads to muddy two-track, and the three-ply Carlisle ACTs provide secure grip and a comfortable ride with minimal flex. The wheels were one of the downfalls for the Can-Am as the painted aluminum surface scratches very easily. Just a few ruts and the shiny wheels look beat up. This is the case with most stock ATV wheels anyway, particularly those with any type of nice finish.
The wheels are a nice match for the Pure Magnesium Metallic painted bodywork which gives the Can-Am a classy-yet-rugged appearance. It is also available in black, yellow and camo. Black, oversized front and rear bumpers add to the appearance and do a good job of protecting the fancy plastic. The corners of the bumpers are covered with small, flimsy plastic, which we quickly found in need of better attachment after pushing through some heavy brush. Up top is a windscreen that stretches across the entire handlebars. The hand guards work well at deflecting brush away from the brake lever and protect the many bar-mounted electronics from water and mud.
A beefed up 650W magneto provides extra electrical juice which helps power a 3000-pound WARN RT30 winch. There are some areas we choose not to take the softly suspended, heavy Can-Am, but we haven’t yet been able to get it straight up stuck. The WARN is going to earn its way when that day comes. Having the RT30 comes in handy on more occasions than when simply stuck. A 50-foot steel wire rope can act as a safety line in sketchy situations, or, most commonly, it helps yard a fallen tree or fellow ATV rider out of a jam. On its own this is a $529 accessory and the basic
Can-Am has climbed to the top of the power heap with the new Outlander 1000 XT. This sport utility quad can be a blast to unleash on the trails and has plenty of muscle and comfort to make hard work a lot easier.
Outlander comes pre-wired for a winch. The WARN-equipped XT comes with a standard handlebar-mounted mini-rocker to spool the wire in or out, and an additional wired remote which stows away in the Outlander’s storage compartment when not in use.
Springing for the XT package will bring the total cost to $11,949 ($10,449 base). Can-Am also offers an 800 version which is based on the new SST G2 chassis and TTI suspension. It’s a bit more reasonably priced at $9549 for the base model and $11,049 for the XT. Anyone in the market for the biggest and baddest sport-ute will have to spring for the big boy. The 2012 Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT has taken the power wars to a new height with a trail- and work-ready ATV that has as much comfort and technology as it does horsepower.