Comfort and Capability

New Can-Am vehicles keep the operator in mind without sacrificing performance.

Can-Am Defender (Progressive Farmer image by Chris Hill)

Off-road vehicle manufacturer Can-Am recently provided a firsthand experience of its latest models for the 2020 Defender series with test drives in Texas Hill Country.

The two new machines, the Defender Pro HD10 and the Defender Limited HD10, both are designed with comfort in mind while adding enhanced capabilities. The rugged terrain at the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters, located roughly 40 minutes from Kerrville, Texas, provided ample testing conditions.


The big story on the Defender Limited is the climate-controlled cab, which offers auto mode, heat and cool. The auto-mode feature controls fan speed in addition to temperature.

"With the auto mode, the idea is you set it with a temperature, and you don't touch it anymore," says Jean-Jacques Rivet, global product manager for Can-Am side-by-side vehicles. "You just ride, and it will adjust depending on the temperature in the cab."

He explains an environment with cool nights and hot days in which an operator is in the vehicle throughout the day is a good example of where the auto mode can be useful.

"The system would vary between air-conditioning and heating on its own to make sure you're always keeping that perfect temperature," he says.

To aid in-cab comfort, Can-Am also thickened the firewalls and added heat shields. "Two main reasons for that," Rivet explains. "One is to the quantity of air that's going to be pushed in the vehicle. The other one from a noise and vibration perception when you're in the vehicle."

All the sealing is automotive quality to help reduce the air infiltration and sound penetration into the cab. As a result, Rivet says the cab is 60% quieter than the 2019 model year Defender.

Can-Am reports the Defender Pro is maintenance-free for one year, with the exception of the air filter. To help with that, company designers repositioned the dust filter for easier access and maintenance. Accessory installation also is easier, as designers worked in additional wiring routing so vehicle owners don't have to remove the dash when adding components.

The Defender Limited also offers additional cupholders compared to regular Defender models, a windshield that can be opened, electric windows, premium seats with "Limited" badging, a larger front display and LED signature lighting.

Defender Limited HD10 Specs:

Engine: Rotax 976 cc, 82 hp

Wheelbase: 83 inches

Ground clearance: 13 inches

Towing capacity: 2,500 pounds

Cargo box dimensions/capacity: 38 inches x 54.5 inches x 12 inches/1,000 pounds

Payload capacity: 1,200 pounds

Tires: 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

MSRP: starts at $25,199


The Defender Pro is built on the 6 x 6 Defender Max frame, thereby giving it a longer wheelbase and offering all the benefits of such a configuration, Rivet explains.

"Because of that longer wheelbase, from a comfort perspective, you're going to notice that it's a much smoother ride," he explains.

This was apparent throughout several hours of driving across the ranch's trails, particularly after operating several of Can-Am's other off-road vehicles. In some cases, this allowed for more acceleration in areas that may have been a bit bone-jarring in a smaller vehicle.

The longer wheelbase of the Defender Pro also creates the substructure on which the large bed/cargo area rests on the Defender Pro, another key feature the company says will benefit particular customer markets.

"We think that this is a huge market opportunity for farmers, ranchers and people at construction sites who work in some tough environments but maybe not as tough as they would with a 6 x 6," Rivet says.

The bed is twice the length of that available on a regular Defender, he adds, at 6 feet. "With the tailgate, you're close to 7 feet long, so if you're thinking about putting on it 8- or 10-foot construction materials or logs, it's going to fit well on the vehicle. We have more attachment points on it (the bed)."

The bed also converts to a flatbed, with the sides being removed using two bolts on each side. Rivet adds this feature makes hauling items such as concrete bags or other heavy bagged items easier because of the side access.

Can-Am designers also added a pass-through side storage feature underneath the vehicle near the back of the cab.

"So, if you're thinking about bringing toolboxes, a chainsaw, or shovels, you get some nice additional storage," Rivet explains. "Storage is one of those things we take for granted, but when we survey our customers, it's usually in the top five items that are really important for them. That's why we went with this type of storage capacity feature."

Rivet points out the engine placement, which is about three feet farther away from the operator than other three-up vehicles, helps with noise reduction while operating.

"Because it's farther away, (Can-Am designers) changed the exhaust with low tonality to have less 'metal' sound to it so it's more of a smoother sound," he says.

Defender Pro HD10 Specs:

Engine: Rotax 976 cc, 82 hp

Wheelbase: 115.5 inches

Ground clearance: 13 inches

Towing capacity: 2,500 pounds

Cargo box dimensions/capacity: 72 inches x 54.5 inches x 10 inches/1,000 pounds

Payload capacity: 1,700 pounds

Tires: 28-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

MSRP: Defender Pro DPS HD10 starts at $17,899; Defender Pro XT HD10 starts at $20,099


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