2021 Can-Am X3 Xrs Turbo RR W/Smart-Shocks test
The term “better late than never” can be applied to Can-Am finally installing electronically adjustable suspension on the Maverick X3 models. The truth is, the machine was so popular that dealers had no trouble selling it without the added feature; however, not only did Can-Am come to the table with e-shocks, its shocks are more advanced than any system we have seen before. To get a feel for the new system on a two-seat Maverick X3, we borrowed a machine from Can-Am at King of the Hammers for our 2021 Can-Am X3 Xrs Turbo RR W/Smart-Shocks test
WHICH MODELS DO THE SMART-SHOX COME ON?
For 2021, Smart-Shox are only available on the Maverick X3 X rs Turbo RR two- and four-seaters. These are the top-of-the-line, high-horsepower, 72-inch-wide models. Our 2021 Can-Am X3 Xrs Turbo RR W/Smart-Shocks test machine, the $29,299 two-seater and the $32,099 four-seat Max edition are available in Desert Tan/ black or solid black colors. Of all the models not getting Smart-Shox, the RC version could benefit the most, and we expect it to get the Smart-Shox next year. The shocks themselves are 2.5 inches in the front and 3 inches in the rear. Can-Am claims wheel travel numbers are 22 inches up front and 24 inches the rear; however, those numbers factor in tire flex and optimum terrain conditions. Still, the 20 or so inches that are actually usable travel are plenty for any UTV in this day and age.
HOW DO THE NEW SHOCKS WORK?
According to Can-Am, Smart-Shox technology is a fully self-adjustable suspension technology for superior performance, control and comfort. It is the only suspension in the industry that controls both compression and rebound no matter the terrain or conditions.
Not only does the new Can-Am Smart-Shox Dynamic Damping Adjustment (DDA) stiffen the outside shocks in corners, it increases rebound damping on the inside shocks to enhance traction.
There are three major benefits to Smart-Shox semi-active suspension technology:
1. Enhanced performance.
The system constantly monitors wheel position and velocity for improved shock absorption and filtering, acting on both compression and rebound. It is the only system in the industry with on-the-fly rebound adjustments, and it also has the industry’s fastest valve reaction time. Smart-Shox can go all the way from full soft to full firm in an average of 17 milliseconds (0.017 seconds).
What does this mean? Better tracking of the ground for increased traction, better launches, more comfort on undulating terrain, and the feeling that you’re truly connected to the ground as lesser machines struggle to keep up.
2. Better control. Smart-Shox technology makes real-time automatic suspension adjustments, improving vehicle stability and providing excellent control with flatter cornering. It reduces front and rear bouncing while minimizing vehicle body movement, adjusting automatically to any type of terrain after selecting a driving mode: Comfort, Sport, or Sport+.
Why do you care? Significantly improved stability means high performance with high confidence.
3. More comfort. Smart-Shox technology is all about maximum performance and comfort, providing both soft and hard damping advantages at the same time, per wheel, instantaneously. Even bottom-out and topping-out protection are factored into the automatic calibration.
Why does it matter? Experts need not apply: just get in and drive, and reap all the benefits while the system does all the work. It also means less mechanical stress with reduced impact loads on key components. Beyond that, the improved ride quality means less rider fatigue, so you don’t have to think twice about extending epic days.
The driver has control of the shocks via a three-position switch on the dash. We liked the Comfort setting the most. It’s plush at slow speeds. If the trail gets rougher and speeds increase, the computer will sense this and slowly stiffen the shocks. During our 2021 Can-Am X3 Xrs Turbo RR W/Smart-Shocks test we found it keeps up well, and for typical trail riding, this is our go-to setting. The next firmer setting is Sport. This is the setting you want if you are riding fast but know what’s ahead and expect to hit a few bumps along the way. Sport+ mode is what you want to pound the whoops of sand highway at your local dune area, hit the track or fly off a few big jumps. This setting is harsh, as the shocks are on their firmest setting at all times.
IS THE REST OF THE SUSPENSION IMPROVED?
No. Can-Am’s wide A-arms and long trailing arms are still thin and the weak link on the car; however, the new suspension system will help protect them by sensing trail conditions and adjusting compression settings accordingly when necessary. For the most part, the lower A-arms bend when a driver goes into a ditch or G-out too fast, slams on the brakes, and hits the obstacle with the front tire locked and all of the suspension already used up. Remarkably, the computer can sense this situation and stiffen the shock early in the stroke, so when the obstacle is hit, there is still movement to soak up the mistake. The system can also save the components in the rear by keeping the car tracking straighter in rough terrain and preventing the swapping sensation that usually takes out trailing arms—or, at the very least, a radius rod.
HOW ABOUT THE MOTOR?
This is the car that comes with the 195-horsepower rocket of an engine. It’s the fastest production powerplant in the class. During the 2021 Can-Am X3 Xrs Turbo RR W/Smart-Shocks test we found there is more power than anyone needs on a trail ride again and again. Duners and racers can certainly ask for more ponies, but we doubt they need it or would even know how to take advantage of it. The new shocks and handling characteristics certainly help take advantage of that horsepower by keeping all four tires planted on the ground and moving forward. While we know Rotax has shelves full of larger engine options that Can-Am could stick in a UTV, we don’t think they should. We would rather see more cockpit improvements, such as a navigation system, a car that is easier to work on and stronger suspension arms.
WHAT’S THE VERDICT?
The Smart-Shox is an improvement in suspension action and will help reliability in the long run—and we applaud Can-Am for that. We’d like to see this system on the RC model, perhaps with a feature to raise ride height electronically. That would be a game-changer; however, even if those improvements do not come, any time we get a chance to drive a Can-Am Maverick X3, it’s a thrill a minute.
2021 CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 X RS TURBO RR WITH SMART-SHOX
Engine type Three cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC,
Lubrication system Wet sump
Fuel metering EFI
Starting procedure In neutral or any gear with
Air filter access Under drivers side rear fender clips
on airbox lid
Transmission Dual range fully automatic CVT with
Reverse procedure Move range selector to “R”
Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD with Smart-Lok
Final drives f/r Shaft/shaft
Fuel capacity 10.5 gal.
Overall length/width/height 132”/72.7”/68.5”
Ground clearance 16”
Dry weight 1646 lb.
Towing limit NA
Bed capacity 200 lb.
Frame Steel tube
Front Double A-arms with Smart-Shox/22”
Rear Trailing arms with Smart-Shox/24”
Front Hydraulic discs
Rear Hydraulic disc
Parking brake Park in gear
Front 30x9R14 Maxxis Big Horn 2.0 on beadlocks
Rear 30x11R14 Maxxis Big Horn 2.0 on beadlocks
DC outlet Waterproof automotive-style plug
Front Two LED headlights with accent
Rear Dual LED tail/brake lights
Instruments Digital Speedo, odo, tach, trips, hour,
fuel, gear, Sport/ECO, 4WD, volts, temp, clock, DPS
Suggested retail price $29,299
See the 200 horsepower 2022 Can-Am X3s here: 200HP 2022 CAN-AM MAVERICK X3 TURBO RR – UTV Action Magazine