CAN-AM vs. KAWASAKI SHOOTOUT
— Maverick Sport Max 1000 DPS vs. Teryx4 LE —
When you’ve got more than one or two passengers who want to join you on most rides, deciding to get a four-seat UTV is easy. Deciding what kind of four-seater to get is the hard part, so we compared two different kinds of four-seaters—Can-Am’s sporty Maverick Sport Max DPS and Kawasaki’s Teryx4 LE recreation machine—in a variety of trail conditions to see how they perform.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
There’s just one version of the Maverick Sport Max DPS, and it’s $18,999 in any color you like as long as it’s Can-Am Red. The Teryx4 starts at $15,799; the Realtree Xtra Green Camo Teryx4 is $16,299; and Limited Editions like our test unit are $16,999 in Metallic Carbon Gray or Candy Steel Furnace Orange. The SE is $17,199 in Matrix Camo Gray.
WHICH IS BETTER EQUIPPED?
Both are high-end models with similarly nice standard equipment. Both have power steering, painted bodywork, compression-adjustable piggyback-reservoir Fox shocks, full doors, power steering, painted bodywork, aluminum wheels, and two-tone seats. Both also have 2-inch hitch receivers. There are a couple of comfort feature differences. The Kawasaki comes with a roof; the Can-Am doesn’t. Both of the Can-Am’s front seats offer slide adjustment, while only the driver’s seat slides to adjust on the Kawasaki; the front passenger seat bolts to three positions. The Can-Am’s instruments are centered with the steering wheel while the Kawasaki’s are centered in the dash, though they’re tilted toward the driver.
WHAT POWERS THEM?
Both use single-overhead-cam, eight-valve, V-twins. The Can-Am’s is 976cc, and the Kawasaki’s is 783cc. Both engines are well-proven and have solid reputations for reliability.
WHAT KIND OF TRANSMISSION DO THEY HAVE?
Both have simple-to-use, fully automatic, dual-range, belt-type, continuously variable transmissions. Both have automatic engine braking, though the Can-Am’s system only offers noticeable engine braking in low range. The Teryx transmission features a centrifugal clutch that protects the drive belt. The Can-Am has electronic drive belt protection. The range selectors on both machines work well, though the Can-Am’s selector has a slightly slicker action.
WHAT KIND OF 4WD SYSTEM DO THEY USE?
Both have selectable 2WD/4WD with locking front differentials. The Maverick has Can-Am’s Visco-Lok QE automatic-locking front differential. It’s an effective system with a viscous coupling that feeds power to both front wheels. It’s not a true locking front differential like the Kawasaki’s or the Smart Lok system on Can-Am X3s, but it has no speed or rev limiter. The Teryx has a true locking front differential you manually lock or unlock with a switch on the dash. There’s no speed limiter in standard 4WD, but you are limited to 15 mph with the front differential locked.
WHICH IS FASTER?
The Can-Am. No surprise there; it’s a 1000 and the Kawasaki is an 800. The more important issue is which one has enough acceleration and top speed for the kind of driving you do. The Kawasaki has enough muscle to go anywhere, and its 50 mph top speed is plenty fast for open country, but its acceleration and climbing power are more affected by a full load of full-sized passengers than the Can-Am’s. If you and your passengers are happy with a quick, not crazy trail pace, the Teryx can deliver. If you and your crew crave speed, you’ll have more fun in the Can-Am 1000.
HOW DOES THEIR POWER DELIVERY COMPARE?
Both have what we consider perfect power delivery for machines that will be used for sporty driving, exploring challenging trails and relaxed family rides. Punch the throttle and the Can-Am and the Kawasaki deliver quick, exciting acceleration and the ability to powerslide around turns if you want— and they both sound cool without being annoyingly loud. Both can tackle steep climbs, even on tight trails without room to get much momentum. When you need tractability, both provide outstandingly precise, predictable throttle response. The Can-Am even has a milder Eco throttle map available at the touch of a button for drivers who don’t want the full power available in Sport mode. The Can-Am rules when jet-takeoff thrust is what we want. The Kawasaki offers less thrust but slightly more refined, precise throttle control.
WHICH HAS BETTER SUSPENSION?
It depends on how fast you like to go. On tighter trails where speeds rarely top 35 mph, which is very common, the Can-Am’s and Kawasaki’s suspensions are pretty closely matched. Both provide a compliant, comfortable ride with very good bottoming resistance, though the Maverick has an extra measure of plushness that comes with a big extra helping of suspension travel. The Maverick has 12.5 inches up front and 13 inches out back versus the Teryx’s 8 inches of front travel and 8.3 in the rear.
When the trails open up and speeds get higher, the Can-Am’s longer suspension travel, larger shocks and longer wheelbase let it glide over whoops, ruts and holes that made us back out of the throttle on the Kawasaki. The Kawasaki’s suspension is very good, but it’s designed for a different kind of driving than the Can-Am’s.
HOW DOES THEIR HANDLING COMPARE?
Both handle very well but in different places. The Kawasaki is far more agile and still very stable within the speed limits of its suspension. It should be; the Teryx’s wheelbase is 35 inches shorter than the Can-Am’s. If the trails you like are extra tight, twisty and loaded with switchbacks, you’ll enjoy the Teryx more than the Maverick. The Kawasaki can also turn around in much smaller spaces than the Can-Am.
If you ride faster, more open terrain, and that terrain includes whoops, the Can-Am is the machine you want. The Can-Am is a blast on twisty roads, too, with beautifully accurate steering, a planted feel and graceful sliding manners.
WHICH IS BETTER IN CHALLENGING TERRAIN?
Even though it has less ground clearance on paper, the shorter Kawasaki has a ground clearance edge when you have to take on stream bed ledges, tall water bars or even a steep climb onto a trailer. Both machines are capable climbers, though the Can-Am’s extra power pays off on tall, soft hills. The Kawasaki has better engine braking for steep descents, but the Can-Am’s four-wheel disc brakes offer more power and feel than the Kawasaki’s front hydraulic discs and single, oil-bathed, multi-disc rear brake. Both machines have effective 4WD systems and high-mounted engine and transmission intakes for taking on deep water and mud.
HOW ABOUT COMFORT AND DETAILS?
Both machines rank among the best for comfort and smart design features. They’ve become two of our favorites for fun, adventurous rides with family or friends, and they’re also fun for solo rides. Both have good hand holds, lots of storage and cup holders for everyone in the cars. Casual trail riders and older adults like the Kawasaki’s softer, more upright seats and taller cage. The bucket seats offer good support for sporty driving and challenging terrain. The Teryx is easier to enter and exit, and the doors open and close with a quality feel, though the higher seat height leaves you more exposed than in the Can-Am. Rear-seat passengers who are 6 feet tall or taller will find their knees against the front seat backs, which are padded, and you can store small items in the pad “pockets.” The Kawasaki’s mid-engine design makes the cab a little more noisy than the Can-Am’s, but it sounds good. It’s like a comfortable, open-air Toyota Land Cruiser but with a sportier flavor.
The Can-Am’s low seating position and firmer, more supportive seats make it feel like the sports car it is—more like an off-road Corvette. And, as with a Corvette, getting in and out requires a little more effort than with the Teryx4. The higher upper door line gives the riders the feeling they’re down in the car, securely surrounded by it, and the steel-frame doors open and close nicely and don’t rattle on rough trails. Tough, rutted and off-camber terrain made our Maverick’s rear sway bar click loudly, and the cage creaked as the car clawed through uneven terrain—noises we never heard from the Kawasaki on the same trails.
WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?
The Can-Am Sport Max DPS and Kawasaki Teryx4 LE are two different kinds of four-seat machines, in two different price categories aimed at different users. The Kawasaki is one of the best-built, most-affordable, big-name four-seaters available; and, if you mostly ride tight trails that include seriously challenging terrain, you’ll prefer it to the Can-Am for its compactness and maneuverability. The Can-Am is clearly better in more open terrain where you can enjoy its extra power, suspension, speed and size, and larger passengers will appreciate its extra room wherever you go.