The Polaris Ranger is the elder statesman of the UTV arena, while the Can-Am Defender is a new kid on the block. They both provide a mind-blowing array of options, so it’s impossible to pick a single model that rises above all others.
But this article will give you a better idea of which UTV is right for you, whether you need a UTV for work, play, or a bit of both.
Let’s weigh up the offerings.
Small but mighty
While Can-Am jumps straight in with the three-seaters, Polaris offers compact two-seat options with the Ranger 500 and the Ranger 570. It’s worth shelling out a bit more for the extra grunt you get with the 570. With a towing capacity of 1,500lb, it’s a great option if you just need a little farm runaround that will handle most jobs.
The full-size, three-seater category is where most of the action is at. If you need the third seat but don’t have the budget for a beefier machine, then the Ranger 570 Full-Size is worth a look.
However, you’ll want a more muscular engine if you need to haul heavier loads or you want to get your blood pumping around the trails. Thankfully, there are plenty of machines that will do both.
The Polaris Ranger 1000 packs 61hp and can tow 2,500lb. It’s a rock-solid machine that’ll get the job done. Upgrading to the Premium version gives you power steering and a few more bits and pieces in the cockpit.
If you want a UTV that works hard and plays hard, the Ranger 1000 XP is a better option. Its 82hp sends it along at a good clip and its superior suspension and seats will ensure you tear up the trails in comfort. You can supe up the performance even more with the Trail Boss version, which has even better suspension and tyres.
So how do the Can-Am models compare?
The entry-level Defender is available with the HD 7 (52hp) or HD9 (65hp) engines. Both provide the same towing capacity as the Ranger 1000.
However, like the Ranger, it’s worth upgrading to the Defender XT. It also comes with power steering, and while it’s a touch more expensive than the Ranger 1000 XP, it does come with a full skid plate and hard roof, giving you more protection on the trails. It also comes with a winch as standard, though you can add this to the Ranger as an accessory.
The Defender XT is also available with the HD10 engine, which gives you 82hp, identical to the Ranger 1000 XP.
So the Defender XT and the Ranger 1000 XP are both cracking options if you want a formidable utility vehicle that’s got a few extras and is fun to throw around the trails. The Defender XT might just have the edge thanks to those extras like the roof, winch and smarter storage options.
Labour in luxury
If you prefer a more comfortable ride whilst tackling the great outdoors, you might want to invest in a UTV with an enclosed cab.
The Defender DPS Cab comes with full doors and a solid roof. Or you can go all out with the Defender Limited, which has better performance, electric windows and a digital display with a keypad.
The Ranger offers you an enclosed cab with the ultra-refined Northstar trim. It has full temperature control and the Ultimate spec includes the Ride Command infotainment system. You’ll feel like you’re in a high-end pickup truck.
Haul half a dozen
Most of the full-size models are available as an extended six-seater version. The Polaris Ranger ‘Crew’ and the Can-Am Defender ‘Max’ models have a longer wheelbase and an extra row of seats before the dump bed. Great if you need to carry a team to a building job or take the family for a spin through the wilderness.
If you like to spend your weekends sloshing through swamps, Polaris and Can-Am offer UTVs for just that. The Ranger 1000 XP High Lifter and the Defender X MR are both equipped with 30-inch mud tyres and elevated air intakes to keep you powering through the sludge.
The machines perform similarly, but the Defender X MR is more versatile, enabling you to switch between mud and trail mode. The High Lifter’s solid half-doors with drainage will keep you cleaner, however.
Both are also available as six-seaters.
Can-Am offers the largest bed capacity of any UTV. The Defender Pro and the Defender 6×6 have a 6ft x 4ft power-assisted dump bed, double the size of the standard dump bed found on the Rangers and other UTVs.
Need to move wide loads such as pallets and tractor tyres? You can convert it to a flatbed with even more capacity by removing the sides.
The Defender 6×6’s six wheels make it the ultimate workhorse for supersized cargo.
So now you’ve seen the line-ups. With so many options, choosing your next UTV is no easy task.
For years, the Polaris Ranger has been the industry leader. It’ll take something special to knock it off its perch.
And perhaps the Can-Am Defender has what it takes. It matches the Ranger for performance, and maximises storage capacity with creative solutions in the cab. You also get more flexibility with the Defender, with most models offering you a choice of engines. And of course, you’ll only get that gigantic dump bed with the Defender Pro and 6×6.