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2020 Can-Am Defender Limited Review

2020 Can-Am Defender Limited Review

Story: Casey Cordeiro // Photos: Casey Cordeiro & Wayne Davis

2020 Can-Am Defender Lineup Review

Saving the model that has the most capability in the hot Texas heat for last, the Defender Limited is an all-new vehicle for the 2020 model year, just like the PRO and 6×6. It is still based off of the 3-passenger HD10 model, but the changes for the new year give this vehicle a full-on makeover. Here’s our 2020 Can-Am Defender Limited Review.

The beauty and significance of the Defender Limited is that it has a full climate control system in an enclosed cab, right from the factory. The part that amazed me the most is the price tag on this 3-seat model – it’s MSRP is $25,199. When you factor in the items that you get with this machine – full cab, full AUTOMATIC A/C and heating system, push-button roll-down windows, winch & XT front bumper, and more, this Limited is a very well apportioned vehicle. The only vehicle that compares to the Limited is the Ranger Northstar edition from Polaris, and that particular vehicle retails for $25,199 – same price all around. Hmmm, maybe we ought to put together a comparison test in the future… Until then, let’s see what the Defender Limited is all about…

2020 Can-Am Defender Limited Review

As I mentioned, the Defender Limited is based off of the HD10, 3-seat Defender platform. Can-Am says that 1 in 4 of these Defender vehicles now gets optioned out with a cab system – that’s just the way customers are buying them these days, so it only makes sense to put a cab system on the vehicles right from the factory. The interior of the Limited comes with all of the bells and whistles, too, including an adjustable driver’s seat, larger 7” display, two-tone seat fabric, and more. Just like other Defenders, the passenger seat(s) folds up to create more storage, and the front dashboard is littered with great storage solutions, including that signature Defender toolbox. With my 6’2” stature, I was easily comfortable in the driver’s seat with plenty of room to spare. Same with the passenger seats. As with the other Defender models, I really enjoyed the flip-down center armrest and storage area. This is great for hauling extra stuff that is easily accessible, especially if you’re only going to have 2 people in these machines.

We chose to leave our test session of the Defender Limited to the very last part of the day – the sun would be right over us during the hottest part of the day. Can-Am gave us all the details on this reworked full cab system, including the fact that all of the cab connections were sealed up to keep as much of the outside air out and the inside air in. They also increased the thickness of the plastics of the cab. In total, the cab got a full makeover to make it more resistant to the outside getting in, and the attention to detail is noticeable in the machine. The climate control system features a full recirculatory system, so you don’t have to worry about it pulling in outside air into the cab. Top and floor vents (4 up top and several on the bottom) circulate the air throughout the cab, and I found that the vents have a great amount of air being pushed out of them. This really is a powerful system. When you factor in the all-new a/c compressor, this accounts for the reason why the air is pretty darn cold in here. During our 95 degree day with seemingly 80% humidity (it felt like a lot!), I found myself leaving the engine on and the cab closed at all of the photo stops – it was SO nice jumping back into a cooler cab. I never noticed a jump in engine temperature when leaving the machine stationary, so it’s built to handle the abuse. I’m not going to say that this cab delivers car-like coolness from the a/c system, but it is pretty darn good. It takes the edge off, even at semi-high temperatures that we were experiencing during our trip. I can tell you that it was refreshing to jump in the Limited after being in the PRO or 6×6 – the cab wins you over during those times. What about the “set it and forget it” automatic temperature control? It works as described. I’m old school, personally, and I don’t mind being able to control the fan speed. In fact, I quite like that, but the automatic system is innovative and will be appreciated by those who want to set their preferred temperature and leave it alone. I never did get the cab down to my 72 degree temperature setting, but that’s to be expected with all of the stop and go driving.

2020 Can-Am Defender Limited Review

The HD10 engine also handles the compressor and all of the extra componentry well. The power plant measures out to be 976cc, and it is laid out in a V-twin configuration just like many other Can-Am Defender models. The engine does suffer from just a small amount of power loss when the compressor is running. I noticed it when I was hauling into a corner and experienced a couple of unpredictable power surges. It only happens when you get back on the gas hard and you have to “wait” a second or two for the engine to ramp its power back up. It’s weird because you can’t hear the compressor kick on and off (it’s very quiet), but when you’re really hard on the throttle the engine starts off muffled and then surges forward a bit when more power is gained.

The revised full cab enclosure does a good job at keeping the outside elements outside and the inside elements inside. You still do a get a bit of dust in the cab, and the sealing is not perfect yet, but it is really quite good for a vehicle that I was constantly jostling around in the rocks and rough trails. The squeaks coming from the rubber seals are a bit annoying after a while, and for some reason the windshields were a bit loose on our rides. A different latching system, such as one that literally buckles into place on both sides of the windshield, would be more effective than the twist latch mechanism that is on there. But, I have to say that the overall cab system more than makes up for its demerits with many more positives. The automatic windows are a very nice touch, and they complete this vehicle nicely with quick and easy operation. Giving the door a good, hard swing to shut it makes sure that everything stays in place, and the suicide opening on these doors is a the right way to do it. This makes getting in and out of the vehicle a cinch with the full doors. While I didn’t get to use the windshield wiper on this first drive, I can imagine that it would be very handy and something fun to use! At least, I haven’t ever used one on a UTV, so I sure think it would be fun to use.

2020 Can-Am Defender Limited Review

With this test session being in the heat of the Texas summer, we didn’t get to test out the heater, but I’m sure the same findings would apply to this part of the system. I can tell you that I would really appreciate this part of the system in the winter time – set the temperature once and fire this machine up in the morning to have it go right back to being comfortable, whether you are plowing snow or using it around the farm.

So, yes the Limited is essentially a fully loaded utility vehicle, but, just like the 3-seat, non cab-equipped models, this Defender is ready to take on the trails. The compact wheelbase strikes an ideal balance between capability and stability when hauling items. I found the turning radius to be very good, and with a steering rack that is well tuned, this machine can be hustled through the trails with ease. While I wouldn’t consider it to be really stiff, the suspension on this shorter chassis is noticeably more stiff than the Defender PRO or 6×6. You wouldn’t think that its stiff unless you drove the ultra-smooth PRO model before this Limited model, but the Limited definitely has a more sporty ride to it. I never found that it was lacking ground clearance or capability on the trail, and you can pretty much get out of any situation with this vehicle because of the factory-equipped front winch. The front differential is still going to let you down in nasty mud sections or rock crawls where you need the most traction possible, but for 99% of the buyers out there, the Defender Limited will be plenty capable in more difficult terrain. Again, the winch will be the icing on the cake if you ever find yourself stuck or whatnot.

2020 Can-Am Defender Limited Review

Out of all 3 of these new-for-2020 Defender models, the Defender Limited is the most luxurious. It not only regulates the temperature inside the cab, but it also retains all of the capability that a Defender is known for in the marketplace. It still has it’s high hauling and towing capacities – 1000 lbs and 2500 lbs, respectively. You can still do work in this machine, and you’re in the lap of luxury, at least in terms of a UTV.

Overall, the Defender Limited is a very capable and innovative utility UTV. Besides a couple quirks that I’m sure Can-Am will iron out in the near future, this machine is really a great buy for those of you looking to ride around vast stretches of land in the most comfort. The luxury of having full power windows and an integrated a/c-heating system in a UTV is happening right here, today! It is crazy to think how far we have come in just a short 10 years, and it will be exciting to see just how far these vehicles go in the near future.



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