Published on October 2nd, 2023 | by Joe
2024 Can-Am Maverick X3 DS Turbo Test Review: Best Value Sport SXS?
2024’s top SXS supercars, like the newly released Maverick R and Polaris Pro R, cost between $35,500 and $45,000. This has led to a growing number of people accustomed to walking out of the dealership with the most expensive dirt toy on the floor, completely priced out of a growing segment of the market.
Fortunately, there are many machines out there delivering more performance than most drivers can use for less than half the price of the premium package of one of these supercars.
At $21,999, the 135 HP Can-Am Maverick X3 DS Turbo’s price is pretty entry level for a sport SXS, while boasting more horsepower than anything near its price point along with more suspension travel than any other 64” wide sport SXS!
In our 2023 Maverick X3 X RS Turbo RR Test , test driver, Eric Jones, confessed that he drives his 200 HP Turbo RR in Eco mode a majority of the time to make the power more manageable, essentially saying that the machine has more power than he needs a majority of the time. The best SXS on the market for most of us isn’t the most expensive; it’s the machine that delivers the performance we need at a price we can afford.
When we analyze the specifications, the Maverick X3 DS appears unrivaled when it comes to performance for the dollar. Also, the 64” wide segment is the most versatile for varying terrains. For these reasons, we strongly suspect that the DS Turbo is a machine that many SXS enthusiasts are seriously considering purchasing. That’s why we’re happy to present to you UTV on Demand’s test of the 2024 Can-Am Maverick X3 DS Turbo.
Can-Am offers one flavor of the Maverick X3 DS Turbo in a few colors. It’s a bare bones machine, specked to provide all the performance the average sport SXS driver could ever need at an outstanding price compared to most other machines on the market. Can-Am makes this possible by skipping add-ons that add to the base price of the machine that consumers might choose to switch out anyway. A roof is the only thing we consider missing from the car. Other than that, theX3 DS Turbo provides a great starting point with everything you need to have a blast on your first drive.
Unchanged for 2024 other than two new colorways, our test unit features a colorway from 2023, but is mechanically identical.
To pilot the DS, we met up with Eric Jones and CJ Haney. Both are long-term owners of 72” wide 200HP Maverick X3 Turbo RR models, giving them a great reference point from which to evaluate the DS Turbo. We visited Haspin Acres in Laurel, Indiana for our film day, offering a ton of technical trails and some high-speed sections to challenge the Can-Am.
Horsepower was bumped from 120 to 135 on the DS Turbo, formerly Turbo R, in 2023, thanks to new ECU tuning and fuel injection shared with the Turbo RR. The Maverick X3 DS Turbo is powered by a water-cooled, fuel-injected, triple-cylinder, 900cc Rotax ACE engine featuring four-valves and double-overhead-cams per cylinder. A lack of an inner cooler and different ECU tuning are all that separate the 135 HP X3 DS Turbo’s engine from that of the 200 HP Turbo RR. Less horsepower should allow the DS Turbo’s engine, drivelines and chassis to hold up better over time.
Like the Turbo RR, the DS features a drive-by-wire throttle with intelligent throttle control providing Sport mode for aggressive driving and ECO mode to smooth out throttle response while helping conserve fuel. Air is drawn for the engine from inside the cabin behind the driver’s head where air is farthest away from dirt and water.
The fully automatic CVT transmission received Can-Am’s Drive primary clutch in 2023. It features roller bearings in the primary clutch for smoother, more responsive engagement and improved durability. The same belt in our 200 HP Turbo RR has over 1,500 miles on it with zero issues to report. The transmission features high and low forward ranges plus neutral, reverse, and park.
Like the top-of-the-line models, the DS’ drivetrain features four modes thanks to Can-Am’s Smart-Lok front differential, developed with Team Industries. 2WD is there for breaking loose and sliding. 4WD Trail adds drive to one front wheel until it loses traction, progressively locking in both front wheels until you let off the gas. Trail Active works like 4WD Trail, but locks in both front wheels more quickly, improving traction when driving aggressively, especially in slick conditions. The front differential can also be fully locked maximizing traction for extreme conditions.
With the temperature in the mid-80s, the X3 fired right up with the push of a button and seemed instantly ready for action. The car accelerates very smoothly from a dead stop thanks to the Drive transmission with virtually zero feeling of belt lash. Clutch calibration seemed spot on under acceleration, backshifting quickly when necessary, keeping the engine in the best part of the power on climbs and exiting turns. Our drivers also noted the Drive transmission emitting less noise in the cabin than Can-Am’s older style clutch.
Low-end power is good, easily getting rolling, pulling most hills without the need to scream the engine allowing for a relatively quiet, relaxed drive. Utilizing the throttle’s ECO mode further smooths out the experience and easy going nature the DS can provide whether you’re rock crawling or cruising the trail at speed. The 135HP engine is responsive enough that it’s of benefit to dial things down at times earlier in the throttle. Eco mode still offers full power at full throttle for steep inclines or getting sideways.
Switching to sport mode, the Maverick X3 DS Turbo feels quick and responsive throughout the RPM range. The RZR XP 1000 might give it a run in the lower RPMs, but once the midrange kicks in, the DS Turbo’s engine feels like it should easily check out on the 1000cc class, naturally aspirated SXSs.
The DS Turbo provides the fun, push you back in your seat feeling we want from a sport SXS. It has no problem breaking the rear tires loose for power slides with plenty of power in reserve to hold the drift. Our drivers felt they were using a little more throttle on the 135HP X3 than they do in their 200HP cars, although there was still plenty of power on tap for virtually any type of driving. The steepest dunes and ledge-filled walls on the trail might give the 200HP machine an advantage, but unless that’s all you do, the DS Turbo offers plenty of horsepower and performance.
While automatic engine braking is not a feature designed into the X3’s transmissions, our drivers noted that the transmission stays engaged well enough in low range that the demand on the brakes is greatly reduced.
Testing the various drive modes, 2wd was utilized for drifting; with 4wd, trail was all that was necessary for railing turns or negotiating rocks. We tried them, but found 4WD Trail Active or locking the front differential pretty unnecessary for the dry, dusty conditions we encountered leaving plenty of grip in reserve for rainy days.
One last thing considering price, we did repeated drag races against CJ’s 200HP Turbo RR with the DS Turbo beating it every time. A worn belt was the primary difference. This proves that buying a SXS you can afford to own and maintain will provide more performance in the long run, so keep that in mind at the dealer.
Handling and Suspension
Sharing the same steel frame and cage as the Turbo RR models, the DS Turbo benefits from years of refinement. Most recently, the cage received nearly 30% thicker tubing delivering a 13% more torsional rigidity. Mounting tabs for suspension components were beefed up at both ends, as were the high-clearance lower A-Arms front and lower radius rods out back. The rear tow plate’s thickness was increased and double shear knuckles were added at the outer end of the radio’s rods for improved strength and rigidity.
The UHMW skid plates that protect the underside of the chassis are pretty minimal. We ran a full set of Can-Am’s UHMW accessory skid plates on our Maverick X3 X RS Turbo RR test unit. If this were our DS Turbo, we wouldn’t hit the trail without aftermarket skid plates.
Dual A-Arm suspension is used up front with high clearance lower A-Arms standard. 4-link torsional trailing arms are used out back. Sway bars are used front and rear.
Controlling the 20” of suspension travel at both ends are Fox Podium 2.5 piggyback, QS3 shocks featuring adjustable spring preload and a very intuitive and non-intimidating 3-way compression damping adjustment with soft, medium, and firm settings. Dynamic Power Steering also offers three levels of assistance to choose from.
The Maverick X3 DS Turbo features a square tire and wheel setup as we’d like with 30×10” tires mounted on 14” cast aluminum wheels. Can-Am didn’t cheap out on tires either, running premium quality Maxxis Carnivores, as they do across the majority of the Maverick X3 line.
The 64” wide X3’s 102” wheelbase is the longest in the 64” class, which can be a positive or a negative. Overall length is also on the long side at 132”. 14” of ground clearance is in the middle of the segment with its 65.4” overall height on the shorter end of the class.
Handling and suspension performance both surpassed the expectations of our drivers who are accustomed to 72” X3s and Can-Am’s computer controlled Fox Smart Snox. Off the showroom floor with the QS3 shocks in their middle compression setting, the ride was pleasantly plush over smaller bumps while still easily dealing with a few feet of air with no hint of bottoming. None of the jumps, g-outs, or ditches we crossed ever resulted in bottoming the shocks that we could feel. While the X3 is known to fly high in the rear, we’ve found that with a long ramp face and smooth transition, the Maverick X3 can be fun to fly.
Switching to the socks soft setting made a noticeable difference in how the shocks responded to small square edged bumps. We appreciated the improvement in ride quality and articulation in rock gardens. It’s a good setting for all-day casual rides that won’t leave you feeling beat up. When we dropped the hammer at the end of the day, we switched the shocks into their firmest compression setting, increasing low-speed compression for reduced body roll in high-speed turns. Our highly experienced drivers prefer being able to fine-tune our analog shocks a bit more, but Can-Am and Fox have three good compression tunes that should serve the needs of most drivers and conditions.
Dual sway bars, well-tuned shocks, a low seating position, and longer wheelbase make the Maverick X3 feel like one of the most stable handling machines in the 64” class whether it’s going up, down, or sideways. The X3’s length may make it a little less maneuverable in certain circumstances, but the front end turns sharply for cutting tight turns. Its 64” width certainly made a noticeable difference in maneuverability on tight trails compared to the 72” wide Mavericks.
Steering accuracy was very good whether we were railing turns in one of the 4WD trail modes steering with the front end, or steering with the back in 2WD. Our drivers enjoyed the power steering’s medium setting for all-around driving, switching to the high assist setting for low speed technical sections. Can-Am’s Dynamic power steering helps keep steering light while helping filter out bump feedback felt through the steering.
Our only complaint was with the squeaking developing in the chassis prior to the end of day one, due to the dusty conditions. It’s not a mechanical issue as much as an annoyance. More lube or different bushings from the factory, please! As performance goes, for a 64” sport SXS there seems to be little to no compromise when it comes to handling and suspension.
Braking components are identical to those used on the more expensive Maverick X3 models. Four wheel hydraulic disc brakes slow the Maverick. Dual piston calipers are used at both ends with 262mm rotors up front and 248mm rotors out back. Steel braided brake lines come from the factory.
Braking power seemed identical to the Turbo RR as we’d expect, but the brakes felt firmer when you pushed the pedal. We suspect our DS Turbos brakes were better bled from the factory. Performance and feel were both very good.
Interior and Storage and Other Details
You enter the Maverick through quarter doors with the latches actuated by nylon pull straps on the inside. This setup seems dated and incomplete by today’s standards, even on a price point focused machine. Half doors with a more refined latching and opening mechanism would be welcomed.
The bolstered seats provide a low, somewhat reclined seating position good for aggressive driving and long rides. Both seats are slider adjustable; making it become a difficult slide when dirty. Unfortunately, tools are needed to remove the seats for cleaning beneath them. With tools, the back of the seat base can be raised providing a flatter seating position, raising the occupant’s sight line over the hood a bit. The seats feature pass-through for the installation of four-point harnesses, which come standard on higher end X3 models. The Maverick X3 DS Turbo comes with three-point seat belts from the factory. We found them comfortable to use with no irritating pressure points.
There’s a tilt adjustable steering wheel with a 4.5” digital display mounted on the steering column that tilts with the steering wheel. A 7.6” display is used on higher-end Turbo RR X package models. On the dash are a number of switches and buttons controlling the drive mode, throttle mode, power steering mode, lights, an override for limp mode, and controls for the digital display. There are also a few cut-outs, allowing you to install additional switches to control a winch or other accessories.
In-cabin storage is provided by a passenger-side glove box, a couple flat trays, and cup holders. The cargo bed out back has a 200 LB capacity offering versatility thanks to Can-Am’s LinQ quick attach system that works with their extensive line of boxes and other storage options. We’d like some sort of enclosure for the rear of the bed from the factory. Can-Am didn’t skimp on lighting with LED lights used at both ends.
We believe the 135HP Maverick X3 DS Turbo delivers more performance than the vast majority of drivers will ever fully utilize. Noticeably quicker than the 1000cc naturally aspirated sport SXSs we’ve driven, the DS Turbo possesses excellent, stable handling combined with good agility and shocks that are hard to fault for casual or aggressive driving. By retaining features like Dynamic Power Steering, Smart-Lok front differential, and various drive modes from their Intelligent Throttle Control, the X3 DS Turbo retains the key high-end features we wouldn’t want to live without, while not forcing us to finance a bunch of add-ons we can add ourselves. This saves money at the time of purchase and on interest over time.
As far as we’re concerned, no other CVT equipped sport SXS delivers more performance for the money than the Can-Am Maverick X3 DS Turbo.