Reviews

2016 Can-Am Maverick X rs Turbo and 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo EPS Review

Into the wild with two turbocharged side-by-sides

ALGODONES DUNES, California — Cars can’t come to this otherworldly landscape of colossal dunes. They wouldn’t be able to dive headfirst into a vast ocean of sand. But two of the most rugged and powerful side-by-sides on the market, the Polaris RZR XP Turbo EPS and the Can-Am Maverick X rs Turbo, can, what with their long-travel suspension, exposed tube frames, and high-output engines.

When we drive away from our encampment on the slopes of these towering sandbanks, we quickly realize that contextual clues are nowhere to be found; nothing tells us where we are, where we’re going, or where we’ve been. This place is strange and extraterrestrial, but its stillness and tranquility help us quickly feel comfortable taking these two side-by-sides to their limits.

2016 Can Am Maverick X rs Turbo interior 02

The Maverick and the RZR make light work of the endless dunes, quickly carving trails as their suspension setups effortlessly soak up small berms and crests. Large dips can be taken at full speed without vexing either machine. With the engine intakes nestled behind our heads and the CVT transmissions keeping the RPMs near redline, the popping and whistling sounds these motors make is frenzied. The astonishingly strong brakes keep us in check as they dig into the sand without hesitation, the side-by-sides change direction quickly and confidently, and both the Maverick and RZR let their tails hang out, carving up and down the dunes like they’re big waves off the North Shore of Oahu. The two are so good at changing direction, in fact, that we forget we’re driving on sand.

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Dunes have a habit of unexpectedly falling away and leaving you with a 90-foot vertical drop. Both photographer Robin Trajano and senior editor Chris Nelson are thankful that Polaris has built a solid roll cage after rolling end over end multiple times, and I smash the Maverick into the sand after jumping off a massive dune. When the Maverick finally comes to rest, nose staring straight up at the pearlescent orange and blue sky, we simply roll it back onto its wheels, dust it off, start it up, and set back off as if nothing had happened.

2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo EPS front three quarter in motion

Looking back at the beautiful mess of tracks we made, I realize just how well-built these specialized automobiles are, ready to handle Dakar-like conditions, multiple roll-overs, and hard hits without missing a beat. Wandering through the untouched expanse — a place where navigation, cruise control, and turn signals mean nothing — we’re amazed by both the Polaris RZR Turbo and Can-Am Maverick. They and their ilk can forge new paths and take us farther than cars can, unflinching and eager to go on any adventure as long as you are.

2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo EPS Specifications

On Sale:  Now
Price: $24,999
Engine: 0.9L turbo DOHC inline-twin/144 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable
Layout: 2-door, mid-engine, selectable AWD
EPA Mileage: N/A
L x W x H: 119.0 x 64.0 x 73.75 in
Wheelbase: 90.0 in
Weight: 1,495 lb (dry)
0-60 MPH: N/A
Top Speed: N/A

2016 Can Am Maverick X rs Turbo front three quarter 02

2016 Can-Am Maverick X rs Turbo Specifications

On Sale:  Now
Price: $23,999
Engine: 1.0L turbo V-twin/131 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable
Layout: 2-door, mid-engine, selectable AWD
EPA Mileage: N/A
L x W x H: 119.1 x 64.0 x 74.2 in
Wheelbase: 88.0 in
Weight: 1,399 lb
0-60 MPH: N/A
Top Speed: N/A

 

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