Can-Am Unveils ATV, SXS DPS Models

Power Steering Now on Several Models

Published in the September 2012 Issue September 2012

Who hasn't heard overused phrase, "You get what you pay for?"

Usually when it's used, it's referring to something "cheap" that breaks or falls apart or just doesn't last very long.

Rarely do you hear "You get what you pay for" when talking about something a little more pricey or considered a "premium product."

There are some who look at products-dirt toys included-see the "premium" label attached and won't even consider looking at it. Oh, they may glance at it on the showroom floor but that's about it. Sometimes, they miss out on the fact that for just a few more bucks they can have a whole host of new features that aren't on the base model they've resigned themselves to buy.

We know there are some riders out there who just want the lowest priced vehicle they can find. That's it. No frills. Just something to ride. Sometimes it's a case of that's all they can afford or sometimes they want to buy the base model so they can add their own aftermarket products to personalize it to their liking.

Others are tempted to look at the higher priced vehicles with more bells and whistles but don't think they can justify the additional cost. However, there are times that "premium" moniker and accompanying higher price is more perception than reality.

Fighting The Perception

It's that perception that Can-Am is fighting to break down when it comes to its off-road offerings in ATVs and side-by-sides. We told you in the summer issue of Dirt Toys Magazine ["Can-Am Stays On The Throttle For 2013," page 39] that at the media ride in British Columbia Can-Am went to great lengths to show how that perception is a "myth."

The company isn't about to abandon its spot as a premium brand but also, as one Can-Am official told us at the media ride, the company "is not targeting the guy who wants the cheapest ATV."

To that end, Can-Am unveiled its DPS models in May, which fills a niche between the company's base models and its premium XT and/or Limited models.

Nicolas Leblanc, product manager, Can-Am ATV and side-by-sides, told Dirt Toys Magazine, "Can-Am has always been and still is positioned like a premium brand. But there was a misconception in the industry that the brand was too expensive for some. For several years, Can-Am ATVs and side-by-sides offered value to customers through its XT and Limited packages that are essentially factory-installed accessories at a value price. These packages have always been popular and a very successful story for BRP. However, this premium level came with the misperception that the brand was too premium for some buyers."

"Compare Very Well"

Leblanc then explained the purpose of the DPS package. "In reality, the DPS-level models allow a buyer who wants a Can-Am with power steering to purchase one without making the larger monetary step up to an XT package, even though we fell the XT package remains affordable for all that is included. With these DPS model packages by no means is BRP lessening its prestige or premium perception within the industry. Instead, we are appealing to more consumers while at the same time proving that we compare very well to the competition when it comes to pricing, especially when our ATV's and side-by-side's features, benefits and value accessories are considered."

For 2013, Can-Am offers these DPS models: Outlander (500, 650 and 800R) and Outlander MAX 500 and 650) and Commander (800R and 1000) DPS.

The Commander DPS includes:

 Dynamic Power Steering

 Visco-Lok QE

 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires

 14-inch cast aluminum wheels

Compare that to the ATVs, which get:

 Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering

 Visco-Lok QE

 Cast aluminum wheels

Really, the big news with the DPS is the power steering, which was noticeably absent in the 2012 Commanders. It was odd to us that such a high end vehicle had no power steering. It just didn't feel (literally and figuratively) right. No more worries now though with the DPS.

Here's a look at each of the new features offered on DPS models. First the Commander line. Dynamic Power Steering replaces the quick ratio steering system found on the 2012 Commanders. The DPS offers specially calibrated settings for use in the Commander, selecting the appropriate amount of steering assistance for the current terrain and conditions you're riding in and on.

Single Mode vs. Tri-Mode

You might have noticed the difference between DPS on the side-by-sides vs. the ATVs. The Commanders get single-mode DPS while the ATVs have Tri-Mode DPS. The difference? Tri-Mode offers three settings-MAX, MED, MIN-while the single mode is just that: one setting. Can-Am's Leblanc explained, "It was determined during testing that the three settings mode didn't produce enough of a noticeable difference and that is why the Commander DPS has just one setting." See the attached drawing (Figure 1) showing the difference between the steering effort needed on an ATV vs. a side-by-side.

We'll explain the Tri-Mode more under the ATV DPS info.

The DPS also uses a Direct Link setup that uses advanced magnetic field sensors for faster response to steering input. LeBlanc explained that basically this technology senses the movement in the magnetic field during steering input. When the driver turns the wheel, the sensor registers the change in the magnetic field that has been created and determines the level of assistance required effortlessly and instantaneously.

The Visco-Lok QE (quicker engagement) is great for technical riding. As Leblanc describes it, "QE is really, in all practical purposes, a nearly 100 percent engaged, ready-and-waiting to lock when needed-always on the edge of being locked so to speak. It's automatic because, when the 4x4 button is on, Visco-Lok is on and ready when needed. So when one wheel slips, torque is then transferred to the other wheel with traction. This is done automatically and progressively at both engagement and disengagement so you don't feel it. Visco-Lok QE is built the same, but even quicker and more effective for slow speeds and when conditions demand superior traction."

With the Visco-Lok QE, there are no buttons to push or levers to pull. It's basically always "on" as Leblanc pointed out. Can-Am also stressed that there's no wheel hop or driveline wind-up so the system is transparent to the driver and there is no speed or rev limiter.

Maxxis tires seem to be the standard these days in side-by-sides and ATVs and Can-Am is using the Taiwan-based company's Bighorn 2.0 six-ply tires on its Commander DPS models. The tires sit on lightweight 14-inch cast aluminum rims.

Outlander DPS Features

Moving on the Outlander DPS features, again, the Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering has to be one of the highlights. The three levels of selectable steering assistance are available but power steering assistance is available no matter the mode the rider chooses. The system offers less assist at high speeds and more assist and lower speeds.

The level of assistance (MAX, MED, MIN) varies based on the vehicle speed and terrain where the Outlander is being used. We briefly experimented with the different levels of assistance in different terrain but really need more seat time to determine what fits best for our type of riding. The best part about the Tri-Mode, though, is that we have options depending on terrain and speed.

LeBlanc said a general rule of thumb for which mode to use would be: MAX for technical, tougher steering conditions and MIN for straightline runs and faster speeds with MED a combination of different terrains, conditions and speeds.

The Tri-Mode DPS also use the magnetic field sensors described above, along with Visco-Lok QE, also previously mentioned.

The cast aluminum wheels are 12 inches on the Outlanders.

To stress it's point that DPS models would be an attractive option for off-roaders who want power steering and a few other perks without breaking the bank, Can-Am said at the media intro, the price on ATVs-the Outlander or Outlander MAX-would be $900 more than the base price and on the Commanders $1,000 more than the base price.

A quick fact check of pricing shows Can-Am is being true to its word when it comes to what the company will charge on the base models vs. the DPS models.

Here's a sample breakdown:

 Outlander 500 (base model): $7,799  Outlander 500 DPS: $8,699

 Outlander 800R (base model): $9,549  Outlander 800R DPS: $10,449

 Outlander MAX 650 (base model): $9,699

 Outlander MAX 650 DPS: $10,599

 Commander 800R (base model): $11,699

 Commander 800R DPS: $12,699

That makes several of its models, Can-Am claims, comparable to its competitors who might have equal or fewer features.

Can-Am has been successful with its XT and Limited packages, pointing out that 9 out of 10 Outlanders it sells are XTs, so time will tell if this new DPS strategy will pay off.

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