Can-Am has redesigned and reimagined a new Commander for a new decade. The 2021 Can-Am Commander is here and has been built from the ground up with every feature that modern riders expect and more. After all, the Commander was cutting edge when it launched in 2010, and now it’s looking to push the envelope again.
There are three new Commander models launching today. The DPS, XT, and XT-P each have slightly different suspension setups and the DPS and XT both have four-seater variants.
The XT-P is Can-Am’s most competitive Commander sporting the widest and tallest suspension along with a Smart-Lok Differential.
Here are the specs:
The 2021 Commanders blow the last year’s model out of the water. The suspension improvements alone should get you salivating. They’ve boosted ground clearance by 3.5 inches and travel by 4 inches. It’s 15 inches longer and 6 inches wider. Even the entry-level Commander DPS has 12.5 inches of ground clearance, 13 inches of travel, and sits 62 inches wide. That makes for some smooth, comfortable, and stable riding.
We’re also happy to finally see Smart-Lok on a Commander even if it’s exclusive to the XT-P model. Any serious rider knows that fast-acting front differential lock is key to tackling nasty terrain.
Those aren’t the only big changes though. They’ve ditched the dual trailing-arm rear suspension for a more reliable arched A-arm suspension. But the best thing they’ve done is move the engine to the back. That’s right! No more hot, loud cab. The thing that everybody hated most abut the Commander is gone.
They’ve packed in some great quality of life features in the 2021 models. Can-Am has always been great at making comfortable cabs and the Commander is no exception. Those comfortable bucket seats are back with great adjustability and the steering wheel has tilting options. The doors are wider than before making it easy to climb in or out, and they have weather stripping to reduce rattle and airflow.
The Commander always had great storage, but they’ve turned it up to 11 for 2021. Every model has an absolute beast of a cargo box. At 8 cubic feet, it’s the biggest dump bed of any sport/utility crossover side-by-side. The integrated tailgate extender extends your bed space when you need it and folds away seamlessly when you don’t.
They’ve added side bed storage for tools and small spares, and have finally brought their LinQ system to the Commander line. This modular system lets you easily bolt on coolers, cargo boxes, extra racks, and more. It’s an incredibly robust and easy-to-use cargo system.
The 2021 Can-Am Commander lineup looks like the complete package. It’s taking everything everybody wants and expects from a modern UTV and wrapping it up in one slick-looking package. New suspension, a new frame, an updated suite of LinQ system accessories, and most importantly better engine placement have the new Commander lineup set to be among the best for the next ten years.
It’s competing directly with the Yamaha RMAX 1000 and Polaris General and more or less matches them on specs. The 2021 Commander doesn’t leave them in the dust, but it does give them a run for their money.
With the Commander DPS starting at $16,399, that’s some pretty great bang for your buck too.
You might think that it’s about time that Can-Am updated the Commander. After all, it’s been basically the same vehicle for the last ten years, right? There’s good reason for that. The Commander might have seemed a little long in the tooth in the last few years, but that’s only because it was so ahead of its time when it launched.
Can-Am came out swinging with the 2011 Commander. It was the most powerful side-by-side you could get at the time with a 976 cc engine—the biggest UTV engine available when it launched. It made an impressive 85 HP which was only matched by the all-sport focused RZR XP 900 that came out the same year. And it had tons of cargo space and an innovative trailing arm setup.
Can-Am’s first side-by-side was built to lead, not to follow.
When Can-Am decided they wanted to enter the side-by-side market, they did it with something nobody had ever seen before. Previously, there were two types of side-by-sides: sport focused UTVs and utility focused UTVs.
The Commander sported a sizable dump bed (and an awesome lower storage compartment), a sporty cage, and a comfy cab. The bucket seats and the wide cab elevated the actual ride experience above what others were doing. Finally, a vehicle where two big guys could ride together without rubbing shoulders!
The real star of the Commander was the cleverly designed rear suspension. It used a single trailing arm in order to maintain perfect camber throughout its travel. That gave it a big advantage in terms of traction and handling, at least where the rear wheels are concerned.
Overall, the 2011 was a bold entry that outshined many that came before it.
The Commander was a powerhouse edged out in horsepower only by the RZR XP 900 that launched the same year. In fact, the Commander hardly changed at all in its nine years on the market and still remained relevant.
It only took a few years for other manufacturers to launch their 1000 cc models. The 1000 cc Wildcat released the following year and the RZR XP 1000 launched two years after that. But it was the Commander that led the charge and made other companies think twice about launching underpowered machines.
By 2020, it had added power steering, a few horsepower to bring it up to 92 HP, and a few other tweaks. And it was still relevant. The 2020 Polaris General only beat it by 8 HP, an inch of ground clearance, and two inches of suspension travel.
And now in 2021, the Commander is reinventing itself to surpass expectations.
We’re looking forward to seeing what this thing can do. On paper (and in pictures), the 2021 Can-Am Commander looks awesome. If it does nothing more than keep up with the General and RMAX 1000, and retain Can-Am’s usual fit-and-finish, we expect the Commander to be a top choice for its second decade.