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For model year 2011 BRP has come to market with a sporty new side-by-side that is sure to be the talk of the industry for quite some time – the Can-Am Commander.

BRP is clearly gunning to take over some of the lucrative side-by-side market currently dominated by Polaris, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Arctic Cat. To appeal to as many consumers as possible, the Can-Am Commander is available with two different V-Twin engines. The Commander 800 features a 71-horsepower Rotax 800 EFI, while an 83-horsepower Rotax 1000 EFI powers the Commander 1000. Prices start at $11,699.




According to BRP, the Rotax 800 EFI engine is the most powerful side-by-side mill under 1000cc in the industry, while the Rotax 1000 EFI V-Twin is purported to be the most powerful engine in any side-by-side. Each features electronic fuel injection and BRP claims that both offer class-leading fuel economy.

The Can-Am Commander family also features Intelligent Throttle Control (ITC). This new throttle-by-wire system works in conjunction with the throttle body to produce smooth throttle delivery even if one foot is bouncing due to the terrain. BRP says the ITC system detects unwanted bounces and filters the input. This is designed to result in more throttle accuracy, especially at low speed. Also, the system has no cables to adjust or replace.

Dual-Level Cargo Box

The dual-level cargo box offers a unique way to separate what you’re hauling around.

Five-way pre-load adjustable gas shocks are found at all four corners.

BRP took advantage of every inch of available space for storage.

Another very cool feature on the Commander is the Dual-Level Cargo Box. This is the industry’s first cargo box with two levels separated by a removable, water resistant panel. This offers the user the opportunity to have an upper and a lower bed with an independent tailgate.

The box has an impressive carrying capacity of 600 pounds – 400 pounds on top, 200 pounds underneath. It’s built using high-strength, anti-rust and anti-dent composite. Both the upper and lower tailgate can be removed without tools and feature a truck-like single latch. There are also integrated vertical grooves for plywood dividers and an optional trunk lock is available as an accessory to secure the lower level.


Up front the Can-Am Commander is cushioned by double A-arm independent suspension with dive-control geometry, which is designed to eliminate diving under heavy braking and rough terrain. Out back you’ll find Torsional Trailing Arm Independent (TTI) Rear Suspension, which BRP says was inspired by off-road trophy trucks. This system is designed to provide excellent control, especially in rough terrain. Wheels move rearward as they move up and down to produce a smoother ride. Plus, TTI has up to 75 percent fewer parts than competitive designs and should reduce tire wear significantly.

At all four corners you’ll find five-way pre-load adjustable gas shocks the manufacturer says have the largest diameter in the industry (36mm/1.4 in.) and provide 10 inches of suspension travel.

Other Features

Each Commander also comes with a Visco-Lok front differential, which progressively transfers power from a slipping front wheel to a gripping one automatically. The system can lock up to 100 percent with no rev or speed limiter. It also requires no switches to flip – simply put it in four-wheel drive and go.

The Commander also boasts a two-inch diameter, high-strength steel ROPS-approved cage, a 240-watt lighting system, quick-attach side nets, three-point seatbelts with anti-cinch, 214mm disc brakes with twin-piston calipers, two-inch rear hitch receiver, removable comfort seats (driver seat is adjustable) that feature lumbar support, adjustable tilt steering, dual cup holders, and a huge 10-gallon gas tank.

Additionally, the Can-Am Commander offers 31.6 liters (nearly 2,000 cubic inches) of cockpit storage, 11 inches of ground clearance, 1,500 pounds of towing capacity, and a 650-watt magneto.

Cam-Am Commander 800R and Commander 1000

These base model Commanders are available in yellow for 2011 and come with all the features mentioned above, along with 26-inch Carlisle Black Road radial tires on 12-inch steel wheels. The Commander 800R retails for $11,699, while the 1000 has an MSRP of $12,799.

Can-Am Commander 800R XT and Commander 1000 XT

All the standard elements of the base models with the addition of the XT package items installed at the factory. The XT package includes a 4,000-pound winch, 26-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires (6-ply), 14-inch cast aluminum wheels, upgraded gauge with analog and tachometer and speedometer, heavy-duty front bumper, rugged bed rails, mud guards on the wheel wells, and premium leather-wrapped steering wheel. Both are come in yellow, red, or an industry-exclusive NEXT G-1 Vista camouflage. The Commander 800R XT retails for $13,199 ($13,799 for camo), while the 1000 XT has an MSRP of $14,299 ($14,899 for camo).

BRP gives the XT treatment to the Commander 800R (pictured) and the Commander 1000.

The Can-Am Commander 1000 X

This is the high-performance sport model we’re most excited about. It comes with all the standard elements of the base model with the addition of the sporty X package. The most notable feature of the X package is the 47mm aluminum piggyback shocks built by Fox Racing Shox. The shocks are fully adjustable with high- and low-speed compression, high- and low-speed rebound and multi-position pre-load adjustment. Both front and rear shocks offer 10 inches of travel. With advanced high- and low-speed tuning available, users can dial in suspension performance to their preference. The large-diameter design and piggyback construction is intended to help dissipate heat. The Commander 1000 X has an MSRP of $14,699.

Thanks in large part to its aluminum piggyback shocks from Fox Racing Shox, the Commander 1000 X looks to be Can-Am’s answer to the Polaris Ranger RZR S and the Arctic Cat Prowler XTZ 1000.

Other features in the X package include 12-inch Aluminum beadlock wheels, 26-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires (6-ply), updated gauge, heavy-duty front bumper, rock sliders, leather-wrapped steering wheel, X-package seat trim and graphics. The Commander 1000 X is available in black with yellow accents.

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I have owned a Commander XT for the last two years and I love it! The 1000 is well worth the extra premium, and the few dded luxury items that are included in the XT package make the vehicle mush more enjoyable to drive. If I could do it again, I would spring for the extra parts and accessories that come with the Commander Limited package. Air ride and GPS...yes please!

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