WHICH IS THE CHEAPEST?
The RZR S. At $12,499, it is a
whopping $1,800 less than the
Commander 1000XT. For that extra
$1,800, you get a 4000 lb winch
and a nicer steering wheel as far as
features go. Both units feature full
shocks, aluminum wheels with premium
tires, single-buckle side nets and three-point seat belts.
HOW DO THE MOTORS COMPARE?
The RZR’s 760cc parallel-twin EFI-fed engine is 216cc smaller than the
Commander’s thumping 976cc V-twin,
and the power numbers back it up.
Polaris claims 53 horsepower from its
800, and Can-Am claims 85 horsepower
from its 1000. The 32 horsepower
difference may seem like a game-ending
handicap, but the Commander’s extra
heft and less-refined CVT clutching help
to even out the race a bit.
The Polaris mill uses an old-school
WHICH ONE HAS THE BETTER POWER-
pushrod design that actuates two big
valves per cylinder, keeping engine
weight low and well centered. The
engine sits right behind the seats in
the RZR and is transversely mounted
to sit low in the frame for a very low
CG. This year, the RZR’s EFI system
was replaced with a more finely tuned
Bosch EFI system that decreases fuel
consumption by a whopping 30 percent,
which translates to more miles per tank.
The bottom-end response was also
cleaned up a bit, making the RZR’s
already-snappy engine feel even lighter.
Can-Am’s approach to their UTV’s
engine is similar to the way American
automakers did it in the ’60s and ’70s:
throw a big-block motor in a small
sports car and slap an SS badge on
it! The 976cc V-twin is the largest UTV
engine to be embraced by any of the
main UTV manufacturers, and its power
output is also the highest. Using a
throttle by wire system, Can-Am can
restrict the power level to three different
settings controlled by different keys.
The orange key limits it to 25 mph for
construction sites or beginning drivers.
The grey key will hit 42-43 mph for
intermediate drivers, and the black
key unleashes all 85 horsepower for a
70-plus mph top speed and full power
on tap. Giving an inexperienced driver
the black key is like unleashing a hyper
toddler on a coloring book. It’s best for
drivers to start off with the grey key and
work their way up.
Despite its weight disadvantage, the
Commander still wins this fight. The 32
horsepower advantage over the RZR
is like combining the
output of a RZR S and
a Rhino 700 to form
one engine. Even
its extra heft won’t
diminish the V-twin’s
work ethic. Each one
of the RZR’s horses
carries around 18.9
pounds per the claimed dry weight,
whereas the Commander’s horses carry
a less burdensome 15. 24 pounds of
claimed dry weight.
WHICH ONE IS QUICKER?
Leading up to this, you would think
the Commander, right? Well, you would
be correct in that assumption, but it’s
not as big of a shutout as you would
expect. From a standstill in 4WD, the
RZR gets a jump on the Commander in
the first ten feet or so, but as soon as
that big V-twin spools up to its running
speed (and catches traction), it reels the
RZR in and just keeps steadily pulling
WHICH HAS A HIGHER TOP SPEED?
The Commander does. Depending
on elevation, we saw anywhere from
65-76 mph on our GPS during testing.
The highest top speed was seen at sea
level, ticking off a blazing 76.1 mph. The
RZR S is limited to 63 from the factory,
In the mud and water, you will get wet in the RZR S,
mostly from the splash off the tires, and the water that
comes up through the floor boards.
On the RZR S base model, new ITP 900
XCT tires do well in mud and hardpack,
but the front end pushes badly in the
sand. We prefer the Maxxis Bighorns.