Can-Am Commander vs Polaris General- Head-to-Head on the Trails

The world of off-roading is growing, with more people getting into the fun of riding on rough trails and terrains. If you’re thinking about buying an off-road vehicle and you’re trying to decide between the Can-Am Commander vs Polaris General, you’re not alone.

Interestingly, out of all the utility vehicles available today, the Can-Am Commander and Polaris General stand out with a strong fan base and positive reviews. What makes these brands even more attractive to many is their versatility- the vehicles are not just for play; you can use them to get work done on your property and then kick into high gear for some exciting weekend adventures.

Because of this, lots of off-road fans have a tough time choosing between the two. If you’re one of those people, this guide is here to help. We’re going to compare these two brands and look at the important features that determine how well the vehicles work.

Can-Am Commander

Can-Am ATVs and UTVs are manufactured by BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products), which is a Canadian company. Can-Am has established itself as a prominent player in the recreational and powersports industry by producing a wide range of vehicles enjoyed by enthusiasts worldwide.

The Can-Am Commander is a highly regarded UTV lineup known for its versatility and impressive performance. These side-by-side vehicles cater to a wide range of enthusiasts who appreciate their ability to handle both work-related tasks and recreational adventures.

The Can-Am Commander lineup made its debut in 2011 with two models: the Commander 1000, boasting 85 horsepower, and the Commander 800R with 71 horsepower. Both models featured convenient dual-level cargo boxes for practicality.

The Commander X MR was one of its best-selling models, designed with the engine air intake positioned higher to prevent water and dirt from entering sensitive components. This made it a perfect companion for those seeking off-road adventures in challenging conditions.

In the 2022 lineup, the Commander XT-P model stands out with premium features like Fox suspension, 15-inch wheels, and 30-inch tires, geared for superior performance. The base XT model offers the choice between a 1,000cc or 650cc engine, while the Max and XT-P versions are exclusively available with the powerful 1,000cc engine, catering to a variety of off-road preferences and requirements.

That said, here’s an overview of the key features and characteristics that define the Can-Am Commander;

  • Performance – The Can-Am Commander is known for its powerful engine options, ranging from 450cc to the robust 1000cc Rotax V-twin engines. These engines provide impressive horsepower and torque, which allows the UTVs to tackle a wide range of terrains with ease.
  • Suspension- Many Commander models come equipped with advanced suspension systems. These systems are often adjustable, which offers a smooth and comfortable ride, even over rough and uneven terrain. This contributes to better handling and control.
  • Versatility- One of the standout features of the Can-Am Commander is its versatility. It’s equally capable of handling work tasks on the farm or property, thanks to its cargo capacity and towing capabilities, as it is for thrilling recreational off-roading adventures.
  • Design- The Commander’s design is rugged and functional, with an emphasis on ergonomics. Its comfortable seating, user-friendly controls, and well-thought-out cockpit make it an enjoyable vehicle to drive.
  • Technology- Can-Am incorporates advanced technology into the Commander, including digital displays, GPS navigation, and connectivity options. This enhances the overall riding experience and helps with navigation on unfamiliar trails.
  • Safety- Safety features such as roll cages, seatbelts, and reinforced frames are standard in the Commander. These features provide a level of security for riders.
  • Customization- Can-Am offers a wide range of accessories and customization options to allow owners to tailor their Commander to their specific needs and preferences.
  • Variety- The Commander lineup includes various models with different features and capabilities, from two-seat options to larger models accommodating up to four passengers. Popular models include Commander MAX LIMITED, Commander MAX DPS, Commander E LSV SE, and Commander E.
  • Off-road capability- The Can-Am Commander stands out for its impressive off-road capabilities. Its key features, including excellent ground clearance, robust suspension components, and the ability to engage four-wheel drive, make it a formidable contender for conquering challenging off-road terrain.

What we like

  • Fit and finish- The Can-Am Commander stands out with its superior fit and finish, providing a premium and visually appealing interior.
  • Very comfortable seats- Commander offers exceptionally comfortable seats, which enhances the overall comfort of the ride.
  • Roomy cab- The spacious cab provides ample room for passengers and gear/equipment.
  • Rotax engine- The Commander is equipped with a reliable Rotax engine, known for its endurance and performance.

Deal breakers

  • Engine noise and heat- Some riders find the Commander’s engine placement to contribute to a loud and hot cab environment, particularly on warm days.
  • High gearing- The Commander’s high gearing can lead to reduced power, which might impact its ability to overcome obstacles.
  • Maintenance difficulty- Maintenance tasks on the Commander may be more challenging compared to similar models.

Polaris General

Since its introduction, the Polaris General has consistently proven itself as the ultimate dual-purpose UTV, successfully straddling the worlds of recreation and work-related activities. This steadfast commitment to its core mission has propelled it into one of the most prominent names in the off-road vehicle industry.

What sets the Polaris General apart is its remarkable versatility. The General allows you to seamlessly transition from recreational adventures to practical tasks such as hunting, farm work, fishing, or even everyday family errands. Furthermore, its robust construction ensures longevity, promising you many years of reliable service.

Differences between Polaris Ranger and General

The Polaris General and Polaris Ranger share a close family tie within the Polaris UTV lineup. The models are dependable workhorses that ensure a smooth ride in challenging conditions and are well-suited for off-roading and handling rugged terrains.

However, the Ranger stands out for its exceptional towing capacity, making it an excellent choice for work-related tasks. It also offers superior comfort, especially on long drives, and a wide range of models to suit various needs and budgets.

On the flip side, if you’re looking for a vehicle for recreational activities and adventures, the General is a top contender. While not without its limitations, it boasts reliability, with many General owners reporting trouble-free rides covering significant distances.

That said, it’s important to note that the General can still handle work tasks and towing, plus it offers a multitude of accessories to optimize your duties. However, the Ranger excels in towing capacity and comfort, with a significantly larger cargo box, making it ideal for work-related applications.

Read more on the differences between Polaris Ranger and Polaris General here.

Key Features of Polaris General

  • Performance- Designed for off-road enthusiasts, the Polaris General offers exceptional performance and a capable suspension. This construction allows it to tackle obstacles on the trail, which enables you to explore the wilderness and reach your favorite destinations with ease.
  • Versatility- The Polaris General is known for its versatility, making it a dependable workhorse for a variety of tasks and adventures. Its ability to carry loads and comfortably seat up to four passengers proves its ability to handle it all.
  • Comfort- With up to 14″ of usable suspension travel, responsive steering, and well-crafted bolstered bucket seats, the Polaris General ensures a comfortable and enjoyable ride even on long journeys.
  • Powerful engine options- The Polaris General is available with various engine options, including both two-cylinder and four-cylinder models. The different engine options provide a range of horsepower and torque levels to suit different preferences and requirements.
  • Electronic Power Steering (EPS) – Many Polaris General models come equipped with EPS, which enhances steering responsiveness and reduces driver fatigue, especially during long rides.
  • Cargo bed- In addition to its versatile dump box, the Polaris General often includes a sizable cargo bed with tie-down points, making it suitable for carrying gear, supplies, and equipment.
  • Adjustable suspension- Polaris General offers an adjustable suspension that allows you to fine-tune the vehicle’s ride and handling to suit your specific needs and preferences.
  • Digital instrumentation- Many Polaris General models feature a digital instrument cluster with a variety of readouts, including speed, RPM, and fuel level to provide you with essential information at a glance.
  • Trail-ready tires- The inclusion of trail-ready tires on the Polaris General enhances its off-road prowess. These specially designed off-road tires offer excellent traction and durability, ensuring that the General is well-prepared to tackle a wide array of terrains and challenging conditions.

What We Like

  • More power- The Polaris General impresses with its powerful performance, making it suitable for tackling a wide range of off-road challenges.
  • Lower gearing- The lower gearing of the General enhances its control and precision, particularly in technical terrain.
  • More cab storage- Polaris General provides ample cab storage, ensuring that essential items are easily accessible during your adventures.
  • Excellent front differential- The General’s front differential is a standout feature, contributing to its exceptional off-road capabilities.
  • Ease of maintenance- Owners appreciate the General’s user-friendly and straightforward maintenance.

Deal Breakers

  • Less comfortable cab- Some riders find the General’s cab less comfortable, which might possibly affect long-distance rides.
  • Lack of polish on individual components- While the General excels in overall performance, there may be room for improvement in terms of the polish and refinement of individual components.
  • Polaris recalls- The General has experienced several recalls, suggesting certain issues that required manufacturer attention.
Can-Am Commander vs Polaris General

Commander vs General- In a Nutshell

On-Trail Performance

The Polaris General stands out on the trail thanks to its impressive on-trail performance attributes. One of its key advantages lies in its lower gear range and superior front differential. These features give it a distinct edge when navigating technical terrain and overcoming challenging obstacles. The lower gear range also allows for precise control, making it an ideal choice for off-road enthusiasts who encounter rugged trails frequently.

On the other hand, the Can-Am Commander excels in providing a comfortable and stable ride on various trails. Its strengths become evident, especially on well-maintained trails where it offers a smooth and enjoyable experience for riders.

One notable feature contributing to its stable ride is the torsional trailing arms. These arms help maintain camber and traction, ensuring that the UTV maintains stability even when faced with uneven surfaces and minor obstacles.

Technical Terrain Handling

The Polaris General excels in navigating technical challenges such as logs, rocks, and obstacles. It gains this advantage through its combination of extra ground clearance, ample suspension travel, and a front differential lock.

Conversely, the Can-Am Commander tends to face difficulties when confronted with such technical obstacles. This is because, its Visco-Lok differential system, while functional, has a delay in locking the differential.

This delay can result in the Commander losing momentum and struggling to surmount obstacles effectively. While the Commander offers a comfortable and stable ride on smoother trails, it may not be the ideal choice for off-roaders who frequently navigate highly technical terrain with demanding obstacles.

Ease of Maintenance

The Polaris General stands out for its accessibility when it comes to engine maintenance. Tasks like oil changes and filter replacements are simplified due to better access to the engine. For instance, the process of changing the oil can be completed with greater ease, making routine maintenance a straightforward affair for General owners.

In contrast, the Can-Am Commander tends to be less user-friendly in terms of engine maintenance. Accessing the engine for tasks such as oil changes requires more disassembly compared to the General. This additional effort can make maintenance, particularly oil changes, a more cumbersome process for Commander users.

Storage Space

The Polaris General provides versatile storage solutions, including cab compartments and a dump bed. Inside the cab, you’ll find compartments and consoles that offer a combined storage capacity of approximately 9 gallons. This space is suitable for storing items such as wallets, gloves, papers, drinks. This helps ensure that essential items are easily accessible during your off-road adventures.

The Can-Am Commander also offers a range of storage options, including a unique dual-level cargo space. Beneath the bed, there’s a hidden storage compartment that adds approximately 30 gallons of storage capacity. The lower compartment can also be used when the bed is full. This makes it convenient for stowing gear, equipment, or personal items.

Fit and Finish

The Polaris General is renowned for its superior engineering by incorporating advanced features that enhance its off-road capabilities. For instance, it stands out with attributes like a lower gear range and an effective front differential. Ideally, the General is designed with precision and performance in mind, catering to off-roading enthusiasts who prioritize advanced engineering and capabilities.

In contrast, the Can-Am Commander excels in terms of fit and finish. It offers a premium and well-crafted feel in the cab, with attention to detail that contributes to its aesthetic appeal. Commander owners can expect comfortable seats and an overall premium interior design. While the Commander may not match the General in some engineering aspects, it compensates by delivering a refined and visually appealing experience.

Reliability and Recalls

The Polaris General has faced a few recalls over time. These recalls indicate the presence of specific issues that require attention from the manufacturer. To ensure continued reliability and safety, General owners should stay informed about any potential issues and diligently follow recommended maintenance and safety guidelines.

In comparison, the Can-Am Commander appears to have a lower average incidence of reported problems. This suggests that it may have be fewer recalls or reliability issues when compared to the Polaris General. However, it’s essential to recognize that occasional issues can arise with any vehicle. Therefore, Commander owners should still adhere to recommended maintenance schedules and take necessary safety precautions to maintain the vehicle’s reliability.

Final Verdict

In making your decision between the Polaris General and the Can-Am Commander, it’s essential to consider your personal preferences and riding style. Both of these off-road vehicles have their unique strengths and drawbacks, and your choice should align with what matters most to you.

If you’re someone who loves the thrill of conquering difficult trails and demands that extra power and performance to do so, then the Polaris General might be your ideal companion. It excels in challenging terrains and offers the kind of muscle you need for those adventurous off-road rides.

On the flip side, the Can-Am Commander has its own merits, such as a comfortable cabin and a well-crafted interior. So, if you plan to stick to easier trails and are willing to make some modifications to insulate the cabin panels, the Commander could be a suitable choice for you.

In the end, the decision comes down to your style of riding and the type of trails you plan to conquer. If you share our enthusiasm for tackling challenging terrain and want that extra power, the Polaris General is hard to beat. But if your off-road adventures lean towards the milder side and you prioritize cabin comfort, the Can-Am Commander might be the better fit.

That said, your off-roading experience is a personal one, and your preferences matter the most. As such, always choose the UTV that resonates with your off-roading spirit and makes every ride an unforgettable adventure.

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