Can-Am Defender: A Speedster or Monster? (For All Models)

Can-Am has established its foothold in the industry by perfectly fusing toughness and comfort in its Defender lineup. These machines have incredible towing and hauling capacities, excellent power, handling, and other additional features to meet varying user demands. But what are their top speeds?

There are 21 trim styles for the Can-Am Defender that span across five engine performance levels. Overall, the Can-Am Defender top speed varies depending on individual models and the engine size. The five engine sizes are the HD5, HD7, HD8, HD9, and HD10. This article will review the top speed of each model by engine size, alongside their speed limiters.

Can-Am Defender HD5

The Defender HD5 is one of the most capable Can-Am UTV ever, with exceptional adaptability and work abilities. Although the HD5 engine is no longer available for newer models, it was featured in two pre-2022 Defender models. These are; The Defender Base Model and The Defender DPS.


  • Engine: The HD5 is powered by a 427 cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, SOHC Rotax engine, which is capable of 38 hp. Its engine also boasts impressive 200-hour service intervals.
  • Transmission: This UTV model also features a Continuous Variable Transmission. Its automatic transmission has electronic belt protection, engine braking, and hill-descent control.
  • Wheels & Tires: The HD5’s wheels are composed of steel, with a 25-inch front and rear tire diameter.
  • Suspension: This model also features an independent double A-arm front suspension. In addition, its rear suspension is independent and composed of steel.

Top Speed

The Defender HD5 features the smallest engine size of all the models in its line. This means it comes with little top-end speed. Depending on the load weight and terrain, the HD5 has a top speed of 50 to 52 mph. However, the pre-installed electronic speed limiter may restrict this model’s top speed.

Can-Am Defender HD7

The Defender HD7 ia tough enough to take on any task, thanks to its storage space and industry-leading towing capacity. This UTV model is perfect for hunting, farming, and exploring. This HD7 is the smallest engine size still available on newer Defender models and is currently used in three different models. These are;

  • Defender Base.
  • Defender DPS.
  • Defender Max.


  • Engine: Unlike the HD5, the HD7 features a more powerful engine — a 650 cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, 4-valve, SOHC Rotax engine. The HD7’s engine is capable of 52 horsepower.
  • Transmission: This model boasts an automatic, belt-type Continuous Variable Transmission as many UTV models use.
  • Wheels & Tires: The HD7’s wheels are composed of aluminum, with a 27-inch front and rear tire diameter.
  • Suspension: Much like the HD5, the HD7 boasts an independent double A-arm front suspension with 10-inch front travel. Its rear suspension is independent and also features a 10-inch rear travel.

Top Speed

Irrespective of an electronic speed limiter, the Can-Am Defender HD7 top speed is 66 mph, which puts it up there with high-end UTVs speed-wise.

Can Am Defender Top Speed

Can-Am Defender HD8

Branded as the “best rider” by Can-Am, the HD8 features an incredible 50 horsepower and a quiet engine. With a towing power of 2,500-lbs, this UTV model can pull at the top of its class.

Alongside the HD5, this HD8 engine type is no longer available in newer models. It was featured in four distinct pre-2022 models. Can-Am Defender models with HD8 engines include:

  • Can-Am Defender Base Model.
  • Defender DPS.
  • Defender DPS Cab.
  • Defender XT.


  • Engine: The HD8 is powered by a 799.9 cc, single-overhead-cam, 8-valve, V-twin with 50 horsepower. This model is tuned specifically for torque, so it reaches an incredible 50-foot-pound torque peak.
  • Transmission: This UTV model is fully automatic, with a belt-type Continuous Variable Transmission, like the HD7, but it’s quite different. The HD8’s final drive and transmission are housed in just one case, so there isn’t any drive shaft from its transmission to the rear gear case.
  • Wheels & Tires: The wheels of the HD8 are composed of steel, with 27-inches front and rear tires. The width of the front and rear tires are 9 and 11, respectively.
  • Drive Line: The HD8 comes with selectable 2WD/4WD. The front differential automatically locks as required in 4WD, and the rear differential is also lockable.

Top Speed

Featuring the smallest of the V-Twin engines, the Can-Am Defender HD8 top speed is 66 mph. However, similar to the HD5 and HD7 models, it is restricted by an electronic speed limiter.

Can-Am Defender HD9

The Defender HD9 perfectly combines power and flexibility, thanks to its 976 cc engine and lightweight tires and wheels. The HD9 engine is currently available in five Defender models. They are:

  • Defender DPS.
  • Defender XT.
  • Defender Max.
  • Defender Max DPS.
  • Defender Max XT.


  • Engine: The HD9 boasts a 976 cc, 4-stroke, 8-valve, V-twin, SOHC engine with an output of 65 horsepower. This UTV model reaches a 50-foot-pound torque peak, thanks to its powerful engine.
  • Transmission: This machine has a fully automatic transmission with hill-descent control and electronic belt protection. It also features a belt-type Continuous Variable Transmission.
  • Wheels & Tires: The wheels of this UTV are composed of 12 inches of steel, with a 27-inch front and rear tire diameter.
  • Drive Line: The HD9 comes with selectable 2WD/4WD with an automatic locking differential in front to provide traction in any condition. On the other hand, the rear differential provides the much-needed turf mode.

Top Speed

Although the HD9 features a bigger, more powerful engine than its predecessors, the UTV still has the same top speed as the HD8. Therefore, the Can-Am Defender HD9 top speed is 66 mph. However, this is solely because the electronic speed limiter restricts its top speed. Even with this, this Defender model still keeps up with some of the fastest Can-Am ATVs in stock condition.

Can-Am Defender HD10

The Defender HD10 features the most powerful engine type in its line. It boasts a range-topping engine and ground clearance without the whistles and bells that put UTV prices out of reach for many pro-off-roaders.

Although the HD10 is the same size as the HD9, the machine still has more towing power, primarily because it boasts more torque and horsepower. The HD10 is the most common Defender engine, currently used in 17 different models


  • Engine: The HD10 is powered by a 976 cc, 8-valve, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, V-twin engine, which produces 82 horsepower. This UTV model also features an intelligent throttle control (ITC) with electronic fuel injection (EFI).
  • Transmission: This UTV also features PRO-TORQ CVT Transmission, with high airflow ventilation, Quick Response System (QRS), and electronic drive belt protection.
  • Wheels & Tires: The front and rear wheels of the HD10 are composed of 12 inches of aluminum. Its front and rear tires are 9 and 11 inches wide, respectively.
  • Suspension: The UTV features an independent double A-arm front suspension. The HD10 also features front and rear twin-tube gas-charged shocks.

Top Speed

Although this is the most powerful Defender model, the Can-Am Defender HD10 top speed is still 66 mph. This is similar to other utility vehicles and even its predecessors speed-wise. As you might have guessed, this UTV model is also restricted by an electronic speed limiter.

Can-Am Defender Electronic Speed Limiter

Every Can-Am Defender model is restricted by an electronic speed limiter. For the Defender HD5, the speed limiter kicks in at 52 mph. However, for Defenders HD7, HD8, HD9, and HD10, the electronic speed limiter starts working at 66 mph. Although the HD9 and HD10 has more acceleration than the HD7 and HD8, they are all capped at the same speed.

Removing The Speed Limiter

The easiest way of removing the speed limiter in any Defender model is to have the electronic control unit (ECU) tuned. Tuning the ECU benefits your Defender by adjusting and recalculating the ideal air-to-fuel ratios, resulting in better throttle response and horsepower.

An ECU tune-up will also reconfigure the radiator fan to operate at a lower engine temperature to help prevent the Can-Am Defender from overheating. By tuning the ECU in the HD7 through HD10 models, several owners can reach top speeds of about 75+ mph and keep pace with higher Can-Am UTV models.


The drivetrain, horsepower, weight of the baggage and passengers, the terrain, the altitude you drive at, and the accessories are just a few factors that could determine your Defender’s top speed. Overall, the Defender line still offers more top-end speed and towing capacities than many UTV models in the industry.

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