My family has owned Creekside Campground in the Missouri Ozarks for nearly 20 years. It's a great gig throughout the summer—I never even get burned out on hot dogs and s'mores—but it's work, to be sure. That's why I knew it'd be the perfect place to test the Can-Am Defender 6x6, which promises to work harder than just about any other UTV out there. Over the course of the two-month loan, I subjected it to a variety of jobs and now I'll tell you about how it all went.
There are a few topline stats you should know first about the Defender 6x6. It's powered by a 976cc Rotax engine that makes 82 horsepower and 69 lb-ft of torque, which can pull a 3,000-pound trailer or carry 1,000 pounds in the bed. Speaking of which, the full six-foot box tilts at the toggle of a switch, turning the side-by-side into a compact dump truck that's happy to haul more than most will ever throw at it.
2021 Can-Am Defender 6x6 XT HD10 Review Specs
- Base price (as tested): $21,499 ($23,784.97)
- Powertrain: 976cc Rotax V-twin | CVT | selectable 6-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 82
- Torque: 69 lb-ft
- Ground clearance: 13 inches
- Payload capacity: 1,570 pounds
- Cargo box capacity: 1,000 pounds
- Towing capacity: 3,000 pounds
- Weight: 2,077 pounds
- Dimensions (LxWxH): 159.7 x 64 x 80 in.
- Quick take: This might be the most useful UTV out there, and thanks to that extra axle, it can do work—anywhere.
- Score: 8/10
I took advantage of the tilting box time and again during my time with the machine. It was especially handy for delivering firewood as, we sell roughly a rick each weekend during camping season, though not all at once. This involved a lot of trips back and forth between the woodshed at my house and individual campsites, though I did load the bed full on more than one occasion. We normally use a tractor for this job, and while you can still dump each load of wood with the Kubota's bucket, it's a lot more taxing to climb up and down out of its tall seat. Take that into consideration along with the fact you're moving twice or three times as fast in the Can-Am and you can guess which one I'd rather use.
This proved to be the case with a lot of jobs I performed in the Defender 6x6. Other rigs are just as capable of doing the work, but they rarely boast this level of convenience and comfort. When you can easily hop into something like a UTV while still fitting whatever in the bed, it feels like a win.
Heck, I used it to haul everything I could, whether it fit or not.
As you see here, two 17-foot canoes can ride side-by-side in the back of the Defender 6x6, so long as you don't take a turn too fast. Or, you can hitch up the canoe trailer and pull six of 'em as I did without the rig breaking a sweat. It's not an ideal shuttle bus for floaters, but for doing chores around the property, it proved hard to beat.
The Can-Am's extra axle came in handy here as sometimes, campers leave canoes in hard-to-reach places. Our campground has a creek gravel beach that runs the length of the property, and at some points, it's about six feet below the bank. It's tough to climb up said bank carrying a 17-foot canoe, whether you're on your own or if you have help, so driving down onto the beach made every job quicker, not to mention easier.
The blue-on-black UTV really earned its keep when it came time for trash duty. As unceremonious as it sounds, it's a job that's got to be done once a day at least. With the Can-Am, though, I never had to make more than one trip to collect every bag throughout the campground. Considering I'm used to making three or four trips to the dumpster each time with our tractor, this buggy was a lifesaver. If only it had a crane to toss the bags so I didn't have to handle them twice.
Doing trash in the Defender 6x6 quickly became second nature. I'd reach under the seat where I stored the 55-gallon bags, grab the roll of duct tape I'd hung on the shifter—you've got to stick the bags to the trash barrels or else they fall in—and repeat. I'm a fairly tall guy at 6'5" so tossing a full bag into the waist-high bed wasn't too difficult, but I can see it being tricky for some.
Great Out-of-the-Box Hardware
Thanks to 13 inches of ground clearance and six Maxxis Big Horn tires measuring 27 inches in diameter, the Can-Am can do this type of work on almost any terrain. I didn't have a chance to test it in the snow, but in mud and extremely loose creek gravel, it chugs around with zero drama. If you throw the CVT shifter into low, I'm convinced it could crawl up and over the Ozark Mountains without a problem.
All this is to say that the triple-axled Defender is more than a conversation starter; it's a legitimate tool that should be used as such. I guess you could buy one just to show your buddies, but the $25,388 price tag will be a lot more justifiable if it's making (or saving) you money by the minute.
Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: [email protected]