Some jobs are hilly, bumpy, muddy, dusty, and dirty. To remove all doubt in getting these tasks done, there’s nothing that we’ve seen that can handle the extremes of outdoor life much like the Can-Am Defender 6×6 DPS. It’s an aggressive machine for an aggressive approach to tough work. And beneath the scorching West Texas sun, across miles of rocky ranchland, we found out exactly what this machine is capable of. Here’s our chance to offer up a 2020 Can-Am Defender 6×6 DPS review.
The most obvious feature that makes this machine stand out from many others on the market is the third axle, which provides greater traction and stability on rocky or muddy terrain. The ride is smoother, as the extra axle gives the Defender 6×6 more frequent ground contact in more places — something that’s invaluable while traversing creek beds or other uneven ground.
Read our review of the 2020 Can-Am Defender PRO.
The 6×6 also stepped up and eased one of my biggest concerns about triple-axled machines. Last year, we reviewed the Can-Am Outlander 6×6, and the only real drawback was that its turn radius was so large. But that is an ATV-styled machine, with handlebar steering and controls; there are limits to the maneuverability that it can offer without encroaching on the driver or his/her range of motion. But with a side-by-side like the Defender, the steering wheel provides more opportunity to the front axle, allowing it to turn significantly tighter than the comparable six-wheeled Outlander.
And though it still may not turn on the proverbial dime the way a 4×4 can, the Defender 6×6 more than makes up for that in the enhanced muscle of its HD10 engine. It got a power upgrade to a Rotax 976cc V-twin that produces 82 horsepower and 69 lbs.-ft. of torque. And torque is something that Can-Am focused on specifically with this machine because so many of the jobs it was being used for around farms and ranches involved low speeds and pulling trailers.
The machine also has selectable 4WD/6WD capabilities, with a Visco-Lok QE auto-locking front differential and electronic hill descent control. There are three different driving modes: ECO (which limits high-speed ranch and torque), ECO Off (unrestricted “normal” usage), and Work (for when you’re working under heavy loads). The towing capacity has improved to 3,000 pounds, up from the previous 2,500 pounds.
The 6×6 has a 64-inch-wide suspension and utilizes an updated suspension calibration and front and rear arched A-arms, giving it 13 inches of ground clearance. The tires are also impressive 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0s. The cargo bed is 6 feet long, which is double from what you get from most other machines in this class, and it has a 1,000-pound payload capacity (you can hardly feel it while driving fully loaded). The bed features removable sides to turn it into a true flatbed if needed, and it has a hydraulic assist and several attachment points that’ll help with any load you may be carrying. The box is plastic, but having seen how it’s built and the areas in which it’s reinforced, you should feel confident with whatever you’re trying to move.
Like other Defenders being unveiled in model year 2020, Can-Am looked at cab comfort for its 6×6. It has VERSA-PRO seats fitting for all-day comfort, as well as 4.5-inch display screen. There is a significant amount of prewiring that had been done to make it all that much easier to install additional accessories. Of course, the cargo box and other parts of the 6×6 have everything you’d expect to work with the accessories that are part of Can-Am’s highly functional LinQ system. It also has 10.4 gallons of onboard storage space.
While the Defender 6×6 has an overall shape that looks most closely like the newly unveiled long-bed Defender PRO, there are some very real differences. While the PRO is build on the long chassis of Max models, the 6×6 is a standard chassis with an extension for the rear axle. That means the engine is situated directly behind the passenger seats and, while features have been added to help reduce noise, the 6×6 is going slightly louder compared with a PRO (whose engine is far to the rear) or an enclosed-cab Limited.
But let’s put all the cards on the table — the Defender 6×6 will get you anywhere you need to go, across just about every type of terrain you would encounter. However, it’s a whole lot of machine, and you need to understand that. In the same way that you likely wouldn’t use a 310 hp tractor to farm 5 acres of land, the Defender 6×6 may not be as ideal if you’re a flatlander on 50 or 100 acres. This side-by-side craves the ruggedness of the American Southwest or the steepness of the Appalachian Mountains or the hash winters of the northern Badlands.
The MSRP is $17,999, and it’s available in White or Mossy Oak Break-Up Country Camo.
Ryan Tipps is the managing editor for AGDAILY. He has covered farming since 2011, and his writing has been honored by state- and national-level agricultural organizations.