REVIEW: Can-Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 ATV

By: Barry Ashenhurst, Photography by: Barry Ashenhurst, Video by: Barry Ashenhurst

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Six-wheeled ATVs tend to get more drive, but does that make them better choices for farm work? BARRY ASHENHURST checks out the Can-Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 ATV.

Can-Am’s Outlander 6x6 is the first of its type that we’ve got our hands on for a test.

We don’t strike six-wheelers because they’re more likely to be found in industrial or at least semi-industrial applications where ‘heavy duty’ is a standard operating procedure.

The 6x6 is recognisably Can-Am. It looks like an Outlander. Everything on it is what you’d expect to find on Can-Am product, except for the extra set of driving wheels that support the huge cargo-box on an extended, second generation SST chassis.

This ‘dual-level’ box is a standout feature and one that makes the vehicle more useful than extra traction when you probably have enough already.

View the Can-Am 650 XT 6x6 specifications

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Machine overview

Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x 6_4

This is a big ATV. It’s 112cm longer and 186kg heavier than a 4x4 Outlander.

It’s available only in the XT trim, which is good, because as standard equipment you get a 1360kg winch, hand-guards,  a full-length bash plate, a heavy duty front bumper and three-stage power-steering.

The latter worked perfectly during our evaluation, with no hint of over-heating, a problem we’re familiar with on certain Outlander 4x4s.

Tyres are 26-inch Carlisle ACT radials on cast aluminium wheels. The first and second set of driving wheels have 214mm, ventilated disc brakes and twin-piston callipers but the last set of wheels are unbraked.

You might think this would have an adverse effect on overall stopping power but it doesn’t seem to: the 6x6 pulled up as strongly as any 4x4 Outlander that Reg Grant and I have tested in the past 10 years.

 

Power and transmission

Power comes from Rotax’s 650cc, liquid-cooled V-twin engine which develops 62hp at 8000rpm. According to Rotax, that’s more power than you’d get from any other ATV engine under 800c.

We’re unsure if that’s true, and we’re not inclined to rummage through spec sheets to find out, but we have a lot of experience with this donk and in our opinion no one needs more grunt.

This is one of the ATV world’s finest engines and would only be embarrassed by embellishment from us.

The transmission is what you’d expect, a CVT auto with a very low L gear. Can-Am uses Visco-Lok to lock the front differential.

The Outlander runs in 4x4 most of the time but when Visco Lok yells, "Stroof, we’re running out of traction!" it locks in the front driving wheels and 4x4 becomes 6x6, without you feeling a thing.

 

Suspension

Suspension is double torsional trailing-arm down the back and dual A-arms on the front.  Generally the ride quality is excellent, but the machine sits noticeably higher at the rear and tends to nose-dive under brakes.

Because of that we’d be inclined to set up the shock absorbers on the hardest of the five preload settings. This might compromise ride quality some but would firm up the handling and provide a more stable platform when the ATV is fully loaded and/or towing to its rated capacity of 750kg.

An uncommon feature of this suspension is a disconnect-able sway bar which allows you to partially control articulation on the rear wheels. The feature is supposed to fine-tune ride quality and handling.

A disconnect-able sway bars is popular among the extreme off-road crowd but we’d be surprised if the average Aussie farmer could be bothered fiddling about with it.

 

Performance

Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x 6_manuevrability _2

During our evaluation we took a Polaris 570 Ace everywhere we took the 6x6 Outlander.

On rocks, six-wheel drive proved no advantage, in fact it was a pain in the arse, because of the machine’s diminished manoeuvrability and huge turning circle.

A 6x6 doesn’t work well in tight spots, and even with power-steering is a handful on anything but open terrain.

If you need a 6x6 to climb a hill your 4x4 won’t climb, you’re a demented thrill seeker.

 

Verdict

We can’t come up with a convincing argument proving that six-wheel drive is better than four-wheel drive.

It depends on the application of course, but for farm work, where you might be traversing hills or running through creek beds or trundling across paddocks all day, you don’t need a 6x6 to do what our farmers do daily on a 4x4.

We can see this machine in use in Canada or Europe where they get a lot of deep snow. There it might prove its worth, but in Australia the amount you pay simply for that extra traction doesn’t seem worth it.

The real advantage this machine offers is in its payload and tow rating – and the brilliant Made In Sweden cargo-box. This Outlander will tow 750kg and carry nearly 320kg. No 4x4 quad can do that.

What’s more, the flat-floor, modular , tilt-assist cargo-box can be set up in different ways, like with or without the sidewalls and tailgate, and with or without the huge central storage box.

If what you care about most in an ATV is payload and storage capacity, this is the machine you should buy - if you’re ready for the price. The 650 XT sells for $21,000 and the 1000 XT for $23,200.

 

Specifications

DIMENSIONS

Length/width/height: 312x124x126cm.

Wheelbase: 208.1cm

Ground clearance: 27.9cm (11in)

Dry weight: 515kg

ENGINE

Type: Four-stroke V-twin

Capacity: 649.6cc

Fuel delivery: EFI

Fuel tank capacity: 20.5 litres

Click here to view the detailed specs >>

 

Don’t miss the full report in the December issue of New Farm Machinery magazine, on-sale November 9.

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Look up Can-Am ATV specifications

Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 4 It’s 112cm longer than a 4x4 Outlander and 186kg heavier. Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 4
Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 Cargo box 7 The clever cargo-box offers a number of setup alternatives and a payload capacity of 318kg. That’s a lot. Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 Cargo box 7
Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 rear wheel articulation 3 Rear wheel articulation is impressive. Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 rear wheel articulation 3
Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 controls 6 The controls are what you’d expect. Arrowed is the winch control. Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 controls 6
Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 manuevrability 2 It doesn’t work well in tight spaces. The turning circle is big. Manoeuvring in places like this requires a lot of ‘backing and filling’. Can Am Outlander 650 XT 6x6 manuevrability 2

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