XC stands for cross country. If you’re looking through the Can-Am Maverick lineup, it can quickly get complicated and confusing. You’ll find the X3, the Sport DPS, Sport Max, Sport X MR, Sport X RC, and even the Maverick Trail, but all are aimed at different riders with different UTV intentions.
The Maverick Sport X XC is aimed at fast trail and cross-country riders, but not shoppers who want the extreme performance of the X3 lineup — or the 2024 Maverick R lineup. It’s based on the 60-inch Maverick Sport but then gets longer (and arched) suspension arms for a 4-inch wider track along with a Smart-Lok front differential, Fox shox, and some other changes that help smooth out the ride, make long rides more comfortable and the machine more capable.
In short: The 2023 Maverick Sport X XC is designed for all-day comfort and high performance. It delivers on both with easy-to-use steering, accessible power, and a supple suspension. But, it is missing some high-tech options and falls short in gear securement.
- Displacement976 cc
- EngineRotax V-Twin
- DrivetrainTrue 2WD/4WD, Lockable front differential
- Front suspensionFox 2.5 Podium Piggyback QS3 shocks; 14.8" travel
- Rear suspensionFox 2.5 Podium Piggyback QS3 shocks; 14.8" travel
- BrakesDual 220mm hydraulic discs, twin-piston calipers
- Towing capacity1,500 lbs.
- Cargo bed capacity300 lbs.
- Ground clearance14"
- Dry weight1,428 lbs.
- Fuel capacity10 gals.
- Excellent ride comfort
- Simple controls
- Hill descent control
- Dynamic power steering
- Loud engine
- Lack of tie-down locations
- No GPS
- Cramped cockpit
2023 Maverick Sport X XC Review: Rotax 1000R Power
Every 29023 Maverick Sport X XC gets a 976cc Rotax 1000R V-Twin that makes 100 horsepower. That’s 25 more horses than the standard Sport, and in a vehicle that has a dry weight of a little over 1,400 pounds (plus a driver and gear that takes it closer to 1,800), the engine delivers impressive performance.
The liquid-cooled V-Twin has loads of torque throughout most of its power band. It’s an engine that pulls hard even as you reach the top speed of the machine. It didn’t have the same ability to spin the rear tires coming off of corners that others in this class (like the latest Polaris RZR XP) offer, but midrange acceleration felt a lot better. So if you’re more concerned with looking fancy at lower speeds, then this might not be the right choice. But, if you want to feel quick on the move, it’ll be right up your alley.
Big Power Comes With Big Sounds
This is a powerful engine, but it’s also a noisy one. Conversation on the move was impossible and was difficult even at idle. If you’re planning on spending all day with a passenger or even going on a mildly chatty group ride, you’re going to want to add an in-ear comms system instead of a handheld radio.
The Maverick Sport X XC has two engine mapping settings, Eco and Sport. You pick your setting using a small button on the dash, and the changes are obvious immediately. Eco is a very mild accelerator ramp, which is great for trails that are extremely rough where your foot can get bounced around on the throttle. It’s also good for technical terrain where you want more precise control of power output. Toggle Sport, and the engine jumps to life.
In Sport mode, the Maverick is extra-sensitive to the movement of your right foot. It’s great for fast and open terrain, but most of my riding was spent in Eco mode.
Highly Responsive CVT
The Maverick has a Quick Response System CVT with high-flow air intake and an electronic system designed to protect the drive belt. The box’s Low Range was perfect for crawling up steeper hills or over tough obstacles, especially when using the Eco Mode.
Engine braking is also excellent, especially in Low Range. The electronic hill descent control maintained speeds as low as just 1 mph on some very steep slopes. All I had to do was keep my foot off the pedals and let the machine do the work.
Can-Am has a trick front differential on Sport X models. They all have two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and a front locker, controlled with a toggle switch. Just beside that switch is another to change between Trail and the high-tech Trail Activ.
Trail Activ engages electronic control of the front diff’s lockup. When the computer detects high engine torque or an increase in your speed, the system progressively locks the front differential until you either release the throttle or slow down. Can-Am says it allows smoother steering effort and more predictable responses.
I’ll admit I couldn’t tell the difference between the two Trail modes, but that might be the point. The X XC just drove forward capably and continued to respond precisely to my steering inputs.
Instead of this mode, Sport X MR has a mud mode and Sport X RC has a rock function to control the front diff. Those changes give you an idea of the intended use case for each of the two machines.
Compliant Suspension for Long-Distance Comfort
The Sport X XC has 14.8 inches of suspension travel both front and rear, which is about 3 inches more than the basic Sport. The extra travel comes thanks to the longer suspension arms and wider track, and it also includes 2 inches of extra ground clearance.
Fox 2.5 Podium shocks with external reservoirs and QS3 external compression damping adjustment front and rear do a great job of controlling the Sport X XC’s body. I had the shocks set to their softest setting, because I’m big on ride comfort, but even at high speeds the machine never felt overly soft. The rear shocks are a breeze to adjust, though you’ll have a bit of a blind reach to turn the knobs for the fronts.
This is a comfortable machine, at high and low speeds. I drove the machine on my local trails, where I know the roads and where the worst bumps are. Dips, drops, and cuts that have me slamming on the brakes and cringing with anticipation in other machines were barely more than a brief thump in this one.
What I loved most about the Maverick’s suspension setup is that it seemed to better control low-speed body movement and handle occupant weight than its competitors. I’m a heavy driver, and that usually means I find my UTV bottoming out on some lower-speed obstacles — like crawling back out of a small washout — where my lighter ride partners don’t. The Sport X XC didn’t do that, and even my heft didn’t seem to cut into static ground clearance as much as it does on other rides.
Dynamic Power Steering Is Easy on the Arms
Can-Am uses Dynamic Power Steering, which adds more power assist at lower speeds and less when you’re going fast. The extra low-speed assist is great for maneuvering around trailheads, making tight U-turns, and loading and unloading onto a trailer. But, the reduced assist stops the Maverick from getting twitchy or hard to control at high speeds — especially at high speeds on bumpy terrain.
The Maverick is stable, even on steeper side slopes, thanks to its 64-inch track. The steering assistance adds to this feeling of stability. It also gives you great feedback as to what the front tires are doing without beating up your arms, wrists, and shoulders.
Easy-to-Use Controls, but Exposed Power Ports
In the cabin, the Maverick has a basic layout with a 7.6-inch digital display and a pair of well-sealed dash-top storage bins. The display’s speedometer is large and easy to read, even with the sun over your shoulder. I would have liked a larger tach than the numbers-only gauge provided, but it’s not really essential. Can-Am gives you a few small customization options for the gauges, but nothing elaborate.
The toggle switches for the lights, 4×4, and Trail modes offer positive feedback and are easy to reach. The drive mode, gauge adjustment, and trip buttons are a little less obvious. They’re rubber-covered soft buttons that I found tougher to use on the move.
There is a 12V power plug in the center of the dashboard, but it’s out in the open and not in a protected bin. Can-Am could steal a trick from Polaris here, which hides a power plug inside of the storage bin so you can charge without worrying about water or mud in your electrical ports.
The Maverick Sport also doesn’t offer a touchscreen with any mapping functions, and the only available stereo is a factory accessory. Even in the accessory catalog, there’s no GPS option. You can add a mount to use a tablet you already own, but that’s not an ideal solution.
2023 Can-Am Maverick Sport X XC: Tight Footwell & Cramped Cabin
While the ride was comfortable, I found that the Maverick Sport X XC’s cabin was not. It has a cramped footwell and the adjustable seats did not have enough travel for me to last for a full day of riding. I’m tall, but this isn’t as much of an issue for me in some other machines.
On the plus side, the passenger side offered just as much room as the driver’s side, instead of the much more cramped floor space you’ll find on the wrong side in some other UTV models.
The seat itself was comfortable, and the belts were easy to use. I wish the belts offered up and down adjustment on the pillar, though. A fixed location isn’t great for tall or short riders.
Can-Am needs to spend a bit more time working on cup holders, too, as the on-the-floor location and shallow well are really only usable when you’re stopped. At speed, bottles simply won’t stay in place.
Cargo Box Needs More Tie-Downs
A big cargo box can hold up to 300 pounds of gear. The cargo box has a low lip that makes it easy to reach items that have rolled to the far corners of the box, but securing items is a bit tougher.
There are more than a dozen mounting points for Can-Am’s LinQ attachments, but all but two are in the center of the cargo tray. Plus you need to purchase LinQ mounts to use them because they’re designed to work with LinQ accessories.
The system is clever, but if you don’t buy in, there are no D-rings or similarly shaped places to hook on a bungee cord’s carabiner or the hook of a ratchet strap. This feels like a big miss in what is otherwise a long-trip-ready machine.
Of course, like every UTV maker, Can-Am has approximately a billion available accessories made to make transporting cargo easier. OK, it’s closer to 40, but there are soft and hard bags, coolers, and even hard cases that have speakers to give you enclosed (and strapped-down) storage.
2023 Can-Am Maverick Sport X XC Review: Conclusion
Before I picked up the Can-Am Maverick Sport X XC, I was told it was the brand’s most popular model. After spending the day with this machine, it’s not hard to understand why.
The Maverick Sport X XC has a very long name, and I assume that’s because it’s meant for very long days on the trail. The Sport X XC makes those days feel shorter thanks to a very comfortable ride and compliant suspension. It has a steering system that is a delight, and an engine that while loud is smooth, powerful, and predictable at any rpm.
With a starting price of $22,499, it fits right into the middle of the segment. At that price, it is an appealing package, but it lacks features like built-in GPS that are a must-have these days.