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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had a few people ask me to do a review of these two UTVs, being as I have owned both of them. I owned a 2020 Ranger Northstar, and now own a 2021 Defender Limited. My father also owns a 2020 Ranger Northstar. I put 1000 miles on the Ranger Northstar, and have so far put 200 miles on the Defender limited, which were/are used in the Rocky Mountains. They are both good machines, and both have good and bad qualities. I decided to break this down into 10 separate categories, with 10 possible points in each category. Maximum score would be a perfect 100 points. If both machines are tied in a category they both get 5 points. If one machine is 1 point better in a given category, the other machine gets one point less in that category. For example, if a machine gets 6 points in a give category, the other machine would get 4 points, because there are only 4 points left in that category. Here goes ...

Power: The Ranger feels like it has more power and accelerates quicker. Both have good torque, but the Defender has slightly more torque. Both are good in this category, but the win goes to Polaris, with a score of 6, which gives the Can Am a score of 4.

Gearing / ease of shifting transmission / clutching: The Ranger does poorly in this category because of an extremely notchy, catchy, difficult to shift transmission lever. It is also very easy to burn the belt on the Ranger. Just backing up the ramp into our toy hauler will produce smoke and a burnt rubber smell if you aren't careful. No problems in this area with the Defender. Clutch engagement and gearing feel better, and shifting is much much easier. The win goes to Can-Am with a score of 7, which gives the Polaris a score of 3.

Suspension: The Ranger is slightly more plush over low speed rocky terrain, but the Can Am has better suspension at anything over a very slow pace. The Can Am feels more balanced, and overall has a noticeably better suspension. This was a surprise to me. My father and I went exploring today, and we traded off between driving the Can Am and the Polaris several times, because my father wanted to see what the Can Am was like. After having owned a Ranger and a Defender, and after driving each machine back to back for 10 miles at a time, twice, today, I give the win in this category to Can Am, with a score of 6/4.

Handling: The capability of the Ranger's suspension is easy to exceed if the terrain gets rough and speeds are moderate or above. This makes it start to sway and wallow, and require lots of steering correction. The Defender wins the handling category with a score of 6/4.

4x4 capability: I give them a tie in this category, with a score of 5/5. Having said that, I am not a fan of the Polaris 4-wheel drive system that requires the rear tires to slip in order for the front tires to pull, and keep slipping in order for the front tires to continue to pull.

Cab Interior: The quality and comfort of the seats is much better in the Defender Limited vs the Northstar Ultimate. The appearance of the dash, the switches, door liners, and roof liner are better on the Can Am. The cab on the Defender is also much more roomy feeling than the Ranger, mainly because the windshield is at least 6" farther forward in the Defender, which gives the whole interior a more open and roomy feel. This one was an easy win for Can Am, with a score of 7/3.

Noise/Harmonics/Vibration: Engine noise is pretty close to the same, with the Defender being just slightly quieter. But the Polaris has significantly more vibrations, squeaks, and rattles. Can Am wins with a 6/4 score.

Quality of components: I am talking about all the parts that go into making the machine. The frame, a-arm mounts, a-arms, shock mounts, bumper, quality of plastics, etc. The black plastic on the doors and roof of the Ranger is quite susceptible to being brush scratched, and looks poor after just a few rides on narrow trails. The black plastic on the roof and doors of the Defender is much tougher and so far has not been scratched, despite some pretty bad scraping by tree branches. Can Am wins this category with a score of 6/4.

Fit & finish: This one surprised me. Can Am is generally well known for having better fit and finish than many brands. But take a look at the fit and finish of the upper doors with the cab on a Polaris Northstar vs a Can Am Defender Limited.
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vs Can Am


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This was a tough one, because fit and finish inside the cab, of the dash, switches, seat, and of the rest of the body is better on the Defender. But the fit and finish of the doors is just horrible. Polaris wins the fit and finish category with a score of 6/4.

Price: They're pretty much the same, so a tie in this category 5/5.

Overall score is Can Am 56, and Polaris 44. I personally am more satisfied with my Defender Limited than I was with my Northstar. I think it is a better built and better performing machine.

Here are a couple of pictures from today's ride:
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Very well written, thanks for taking the time to share with future shoppers (y)
 
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I agree... Reliabilty wasnt rated but I can testify Defender is much more sound. Put 3k on a Ranger and it gets a lot of time in the shop. Also the Crew cabs with added weight exposes these weakness's quickly. Example is rear transaxle/turf mode and belts. I feel Ranger 4x4 system is much better then Canam viscolok. I dont like Polaris system but it works on all 4 wheels quickly while Canam leaves 1 tire fury and lurching engagement in rough 4x4 stuff. I am installing a locker in front of ours.
 

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Nice write up. Are both doors like that? That fitment really looks poor. Those new ranger doors are really nice.

Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk
 

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2016 Can-Am Outlander Max XT 650
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@MoparToYou
Thanks a lot for sharing with us your reviews. I love this style of real-world reviews where the reviewer used both machines for some time and not just one day like press reviews.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nice write up. Are both doors like that? That fitment really looks poor. Those new ranger doors are really nice.

Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk
Yes, both doors are that way. And it doesn't look like it is something that can be fixed by adjusting the hinges. The front, bottom, and rear of the door line up perfectly, but the top of the door doesn't match the line of the roof. So if I adjust the hinges so that the top is lined up, the rest of the door will be off, which would be even worse. The doors look like they fit poorly, but they open and shut just fine, and they seal out the dust just fine as well. Guess I'll just live with it looking like it was poorly put together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree... Reliabilty wasnt rated but I can testify Defender is much more sound. Put 3k on a Ranger and it gets a lot of time in the shop. Also the Crew cabs with added weight exposes these weakness's quickly. Example is rear transaxle/turf mode and belts. I feel Ranger 4x4 system is much better then Canam viscolok. I dont like Polaris system but it works on all 4 wheels quickly while Canam leaves 1 tire fury and lurching engagement in rough 4x4 stuff. I am installing a locker in front of ours.
This was the first review like this I have done, and there were a few things I didn't think to put a rating on. I didn't rate reliability - Can Am would win. I didn't rate the use of the bed - Polaris would win because you can't even sit on the tailgate of the Can Am without it bowing. Bottom line for me though, is after owning both machines, the Can Am feels like a higher quality and better built machine, and I enjoy it more because of that. For me it is nice to ride in something and be thinking that it feels like a quality built machine that works like it is supposed to, rather than to be riding in something that vibrates, resonates, and burns the belt and sticks in gears so it can't be shifted without fighting with it every time.
 

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IMO, those doors are installed incorrectly. Somehow, somewhere someone did a sub-par install. If you watch videos on YouTube showing the Limited, or even visit dealership websites, all the doors look like what you show on the Northstar...clean, straight lines.

Check out the doors in this video. Clean and straight with the door under the roofline.

Screenshot_20210426-163328_Gallery.jpg



Good write up tho!
 

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I wonder if roof is installed wrong creating the misalignment.?? My doors arent perfect but aint bad either? Polaris doors are so heavy but align well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I wonder the same thing. The doors line up with the entire frame perfectly, on the front, bottom, and rear of the door. But they don't line up with the roof. If I realign the doors to match the roof they won't line up with the door frame. I plan on taking a look at the roof to see if there is something that looks like it can be adjusted or mounted differently to line up better.
 

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I thought about the roof also, but it just sits square on the cage with only one way to install. Couple bolts and it’s on.

The doors however are more complicated. There are 4 pivot or adjustment points. 2 each on the door and 2 on the frame/cage that all have to work in unison to be square. Each hinge has 2-3 bolts that need to be loosened and tightened during each adjustment.

Although I only have the half doors, the hinge points are the same. It was a royal PITA to get all 4 points aligned at the same time. Up/down adjustment then tighten. Left/right adjustment the tighten. Only to find the up/down adjustment is now out of wack. Then the top will be good, only to find the bottom out of alignment. It was a test of patience....lmao. Eventually I said F it and called it good! Needed a few beers afterwards. Haha

Im still going to say it’s the doors.

Either way, still a nice machine you have! Enjoy.
 

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@MoparToYou Isn't it still under warranty? Can't the dealership sort it out? Makes no sense for someone to pay this much money only to receive such fit and finish.
 
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