Some of the most inspirational times in an off-road machine owner’s life could be when the work clock begins to tick at the break of dawn. You may not know what it will take to get your job done correctly and many times it’s during these tough job’s, when necessity is the mother of invention. For the 2020 line of Can-Am Defenders, work has the main stage while still keeping those afternoon rides across the property comfortably in view. We had an opportunity to join Can-Am in the wide-open ranch lands of Texas at the famous Y.O. Ranch Headquarters to not only learn about the history of this beautiful spread but to learn just how well the Can-Am Defender line can work and play in any situation.
Located in Mountain Home Texas, Y.O Ranch Headquarters is one of the premiere hunting destinations in the Lonestar State. This sprawling countryside is home to not only cattle, but it is immersed in a wild variety of wildlife and terrain that will most definitely torture most working machines on the first day of use. Maybe this is why Can-Am decided to introduce the press to their hard-working line-up of Defender’s here and not at the beach!
Looking at the Can-Am Defender selection laid out in front of the chow hall we noticed the Defender Pro HD10 immediately. The 6ft long 4.5ft wide bed looks like a stretch limo and with the workability of this machine in mind we just had to jump in the cab here first. The bed was full of cargo and a good driving or hauling test was in our near future across the rough Texas dirt. The morning was pretty chilly as temps had not yet gotten up to the “comfortable” mark, but we also knew the Texas heat would be along soon enough so opted for the open cab ride as the sun was waking up the Texas hill side. Slipping effortlessly into the cab of the 2020 Defender Pro HD10 we noticed the smooth level floors which had been embossed for grip. The tilt steering and refined gauge cluster gave us all of the adjustments as well as information we would need to keep check on the rig.
The Defender Pro HD10 is a true utility work machine that has some decent trail manners to as well. If you look at the Defender Pro HD10 from the side, you will notice the length is very similar to the Can-Am Defender Max. That is because the inspiration for this rig was pretty much from that Defender Max with the long bed now extending into where the rear seats would have been. With the underbed storage placed where the floorboard of those backseats used to reside you have what most will realize as the biggest enclosed storage compartment in the UTV industry. Some measure it in gallons but we would say a full-size adult could hide inside the hull of the ship. While it is not completely watertight it is a space for most any hand tool, bushel bags of seed or hunting gear. If the bed is not wide open enough for you just remove the sides of the bed and you can haul anything from a pallet of feed or even a full-size ATV. This Defender Pro is very versatile and this flatbed conversion makes this rig a ranchers dream.
Our ride in the Defender Pro HD10 took us into the hills surrounding the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters and it was immediately clear just how quiet the cab of the machine is. The 82hp Rotax mill is much farther behind the cab and with 69ft pound of torque the grunt for the 1000lb cargo bed is sufficient. Can-Am not only recalibrated the CVT for the hefty 2500lb towing capability but they also reduced the shift points down by 500rpm to add to that working situation. The suspension gets some help in the ground clearing section of the spec sheet as the front and rear arms are arched to allow more space down the center belly of the Defender Pro. The huge rocks and old tree stumps were a concern along the trail ride but never gave the Defender any trouble most likely due to the 13-inches of ground clearance. The weight in the bed that we had mentioned before however, made some off-camber sections of trail a bit tricky, but the predictable handling managed to keep us cruising along for the ride.
Once we switched to an unloaded version of the same Defender Pro HD10 it was clear that in any suit, the Defender Pro would be a viable option for any working situation. Can-Am also managed to add a 30% increase in rigidity to the framework while reducing the overall weight by a few pounds. The length of the Defender Pro also helped the overall handling when the trail speeds picked up just a bit and with 11-inches of suspension travel both front and rear the ride did seem pretty plush. It’s not like we were racing in this machine, but you will notice a good smooth chassis manner in most any situation and quickly realize why Can-Am says that it is Tough, Capable and clever.
As we mentioned beforehand, the temperature was chilly for the morning. A little “experienced” editor trick was to allow the rookies to spend the cool morning in the new Can-Am Defender Limited HVAC edition models while we knew the heat was coming in the mid-day ride and could possibly be much more unbearable. After a brief lunch it was time to hit the trails again and get a handle on just how well the latest in Can-Am technology would suit us in the hills of Y.O. Ranch Headquarters.
Getting into the Can-Am Defender Limited HD10 is like slipping into a very high-end car. The cab is quite possibly one of the best in the business and it really feels like a million bucks. The doors feel solid and the sealing of the cab is so tight that rolling down the “electric” windows is sometimes necessary to get them to close up. It’s incredibly quiet in the cab and once seated inside you feel like you are in your own little world. Just like we have come to expect from any Can-Am Defender model the floor and seating flows well for continual entrance and exit from either side. The very first thing that caught our attention was the extremely well laid out dash and HVAC control panel. The Heat and AC in the Defender Limited are controlled by a single dial that sets the temp for the ride to auto climate. This means if you want the cab at 70 degrees simply turn the dial to that temp and get on about your business. The AC compressor on this rig is a variable style design that works efficiently whether you are stopped or running down the trail at 30mph. I guess an easier way to understand that is that the compressor works to cool the cab even at idle where other brands in the same category only really work well when the engine RPMs are high enough to engage the compressor.
With the cab cooling us off and our tour guide lead us into the hills of Mountain Home Texas where we quickly began to fall in love with this Defender. The handling as well as comfort of the ride is what we have all come to love and somewhat expect from the Can-Am brand but it’s also the fine details that add to the enjoyment of the trail. As we rode through layers of dust in Y.O. Ranch Headquarters backcountry we started to really notice those finer details. With the cab sealed there is always the thought of outside fresh air being pulled in and utilized for temperature control. Well, the cab has its own air filter, keeping the dust out of the fresh air coming into the passenger compartment. As if the AC and heat, electric windows and great looks are not big enough selling points, this Defender HD10 Limited comes with an 850watt magneto, 7.6 inch display and keypad as well as signature LED accent lighting under the newly revised front fascia look.
Riding in the Texas backcountry is absolutely spectacular and doing it in style is something that cannot be forgotten. Easing around the wildlife in the trails from huge long horn cattle to even whitetail deer, turkey and black buck made the day of riding that much more fascinating. A full day of experience in two of the 2020 Defender models is enough to set your mind at ease that Can-Am is building very much quality and reliable off-road machines. Not to mention they also know what a hard day of work feels like and are willing to do anything to build machines to ease that stress from your shoulders.
For more information on the 2020 Can-Am Defender line-up, please visit: Can-Am Off-Road