Can-Am vs Polaris: Unpacking the Rivalry of Off-Road Legends

by | Oct 4, 2023 | UTV Talk



The rivalry between Can-Am and Polaris has been a longstanding competition of innovation in the off-road vehicle industry. Fans on either side endlessly debate who reigns supreme, both sides being filled with passion for their brand of choice. This article delves deeper into the historical roots, the evolution of their competition, and the current state of the rivalry, providing a richer understanding of what makes these brands tick and why their rivalry is beneficial for the off-road community.



Historical Roots


Early Beginnings:


Both Can-Am and Polaris had humble beginnings, with Can-Am’s founder J. Armand Bombardier creating the first propeller-driven sled in 1922, and Polaris entering the scene in 1954 with their first snowmobile.

The competition was ignited early on with Bombardier’s innovative snowmobile designs and Polaris refining these concepts to appeal to a broader audience.


Venturing into Off-Road Vehicles:


The rivalry intensified as both companies ventured into the off-road vehicle market. Polaris made a significant impact with the release of the Ranger RZR in 2008, focusing on recreational sport vehicles.

Can-Am responded with the release of the Commander in 2010, introducing the first 1000cc engine in the side-by-side industry, marking the beginning of a horsepower race between the two brands.

Can-Am Commander 1000 & Polaris Ranger RZR 800 – Photo By Dirt Wheels Mag



Evolution of Competition


The Horsepower Race:


  • The competition for superior horsepower saw Polaris releasing the RZR 1000 with 107 HP in 2014, and Can-Am responding with a 121 HP Maverick Turbo in the same year.
  • This race continued with Polaris upping the ante to 144 HP with the RZR Turbo, and both brands continually pushing the boundaries of what their vehicles could achieve.
  • The rivalry heated up with the release of the Polaris RZR Pro R, designed with racing intentions, showcasing Polaris’ ambition to dominate the off-road racing scene.
  • In a bold response, Can-Am unveiled its 2024 Maverick R lineup, designed to go toe-to-toe with the Polaris Pro R. The Maverick R boasts a turbocharged 999-cc three-cylinder Rotax engine producing a staggering 240 horsepower, 15 horsepower more than the Polaris RZR Pro R, setting a new bar for stock output in the industry.
  • The Maverick R’s unique tall-knuckle suspension design, providing 25 inches of travel in front and 26 inches in the back, coupled with its horsepower, sets it apart as a formidable contender in the off-road vehicle market, challenging Polaris’ recent innovations.


Diverging Philosophies:


While both brands aimed for superior performance, their diverging philosophies became apparent. Can-Am focused on power and performance, while Polaris aimed for better handling and reliability. The Maverick X3 from Can-Am and the RZR Turbo DYNAMIX Edition from Polaris exemplify these differing approaches, each with its unique set of advantages.



The Current State of Rivalry


Innovations and Consumer Choices:


The rivalry has led to a slew of innovations, including intelligent shocks, the Smart-Lok differential, and a range of models catering to different preferences and budgets.

Polaris has been working to expand how outdoor enthusiasts perceive UTVs with the launches of the Xpedition overland rig and the 1500 heavy-duty side-by-side. They also declared their racing intentions by launching their first dedicated racing UTV, the RZR Pro R Factory.

Can-Am, on the other hand, responded with the all-new Maverick R lineup, which includes models like the Maverick R, R X, and R X RS. The R X RS model offers Fox Podium shocks or Fox’s electronically adaptive Smart Shox units, showcasing Can-Am’s focus on power, speed, suspension travel, and innovative UTV suspension design.


Consumers are the Ultimate Winners:


Consumers are the ultimate winners in this rivalry, with a wide range of high-performance vehicles available at competitive prices.

The variety in models and the advancements in technology provide off-road enthusiasts with more choices to suit their preferences and budgets.

Whether it’s the electric side-by-side offerings from Polaris or the high-powered Maverick R from Can-Am, there’s something for every off-road adventurer.

The competition also pushes both brands to offer better value, as they strive to outdo each other not just in performance but also in pricing, features, and overall consumer satisfaction.



Impact on the Industry:


The relentless rivalry between Can-Am and Polaris has significantly elevated the standards in the off-road vehicle industry, setting a high benchmark that has inspired other key players like Yamaha, Honda, and Kawasaki to elevate their game. Their continuous quest for superior horsepower, better handling, and innovative features has pushed the envelope, encouraging other manufacturers to invest in research and development to keep pace. The introduction of cutting-edge technologies such as intelligent shocks, Smart-Lok differential, and advanced suspension systems by these titans has spurred competitors to explore new engineering solutions to improve ride comfort, handling, and off-road capabilities.

This culture of innovation has permeated the industry, leading to a broader spectrum of off-road vehicle options with varying capabilities and features, thus accelerating the pace of innovation in the industry. The rivalry has also contributed to expanding the market by attracting a wider range of consumers through a diverse range of models and features catering to different preferences and budgets. Moreover, the competition has led to more aggressive marketing and promotional activities, further fueling consumer interest and market growth.

The trends set by Can-Am and Polaris often become industry standards, with their focus on enhancing horsepower and introducing advanced suspension systems becoming a prevalent trend in the industry. Their rivalry sets a precedent for healthy competition, which is essential for driving continuous improvement and innovation in the industry, making the Can-Am vs Polaris rivalry a driving force that propels the entire off-road vehicle industry towards excellence, innovation, and growth.



Standing Beside Giants: Our Continuous Innovation


As Polaris and Can-Am relentlessly innovate to push the boundaries of off-road performance, we too are committed to advancing the frontier of aftermarket parts. Our dedication mirrors the spirit of innovation embodied by these industry titans, ensuring that your ride is not just up to par, but sets a new standard of excellence.

Our innovation journey has led to the creation of robust and high-performance aftermarket parts designed to elevate your off-road experience. Among our pioneering products are:

  • Full Billet Transmission Cases: Crafted with precision, our full billet transmission cases are engineered to withstand the harshest of conditions, ensuring that your vehicle’s transmission system remains protected and performs optimally even in the most demanding terrains.
  • Solid Steel Tie Rods: Our solid steel tie rods are a testament to strength and durability. Designed to endure, these tie rods provide the robust support your vehicle needs to navigate through rugged landscapes with ease.
  • Billet Steering Racks: Steering is a critical aspect of off-road performance, and our billet steering racks are designed to offer superior control and responsiveness. Crafted from high-quality materials, these steering racks ensure a smooth and precise steering experience, allowing you to tackle any terrain with confidence.

Our mission is to provide you with aftermarket parts that not only match the industry standards set by giants like Polaris and Can-Am but exceed them. By constantly innovating and expanding our product range, we aim to ensure that your ride is equipped to excel in all terrains, offering an unparalleled off-road adventure.

As Polaris and Can-Am continue their rivalry, driving forward the evolution of off-road vehicles, we stand right beside them, committed to delivering aftermarket solutions that enhance and elevate your off-road experience. Our continuous innovation is a pledge to provide you with the tools necessary to conquer any trail and explore the uncharted, with reliability and performance that transcends the ordinary.


TCP “Elite X” Transmission Case for Polaris – The Industries First Full Billet Transmission 



Additional Insights


The competition has also spurred a sense of brand loyalty among riders, often leading to playful banter and debates on which brand reigns supreme. This friendly competition among enthusiasts further enriches the off-road community, making the rivalry between Can-Am and
Polaris is a cornerstone of off-road culture.

The continuous back-and-forth between these two giants in terms of technological advancements and model releases keeps the industry vibrant and forward-moving. Each new release from either brand is not just a product launch, but a challenge to the rival, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in off-road vehicle design and performance.




The saga of rivalry between Can-Am and Polaris is a captivating narrative that underscores the essence of competition and innovation in the off-road vehicle industry. From their humble beginnings to their relentless pursuit of horsepower supremacy, these titans have not only shaped the trajectory of the industry but have also enriched the off-road community. Their competition has spurred a cascade of innovations, setting a high benchmark that challenges not only them but also other industry players to continually evolve. As they vie for the top spot, the industry witnesses a proliferation of technological advancements, a broader spectrum of vehicle options, and an ever-expanding market catering to a diverse range of off-road enthusiasts.

Our journey alongside these giants reflects a shared spirit of innovation, striving to provide aftermarket solutions that transcend the ordinary and empower every rider to conquer the uncharted. As we delve into the intricacies of their rivalry, we also celebrate the culture of continuous improvement and the friendly competition among enthusiasts that further fuels this industry’s vibrant and forward-moving nature. The tale of Can-Am versus Polaris is more than just a rivalry; it’s a testament to the power of competition in driving forward not only two iconic brands but an entire industry towards a horizon of endless possibilities and adventures. Through every twist and turn in this rivalry, the off-road community, the industry, and we stand to benefit, learn, and grow. The unyielding rivalry between Can-Am and Polaris is not just a chapter in the off-road vehicle industry’s history; it’s a catalyst for its future, propelling us all towards a realm of innovation, exploration, and exhilaration that awaits beyond the beaten path.

Who are we?

At TCP Pro Racing, we stand as trailblazers in the UTV and ATV aftermarket parts sector, renowned for our unwavering commitment to durability and craftsmanship. Born from a desire to infuse the industry with honesty and integrity, we strive to be your trusted source for parts that you can rest arrused will withstand the harshest terrains.


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