Complementing its bigger brothers, we try out Can-Am’s latest addition to its six-wheel ATV family, the Outlander 6x6 450T. James Rickard finds out more with a test drive.
Just looking at the pictures, we are sure you have already established that the new six-wheeler from Can-Am is not going to win any agility prizes. On a concrete yard it turns like an oil tanker, and in deep mud the steering becomes particularly weighty.
However, being good at manoeuvring is not this ATV’s intention. To put things in perspective, the Outlander 6x6 450T is the new smallest model in the six-wheeler range, sitting below its larger 6x6 650 and 1000 stablemates.
Featuring six wheels and an extended rear load deck, all three bring the promise of increased load carrying capacity and greater traction compared to their four-wheel counterparts.
But while we can see the larger models’ place in the market, as load-bearing mules, is a 450 version really necessary? Armed with a list of jobs, we aimed to find out.
With a combined rack carrying capacity of 213kg and a towing capacity of 907kg (braked), the 6x6 450T’s capabilities are impressive on paper.
For versatility, quick release clips (Can-Am’s LinQ system) hold the 450T’s optional load basket in place, which allows it to be removed and placed on either the front or rear load rack. This system also allows you to tailor the ATV to your liking via Can-Am’s range of clip-on options.
And it is a good thing too, as the extra load deck above the third axle is limited in its ‘holding’ capability. While its central sunken section will carry a few mineral buckets, and carefully loaded bales and bags will not stray too far, it really needs some side panels fitted if you want to retain things like fencing tackle.
Also, it would be useful if the extra rear deck was a bit wider; a) to be able to carry and secure a load better, and b) to reduce the amount of mud being flung over the rider.
Unlike the arches over the middle axle, the deck over the third axle is actually narrower. It is a shame the body width cannot be of equal width from front to back, like the bigger models, solving both issues. At least, optional mudguard extensions would be good.
There is also a lot of dead space under the rear deck, which would be good if it could be fitted with a slide out compartment.
From a washing point of view, there is no drain plug in the rear deck either, which makes cleaning it a pain.
Riding position is good, and a chunky seat cushion should take the edge off long days in the saddle. Complementing this is generous suspension travel, which combined with its six wheels, make for a good ride, even across the wettest and roughest terrain. And while it is no agile stock chaser, manoeuvrability limitations are certainly less of an issue once you get into the open spaces of a field.
Though steering weight is acceptable on a concrete yard, deep mud does make it heavy, particularly when the two rear axles just want to go in a straight line – power steering would be a good option on this ATV, as it is with the larger models.
Beaching and bridging were an initial concern, with its three axles. Visions of it balanced like a seesaw on its middle axle on top of a hump were soon abated by its ability to follow contours well. Generally, all six wheels stayed in contact with the ground during our week’s test, offering plenty of traction and a stable platform to work from. The latter is good news for those thinking of making the most of the ATV’s carrying capabilities with a pellet applicator or sprayer, for example.
Another upshot of its long wheelbase and three axles is its climbing ability, which not only provides plenty of grip up steep slopes, but also gives a massive amount of confidence that the machine is not going to go end over end.
Channelling power to the wheels is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) – just rev and go. Via a right-hand lever, park, reverse, neutral, high range and low range, can be selected. Selection was quite clunky during our test, but this could be down to newness. High range does the job most of the time, with low range really reserved for heavy-duty pulling and carrying.
Both rear axles are permanently driven, with the ability to engage the front axle should extra grip be required. While the front axle does feature an auto-locking differential to aid turning and maintain traction, both the rear axles are solid shafts with no differentials. On a machine like this, it would be good if it was fitted with diffs, to help manoeuvrability.
The Rotax engine seems a strong performer, having to contend with the six wheeler’s own bulk and also the load it is carrying or pulling. It is quite a vocal unit and does like to rev, a characteristic which often comes with ATVs equipped with a CVT. This said, the revs do die back once the machine is up to speed, much like a CVT tractor.
Reassuringly, for a CVT machine, the 450 does give really good engine braking, even at tick over, which is where most ATVs with this type of transmission just ‘let go’ and free wheel. Impressive stopping power is provided by four disc brakes; two at the front and two on the middle axle.
While the obvious trade-off for this ATV is manoeuvrability, its party pieces are pulling, climbing and carrying. And with its weight spread across six wheels, it travels well too.
It is a niche product, however, and will not be a vehicle which suits many, but it is certainly a good alternative to constantly dragging a trailer.
In an ideal world, you would have a large ATV or UTV for your carrying and pulling duties, while a small, nippy runabout takes care of rounding up the stock. And while the 6x6 450T tries to marry these two worlds, it does lose the crucial nippy element.