Friday, January 9, 2015

Can Am Renegade vs Outlander

This seems to be a hotly debated topic, and why shouldn't it be. These are two of the hottest machines on the market. I have owned both so I think I have a good point of view and will throw my opinions out there for debate.
One of the first things that to address which might come as a shock to many of the uneducated, is that they are the same machine. If you were to take an 800 Outlander and and 800 Renegade, strip the plastics and and stand back 20 feet, only those with a very well trained eye would be able to tell the difference. Sure there are some tweaks here and there that are different, but the frame geometry, the riders stance, the weight distribution, the suspension geometry, the engine are all the same.
So the main differences between the two are aesthetic. The Outlander is classified by Can Am as a "Recreation-Utility" ATV, it has more squared lines to accommodate front and rear racks and overall more of a traditional utilitarian appearance. The Renegade is classified as a "Sport 4x4" and has jagged, angled lines with no racks and more tires exposed. I don't understand the psychology of it, but if you expose the tires on an ATV it does give it more of a sporty look. Many of the race quads have very little fenders if any at all. Which brings me to my first deficiency with the Renegade:

Prepare to "wear the trail" on a Renegade

Fender Coverage

This wasn't a concern for me when I purchased my first Renegade, but it became one. My first Renegade was a 2007 800R, you can read my full review here. On my first ride where we encountered mud it became very clear how little fender protection I had. We were at a camp and it had rained for three days before we got there and it rained the entire first day. Everything was muddy and mucky. We were using our ATV's to get to various areas in the camp that were connected by dirt road. I had brought boots with me but for comfort I wanted to keep my shoes on, besides, it's not like we were going mudding. Boy was I in for a surprise. Driving slowly I started getting clumps of mud thrown off my front tires and onto my shoes, so I slowed down and put my feet on top of my front fenders. Even that didn't make much difference. The sticky clay road we were on constantly sent clumps of mud coming off the front and rear tires skyward and raining down on me like an artillery barrage.
When we arrived at our destination I was covered in mud, but my friends were not. In fact they were dry as a bone. Check out my "Mud Virgins" video to see first hand the mud flinging. Buying a set of fender flares was the first thing I did when I got back.

My second bad experience with fender coverage was during a wet cold spring ride with my 2009 Renegade 800X. The sun was shining and the snow was starting to melt, it was still pretty chilly though. Mindful of the temperature, I wore my snowmobile suit which was water resistant, not water proof. We encountered many very large ice crusted puddles on that ride, needless to say I was soaked like I have never been soaked on a ride before, right down to my underwear. Terribly cold and uncomfortable. I installed fender flares as soon as I got back.

In contrast the Outlander has fenders that cover the tires and more and provide amazing coverage. You'll still get wet, but not soaked to the bone.

Fender Flares
Renegade 800R with flares freshly installed
Most of the fender flares extend out about 4", they also fill in some of the other areas of the fender and give a uniform edge to the fender edge. But even with the flares on you can still see much of the tire exposed. Any tire visible to the rider will be an area where water and mud are thrown at you. So yes they make a difference but they are not going to keep you dry.

The other consideration is appearance. After installing the flares on my 2007 800R I found I didn't like the way it looked as much any more. And after installing flares on my 2008 800X I un-installed them later for the same reason.

Many models of the Outlander come with fender flares already installed.



Having entered the 4x4 ATV world from a sport quad I was used to not bringing any supplies with me on my rides. But that started to change when I got my Renegade, at first I just wanted to bring a cold drink and a snack but later on I want tools, extra clothes ect. and the Renegade has nowhere to put anything. My 800X at least had some loops behind the seat but my 800R had nothing and I ended up using a backpack which I found uncomfortable and difficult to clean. So I started looking into rack options.

On my 07 800R I got a Rubberdown Customs bracket that allowed me to use an Outlander rack.

2007 Renegade 800R with Outlander rack
 With my 09 800X I purchased an aluminum rack from PRM that mounts beside the rear push bar. I thought that this was a cleaner look and would keep more of the original Renegade look.

2008 Renegade 800X with PRM rack

Both of these rack ended up costing nearly $400 when all associated costs were calculated.

The Outlander comes with both front and rear racks from the factory, no need to adapt an after market solution.

Nowhere to push

This may be a minor point but still needs mentioning. If you plan on taking your Renegade in areas where you might get stuck, you really don't have many areas to push. I can recall a time we did a group ride and all of us were getting stuck in an area where the snow had really blown in. When I got stuck I had three guys some over to give me a push, but they had nowhere to push. The rear grab bar is pretty much useless although one guy can somewhat get under it the other two couldn't do anything. I ended up having to use my winch to get out.

The Outlander has racks and brush guards that are very sturdy and provide many areas to grab onto for a push.

Rad Relocate

If you plan on doing serious mudding with your Renegade you will find out very quickly that your Radiator will plug up with mud in it's current location and you will forever be overheating and put into limp mode. From my research there are only two manufactures that are making rad relocates for the Renegade with the exact same design, Wild Boar and Gorilla. My personal opinion is that these are butt ugly and completely ruin the sporty look of the Renegade, but with the design of the front plastics you really have no other option for a rad relocate design.

An otherwise gorgeous Renegade build ruined by an ugly rad relocate
The Outlander XMR has a rad relocate that looks in proper proportion to the rest of the ATV. It blends in the machine and does't stick up like an billboard like the Renegade's rad relocate.

Ironically after all my modifications I found that I wasn't happy with the look


All of this has brought me to this final conclusion, buy an Outlander. Why go through all the cost and problems to customize a Renegade and basically turn it into an Outlander. I feel that if I was only riding dry trails I would likely still own a Renegade today but mudding is just too fun to ignore.
Both are awesome and you will have an exhilarating ride with either, but if you are in the market to purchase and are weighting the options between the two hopefully this has given you some food for thought.


  1. In conclusion is an Outlander good for trail riding? That's what I plan on doing and are the extra features on the Outlander just good to Have? thanks!

    1. Yes, it is great for trail riding. I'd recommend the normal chassis versus the long chassis of the Max and the XMR. No extra features really, just that your are warm and dry at the end of the day. The Renegade wins the beauty contest but that is only my opinion.

  2. The Renegade is for a very specific type of buyer. You were definitely not this type of buyer. All the problems you complain about are non concerns for those in the market for a Renegade and understand what they are and what they are for.

    1. These are not complaints, just facts about the difference between the two machines. Fact is that the Renegade has less fender coverage, no racks from factory and because no racks very few places to push on if stuck. I'll concede that the last point on the rad relocate, that was opinion.
      I'm not sure if you think that I am knocking the Renegade, having owned two at the time I wrote this and another since I can tell you that I love the Renegade and it's sporty looks. But I get asked often, "what's the difference between the two?" and this article is just to discuss that.
      Thanks for the comment.