Can-Am Commander vs. Defender: Which Is Better?

Can-Am Commander vs. Defender-1

The off-road world is buzzing with excitement as two of Can-Am's heavy hitters, the 2023 Can-Am Commander and the 2023 Can-Am Defender, go head-to-head, each promising an unparalleled experience in their unique ways. For enthusiasts looking to invest in a new side-by-side this year, the question lingers: which one will rule your adventures? In this in-depth blog post, we'll compare Can-Am Commander vs. Defender to help you decide which beast is best for you.

Let’s dive into it!

Can-Am Commander vs Defender Specs

Below is a table that compares the key specifications of the Can-Am Commander and the Can-Am Defender to provide a clearer picture of what each side-by-side offers. 


2023 Can-Am Commander

2023 Can-Am Defender 


Rotax 1000R V-Twin  

HD7 / HD9 / HD10 options      


976 cc 

650 cc (HD7) / 976 cc (HD9) / 976 cc (HD10) 


Up to 100 hp   

52 hp (HD7) / 65 hp (HD9) / 82 hp (HD10)

Fuel System   

Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC™) 

Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC™) 


Quick Response System QRS CVT

PRO-TORQ Transmission with Quick Response System (QRS) 

Drive System

Selectable 2WD/4WD with Visco-Lok QE 

Selectable 2WD/4WD with Visco-Lok QE differential lock 

Power Steering




Arched double A-arm with sway bar (Front)     

TTA with sway bar (Rear)       

Double A-arm (Front) 

TTA-HD with external sway bar (Rear)

Cargo Box Capacity

600 lbs

1,000 lbs  

Towing Capacity

Up to 2,000 lbs     

Up to 2,500 lbs       

Payload Capacity

Not specified

Up to 1,750 lbs   

Ground Clearance

Up to 13 inches

Up to 13 inches (varies by model)  

Cargo Box Dimensions   

38 x 54.5 x 11.5 in  

38 x 54.5 x 12 in  

Fuel Capacity

10 gal    

Up to 10.6 gal     

Starting Price (MSRP) 

Starts at approx. $16,399  

Starts at approx. $11,299  

What Is the Difference Between Can-Am Commander and Defender? 

1. A Look Under the Hood: Performance and Power

Can-Am has never skimped on power, and the 2023 models are no different. Both the Commander and the Defender come equipped with the renowned Rotax engines that deliver robust performance, but their designs serve different purposes.

The 2023 Can-Am Commander is tailored for those who seek adrenaline - it boasts a high-performance V-twin engine that's eager to respond to the need for speed. With horsepower that can top 100 HP (depending on the model), this vehicle is designed to tackle the trails with vigor and agility. It's perfect for riders looking to accelerate quickly and enjoy a thrilling ride.

Meanwhile, the 2023 Can-Am Defender is the workhorse of the two, with a focus on reliability and torque. Its engine may offer slightly less horsepower, peaking at around 82 HP, but it compensates with exceptional towing capabilities and payload capacity. This beast shines when it comes to delivering low-end power for towing, hauling, and conquering challenging terrains while carrying heavy loads.

2. Suspension and Handling: The Ride of Your Life

Handling is yet another battleground where the Commander and the Defender set themselves apart. The 2023 Commander features advanced suspension systems designed for those who want a dynamic and sporty ride. Its wider stance provides stability during sharp turns and ensures confidence on uneven ground.

Conversely, the 2023 Defender emphasizes comfort over rough terrain with a suspension setup geared toward absorbing impacts. This translates into a smoother ride that can be particularly appreciated during long days on the job site or out in the field.

3. Top Speed: Unleashing Full Throttle Potential

Discover the thrilling performance of the 2023 Can-Am Commander, with a powerhouse engine that propels it to impressive top speeds over 60 mph, making it the go-to choice for adrenaline seekers. In contrast, the rugged 2023 Can-Am Defender offers exceptional utility and durability, with top speeds ranging from 50 to 62 mph, prioritizing control and stability for work tasks. 

4. Utility and Functionality: More Than Just a Ride

A UTV parked on the farm

It's clear that Can-Am designed the Defender with utility in mind. The 2023 model continues to impress with its large cargo bed, heavy-duty capabilities, and ability to accommodate various attachments and accessories. Whether it's for farm work, hunting, or general property maintenance, the Defender is built to handle demanding tasks effortlessly.

While the Commander may not be able to haul as much as the Defender, it still offers substantial storage space and versatility. It's the ideal choice for those who want a side-by-side that can play hard on the weekends and take on light-duty work during the week.

5. Comfort Inside Out: Cockpit or Cabin?

When it comes to comfort, both the Commander and the Defender are designed with the rider in mind, but they approach the interior differently. The Commander boasts sport-influenced, bolstered seats and an ergonomic design that creates an engaging driving environment—perfect for those fast-paced excursions.

On the flip side, the Defender offers a more spacious cabin with adjustable seating and plenty of room for movement. Handy storage compartments keep tools and personal items secure, making it an excellent choice for extended periods of use in rugged conditions.

6. Customization and Accessories: Personalize Your Adventure

One thing Can-Am does exceptionally well is offering customization options. The 2023 lineup for both the Commander and the Defender is no exception. Riders can make their vehicles truly their own with a wide array of genuine Can-Am accessories, from protective gear and winches to upgraded tires and audio systems.

Whether you're outfitting the Commander for the ultimate recreational experience or beefing up the Defender for peak productivity, Can-Am's accessory lineup ensures that your side-by-side meets all your needs.

7. Price Point and Value: Investing in Quality

Price is always a consideration when choosing a new vehicle. Generally, the Commander comes with a higher price tag due to its performance-oriented nature and advanced recreational features. For thrill-seekers, this investment equates to countless weekends filled with excitement and adventure.

The Defender tends to be priced more modestly, reflecting its utilitarian design and function-focused features. Those requiring a dependable work partner will find great value in the Defender's combination of durability, capability, and cost-effectiveness.

Making the Decision: Which 2023 Model Fits You?

Determining whether the 2023 Can-Am Commander or Defender better suits your lifestyle depends on your primary use for the side-by-side. If your heart races for speed and high-octane fun, the Commander's performance and sporty handling might just seal the deal.

If you need a machine that's as reliable on the job as it is capable of letting loose after hours, the Defender's sturdy build and versatile utility can provide the best of both worlds. Its ability to transition from workhorse to trail companion makes it a solid choice if you need flexibility.

Can-Am Commander Mods

Kemimoto offers a wide selection of premium-quality accessories for the Can-Am Commander. Here are 3 popular items from our extensive accessory collection:

  • LED Whip Lights

The LED whip lights are super bright, with tons of colors and modes you can see from miles away. They're tough, weatherproof, and easy to install. Plus, the wireless remote control is a breeze to use! Get LED Whip Lights.

Kemimoto’s LED Whip Lights for Can-Am Commander
  • Windshield Wiper Kit

The universal UTV windshield wipers give you a clear view of the muck and rain. They're super durable, won't make noise, and are a snap to install! Comes with two kits for convenience. Get a Windshield Wiper Kit.

Kemimoto’s Windshield Wiper Kit for Can-Am Commander
  • Luggage Storage Bag 

This handy storage bag slips right between the seats—super easy to reach without messing with your driving. It's tough, organized, and installs in a snap with adjustable straps. Plus, it keeps everything dry and tidy! Get a Luggage Storage Bag. 

Kemimoto’s Luggage Storage Bag for Cam-Am Commander UTV

Defender Mods

Modding your Can-Am Defender boosts performance, adds customization for comfort or style, and increases versatility to handle any terrain or task you throw at it. It's all about personalizing your ride. At KEMIMOTO, we've got a bunch of top-notch aftermarket add-ons for your Defender. Check out these hot picks and then dive into our full range of Can-Am Defender accessories!

  • Side Mirrors

The UTV Mirror boosts safety with its clear, wide view, and it's tough yet easy to adjust and install—perfect for any off-roader looking for quality and durability. Get Side Mirrors.

Kemimoto’s Side Mirrors for Can-am Defender
  • Camouflage Seat Cover

Keep your seats like new with tough, water-resistant seat covers—easy to install and perfect for protecting against mud, pets, and whatever else you throw at them. Get a Camouflage Seat Cover.

Kemimoto’s scratch-resistant and waterproof camouflage seat cover


In the showdown between the 2023 Can-Am Commander and the 2023 Can-Am Defender, it's clear that both side-by-sides have their distinct advantages. The Commander leads the pack for recreation and performance, while the Defender stands strong as the ultimate in utility and work ethic.

Before making your final decision, consider how you plan to use your side-by-side, what features are most important to you, and how much you're willing to invest. No matter which path you choose, you're guaranteed a quality vehicle from Can-Am that's engineered for excitement and endurance.

So, gear up for exploration, buckle up for the workload, and get ready to embark on adventures that only a Can-Am can deliver.

Kemimoto help Complete Journey Of Dreams!

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