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Polaris Ranger Vs. Can-Am Defender

Polaris Ranger Vs. Can-Am Defender

Engine braking on the Ranger is stronger, except for the fact that it doesn’t effect the front wheels, so it makes the rear tires slide. In the Defender, you feel traction on all four tires, but the engine braking doesn’t hold the machine back as much as on the Ranger.

This Defender comes equipped with a heavy-duty winch. If that’s on your wish list, you’re in luck. The Ranger has an engineered frame that helps install the Polaris winch easily.


The first thing that stood out was that the seat foam is better in the Defender. The Ranger wasn’t bad, but we did bottom out quicker riding in the Ranger. On the other hand, we liked the seat belts in the Ranger better. Their flexible upper mounts gave just a little to make it more comfortable when riding down bumpy trails or slamming on the brakes.

Again, in the Defender, we liked the fold-down center console/cup holder armrest tray. It was a nice separation from the other passenger when riding double or to use alone. Both machines have plenty of cup holders to go around: six on the Defender and four on the Ranger. We end up using cup holders for a lot more than just drinks. Aerosol cans like WD-40 fit well, and we’ve thrown a small Bluetooth speaker in one of them from time to time.

Two-inch hitch receivers are standard these days. Both machines claim 12 inches of ground clearance, but be aware you lose a couple of inches when loaded or just accelerating.


Both machines have a great dash and a glove box that will hold tools, parts, etc; however, the Defender goes above and beyond with two removable compartments so you can quickly take certain items with you. One is the passenger-side glove box and the other is a large bread-box-sized container that sits under the passenger seat. Both have grab handles for easy removal, carrying and reinstallation. Furthermore, the Defender has two other closable compartments near the driver for smaller items you need to make sure don’t jiggle out. The Defender easily wins this very important category for this segment.

Out back, the dump beds are a little more comparable. When full, the Can-Am’s bed lifts slightly more easily and the tailgate is slightly stronger, which is important for the guys who have to climb in and out of the bed. They both have 1000-pound ratings and can be driven when the beds are fully lifted without the tailgate rubbing the tires. Each company has its own line of accessories that snap or lock into place, so customizing is possible.

Polaris makes the engine and filter very accessible under the Ranger’s dump bed.

The engine compartment of Can-Am’s V-twin also houses the radiator reservoir, so all fluids and filters can be checked in one spot. The battery is under the passenger seat.


The great thing about machines like these is that you can use them all week long on the job site or around the farm and still enjoy them on a weekend trail ride. Hunters like how quiet they are and how much cargo they hold. You can take them trail riding up to that secret fishing hole or scout for next season. Both will get the job done any day and entertain you all weekend; however, in this contest, it wasn’t hard to see the Can-Am Defender HD8 will do it better.

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