BRP takes a bite of the small displacement ATV market with style!February 8, 2017
By: Marc-André Quessy
Editor in chief
When I saw the pre-launch marketing material from BRP about the new L series Outlander last year, I was happy to see that the looks were pleasing to my eyes. But the new 450cc engine left me with a little perplexed… Was it the old 400cc that was refreshed with a bump in displacement? How would it handle? Comfort? Etc…
I was full of questions about this new entry level machine and when the opportunity came to try one, I jumped on it like a cat on an unsuspecting mouse! The “L” series is gone now and only the Outlander name remains. This body type is only vailable in a 450cc single cylinder or a 570cc V-Twin. I got just the one I was the most curious about: The 450 DPS! First things first, the engine is a new design for Can-Am and the good old 400cc is gone to the retirement halls of BRP. The old horse had enough! Happy trails… to you… until… cough cough!
Can-Am has such confidence in the “little” Outlanders that it backed it up with a five year “bumper to Bumper” warranty for the 2015 launch. A first in the industry. Now back to the regular 6 month factory warranty with B.E.S.T. extended warranty. A close source at BRP hinted that there may be a return to the previous promotion package but at press time I could not confirm it.
We took the Outlander to our local “test track”, a summer closed circuit trail located in Mascouche Quebec where the local club, Club Quad les Randonneur’s patrolmen closes parts of the federated trail when we are out testing machines. Safety is our main concern and the help of the patrolmen is greatly appreciated! Thanks guys!
This area offers many types of terrain, from hardpack, sand, rocky slopes and some mud. Perfect for testing an ATV or Side-By-Side!
The all volunteer staff keep their trails perfectly groomed with meticulous care. This section of trail opens up to the Trans-Quebec winter circuit and you can ride groomed winter trails for hundreds of kilometers in winter east, north or west. If you are in the North Shore of the Montreal Qc. area you should look them up at www.clubquadlesrandonneurs.com and go for a ride in their awesome summer of winter trails.
Sitting on the Outlander I get the familiar feel of a Can-Am. This little beast is 100% Can-Am by the way not a rebadged something else from somewhere else… Comfort is the first thing I noted from the just right padding in the seat to the handlebar reach so familiar to the brand.
Power on, push the starter button and the Rotax engine comes to life instantly and reminds me it has nothing to do with the old 400cc mill.
Throttle response is immediate and this little bugger sounds good too! Like all Outlanders, this newborn has a two speed gearbox (Hi/Low) and is driven by a belt type CVT typical to the brand. Enough talk, LETS RIDE!
Right from the get go, I’m impressed by the power from the little 450. Torque is readily available at very low rpm right up to 7000+ RPM. The CVT tune is near perfect and makes all that power available in a snap. Very nice. The power steering is very powerful, a little too much for my taste and makes the front wheels feel little disconnected from the trail but it may be just me being a little finicky because it works very well!
I brought a couple of friends along who are experienced ATV riders and one of them just kept on raving about the Outlander 450. He was absolutely mesmerized with the power and handling of the little one. He rode it hard like he does his renegade 800 and I had to chase him around to get the keys back when we stopped for a drink. He actually bought one for his wife!
It’s not often that I’m seduced by an entry level machine. Nowadays all manufacturer make reliable entry level machines so, to impress me, a machine has to stand out from the lot and stand out the Outlander 450 did!
The single cylinder 427cc 4 valve engine is a brand new motor for BRP with electronic fuel injection is a complete surprise! Rotax has years of experience with 450cc single cylinder engines and it shows in this model. I suspect this motor has a little of the BMW GS450 gene pool because it has a similar look and feel.
When looking at the spec sheet you can easily be fooled. The 38 horsepower figure may seem on the low side for a Can-Am but believe me when I say they are all there and accounted for! Fueling is perfect with a crisp throttle response that is nowhere near the 400cc engine it replaces. BRP did their homework, they now have an entry level engine that can please the most demanding ATV riders.
Fuel consumption is below average for an ATV that can keep up with much larger machines all day long and that’s a good thing for all. In fact this engine is very efficient and less polluting than previous 400cc it replaces. With the 20.5 liter fuel tank, you’ll get tired well before you run out of fuel!
We got to testing performance and top speed on a closed section of the trail ( Thanks to the patrolmen from the local club!) and to our surprise the Outlander 450 reached an indicated top speed well over 100kph!
A little drag race between a semi-automatic 500cc ATV yielded impressive results: The first 100 feet belonged to the 500cc but the 450 blew by and never looked back at 200 feet. Same thing against an 800cc Side-By-Side. Impressive!
Chassis and Suspension
Power is fun but it’s does not define the machine, you need to put it to the ground and be able to keep the rubber side down so to speak. Another preconception of entry level machines just went out the window with the Outlander 450! The handling is simply superb! BRP did not neglect the suspension and handling of this little beast.
The Calibration of the shocks is spot on for my 210lbs frame and we left it untouched for this review. The spring preload is the only adjustment available and may need to be lowered for a rider under 170lbs and that’s it. Stability is a trademark of BRP quads and the “L” feels no different. A tad on the sporty side too! It’s been a long while since I had so much fun with an entry level machine and it takes me back to a time when ATV we’re a lot lighter and nimbler. Think early 90’s when 400cc machines we’re the kings of the hill but with a lot more available power from the Rotax motor.
Wheels on our top of the line tester are aluminium cast and look good (can we get black please?) and makes the bike look more upscale, nice! The tires are the only let down in the package. Don’t get me wrong, they do the job ok but the Carlisle Trailwolfs look cheap and don’t have enough grip in the slippery gooey stuff. They are very light though and this is probably why BRP chose these to keep the unsprung weight down. A set of Maxxis Ceros or Bighorn 2.0s would be perfect to improve grip and the already superb handling.
The combination of power and handling makes the Outlander L a blast to ride to a point you forget you are sitting on an entry level machine and that is what is the most important!
Direct drive CVT to the gearbox is a BRP trademark. No centrifuge wet clutch to dampen things here, you get all the power available from the engine, all the time. We gave the little guy a serious ride against all type of Quads and the CVT drive was perfect! No roasted belt smell, nice engagement, no clunks, no weird noises. It even suffered the local mud pit without a hiccup. When you are able to forget the CVT system and ride all day it means they got it right.
The gearbox is standard BRP “P-R-N-H-L” of which I love the park feature. BRP gearboxes are usually very tough with big gears. This makes them a little noisy and clunky at times but, for some reason the 450 / 570 series has a smoother shifting feel and less clunks when on and off throttle at low speeds… did some wise person ever say: “Good things comes in small packages”?
The only down point here is the noise level that is a little high from the rear differential which is similar to its larger displacement brethren. It’s not dramatic and some of our tester did not mention it. The machine also was brand new with 4km on the clock so after the break in period and fresh oil it should quiet down.
The towing capacity of the little Outlander is impressive, 1300lbs! On such a small displacement CVT driven machine it’s quite an accomplishment.
Slowing down this little beast is a breeze! Pedal and handle feel is good but a little on the firm side. With 240mm discs with dual piston calipers, two up front and one in the right rear wheel, they do a fine job bringing the machine to a stop with barely a touch of fade when things get…uhhh a little interesting.
In short, good braking with no fuss.
I always appreciated the look of Can-Am ATVs and it’s also the case of the Outlander 450 DPS. From the round oversized headlamps that will light up the darkest trails to the tail lamps that bring back memories of the first gen Renegades. This Quad is a pure Can-Am. The headlamps offer better performance than the projector type offered on the higher end models of the brand to our surprise.
I love the way the design flows front to back. They gave a unique look to the L series but at the same time kept it close enough to the other models that you recognise it as a Can-Am immediately.
The controls are very basic and functional. No frills there. The handlebar placement is perfect for riders between 5’6” and 6’3 so most riders should be comfortable there.
The front and rear cargo racks are made of steel and powder coated black instead of the injection molded racks of it’s big brothers. They don’t look as good or tough but they will do the job.
Fit and finish is near perfect and all panels align properly with no unsightly gaps. The multi-function instrument cluster is very minimalistic but functional.
What I like to most is that it looks and feels the part. It feels sturdy without looking cheap.
- The Handling! Simply outstanding for an entry level machine
- The engine, did BRP hot rod our test machine??? 38 race horses YEAH!
- Typical Can-Am looks sportiness and comfort
- Fuel consumption, very good.
- Did I tell you the motor was… WOOOHOOO!
- Excellent brakes
Perfect machines are not of this world and the Outlander L 450 DPS is no exception
- Noisy rear differential ( should be better after break-in service)
- Power steering is a little over powered even at its lowest setting.
- No winch? Mount is included but winch is optional.
Our short time with the Outlander L 450 DPS confirmed that BRP got it right with an entry level ATV that can dish out some serious performance for experienced riders while being very forgiving for beginners.
The L series replaces the Outlander 400, a good machine that was in desperate need of a redesign since it did not get the G2 frame and body from the 2012 model year. It dates back to its original concept G1 frame from 2004.
You know, I can brag and holler that this entry level ATV is simply excellent but the only way for you to know what I’m all excited about with the Outlander L 450 DPS, is to go to your local BRP dealer for a test ride to see for yourself. You’ll get it I’m sure.
For the base MSRP of 7299.00$ (w/o DPS) and 8299.00$ for the top of the line trim with DPS (as tested), You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck!
Moteur Single Cyl 450cc FI
Dimensions 211 x 116,8 x 124 cm
Ground clearance 26,7 cm
Fuel capacity 20,5 litres
Weight 324 kg
MSRP From 7 894 $
6 months limited warranty
B.E.S.T. available from 6 to 30 months