Photos and Story By: Brandon Bunch
Fully enclosed and sealed cabs have been around in the UTV world for a while now and they’ve added unbelievable comfort and convenience to the work-related side by side experience. There’s nothing better than ripping through the dunes or the desert on a 60-70 degree day in an open cab, but having to work hours in the sweltering heat or frigid cold sucks. A sealed-up utility UTV with HVAC is the vehicle of choice—and you can pick either the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 Northstar or a Can-Am Defender Limited. Unfortunately if you have the desire for climate control and a need for speed, the number of factory options add up to zero.
However, that does not mean there are not any options.
I first became aware of the aftermarket full bodied UTV concept in 2018 when I took a trip to Pismo Beach to shoot a feature of Justin Vickers’ Braptor. It was a wildly-built Polaris RZR XP 1000 with a supercharger, Mattracks, long travel, and a full fiberglass body that looked just like a scaled down Raptor with a Bronco shell on the back. It looked freaking awesome, but there were hardly any creature comforts involved in the build. The lack of side windows made sure you still had the wind-in-your-face experience, and that was just fine for the wild Croc-wearing Vickers.
Since then, these rad truck-looking body kits have evolved to be available as fully sealed packages with heating and air conditioning, like the Can-Am Maverick X3 you see here owned by desert racing legend, Jesse Jones. Just like Vickers’ Braptor, the truck body on Jones’ X3 was built by the crazy minds at Knine Racing, but is completely sealed up and outfitted with a Vintage Air HVAC system for added comfort when at work or play. Knine also built the roll cage and supports that fit the body so well to the Can-Am’s OEM chassis. UTVs have become an incredible tool for pre-running races (in addition to being capable race vehicles and play toys themselves) and having climate control would make the real work of pre-running that much easier. Freezing cold mornings and hot afternoons would no longer hinder the focus of memorizing the course and taking accurate notes while planning for success on race day.
The full cab on Jones’s X3 is also outfitted with a truck-style dash that currently houses a Rugged Radios radio and intercom set-up, the Vintage Air HVAC controls and vents, as well as the OEM Maverick X3 dash and switches that let you know you are actually still sitting in a Can-Am UTV. All is in reach from the beautiful Sparco seats and harnesses that are perfect for long days behind the Sparco steering wheel. The X3’s OEM Fox shocks have been tuned by the pros at SDG Suspension for a well controlled ride, and it has also been fitted with XX Designs a-arms, Tatum UTV radius rods, and 15×7 Method 405 UTV Beadlock wheels wrapped with 35-inch Tensor DSR tires to ensure the miles can be eaten up without ending up stranded in the middle of no-where.
The Knine truck body transforms the X3 to look incredibly rad as a well-proportioned scaled down truck, but sealing up the cab and adding the HVAC system is what transforms this build into something unique. For those that can afford it, it’s a great solution to add significant comfort to covering miles quickly in adverse conditions, and could even massively extend the riding season for those of us who are faced with 110+ degree weather in the summers or freezing cold winters. Maybe Polaris and Can-Am will catch on to the trend and provide us with the option of a RZR Pro XP Northstar or a Maverick X3 X RS Limited… Until then, we’ll just have to watch guys like Jesse and AJ Jones enjoy the empty summertime dunes from their comfortable climate controlled cabs.