If you don’t already own a UTV, you probably want one. Trying to sell the idea to the wife and kids would be a lot easier if your new purchase involves the entire family instead of just you and your buddies, right? That leaves you to look into a multi-passenger machine. We have gathered three sporty, multi-passenger machines that can also be used for a little bit of utility around the house if needed. It’s the first chance we’ve had to compare the 2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4 to rivals in its intended market. This arena is not sand dunes, racing, or strictly work.
This buyer is into exploring trails with family and friends in a good, quality machine and may have owned an ATV from one of the popular brands like Honda, Kawasaki, or Yamaha.
The Wolverine X4 is the latest four-passenger adventure machine to join the likes of the Kawasaki Teryx4 and Honda Pioneer. The Wolverine shares the same number of seats as this Teryx but does it in a convertible manner similar to the Pioneer 700-4 and 1000-5. So while the Kawasaki offers four big, comfy stationary seats with a decent-size cargo tray behind the rear passengers, the Yamaha’s quartet includes two rear ones that can be deployed or stowed separately depending on how many passengers you want to ride along or the type of cargo you need to carry. The Wolverine includes a tailgate but its bed does not have a dumping feature.
Honda, on the other hand, gave its Pioneer 1000 and 700 models the ability to carry up to two passengers in the bed area plus a dumping feature, though those seats do have to be stowed in order to use the dump bed.
The Pioneer also has a tailgate. Up front, the Honda can seat three across its bench-style seat, making it the easiest vehicle in the group to get in and out of. Unfortunately, the seat foam is not particularly soft, though it does feel as if it will last forever. The rear passengers get to sit in a sort of jump seat. It’s not a bad seating position; it’s just more for the occasional passenger and not for longer rides. Kids would fit in the back of the Honda the best.
Our trio of test machines have an average price around $17,000. The Kawasaki base model is listed a little less at $15,799 and we did add a roof. The LE model, with premium paint, wheels, or camo, can cost upwards of $17,300. Yamaha’s X4 starts at $15,999, though our test unit is the Matte Carbon model with a price tag of $17,249.
Honda has the biggest price range in the category with a base-model 1000-5 starting at $16,699 climbing all the way up to $21,899 for the Limited Edition model we are using. We’re not going to let electronic goodies like I-4WD sway our opinion in this comparison test and treat the Pioneer as if it was a base model which is priced right between our Kawasaki and Yamaha test units. If you want to read more about how the electronic gizmos of the LE model work, you can read our First Drive of the 2017 Honda Pioneer 1000-5 with I-4WD here. This comparison article is more about basic drivability, passenger comfort, cargo, and standard features.
All three test units feature Maxxis tires. Four-ply Big Horn 2.0s are found on all four corners of the Honda Pioneer 1000-5. Under the Kawasaki Teryx4 six-ply tires are used. The Yamaha has a new directional Maxxis four-ply MU75 up front and a six-ply MU76 in the back.
Since these machine are going to see a ton of use this summer during adventure rallies and camping trips, we equipped them with Garmin Zumo GPS units, Assault quick-release fire extinguishers, Bomber rearview mirrors, Midland 15-watt two-way radios, a Powertank CO2 air supply unit as well as Powertank’s tire repair kit.
When it’s time to get into the vehicles, you notice how compact the Wolverine X4 is. Getting in and out of it takes a little body twisting; the door openings are smaller than the others by several inches. Once in the car, the seats are plush and the floorboard is at a comfortable distance. In fact, you feel more ergonomically correct when you sit in any seat of the X4, but if you are a big person, you might feel cramped.
On the positive side, when the motor is running the Wolverine is quieter than the Teryx4. We took sound readings of all three machines while sitting at idle and driving at 30 mph, 45 mph, and at full acceleration when the motor is loudest. The readings were taken near the shifter behind the dash so our meter would be blocked from the wind. At idle, the Honda was the quietest at 69 decibels, the X4 was close at 70 decibels, and the T4 was third with 72 decibels. At 30 mph, the Honda was significantly quieter with an 85-decibel reading, the X4 was second again at 92 decibels, and the T4 read 97. At 45 mph, the meter recorded sound on the Honda at 94 decibels. The X4 read 98 and the T4 was close at 99. Finally, at full acceleration—the loudest we could make the machines—the Honda stopped at 98 decibels, the X4 went up to 100 decibels, and the T4 topped out at 106 decibels. We put a lot of importance on sound levels because being able to chat with your passengers while out on a trail adventure is more important than you think. Yelling at the top of your lungs all day long gets old.
Power on all three machines was relative to their respective engine sizes. The Honda had the most get-up-and-go with a smooth output and top speed of 66 mph. It uses a twin-cylinder, 999cc motor mated to a six-speed hydraulic transmission. In our testing, this package had noticeably better gas mileage of the three. The Pioneer gives you the option to keep it in fully automatic mode, or change gears using paddle shifters. For this test we kept it in full auto most of the time and were happy with is performance. It was nice to have the option of clicking one of the paddles if we needed an immediate up- or downshift.
Another feature we like in the Honda is its rear differential unlock. While this is more of a work mode feature, having an unlocking rear diff allows the machine to steer tight on sensitive surfaces. That means the Honda will leave less tire marks on your driveway and not tear up dirt or gravel parking lots you might be driving into at a campground. The other two machines have a locking and unlock front diff but the rear is always locked.
According to information the manufacturers provided the California Air Resources Board, the Pioneer produces 72 hp and weighs in at 1,777 full of gas. The 849cc Yamaha Wolverine X4 was only 3 hp behind in the power department at 69 hp but is more than 100 pounds lighter. The X4 has a new, parallel, twin-cylinder powerplant mated to Yamaha’s very proven Ultramatic CVT transmission. Power is ultrasmooth at low speeds and offers plenty of punch when floored. It tops out at 50 mph.
Kawasaki is using the same V-twin concept that has powered most of its sport 4x4 ATVs and the entire Teryx line for more than a decade. In this trim, it has 799cc and produces 57 hp. It’s no slouch though, and it matches the X4’s top speed of 50 mph. The Teryx4 weighs in the lightest of the three at 1,604 pounds. Along those lines, the machine's width can be a factor as well. It’s possible to squeeze the 59.8-inch-wide X4 or 61.6-inch-wide T4 into the back of some pickup trucks, but the 63-inch-wide Pioneer 1000-5 will not fit through any tailgate opening, so a trailer is a must.
As for how they handle on the trail, we drove the three machines on an 80-mile loop on three separate occasions. We had a great mix each day of dry terrain, mud, and perfect traction. The Yamaha takes the cake for being the most well balanced. It turns where you point it, stops on a dime, and accelerates like a sport machine. The X4 is the easiest to drive with its smooth power and precise steering, and the machine feels ultrastable. You sit low in the cockpit and feel connected to all the controls. As for suspension, it will take small- to medium-size bumps well at any speed. However, as with all three machines, you are not going to blitz through the whoops; that’s what the YXZ is for. For a rec ute, we give the handling of the Yamaha X4 a 10-out-of-10 score.
The Honda feels a little bigger and roomier in the cockpit. Even with a bench seat, you don’t feel like you’re driving a school bus. The machine does feel square and a bit wider. Yet it turns precisely, though with a bit more body roll. The upgraded Fox shocks on this LE model did outperform the others over bigger bumps and through G-outs, but we feel the base-model stock shocks would work just as well as the others in normal situations. The 1,000cc motor did provide a bit more torque and quickness, and we like how well the computer adapts to each of our testers’ different driving styles. If Honda dumped this motor straight into a sport UTV (with minor performance upgrades), it would be an instant hit.
Kawasaki’s Teryx engine was good a decade ago. Sure, green added a few cc’s a couple of years back and really quieted down the engine’s tone, but it’s still noisy. It does feel fast and it does give out a fun driving experience. While the seats themselves are very comfortable and fit and finish is great on the whole car, you sit very tall when driving it. The steering input is good and the brakes are a little soft. The shocks work well over bumps at high speed but it’s they’re a bit bumpy bouncy in the slow-speed chop. The Teryx4 is still a great machine that is priced right and is very multi-functional. It looks aggressive and you feel aggressive behind the wheel.
You may have seen the horror stories on line about warranty issues people are facing with certain brand machines. For the most part, you don’t see these three brands in the conversation. All three of our shootout contestants are backed up with a standard warranty. Kawasaki is by far the most confident in their products by offering a three year limited warranty. The Pioneer receives a 12 month transferable warranty from Honda and Yamaha comes with a six month limited factory warranty.
Comparison Chart 2018 Rec-Ute 1-5 Star Rating System
|MACHINES:||2018 Honda Pioneer 1000-5||2018 Kawasaki Teryx-4||2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4|
|POWER:||5 stars||5 stars||5 Stars|
|TRANSMISSION:||5 stars||5 stars||5 stars|
|SUSPENSION:||5 stars||4 stars||5 stars|
|HANDLING:||5 stars||4 stars||5 stars|
|COMFORT:||4 stars||5 stars||4 stars|
|BRAKING:||5 stars||4 stars||5 stars|
|WHEELS & TIRES:||4 stars||4 stars||4 stars|
|ERGONOMICS:||4 stars||4 stars||4 stars|
|MAINTENANCE:||5 stars||5 stars||5 stars|
|INSTRUMENTATION:||5 stars||5 stars||5 stars|
|FIT & FINISH:||5 stars||5 stars||4 stars|
|CABIN NOISE||5 stars||4 stars||5 stars|
|CARGO:||5 stars||4 stars||4 stars|
|PRICE:||4 stars||4 stars||4 stars|
So to conclude, depending if your priority is cargo or your passengers, you may choose a different winner.
If the thought of hauling cargo for a camping trip and doing a few chores around the house is high on the list, the Honda Pioneer 1000-5 gets our vote. It’s surprisingly sporty for a dump-bed-equipped machine with great cargo amenities and the most options for passengers up front or in the back. While the LE model has some amazing technology, we don’t feel it’s that necessary for the extra cost and we would be more than happy with the $16,699 standard model. You may see a need for the I-4WD but we would rather save the cash.
That brings us to your priority on passengers. Both the Teryx and Wolverine X4 have great arrangements for the backseat passengers. The seating position in the X4 is more comfortable but the seat bases are plusher in the Teryx. There is more leg and head room in the Teryx but the cockpit noise is far less in the Wolverine. We like the fact that you still have some cargo room in the Teryx with all the seats filled up; in the Wolverine, there is barely room for a small soft cooler.
However, the Wolverine is more fun to drive, as you sit lower, the steering is quicker, and the suspension is better at all speeds. If tight trail riding is what you’re into and the passengers don’t shop at the big and tall store, the Wolverine X4 would be our top choice.
|Specifications:||Honda Pioneer 1000-5||Kawasaki Teryx4||Yamaha Wolverine X4|
|Engine Type:||Parallel twin, Unicam, 4-stroke||V-twin, SOHC, 4-stroke||Parallel twin, DOHC, 4-stroke|
|Bore x Stroke:||92mm x 75.15mm||85mm x 69mm||82mm x 80.2mm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Dual 44mm EFI||Dual 36mm EFI||Dual 36mm EFI|
|Transmission:||6-speed DCT, manual or automatic||CVT||CVT|
|Front Suspension/Travel:||Dual A-arms/10.6 in.||Dual A-arms/8 in.||Dual A-arms/8.7 in.|
|Rear Suspension/Travel:||Dual A-arms/10 in.||Dual A-arms/8.3 in.||Dual A-arms/8.9 in.|
|Front Brakes:||Dual hydraulic discs||Dual hydraulic discs||Dual hydraulic discs|
|Rear Brakes:||Dual hydraulic discs||Sealed multiple wet discs||Dual hydraulic discs|
|Overall Length/Width/Height:||117.6/63.0/76.4 in.||125.4/61.6/77.8 in.||122.0/59.8/77.2 in.|
|Maximum Ground Clearance:||12.2 in.||11.2 in.||10.7 in.|
|Turning Radius:||13.8 ft.||16.7 ft.||14.7 ft.,|
|Wheelbase:||80.2 in.||85.6 in.||82.7 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||7.9gal.||7.9 gal.||9.2gal.|
|Wet Weight:||1,777 lb.||1,605 lb.||1,666 lb.|
|Colors||Red, yellow, gray, camo, olive||White, green, blue, black, camo||Black, silver, blue|