Earlier this Summer, Yamaha unveiled the 2018 Wolverine X4. The machine received an all new chassis, interior and body a part from the not so old two seat Wolverine. However, the new chassis was only and 1.4” longer but somehow they were able to stick two extra seats in the machine. Yamaha’s goal was to have a compact and nimble machine for the East Coast, tight woods customer with more refinement than a Honda or Kawasaki and better turning radius than a Commander or RZR. To find out if they reached their goal, we took a test drive in the 2018 Wolverine X4 in the woods of Taylorsville, North Carolina at the Brushy Mountain Motorsports Park.
At a glance, the X4 looks very similar to a Kawasaki Teryx 4 and has a comparable convertible seating arrangement like the Honda Pioneer 700 and 1000’s In fact, we compared the specifications of all three machines below. Wolverine X4 Vs. Pioneer 1000-5 Wolverine X4 Vs. Pioneer 700-4 Wolverine X4 Vs. Teryx-4
For this test, it was about the drive. We wanted to see how the X4 handled all day in the tight woods it was designed for. We will actually do a head to head comparison with its competition very soon. Stepping into the Wolverine, we liked the layout of the cockpit. The seats are comfortable and all the controls are laid out perfect. The doors open easy and latch secure and the sightline out front is very open. The driver’s seat is adjustable and our 6’1” tall test pilot fit in the cab well with the seat all the way back. This Wolverine is equipped with a glove box that Yamaha says “ no matter how much weight you put in there, the lid will not pop open”. There is also a huge center console storage box as well.
Yamaha installed a re designed seat belt and retractor mechanism that is easy to adjust and was more comfortable on the trail. It wasn’t prone to pulling in and not letting go like some systems do. Also, the flexible upper mount system didn’t yank on your shoulder. Another thing we noticed initially is how quiet the cabin is. If you want to hold a conversation with your passengers, it’s totally possible even with helmets on and driving at a good clip. You can still here that the engine is running, but the muffler is very tame and there is virtually no drivetrain noise.
Out on the trail, the smooth throttle action moves the X4 along well. It’s not a rocket, but the acceleration does put a smile on your face. It’s peppy yet smooth. The throttle peddle angle and EFI tuning result in a predictable take off no matter how you stab the drive by wire throttle. Push it light and you will get rolling along. Stab it hard and it takes off aggressive yet controllable. In typical Yamaha fashion, the CVT system works very well and never has you wondering if you will brake a belt. It does have a CVT system, but Yamaha has been known for having the best. In low or high, we could climb over any obstacle in the trail without heating up the belt or feel it slipping. The trails we drove on were so tight, we could have run the X4 in low all day and still had a good time. In Low range, the X4 will top out at 29MPH and in high it maxes out in the low 50’s which is plenty fast to be driving your family on tight off road trails. Furthermore if you have the need to limit the speed in high gear, Yamaha installed what they call a speed key. In one position you have full power and top speed, while in another position or removed, you have still have full power but are limited to a top speed of 25MPH. That engine is an all new mill for any Yamaha. It’s a twin cylinder, double overhead cam, four cylinder, four stroke, with 847cc and just a tick under 70 horsepower. We expect this engine to find its way in the two seat Wolverine soon. It’s been rumored that a new two seat Wolverine may come with a dump bed as well.
The X4 does not come with a dump bed. What it does have is a rear deck area that is not designed for loose items like sand, gravel or rocks. It can handle a medium sized cooler, small cargo boxes and other gear. In fact, with both rear seats slid forward, you could easily carry enough camping gear for two people to spend a weekend on the trail. However, in the four person configuration, you can take several smaller, soft coolers, chairs and other equipment along for a good day trip. Yamaha sells a cool cargo box that fills what’s left of the cargo area when the rear seats are being used.
Where the X4 really shines is in the handling department. You feel seated low in the cockpit yet you can see over the hood well. The X4 has around eight and a half inches of wheel travel and the Yamaha engineers made sure you get everything out of that travel. In the corners, the X4 was very precise and predictable. The steering was super light in two or four wheel drive, even in diff lock. We made several sharp turns that would have some two seaters doing three point turns. For a four seat machine to get through any East Coast ride area without ever having to put the thing in reverse was a big surprise. When we did try to shift the tranny, the gated shifter was buttery smooth. It was easy to go from high to reverse without thinking.
Unlike the Kawasaki Teryx which has a lot of suspension preload, the Wolverine has a coupe inches of droop in the suspension at ride height. What that translates into on the trail is a planted and more smoother ride. The shocks are very forgiving in rocky sections and when hitting square edges and roots at a good pace. We hit a few small jumps too and had a blast landing smooth on the back sides. We only scrapped the steel skid plate once on a rock but never bottomed out the suspension.
New for Yamaha is the use of self leveling rear shocks. This technology has been used by Polaris and Honda for some of their rec utility machines in the past. How they work is when the shocks sense a larger load through pressure, the internal preload setting increases, ultimately raising the rear ride height if needed. So, if you have a load or not, the shock should be able to utilize its full travel at all times.
Our final test of the day was to ride about 15 minutes in the back seats and test this self leveling feature. The seating position was great. There wasn’t a ton of leg room but you weren’t cramped by any means. The full sized seat back was as comfortable as it is up front and the hand holds had good ergonomics. The view from the back seat was fine over shorter drivers but we found just leaning to the inside and looking out the middle of the windshield worked perfect. The back seat area wasn’t as quiet as the front but we were still able to hold a conversation between the back seat passengers. As far as how the shocks worked, they were amazing.
When we first got in the back seat, we didn’t even think of the rear shocks sagging. After we rolled forward a few car lengths, we could feel the suspension stiffen slightly and automatically position themselves at a higher ride height setting. On the trail, we were pleasantly surprised at the comfort level the X4 gave in either back seat. The back seat passenger has an angled foot rest that really helps when the driver makes un expected stops. We ran the engine hard and didn’t feel any uncomfortable heat coming from the center console whatsoever. The entire back seat ride experience in the X4 was way better than expected.
We don’t have to put this machine in a shootout to tell you it’s good. Its quieter than most UTV’s and more comfortable than many two or four seat models. However to see if it’s the best overall tight woods, 4 seat UTV, we will gather up its competition and ride them in the same area, over the same terrain on the same couple day period and relay the results back to you here.
|Specs||2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4|
|Engine Type:||Inline Twin Cylinder, DOHC, 8-valve, Liquid-Cooled, 4-Stroke|
|Bore x Stroke:||82mmx80.2mm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Dual 35mm Mikuni Throttle bodies|
|Transmission:||Fully Automatic CVT|
|Suspension Front:||Dual A-arms 8.7”|
|Suspension Rear:||Dual A-arms 8.9”|
|Brakes Front:||Dual Hydraulic Discs|
|Brakes Rear:||Dual Hydraulic Discs|
|Overall length width height:||122”X62.2”X77.2”|
|Maximum Ground Clearance:||10.7”|
|Warranty:||6 Mo Limited|
|Colors||Graphite, Yamaha Blue, Realtree Xtra, Matte Silver, Matte Carbon|
|Price:||$15,999, $16,499 (Blu) $16,899 (Camo) $17,249 (LE)|