Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to hop on a dirt bike and rip around on the trails near my house. As I got older, my interests evolved into ATVs, and eventually UTVs as they gained popularity. Many years later, although much changed in my life, my passion for dirt bikes, ATVs, and UTVs became a tradition I hoped I would be able to pass onto my own family. When my son and daughter grew old enough to ride, pint-sized dirt bikes and ATVs became a part of their lives as well. While everyone riding their own machine is phenomenally fun, there are times when having the whole family together in one machine elevates the experience. The 2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4 helped to do just that.
Over the last few years, a number of new four-seat UTVs have hit the market. While they’re a great way for families to enjoy an adventure together, the issue with most four-seaters is the darn wheelbase is too long to negotiate the tight trails we have here in the northeast. For that reason, I normally avoid four-seat UTVs for any type of fun, tight trail wheeling. When I was presented with the opportunity to test the new Yamaha Wolverine X4, my first order of business was to see just how well this machine could handle tight, technical trails with my whole family aboard. We had the X4 on a daylong adventure, and as such, I felt it was an excellent opportunity to point out the strengths the X4 might have for families searching for their next four-seat UTV.
Comfort For Four
From the driver’s seat, the Wolverine X4 was really comfortable for my 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame. A tilt steering wheel made ingress/egress convenient for my long legs. I’m also really partial to the rotary dials for the four-wheel drive and differential lock. The Electric Power Steering (EPS) is possibly the best I’ve ever used on a UTV. It felt invisible and unobtrusive, which is probably the best quality a manufacturer can hope for. My wife and kids were easily able to hop in and out of the cab as well. Getting in and out of the rear isn’t quite as easy as the front, but once inside, the rear seats have plenty of room for kids or adults. The rear seats are also “stadium style,” meaning they’re positioned slightly higher than the front, which helps give rear passengers an excellent view.
Amazing Engine & Transmission
Flicking the key fires the fuel-injected 847cc parallel twin-cylinder to life effortlessly. Once inside, the first thing I noticed was just how quiet and smooth the engine is. Even with Yamaha's accessory windshield attached (which can often trap engine noise from escaping the cab), the noise levels inside the cab are impressively low.
The engine is really smooth too, with a noticeably strong, torquey bottom and midrange. Thanks to the Ultramatic transmission, power delivery is also smooth. One of the few CVT transmissions to also include a centrifugal clutch, this belt-driven transmission is undoubtedly one of the smoothest I’ve ever driven. The Speed Management System is also perfect for a family or on the job site. By simply switching the key under the hood to the “turtle setting” and removing the key, the top speed is limited to 25 mph. This keeps safety measures high and shenanigans low!
The Wolverine X4 comes with self-leveling rear shocks. Without getting into all the technical goodies that make it all work, the rear shocks just magically adjust the internal shock pressure automatically, dependent on the amount of weight in the back. This helps provide a smooth ride no matter how much or how little weight is in the rear passenger/cargo area. While the rear shocks get most of the attention on the X4, the front suspension is actually really plush too. We wheeled the Wolverine over various types of terrain and the suspension provided comfortable, confident handling.
Kids are expensive! So being able to save a few bucks here and there might guarantee the average family to handle buying a few extra accessories. Yamaha has a ton of awesome accessories available for the X4. The accessory windshield is one of the easiest and quickest DIY jobs I’ve ever tackled. Not only can anyone with a few extra tools install it, the windshield can be mounted/removed in a matter of seconds.
I’m a huge fan of the “accessory-ready” electrical system. There are almost 600 watts of electrical output, which means plenty of juice to power lights, winches, or whatever electrical accessory your little heart desires. Better yet, by removing just a few Allen bolts, the upper dash panel can be removed and access to four pre-wired accessory switches is readily accessible. The days of having to cut into the electrical system to add powered accessories are over. It’s as simple now as plug and play.
Versatile Cargo Area
We already discussed the comfort of the rear seats in the X4. But the rear seats are atypical, in that they also fold and slide forward. With the seats folded, a rear storage area with 600 pounds of cargo carrying capacity is revealed. This is enough storage space for camping gear, hunting gear, or enough supplies to take two people on a wild adventure.
Over the last few years, the number of new UTVs entering the market has been staggering. There’s a clear pattern forming, with UTVs being built for specific categories of use. For a guy like me, at the top of the list of priorities for nearly anything I buy is the internal question I repeatedly ask myself: “How will this work with the kids?” I think the UTV market is no different in that regard. For a family in search of a UTV that is fun, capable, comfortable, quiet, affordable, and reliable, the Yamaha Wolverine X4 is an outstanding choice. My family loves it, and my guess is yours will as well!