2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4 Review- Room For 2, 3, or 4!
2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4 Review
Bring Along Family Or Friends
One of the absolute best parts of experiencing the outdoors, trail riding, and adventure is including friends and family. Taking more than one passenger along for the ride is becoming more and more of an issue as more and more riders have families that include kids. In a world that seems to revolve around small screens, getting out and seeing the great big world matters. Taking more people along on the trail requires a bigger machine, and that comes complete with its own challenges. With the introduction of the Wolverine X4 that caters to those needing more than two seats, Yamaha believes it has a solution to the challenges of a typical four-seat side-by-side. I had the opportunity to get some seat time recently in the tight trails of North Carolina, sprinkled with elevation changes, muddy and hard pack terrain. After spending some time weaving in and out of the trees across all types of challenging sections, I think Yamaha might have solved those challenges.
Size & Purpose Matter
When Yamaha plans for a new machine, it has laser focus on exactly what that machine is supposed to be, and what it is supposed to excel at. Yamaha never ever builds a machine that is supposed to be OK at everything and good at nothing. The Wolverine X4 is a perfect example of this development approach, and it is purpose built for recreational trail riding in tight trails carrying up to four people comfortably. It is an adventure vehicle with engineering top to bottom for accomplishing that purpose.
Room For Four, Three, Or Two & Then Gear
In order to accomplish carrying four people comfortably in tight trails, the Wolverine X4 had to solve the problem of the length associated with most four-seat side-by-sides, so Yamaha engineered the Wolverine X4 to be only 5 inches longer than the Wolverine. To accomplish that the rear seats take up the cargo bed when in use, but the seats slide forward when not in use so you still have the bed available for other side-by-side stuff. On the trail the Wolverine X4 does not feel any bigger than a 2-seat side-by-side, and when riding in the tight trails this makes all the different in the world. There are other short side-by-sides on the market but what sets the Wolverine X4 apart is the fact the rear seats are normal comfortable seats, and the bed is still available when the seats are not in use. In other words, the Wolverine X4 strikes a balance between being four-person capable and still offers the benefit of a two-seat side-by-side with that can haul stuff. Even the seat belt buckles fold up and into the load bed when the seats are in the forward position. It is possible to slide one or two rear seats forward so you can customize the seat configuration for people and gear.
Comfort For Four?
The rear seats are comfortable high-back seats that are full size with a focus on comfort, and they are comfortable. The engine is positioned low in the frame between the rear seats. This makes for the foot and legroom on either side shall we say “limited”. Though the seats are comfortable and the sitting position is comfortable also, as an adult I wouldn’t want to ride in the back for hours on end. This lead me to the realization that those rear seats and seating area is designed for non-adult sized kids more than adults. Realistically that makes sense for a family adventure vehicle.
This can also be seen by the size of the rear doors. For an adult to climb into the rear seat requires some finagling. Once seated the rear seats do offer cup holders, a DC outlet, grab handles, and a secure feel, all of which I liked. It is clear Yamaha spent a bunch of time focused on passenger comfort in the rear passenger compartment.
Front Passenger Home
The front passengers are not left out of the focus placed on passenger comfort. Starting off with the full half-doors that make the riding experience excellent. The design of the machine keeps the trail out of the cab. Seats adjust, the steering column adjusts, there is a center console, cup holders, DC outlet, glove box, switch panel, dash storage, and a brand new fancy instrument cluster with a readout that has a more “cut” look.
The front passenger compartment is very nice, and it feels more polished than in some of the other Yamaha side-by-sides. I wish the doors and seat configuration offered a little easier entry and exit, but with the rear seats and length of vehicle I see where that is a compromise. I also noticed that because of Yamaha working to minimize vibration, I didn’t notice hardly any vibration at all.
Woohoo For The 847cc Parallel-Twin!
Everybody was thrilled with the announcement the Wolverine X4 includes a brand new twin-cylinder engine, but I have to say it is so much better than I imagined. First it is so quiet that you can carry on a conversation without straining your voice both at idle or a reasonable RPM. It makes trail riding so much more enjoyable. Second, the low-end power is super good. Combine that with Yamaha’s drive-by-wire throttle control, and this engine is a beast. It will climb anything and I do mean anything. The elevation changes on my ride were constant, and some were impressively steep. That meant absolutely nothing to this engine. I found myself thinking “I am going to need to give it the gas to get up this hill”, but that was not necessary in the least. Did I mention I was doing all of this in High gear! I would start up a steep hill, could let off a little while climbing, and then give it just a little throttle and the torque was on tap to push my up the hill. I found myself wishing all the adventure side-by-sides would be set up like this. This engine is all about low-end power. Couple the engine with the beefed up Ultramatic CVT Transmission that doesn’t allow the belt to slip, and the dance that followed was worthy of a performance on broadway. In other words I loved it.
Take On The Unknown
When looking at the Wolverine X4s rolling down the trail in front of me, what popped into my head was the TV shows with Land Rover Discovery’s taking on insane terrain in an overland race. The Wolverine X4 is a machine that can take on extreme terrain with no complaints, and do that with four people aboard for the adventure. Start with a dual a-arm suspension with 8.7-inches of travel in the front and 8.9-inches of travel in rear.
The front shocks are preload adjustable and the rear shocks are self-leveling, which is so important considering the shocks will adjust themselves to maintain ride height and ground clearance despite the load in the rear. The rear shocks work great. The ride is along the lines of the Wolverine, and overall the suspension offers a nice ride. It is a great suspension for an adventure vehicle. The high-arc lower a-arms maximize the 10.7-inches of ground clearance across the majority of the suspension. I found the ride to be nimble with the machine responding nicely to my steering inputs through the industry’s best EPS, which offers the perfect amount of assist.
I also found the On-Command 4WD system to give me the confidence to take on the technical stuff with ease and confidence. I put it in 4WD and drove with it that way the whole day. The Wolverine X4 always found traction and kept me going through the ruts, mud, inclines, and declines. When in 4WD engine braking was sent to all 4 wheels, and that meant the engine would slow me down with a very natural feel. I was impressed with how perfectly the engine braking was balanced to kick in but never in a way that I found distracting. It also walked me down some crazy declines with no need to use the brakes. Getting on and off the gas also proved to offer natural feeling EBS. Yamaha has EBS down perfectly.
Tow & Haul Away
What is really nice about the Wolverine X4 is that despite the fact it will carry four people you can move the rear seats forward and still haul 600lbs of stuff back there. Also, the self-leveling shocks mean you can carry cargo at different weights and dimensions and get the same ride without adjusting the shocks. The Wolverine X4 will also tow 2000lbs with its standard two-inch receiver hitch. The bottom line is this machine can do both people hauling and still be good for work. This makes it a great all-around side-by-side.
Almost... The Ultimate Adventure Side-By-Side
From the moment Yamaha revealed this side-by-side to the press I was thinking it could be exactly what I have been looking for. I have wanted an all-around side-by-side that would carry four people in all day comfort, but could still do the stuff I do with a two-seat side-by-side with a cargo bed. Most of us probably only need to carry three passengers once in a while, but want to space of a two seat the rest of the time. Overall, the Wolverine X4 could be it! It has all the capability that I look for in a recreational side-by-side, and when I need to haul additional passengers it can do that. The rest of the time I can haul gear and firewood. The ride is good, the engine is incredibly good, and the fit and finish are good. It has actual doors and storage in the cab. You can even get a hard cab enclosure for the Wolverine X4. My only question is getting in and out of the front seats and having that space be a little tighter than I would like. That is it. Hopefully I can get a long-term demo of this machine and see if that will be an issue over time. I might have found my ultimate side-by-side!
Wolverine X4 Graphite- $15,999
Wolverine X4 Yamaha Blue- $16,499
Wolverine X4 Realtree Xtra Camo- $16,899
Wolverine X4 Matte Sliver & Matte Carbon SE- $17,249