2020 Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R First Ride Impressions – Review
First Impressions: 2020 Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R
The Yamaha Grizzly has been around for a long time now, and we have had the opportunity to get some serious seat time aboard this capable ATV. It’s true that the Grizzly is a jack-of-all-trades and truly a master of some of those trades. For 2020, the Grizzly trudges along with minor updates in the form of the new XT-R edition. Following in the footsteps of Yamaha’s Proven Off-Road slogan and the desire to make the best machines in the business that are built to take on any challenge you throw at it, the XT-R edition is ready for some serious business. Off-Road trail business, that is…
New on the XT-R edition are the following items – a 2500 lb WARN Pro Vantage Winch with an upgraded contactor, along with the eye-catching Titanium Bronze/Tactical Black color scheme on the body and the 14” cast aluminum wheels. 2019 saw many more updates to make this machine even more capable, including – new engine displacement and tuning in the form of optimized mid range power, new low gearing for the 27” tire, new digital instrument cluster, and revised engine mounts. The 2020 model continues to use the larger 27” Maxxis ‘Zilla tires, which give this quad increased ground clearance and extreme capability in the mud. The tires are exactly the same size all the way around, making it convenient to carry one spare tire if needed. It’s never a bad idea to carry a spare, but I can tell you that these tires are tough with their 6-ply rating. Another editor and I took 2 Grizzly’s out on a spirited ride through the rocks, which were sharp and squared up in many different spots. We didn’t have any flats, and that speaks to the toughness of this tire. More on that in a minute...
For those of us with navigational minds who want a portable navigation system build into our off-road vehicles, the Grizzly now features integration for Yamaha’s signature Adventure Pro system. This GPS and integrated vehicle system allows the rider to access all of the machine’s vitals from the digital screen. The Android-based tablet is great for navigation off-road with thousands of miles of pre-loaded trails from the massive Magellan database, and you can also use it to mark your own trails and navigate on your own. The integration of the tablet onto the ATV is clean and right on top of the storage area in between the rider and the handlebars. It’s not in your line of sight, but that’s actually a good thing on an ATV. Overall, it works just like other Adventure Pro units on YXZ’s or Wolverine’s – easy-to-learn UI and great reliability when you’re on the trail. I love the fact that the tablet is weatherproof, too. That’s a must-have feature with a system like this!
The rider comfort of this Grizzly is really top notch, too. We went on a spirited ride through hard-packed, tree-lined trails in Alabama. The trails were filled with rocks, steep uphills, and even steeper descents with big ruts and quite a bit of challenging terrain. I am a quad guy at heart with years and years of experience riding these open cockpit vehicles, and I am a big fan of how the Grizzly handles on the trails. The suspension is plush and allows you to be comfortable riding fast for long periods of time. The shocks, while only preload adjustable, soak up the bumps nicely and have a progressive feel to them with a great resistance to bottoming on hard G-outs. Couple the suspension with the very well tuned power steering system, and this quad is a pleasure to cruise around the trails, OR, better yet, ride at quick paces. I never felt tired during the ride, even with the quick pace we were setting behind a YXZ1000R XT-R edition.
When you get into the S-curves on the trails, the 700-class, single cylinder engine in the Grizzly really shines. In fact, I see a ton of people on the internet literally bashing Yamaha for not putting a twin in this machine yet. Sure, the 850 parallel twin engine would give the Grizzly more power, but after riding this machine, it has plenty of power to own the trails. I had an absolute blast roosting out of corners with the low end grunt of this machine! Plus, it’s got top speed power that doesn’t sign off at high RPMs – it just keeps pulling. Also, all of the hills we tackled were easy to get up to the top. I wasn’t power-hungry whatsoever. Overall, Yamaha’s change to go with a slightly revised engine last year paid dividends, and this machine is a blast to ride. Credit also needs to go back to the excellently tuned CVT transmission. This unit, like all of Yamaha’s CVT systems, comes with a 10-year belt warranty so you know it’s made to last. And clutching on it is superb – it just works well in every situation we tested it in.
Yes, it’s a blast to ride on the tight trails. You can hustle it around the corners with ease. It’s not as easy to transition your body across the seat as a sport quad, but that’s not what this vehicle is designed for. The seat is comfortable with plenty of squish for all-day riding, yet not too little padding to make your behind hurt after just a short ride.
The tires… These Maxxis ‘Zilla tires are both surprising and underwhelming. First, these are really tough tires. With an open tread pattern designed for mud situations, I thought they were going to suffer in the rocks and possibly get punctures with hard abuse. To my surprise, we didn’t get any punctures, even after blasting up rock-strewn hill climbs, and that speaks to how tough the 6-ply carcass is on the ‘Zilla. But, with the open tread pattern, the tires aren’t ideal for the hard packed terrain that we were riding on these trails. They are actually a very predictable and confidence-inspiring tire, but they don’t have the best handling characteristics for hard pack. More forward bite would be great, along with some better traction in the center of corners. And, for some reason, I’m still afraid that a rock is going to puncture all of the “sea” space on this tire.
Other than the tires, that’s really the only item on the Grizzly that is a bit questionable. Especially on the XT-R that is supposed to handle all terrains, we aren’t sure why Yamaha left those tires on here, but they built a great overall package with all of the other components. So, overall, the XT-R is a great Grizzly that is perfect for the rider who is going to be doing a bit of everything on the trails. It is equipped to get you there and back with ease, and you’ll look good doing it with the new paint & graphics package. Plus, those wheels! It is a very capable ATV, whether you use it for work around the ranch, or you use it on the trails, or both. You know the Grizzly will make it “there and back”, for years to come.
Should you get the Adventure Pro technology package? If you’re going to be doing a lot of adventure riding to places you haven’t been, or you want the ability to easily share your ride routes with friends and family, this package is a must-have when you purchase this quad. It retails for $749.99. Plus, compared to the competition, of which there is not much, the Adventure Pro can’t be beat.
The Grizzly XT-R should be arriving at dealerships soon. The XT-R edition retails for $10,999 MSRP. Keep an eye out on the ATV & UTV ESCAPE Magazine pages for more information and an in-depth review of this machine.
You can find more information on Yamaha’s website at this page: https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/utility-atv/models/grizzly-eps-xt-r
Until next time, be safe on the trails and we’ll see you out there!