Thursday , May 03, 2018 - 12:00 AM
With the popularity of four-seat UTVs, more ATV companies have been stepping up to the plate. One of the challenges facing manufacturers has been building one that can handle some of the tight turns found on our mountain trails.
Arctic Cat and Polaris have four-place machines, but their length cuts down on agility. A Polaris RZR 4 is 146 inches long with a wheel base of 117 inches. The Arctic Cat is even longer.
Yamaha has designed a new four-seater to answer the tight turn challenge. The 2018 Wolverine X4 bears the name of the two-place machine that was introduced three years ago, but it has been completely redesigned as a four-place UTV.
To answer the challenge, Yamaha built the Wolverine to be 122 inches long and less than 60 inches wide. The wheel base measures 82.7 inches, which makes a tight turning machine.
Powered with a new 847cc fuel-injected, parallel twin cylinder engine delivering nearly 50 percent more horse power than the motor powering the two-seat Wolverine, the X4 is fun to drive.
Combined with Yamaha’s Ultramatic CV transmission, and using a drive-by-wire throttle, the new engine delivers smooth power from the start. The transmission is designed to keep tension on the belt so there is no “bump” when starting from a stand still.
Nick Faulkner at Layton Cycle let me take one out for a test drive. I chose the Thompson Springs trails east of Green River to get a feel for this new Yamaha.
Taking a walk around, I noticed the bright beam of the LED highlights, the 26-inch Maxxis tires on 12-inch cast aluminum wheels, and the drop down tailgate.
The Wolverine comes standard with gas-charged adjustable shocks on the front and load leveling shocks on the back. Couple that with double wishbone suspension and you will enjoy the ride.
The narrow door and the shoulder bolsters make entering the vehicle somewhat challenging, but once seated, the cockpit is quite comfortable. The seat is adjustable with an automotive-style latch, and the steering wheel tilts to enhance comfort.
The back seats can be tilted up and moved forward to increase cargo space, with a 600-pound capacity. The Wolverine is rated to tow 2,000 pounds. Pushed all the way back, the seats will accommodate two younger passengers. Full-sized adults will find the quarters a little cramped.
Looking under the hood, I noticed a switch that had a choice of a rabbit setting or a turtle setting. I chose the rabbit setting and learned that the turtle setting would limit the UTV to 25 miles per hour and is designed to assist beginner drivers.
It was time to crank this baby up. The first thing I noticed was that if you didn’t buckle up, a loud beeping noise would ruin your ride, but I was okay with that safety feature.
I then noticed an absence of engine noise. This is a surprisingly quiet machine.
The power steering was light and I felt well connected to the trail. It was very stable in the turns. With the short wheel base, it was easy to maneuver through technical sections. The 8.7 inches of wheel travel in the front and 8.9 inches in the back also helped smooth out the rocks.
There was no lack of power in rock climbing and the drive-by-wire throttle handled bumpy sections nicely. One challenge was a steep drop off a rock ledge. The disc brakes and almost 11 inches of ground clearance made the grade.
I had the X4 up to just over 50 mph. It wasn’t geared to go much faster than that, but that speed was not uncomfortable. I like the engine braking feature in two wheel drive, but it was more pronounced in four wheel drive. It gives a feeling of control in technical descents.
The Special Edition Wolverine X4 carries a price tag of $17,299. The one I drove had a roof, which adds $495 to the price, but I like a roof.
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and consider the X4 — it has a lot to offer.
You can email Lynn Blamires at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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