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UTV TEST: 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec SE

January 5, 2017
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Yamaha is offering enthusiasts several more choices with its 2017 sport, recreation and utility UTV line—from the YXZ1000R and Sport Shift Special Editions with Fox X2 shocks to the Wolverine and Viking Special Editions. We’ll test the new YXZ1000R Sport Shift in the next issue, and we had a chance to try out the Wolverine R-Spec SE at Arizona’s Gunsite Academy.

WHAT’S A WOLVERINE R-SPEC?
Yamaha built the original 2016 $10,999 Wolverine for adventure, exploration, trail riding and hunting, and the base Wolverine got EPS for 2017. Wolverine R-Specs add highend shocks for $1200 and EPS for another $1000. For 2017 the new flagship Wolverine R-Spec EPS SE gets trick, new, two-tone, cast-aluminum bead-lock wheels; additional chassis and A-arm armor; over-fenders; a soft-grip steering wheel; under-seat storage and Flat Silver bodywork with color-matched bucket seats.

The Wolverine takes the Viking’s lower end and lowers the gearing 5 percent. The new DOHC top end has a 103mm piston and 85mm stroke for 708cc. Yamaha placed it 148mm forward in the frame for more centralized mass, and the seats are 2.76 inches closer together than on the Viking. The Wolverine’s frame is 5.5 inches narrower than the Viking’s, and the sides are swept up 2.36 inches for ground clearance. The new frame is kept narrow for longer A-arms, and high-end dual-compression piggyback shocks provide full adjustment and 9.7 inches of front and 10.6 inches of rear travel. A rear torsion bar fights body roll on the 60.6-inch-wide R-Spec, and dual-piston hydraulic calipers squeeze four 8.15-inch discs. The CVT has the normal Yamaha sprag clutch with EBS, and the rear transfer case has a safety buzzer in case the multi-disc parking brake is left engaged. There is also a new buzzer that sounds if the driver’s seat belt isn’t buckled when in gear. The non-tilting bed holds 300 pounds and has a removable and stowable tailgate, and a large console with an airbox underneath replaces the Viking’s center seat. Wheelbase is 81.3 inches, and the Wolverine has a full-length skid plate. Fuel capacity is 9.7 gallons.

HOW DOES THE COST COMPARE?
The base Wolverine is still $10,999. The Wolverine EPS is $11,999. The R-Spec EPS is $13,199, and the R-Spec EPS SE is $14,799. Arctic Cat’s Wildcat Trail 700 is $11,999. The Trail XT is $12,999, and the LTD is $14,499, while the Wildcat Sport XT is $14,599 and the Sport LTD is $15,999. The 2017 Can-Am Commander 800 starts at $12,199 without EPS and $13,299 with it, while the high-end 800 XT is $14,899. Polaris’ RZR 900 is $12,999, and EPS 900s are $14,799. Polaris dropped the base General 1000 for 2017, so the least expensive one is $16,299.

Plastic covers protect the KYB shock shafts, and bumpers soften bottoming. Non-SE owners can upgrade to these skid plates and bash plate for $499.99 and A-arm guards for $169.95, and a 27-inch MSA/EFX softterrain tire/ wheel kit is $1199.
Plastic covers protect the KYB shock shafts, and bumpers soften bottoming. Non-SE owners can upgrade to these skid plates and bash plate for $499.99 and A-arm guards for $169.95, and a 27-inch MSA/EFX softterrain tire/ wheel kit is $1199.

HOW FAST IS THE 708CC R-SPEC?
Fast enough to be fun. Top speed is 52 mph, but it does its best work in conditions way too tight for that. Yamaha uses the same DOHC single with a 44mm EFI throttle body in the Wolverine, Grizzly and Kodiak 4x4s, but the Wolverine is tuned for more midrange grunt. It’s great from turn to turn and even better on clay-mud grease. The worse and tighter conditions there are, the more effective the Wolverine is.

WHAT ABOUT CVT/4WD DELIVERY?
It’s the industry standard. The Continuously Variable Transmission has a sprag clutch to keep constant belt tension and centrifugal clutch to provide low-speed slip, greatly increasing belt life. The clutch and EFI throttle response work very well together, and the CVT has built-in four-wheel engine braking (in 4WD) and a slick, gated range selector. The 2WD/4WD/4WD diff-lock knob is way easier to use than the old two-button Rhino system.

Over-fenders, full aluminum skid plates and aluminum bead-lock wheels shod with Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 26-inch tires arm the Special Edition for mud, and the power delivery of the engine and CVT keep it hooked up on slimy surfaces.
Over-fenders, full aluminum skid plates and aluminum bead-lock wheels shod with Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 26-inch tires arm the Special Edition for mud, and the power delivery of the engine and CVT keep it hooked up on slimy surfaces.

HOW DOES THE WOLVERINE HANDLE?
Its namesake has a low stance, razorsharp teeth and claws, and no fear. The R-Spec EPS SE is like that with a low center of gravity, centralized mass, variable-assist EPS and a RZR-like 81.3inch wheelbase. It has great cornering manners and good straight-line stability, and it’s very predictable when flicked into tight turns. It will push like all full-time 4x4s, but it’s a blast to drift into turns in 2WD. Servos quickly engage 2WD or 4WD, so confidence is high in turns (2WD) and on steep, slick downhills (4WD) with the handy selector knob.

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HOW GOOD IS THE R-SPEC SUSPENSION?
It has less overall travel than competing 60-inch UTVs, but it’s highquality travel. Front travel is 9.7 inches, and rear is 10.6. Wolverine R-Specs come with high-end KYB piggyback shocks with high- and low-speed compression adjusters, 30-position rebound clickers and progressive springs with ring preload. Standard settings are 1 1/4 turns out (of 2) on high-speed compression at all four corners. Lowspeed compression is set at 12 clicks out (of 18) all around, and rebound is 13 clicks out in front and 14 in back. At Gunsite in northwest Arizona, everything is sharp. The R-Spec SE soaks up roots, rocks and rain ruts well and resists bottoming on all but the hardesthit G-outs. Savvy owners can dial in more bottoming resistance by going to 1 turn on high-speed compression, and they can smooth out trail junk by going out a few clicks on low speed.

ARE MUD AND ROCKS ON ITS DIET?
It’s not afraid of either. Wolverine R-Spec SEs have 11.4 inches of ground clearance (non-SEs have 11.8) with 26-inch tires, and they hook up in clay mud well until ruts get a foot deep and the frame center drags. Over-fenders reduce splash, but sticky mud flings forward off of the front Bighorns, and the mud comes into the cabin at higher speeds. The rear torsion bar allows good articulation in rocks, and frame flares in front of the rear wheels provide extra protection for those sweet beadlocks. Diff-lock increases traction in both worlds.

HOW ABOUT THE BRAKES?
They’re strong. Two-piston calipers squeeze 207mm rotors on all four corners, and they are backed up by engine braking and a multi-disc, wet-pack parking brake. On really steep hills, be sure to engage 4WD for four-wheel engine braking.

A large, latched glove box rides under the cushioned grab bar with three-position adjustment, and the cup holders and center cubby hole are handy. Cabin comfort is very high, and noise and vibration are low.
A large, latched glove box rides under the cushioned grab bar with three-position adjustment, and the cup holders and center cubby hole are handy. Cabin comfort is very high, and noise and vibration are low.

WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
It’s special. The low-boy doors and shoulder bolsters provide confidence, and there is plenty of legroom with a molded floor for traction. The driver’s seat can be adjusted to three positions; remove the cushion and reposition the seat frame with tools under the passenger seat. The standard sunroof has channels to keep most of the rain out of the cab, and the SE has storage under the driver’s seat with a screw-top access and drain. The cup holders and the large, latched glove box are nice. Noise and vibration levels are low, and the instrument readability is high with the multi-function LCD display and icons.

With a wheelbase and width almost identical to the new RZR S 570, the 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS Special Edition is a formidable woods weapon for explorers, trail riders, hunters and anyone who likes to get away from it all.
With a wheelbase and width almost identical to the new RZR S 570, the 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS Special Edition is a formidable woods weapon for explorers, trail riders, hunters and anyone who likes to get away from it all.

WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
The Wolverine is a great price-point performer for exploring, trail riding and hunting. EPS adds quicker steering with less effort, and the R-Spec adds highly tunable shocks. The Special Edition combines it all into a super-comfortable, confidence-inspiring, very agile package with great power delivery, handling, suspension, brakes and creature comforts. It only bares its formidable teeth and talons at its competition.

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SPECS
2017 YAMAHA WOLVERINE R-SPEC 4X4 SE
ENGINE/TRANSMISSION
Engine type .Liquid/oil-cooled, 4-valve, DOHC 4-stroke
Displacement ………………………………………..708cc
Bore x stroke ………………………….103.0 x 85.0mm
Compression ratio ………………………………… 10.1:1
Lubrication system …………………………… Wet sump
Additional cooling ………………………………… Auto fan
Induction ……………………Yamaha EFI w/ 44mm body
Starting/back-up …………………………….Electric/none
Starting procedure …………………….. Turn ignition key
Choke location …………………………………………..N/A
Air filter:
Type ………………………………………Washable foam
Access Tool-less, lift center console & undo 6 clips
Transmission ………………..Dual-range CVT w/reverse
Reverse procedure………. Move range selector to “R”
Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ diff-lock & EBS
Final drives ………………………………………….. Shafts
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS
Fuel capacity ……………………………………….9.7 gal.
Wheelbase ……………………………………………. 81.3”
Overall length/width/height ………….117”/60.6”/74.2”
Ground clearance ……………………………………. 11.4”
Claimed wet weight …………. 1,311 lb.; SE, 1,404 lb.
Bed weight limit…………………………………….300 lb.
Hitch ……………………………………………..2” receiver
Towing limit……………………………………….1,500 lb.
ROLLING CHASSIS
Frame …………………………………… Steel round tube
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front …………. Dual A-arms w/ prel./comp./reb. adj.
shocks/9.7”
Rear …………………Dual A-arms w/ prel./comp./reb.
adj. shocks/10.6”
Brakes/actuation:
Front …….Twin-piston hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Rear ………Two-piston hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Parking ………………………………….. Lever on console
Tires:
Front ……………………… 26×8-12 Bighorn 2.0 2-ply
Rear ……………………. 26×10-12 Bighorn 2.0 4-ply
ELECTRICAL
DC outlet …………………………………………… Console
Lighting:
Front ………………………. 2 30W Krypton headlights
Rear ……………………….. Dual 21/5W brake/taillight
DETAILS
Instrumentation Fuel-sight gauge, 4WD indicator lights
Colors . Steel Blue, Hunter Green, Red, Alpine White,
Realtree AP-HD; SE, Matte Silver
Minimum recommended operator age ……………… 16
Suggested retail price ……………. $12,199-$12,799;
EPS, $13,199-$13,799; EPS-SE, $14,799
Contact ……..Yamaha Motor Corp., (800) 962-7926

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