2015 Yamaha Viking VI
As extreme as the sport UTV segment is getting with RZRs, Wildcats and Mavericks, it’s not the largest segment of the market. At almost 50 percent, the multi-use utility market eclipses the extreme/sport market in units sold, and 30 percent of the multi-use market is made up of multi-passenger UTVs like the Polaris Ranger Crew, Mule Trans4x4 and John Deer Gator. Yamaha stepped into the market with the three-passenger Viking 700FI in 2013, and we tested the Tactical Black SE Viking last month. Yamaha unleashed its second entry into the multi-use UTV market with the 2015 Viking VI 700FI EFI 4×4 at a secret location in Texas, where they invited the press and the top 75 Viking dealers to sample the latest 4×4 from the Newnan, Georgia, factory. Let’s check it out!
WHAT’S A VIKING VI?
It’s not a chopped and channeled Viking. Although many frame members are shared between the Viking threeseater and the Viking VI, the Viking VI is designed from the ground up to provide the most comfortable cabin for up to six people and still maintain the durability of the drivetrain and engine. It has a full ROPS cage that meets ANSI/ROVA-1- 2011 safety standards for commercial use and is 7.5 inches longer than a Ranger Crew. Both center seats tilt back 5 degrees and are 1.2 inches lower than the side seats to improve shoulder room and comfort. The sides of the V6 frame are raised 60mm for better ground clearance. Three-point seat belts for all six passengers have adjustments to accommodate shorter passengers, and there are eight cup holders in the dash and floor, some with rubber inserts for 12-ounce cans. Front headrests are hollowed out for better vision from the rear seats, and the front passenger bar is adjustable, but the rear bar isn’t.
The wheelbase is 43.2 inches longer than the original Viking’s at 115.6 inches, and steering geometry is massaged for even lighter steering effort in the V6. The CVT with sprag clutch is re-tuned for the extra 282 pounds of weight, and the middle gear is shotpeened for durability. Vanes on the CVT pulleys force cool air into the ducts, and the intake duct draws air at 36 inches high, while the engine intake is at 38.4 inches. The 686cc engine hasn’t received any power upgrades to deal with the extra weight and payloads, but there is extra coolant capacity and an oil cooler. Four-wheel hydraulic brakes have two-puck calipers, and insulators were added to fight heat fade. Whereas the Viking has non-adjustable HPG shocks with straight-rate springs, the V6 has dual-rate springs (30–44 N/m front and 60–100 N/m rear) with no preload rings. Travel is 8.1 inches, front and rear, and A-arms on the V6 are beefed up with gussets.
Yamaha worked closely with Maxxis for new sidewall and carcass stiffness on the 25-inch Bighorn 2.0 tires, which “VI” are blazed on the sidewalls, and the Viking VI has a full-steel skid plate. The EPS assist map is reworked for the V6, and the EPS is speed- and torquesensitive and provides damping against terrain kickback.
Steel Blue isn’t available for the Viking VI, only green, red and Realtree AP Camouflage, with or without EPS, and the EPS Special Edition is Matte Silver with over-fenders, mud flaps, bed-rail mounts and a fabric sunroof. Camo models also come with the sunroof, and a plastic roof is but one of many Viking VI accessories, along with heated seat covers.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
Viking VIs start at $12,799 in Hunter Green and red and go to $13,599 for the Realtree AP Camo wrap. EPS Viking VIs are $13,799 in the base colors, $14,599 for camo and $14,999 for the Special Edition. We haven’t received pricing for the 2015 Polaris Rangers yet, but 2014 Crew 800s are $12,499, Crew 900s are $14,399, and Crew 900 EPS models are $16,199. The all-new 2015 Kawasaki Mule Pro FXT starts at $12,999.
HOW FAST IS THE VIKING VI?
It’s fast enough to be fun on the trail. Starting out at 282 pounds heavier than the three-seat Viking, it accelerates slower and takes longer to reach top speed (around 50 mph), but it’s strong enough to drift the rear end and maintain a slide around turns. Steeper hills will require a shift to low range, but the V6 gets the job done.
HOW IS THE DELIVERY?
Top-shelf! EFI throttle response and the CVT clutching deliver immediate yet smooth take-off, and there are no hitches in the giddy-up. The sprag clutch protects the belt from slippage and heat buildup, and the 2WD/4WD/ diff-lock switch is foolproof. The dashmounted range selector could be a little slicker, but engagement is positive.
WHAT ABOUT THE HANDLING?
It cruises for a Crew. With almost a yard more wheelbase than the Viking, it has a much wider turning radius and much slower turn-in, but it still snakes tight trails, especially with EPS. It’s very predictable and stays more planted in corners, and the extra wheelbase gives it the stability of a locomotive on choppy straights. Hatfield-McCoy switchbacks will require a three-point turn, though.
HOW’S THE IRS SUSPENSION?
Excellent! The HPG shocks with dualrate springs are well-tuned to deliver a limousine-like ride, and the front/ rear balance is good. It doesn’t have the total travel of a Ranger 800 Crew (9.6/9.0 inches) or XP 900 Crew (10/10 inches), but the travel is well-damped for a plush ride. A rear torsion bar fights body roll and allows articulation for rocks and ruts.
WHAT ABOUT ROCKS AND MUD?
They’re doable. Ground clearance is 11.4 inches (0.4 inches less than the Viking), and the lifted sides of the frame aid in clearing rocks. When it does high-center, the full-coverage steel skid plate is designed to slide over the rocks. Taller tires would help it in rocks and deep mud. It can cross water up to 3 feet deep without sucking water into the CVT or air inlet, but deep mud ruts are another matter. Best go with the accessory winch!
WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
It’s amazing. Seats and belts are very comfortable, and the shoulder protectors are very comfortable and secure. The rubber-covered adjustable front passenger bar is shaped well, and the rubber inserts for the drinkholder molds are nice and secure, on top of providing some insulation to keep drinks cold longer. Headroom is plentiful all around, and the headrests are excellent as well. Vibration and engine noise in the cockpit are low, and footwells (dead pedals) in the front provide secure bracing. Storage is plentiful with a 10-liter glovebox and 24-liter sealed bin under the front center seat. The airbox, with a huge air filter, is under the center-rear seat. The Special Edition has a 20-liter under-seat bin as well. We like the half doors for providing security and comfort yet quick entry and exit.
WHAT ABOUT THE BRAKES?
They vanquish speed like a good Viking should. We’re talking RZR XP 1000-grade calipers with insulators to fight heat fade in the pads, plus there’s a mechanical fifth caliper for the parking brake. Also, four-wheel engine braking is excellent, especially in low range. When you throw out the anchor, this puppy stops.
WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
As your wolf pack grows, the need to transport more than three people does too. The 2015 Viking VI is an off-road limousine with great CVT, excellent EFI-fed engine, plush suspension, great brakes and purpose-built tires that will no doubt continue a history of outstanding durability. When the workday is done, the Viking VI is a great partner for exploration, trail riding, and/or getting to and from the hunting camp.
Comments are closed.