2021 UTV OF THE YEAR

It’s that time of year; we are at the end of the model year 2021. We’ve tested all of the popular cars for the year and have decided on a 2021 UTV of the year. This year, we have also chosen a new UTV Product of the Year as well. And the winners are…

VEHICLE

Yamaha’s Wolverine RMAX2 is UTV Action’s 2021 UTV of the year for several reasons. First off, the machine is all new. This award is designed to encourage manufacturers to introduce new product. The days of bold new graphics are on hold. There is so much competition that at the very least we want to see a major upgrade in accessories, suspension or power in older models. Yamaha basically did that within the Wolverine line from top to bottom. As for the RMAX, we’ve driven it in every terrain it was designed for and then some. It has the features we’ve come to expect from Yamaha, including a positive-locking front differential, smooth power, excellent fit and finish, and durability. Speaking of durability, along with the announcement of the RMAX last fall, Yamaha gave this machine a 10-year belt-life warranty.

A few models of Yamaha’s X2, X4 and RMAX Wolverines have the speed-management system under the hood. Here you can turn the key to “turtle mode” for newer drivers, employees, or perhaps a rental or tour customer. Only Can-Am has a similar feature within their green-and-white keys.
The RMAX has one of the best dash layouts in the business. It’s very modern-looking, and has tons of features and room for adding a handful of accessories.

WHAT DO YOU GET?

All Rmax2 models are worthy of the 2021 UTV of the year title. The base model kicks off the line at $20,299. That price gets you 30-inch GBC Dirt Commander 2.0 tires and Fox 2.0 QS3 shocks. Up front, suspension travel is 14.2 inches, and it’s 16.9 inches in the rear. These numbers are the same on all of the two-seaters. The only difference between the two- and four-seaters is that the rear suspension travel loses 3 inches of travel, but you gain 3 inches of wheelbase. The four-seaters have 29-inch tires, and the machines are $1500 more.

Yamaha has always used a positive-locking front differential that’s activated by a dial on the dash. Knowing your vehicle is in true 4WD mode when you step on the gas is something we have come to expect in the best units.

For $22,499, you can get the RMAX2 1000 XT-R. With this model, you get Yamaha Adventure Pro GPS mapping and navigation, Maxxis Carnivore tires, a Warn VRX 4500-pound winch and a better-looking front bumper. Inside the cockpit, the D-mode feature is included on this model. You can select from Crawl, Trail and Sport modes. The dial changes the ignition mapping and fuel for drastically different power outputs. So, no matter what kind of terrain you are driving in, you can have the power characteristics you need for a good time. We spent the most drive time in this machine over the past year and really took advantage of the D-mode. While we used all three settings on every ride, we liked Trail for the bulk of the miles we rode. It gave the 999cc RMAX the perfect mix of power and control.

A twin-cylinder, 999cc, fuel-injected, four-stroke engine powers the 2021 UTV of the year. It’s smooth and reliable with tons of torque and top-speed excitement.

At the top of ladder is the $23,799 RMAX2 1000 Limited Edition. Along with painted blue bodywork, the LE includes Yamaha Adventure Pro GPS, an SSV Works audio system, Maxxis Carnivore tires and electronically adjustable shocks. We just finished a two-day ride in the LE traversing the famous Rubicon trail in Northern California. The RMAX literally conquered any challenge Mother Nature threw at us; the trail was no match for the RMAX. We methodically let the machine shine through all of the tough sections. With absolute traction on the locking front differential and precise steering, the RMAX was never held back. The car worked so well that we didn’t have to unspool and use the Warn winch. What we did use a lot was the D-mode power setting and the electronically adjustable shocks. At slow, steady speeds, if we put the shock on its stiffest setting, it actually increased its ride height. We used this setting to avoid as many scrapes to the underbelly as possible. Furthermore, we used Crawl mode on this trail more than ever. In Crawl, throttle response is lazy yet still powerful. The computer puts out a delayed reaction to the engine, keeping the tires rolling slowly with complete traction.

Before the two-day ride on the Rubicon, we had already named the 2021 Yamaha RMAX2 our 2021 UTV of the year , but that trip just solidified our choice. If you are looking for a better do-it-all recreation UTV, this machine could be it. See UTV Action’s full test of the Rmax2 here: 2021 YAMAHA RMAX2 1000 XT-R – UTV Action Magazine

Two features that the high-end RMAXs have are adjustable power modes (left) and adjustable suspension (right). Both systems work well and are calibrated perfectly. We use the middle setting on both 80 percent of the time, but, when needed, we can go softer or harder with both—and we do.
Not only does the RMAX come with a high-end GPS unit, the system is removable so you can bring it in the house or to your office to plot out your next adventure. When they add a Group Ride feature and a backup camera, we will really be impressed.

PRODUCT OF THE YEAR

For 2021 we added a new “Product of the Year” category to the mix. Over the past 12 months we tested countless new products. From tires and tops to bumpers and windshields, there are lots of new goodies out there. One product, the Garmin Tread, stands out and deserves to be recognized. The Tread is basically an all-in-one navigation and communication solution that attaches easily to your roll cage. Furthermore, it’s also capable of being a backup camera and a switch panel to operate your favorite accessories.

We added a Product of the Year to our annual feature. The Garmin Tread was very deserving of the honor in this category. The unit acts as a GPS or radio communicator and has a Group Ride feature so you can keep track of your buddies.
You can also integrate a switch panel and remote camera into the Tread. We are installing one now on a project machine and will report back on its functionality soon.

The Tread goes above and beyond Garmin’s other products by providing a feature called Buddy Track. The Buddy Track and 2-watt walkie-talkie-type radio feature work by using MURS frequencies. Yes, you can tune a Rugged or PCI radio to these and communicate to the Tread as well so all of your friends can stay connected. As with Polaris’ Ride Command “Group Ride,” on your map screen you can keep track of where your riding buddies are. There is no need for cell service, as the system uses radio waves. Up to 20 people can be tracked and viewed; however, you can’t view Polaris Ride Command users. The Garmin Tread sells for $799; the switch panel is an extra $499, and the remote camera is $149.

We have three overland trips under our belts out of the RMAX. For us, it has been getting well over 100 miles on a tank of gas so we’re able to take it to most remote locations. Having a reliable car lets us do it with confidence.
The RMAX is a tank. It can go up, over or through anything just like its predecessor the Rhino. We have yet to break, bend or puncture anything on this unit with over 1000 miles behind the wheel.

We like the system so much, we are installing the complete setup in a project Honda Talon 4 we are building up now. Buy one at www.garmin.com

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