2024 YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS REVIEW
Yamaha’s YXZ1000 burst onto the scene with high-revving excitement back in late 2015. Nearly a decade later, the platform is evolving once again in hopes of reaching a broader market. For 2024, the Yamaha YXZ1000R SS will not only feature an extra gear, but it’s now available as an automatic and still without the use of a CVT belt.
The transmission. Actually, it’s the same divorced-style tranny, and it sits under the center console between the two seats. The motorcycle-style trans has a single wet clutch and can be serviced simply. It now has an external spin-on filter, as well as the original screen filter. A few fins have been added inside the cases for better clutch cooling, and there’s a new basket and pressure plate. Finally, the paddle-shift (SS) model has a new rubber transmission mount, relieving some shift shock.
Back on the chassis there are new brackets welded into the frame that will make turbo installs quicker and cheaper. Dual electrical pigtails are added, making lighted whips easier to install, too, and the electrical system as a whole has been increased from 472 watts up to 1,000 watts of output to give you extra amps of energy to tap your accessories into. There is a new activation switch on the dash that allows you to select SS (Sport Shift) manual shifting via paddles, Sport Auto or Auto (fully automatic). Next to that switch you will find a gear-position screen letting you know which setting you’re in at a glance. Finally, the rear shocks have new stainless steel sleeves to keep mud and grit from wearing through the aluminum bodies.
IS IT MORE EXPENSIVE?
Yamaha actually lowered the price of the 2024 YXZ1000R $1,000 over last year’s model. So, for this year, the base and SS models are listed at $20,899, and the SS XT-R version costs $23,699. To compare base-model non-turbo UTVs, the new Polaris RZR XP lists for $100 more at $20,999, the Talon X is priced at $20,099, and the R goes for $21,099. Finally, you can get the Yamaha-powered Arctic Cat Wildcat that uses a CVT belt for $23,199.
DOES IT HAVE A TURBO?
No. Even without turbocharging, this 999cc engine is one of the most exciting powerplants ever put in a SxS. Furthermore, the engine itself is ready to be modified and can handle anything you want to massage out of it or bolt onto it. However, if you want to keep the Yamaha warranty intact, you will need to opt for Yamaha’s GYTR turbo kit, which you can order from and have your dealer install at the point of purchase.
If you want to ride the machine normally aspirated for a bit first, you can easily add the turbo later and still keep the warranty company happy. The GYTR turbo brings horsepower numbers to a reliable yet potent 170 horsepower. Finally, as we mentioned before, Yamaha has added bracketry to the frame to make the turbo install a bit quicker. One notable part is actually the YFZ450 radiator that mounts under the hood when using those supplied brackets.
DOES IT HAVE A CVT BELT?
No, the beauty of every YXZ1000R is that there is no belt. It has a motorcycle-style transmission and now has six gears. You can choose a stick-shift model or the one we tested and preferred—the paddle-shifting SS model, which can be shifted manually—or you can let the computer take care of the guesswork for you. Both experiences are way more exciting than driving a CVT-equipped SxS.
HOW’S THE NEW TRANSMISSION?
It works great. First gear is super low now. Yamaha claims it’s 40 percent lower than before. During testing, we rolled it up against a ledge, downshifted into first, and climbed it without issue. We also took it up the infamous Chute at the Sand Hollow ride area in Utah. Even with stock tires and the correct air pressure, the new YXZ drove up it without slipping the clutch or the tires.
To get more familiar with the machine, we took a tour of Sand Hollow using only the manual SS mode. The YXZ is a blast to drive, letting your fingers do the shifting in split seconds. You can upshift or downshift at will, keeping the machine in the rpm range you want. The next position on the dial is Sport Manual, which is incredible. It actually teaches you how the YXZ is supposed to be driven. It will hold gears higher than you think and downshift for you exactly when the engine loses optimum torque. This was our favorite position when ripping around the big dune areas of Sand Hollow.
Finally, we tried the standard Auto position on a longer ride we took in the Nevada desert. Auto worked perfectly for casual, non-aggressive driving. It shifts smooth occasionally and doesn’t hunt around looking for the right gear. If you stab the throttle hard, it will immediately downshift and supply the power you are looking for. When you come to a stop, the transmission automatically downshifts to first gear in any mode, so there’s never a risk of stalling.
Another thing we tried on some slow-flowing trails was using Manual mode with the transmission in sixth gear and just cruised around. We could actually drive from 25 mph all the way to a top speed of 80 mph and everywhere in between. The three-cylinder engine had plenty of torque to drive this way. If we needed to cruise at a lower pace, we selected fourth gear for a great experience from 3 mph to around 50 mph.
HOW’S THE POWER?
If you like to drive more aggressive than that, don’t forget about Launch mode. It can now be activated in first or second gear. To do so, come to a stop with your foot on the brake, pull both paddles back, move your foot from the brake to wide-open throttle and release the paddle, and you are off. It performed flawlessly. Another hidden feature that has been added to this machine is that you can start off in second gear at any time. With your foot on the brake, all you do is pull the right paddle back and it shifts to second, and stays there until it needs to shift to third. This feature is useful if you are putting around a campground or leaving a staging area.
Going fast is a blast in the YXZ. With over 100 horsepower on tap and using a gear-on-gear transmission, acceleration is instant. There is no soft CVT feel or slip, and blipping through gears is so much fun at any speed. If you want to get real aggressive, you can rev the motor until you see the shift light come on at about 9800 rpm, then grab another gear. Most other UTVs only rev to about 8,000 rpm. Furthermore, the nature of a manual transmission lends itself to a great-sounding aftermarket exhaust system, and there are a bunch to choose from. Finally, this engine has proven to be able to hold as much as 400 horsepower at the hands of different drag-race tuners out there, so the sky is the limit.
The rest of the machine is exactly how it’s been since 2019. It’s a compact UTV that we equate to a fast go-kart that you can jump. It carves corners with little to no body roll. For a short-wheelbase machine, it handles the big bumps very predictably. The shocks are set up stiff but can be adjusted for comfort. You sit low, yet you have a great view out of the doors and over the hood. The lower seat height gives you the sensation that you are driving much faster than you are. The cool thing about that is, you get the same excitement at 50 mph in the YXZ as you do at much higher speeds in other mellow UTVs. Yamaha calls it “Direct Connected,” and it does give you similar sensations of riding a dirt bike or sport ATV. So, if you are one of those guys, this is the machine to get excited about.
It’s a perfect machine for trails, dune riding and now rock crawling. And, the machine can be shared with newer drivers who might be intimidated with the fact that they have to shift. That fear is now gone. Leave it stock and it will give you years of trouble-free off-road enjoyment. Can’t leave it stock? Then, think about the YXZ as a Swiss army knife; it can be opened up and perform any job you want it to. Add long travel from companies like Avid and it will be a Baja beast. Turbocharge it and it will beat all your buddies in a straight line. Want to race it for real? Some of the fastest drag UTVs in the country are tricked-out YXZs. Whether you want to go fast or slow, it can be done in the 2024 Yamaha YXZ1000R SS. While the YXZ is Yamaha’s top-of-the-line sport machine, it’s not in the same class as the flagship machines from Polaris and Can-Am. It’s still in the same class as their mid-sized trail machines, but it sits at the top.
2024 YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS LIKES
• Very low first gear is great for crawling
• Launch mode now available in second gear
• Unmatched reliability
• Great gas mileage
• Unobstructed cockpit view
2024 YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS DISLIKES
• We wish this was available in 2016
2024 YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS SPECS
Engine 998cc, turbo-ready,
Bore & stroke 80mm x 66.2mm
Compression ratio 11.3:1
Transmission Manual or auto, 6-speed,
w/ 40% lower first gear
Charging system 1000W
Suspension Fox RC2 dual A-arm
16.2” front/trailing A-arm 17” rear
Front 29x9R-14 Maxxis Bighorn
Rear 29x11R-14 Maxxis Bighorn
Fuel capacity 9 gal.
Brakes Four-wheel hydraulic disc
Ground clearance 13.2”
Wet weight 1574 lb.
Colors Team Yamaha Blue or Titan
and Tactical Black (XT-R)