— Long-term test —
The all-new Wolverine X4 is Yamaha’s entry into the four-seat recreation UTV class, and we first tested it at North Carolina’s Brushy Mountain Motorsports Park (January 2018). The X4 was very impressive in the tight woods and on mountain switchback trails, so much so that we felt it should be included in our “2018 Sport UTV Buyer’s Guide” (February 2018). We have since received a Matte Silver Wolverine X4 Special Edition for long-term testing. Here is what we’ve learned since the initial test.
WHAT ARE THE WOLVERINE X4 BENEFITS?
Yamaha designed the X4 from the ground up to conquer any terrain with confidence and comfort, making it one of the most compact and quiet UTVs on the market, whether two- or four-seat. The twice-coated frame places the compact, dry-sump, 847cc twin exactly in the center for centralized mass and low center of gravity. It’s tuned for torque and low shift points in the Ultramatic CVT. Combined with the larger 7.4-liter muffler, larger intake tract, rubber engine mounts and helical-cut gears, the X4 is the most quiet gas-powered UTV on the market. The rear stadium seats are super comfortable and can be stowed forward for more space in the bed with a 600-pound capacity. Hunters and campers will appreciate the versatile design and self-leveling suspension, in addition to the quiet ride, and the second-shortest wheelbase of any four-seat UTV means not having to hit reverse on mountain switchbacks. (The Honda Pioneer 1000-5 has the shortest in-class wheelbase, but its convertible rear seats aren’t nearly as comfortable for adults.)
The Wolverine X4 comes in Graphite with steel wheels for $15,999, Yamaha Blue with aluminum two-tone wheels for $16,499 or Realtree Xtra Camo with aluminum wheels for $16,899. Special Edition X4s add Matte Silver or Carbon paint with matching graphics and three-color seats for $17,249. The Matte Carbon SE has color-matched orange bumper and shock springs. We really like the new digital gauge, large glove box with winch-remote blank and compartment, lined half doors with aluminum interior handles, full skid plate and EPS settings for the steering wheel with 12 inches of adjustment.
WHAT WOULD WE IMPROVE?
Full-sized adults will need that tilt-wheel adjustment to get into the driver’s seat, and the four shoulder bolsters complicate getting into the other three bucket seats. Unlike the Wolverine R-Spec and R-Spec SE, none of the X4 choices come with a roof. Although the Bighorn 3.0-like four-ply MU75 front and six-ply MU76 rear tires provide crisp handling and traction, they’re only 26-inch, while the Teryx4 LEs come with 27-inch Bighorns. Going to 27s or even 28s would improve ride quality and handling (stay tuned, we’re installing Genuine Yamaha 27s and a clutch-weight kit). We’d also go with tires with a higher ply rating for durability to match the rest of the X4.
HOW FAST IS THE 850 TWIN?
Fast enough to be fun. The all-new twin accelerates harder than the two-seat 708cc Wolverine, and top speed is limited to 51 mph in high and 29 mph in low range. There is enough torque to climb all but the steepest hills in high range, and the X4 will carry a powerslide on harder surfaces. The X4 also has a lower low range than the Wolverine, and only top speed is limited in “Turtle” mode, so it gets full horsepower for climbing hills.
WHAT ABOUT CVT/4WD DELIVERY?
It’s excellent. The large sprag clutch keeps constant tension on the CVT belt, and the clutching engages quickly yet controllably, so it instills confidence in delicate rock-crawling situations and gets with the program when the throttle pedal is matted. The YCC-T throttle map is also spot-on, providing flutter-free control over trail chop and cross-grain terrain and smooth acceleration. The 2WD/4WD/diff-lock knob is very handy, and servos carry out commands instantly, although you’ll need to slow to engage or disengage 4WD. The gated range selector is also very slick and user-friendly, and the EPS-assist map keeps steering light when in diff-lock.
HOW DOES THE WOLVERINE X4 HANDLE?
It’s as agile as the two-seat Wolverine in most conditions, as the X4 wheelbase is 1.4 inches longer at 82.7 inches. Yamaha designed the X4 from the ground up to be the most off-road-capable, four-seat recreational UTV for tight, technical terrain, and it shows. Turning is very agile yet predictable, and it has the power to carry drifts on harder surfaces. Front and rear torsion bars fight body roll in corners, and it turns tighter than the Kawasaki Teryx4. Although the self-leveling rear shocks keep the rear ride height constant with four people aboard, stadium seating increases the center of gravity and generates a top-heavy feel in high-traction turns. It’s very stable on straights, especially on clay-slick soils.
HOW GOOD IS THE X4 SUSPENSION?
Very good. Yamaha did a good job of tuning the high-pressure gas shocks to deliver a fairly comfortable ride on roots and rocks and still resist bottoming on water bars and other G-outs. It’s hard to believe that the X4 only has 8.7 inches of front and 8.9 inches of rear-wheel travel until you get into big western whoops and open desert. The tighter the trails or mountain roads, the better the X4 works. The front shocks have five-position preload rings, and the stock setting is second from softest. The larger rear shocks have internal passages and reservoirs that pump up to keep the ride height level with heavier loads in back. We’d like to see more adjustable front shocks like on the Wolverine R-Spec. The HPG shocks are well-tuned for low-speed technical trails but could be better at higher speeds.
HOW ABOUT THE BRAKES?
They’re really strong and backed by four-wheel engine braking. The four-wheel hydraulic brakes seem more at home on a sport machine than recreation. The 207mm perforated rotors are squeezed by twin piston calipers on all four corners. Front calipers have two 32mm pistons, while rear calipers sport 27mm pistons. There is also a fifth disc brake on the rear transfer case for a parking brake and EBS system. The X4 will literally crawl down steep hills in low.
WHAT ABOUT MAINTENANCE AND DURABILITY?
The X4 expedites maintenance. Five plastic rivets hold the engine cover in place; remove it to access the engine-oil dipstick and oil filler. The oil tank rides beside the rear torsion bar and left A-arm mounts, while the oil filter rides behind a panel under the right rear wheel well. Five fasteners hold the panel in place, and there are holes in the skid plate for draining engine oil, transmission fluid and front diff fluid. A plastic cover by the front passenger’s seatbelt latch hides the transmission-fluid dipstick. The seat base easily pops out for access.
Remove the hood and undo four clasps to access the oiled-foam air filter, which should be cleaned and re-oiled every 200–400 miles. Beneath the serviceable foam filter rides a paper-pleated filter, which is replaced every 1200–3000 miles. The battery, EPS, ECU, fuses and toolkit are also under the hood, while the brake reservoir is under the left front fender, and the coolant reservoir is under the right front fender.
Durability is also high on the engineers’ list, with the largest sprag clutch yet keeping tension and a large cooling fan for long CVT belt life. Even the stator is over-engineered with a 14-volt, 598-watt output for accessories, and the entire frame is e-coated before powdercoating to prevent rust. The knuckles have Zerk fittings for fast greasing, and the dash and floor have removable rubber inserts for accessory toggles and draining. Also, the muffler outlet is removable for cleaning the spark arrestor.
WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
It’s unequaled on the trail, but getting in and out is complicated by the huge shoulder bolsters, front and rear. We got used to grabbing the cage and pulling ourselves over the bolsters and into the cab. Other than that, the X4 sets a new high in low cabin noise and vibration, and occupants can have conversations at lower trail speeds. The bucket seats are very comfortable, and all four seat belts have a metal plate like the YXZs to lower the top mount for shorter shoulders or to reduce flutter noise while not in use. The tilt steering wheel is nice and sturdy, and the variable-assist EPS keeps steering light and reduces terrain kickback.
The driver’s seat has 4 inches of adjustment, and we really like the over-molded steering wheel and its range of adjustment. The front passenger side has a padded, adjustable panic bar, while the rear passengers have padded non-adjustable bars. Rear seating is top-shelf for adults, although the engine cover limits “man spread.” The over fenders and lined doors are nice and keep noise and roost out of the cabin. The center console and large glove box provide a lot of storage, and there are six handy cup holders.
Also, the X4 comes with a grey 25-mph limiter key, but its switch rides under the removable hood so as not to insult new drivers. Our test unit sported the accessory Hard Sun Top kit ($499.99), which is a must-have under the scorching Arizona or SoCal desert sun. It doesn’t vibrate or rattle and keeps all four occupants cool and dry.
WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
The more miles we put on the Wolverine X4 SE, the more we like it, and the tighter and more technical the trails get, the better the X4 works. Cabin comfort is unequaled and enhanced by the low-vibration, low-noise EFI twin with counterbalancers and CVT with low shift points. The fly-by-wire EFI, CVT and EPS tuning are well-matched to deliver buttery smooth performance on gnarly trails. Power, handling, brakes and the self-leveling rear shocks are all excellent. Overall, Yamaha’s entry into the four-seat recreation UTV class is stellar.
2018 YAMAHA WOLVERINE X4 850FI 4X4
Engine type Liquid/oil-cooled, 8-valve, DOHC, 4-stroke,
Bore x stroke 82.0 x 80.2mm
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Lubrication system Dry sump
Additional cooling Auto fan
Induction Mikuni YCC-T EFI w/ (2) 36mm bodies
Starting procedure Turn ignition key
Choke location N/A
Type Washable foam, pleated paper
Access Tool-less, remove hood and undo 4 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
Fuel capacity 9.2 gal.
Overall length/width/height 122.0”/59.8”/77.2”
Ground clearance 10.7”
Claimed wet weight 1,663 lb.; SE, 1,666 lb.
Bed weight limit 600 lb.
Hitch 2” receiver
Towing limit 2000 lb.
Frame Steel round tube
Front Dual A-arms w/ prel.-adj. shocks/8.7”
Rear Dual A-arms w/ prel.-adj. shocks/8.9”
Front Twin-piston hydraulic 207mm discs/
Rear Twin-piston hydraulic 207mm discs/
Parking Lever on console
Front 26×8-12 Maxxis MU75
Rear 26×10-12 Maxxis MU76
DC outlet Console
Front 2 30W LED headlights
Rear Dual 21/5W brake/taillight
Instrumentation LCD digital multimeter w/
Turtle 25-mph icon
Colors Graphite, Yamaha Blue, Realtree Xtra;
SE, Matte Silver, Matte Carbon
Minimum recommended operator age 16
Suggested retail price $15,999–$16,899;
Contact Yamaha Motor Corp., (800) 962-7926