Yamaha’s Wolverine line grew to five models for 2017, with the original $10,999 base model and $12,199 R-Spec ($12,799 for the Camo version) being joined by the new Wolverine EPS, R-Spec EPS and R-Spec EPS Special Edition. The Wolverine R-Spec EPS gets the same high-end Kayaba shocks with high- and low-speed compression adjusters, plus rebound in the Special Edition for $1300 less. Let’s check it out!
WHAT’S A WOLVERINE R-SPEC?
Wolverines utilize a Viking lower-end with 5-percent-lower gearing, and the new DOHC top end has a 103mm piston and 85mm stroke for 708cc. The CVT has the normal Yamaha sprag clutch with EBS, and the rear transfer case now 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 the vehicle is in gear. The Wolverine frame is 5.5 inches narrower than the Viking’s, and the engine sits 5.8 inches farther forward for centralized mass. The sides are upswept 2.36 inches for better ground clearance. Longer A-arms and high-end, dual-speed, compression piggyback shocks provide full adjustment and 9.7 inches of front and 10.6 inches of rear travel. The non-tilting bed holds 300 pounds and has a removable and stowable tailgate. A large console with an airbox underneath replaces the Viking’s center seat.
HOW DOES PRICE COMPARE?
The Wolverine R-Spec EPS starts at $13,199 (Hunter Green, steel wheels) and jumps to $13,499 for Alpine White or Yamaha Blue with aluminum rims. Realtree Xtra Camo is $13,799. The base Wolverine is still $10,999. The Wolverine EPS is $11,999, and the R-Spec EPS SE is $14,799. Kawasaki’s Teryx 800FI EPS starts at $12,999 and goes to $14,999 for the LE. Arctic Cat’s Wildcat Trail 700 is $11,999. The Trail XT is $12,999 to $13,499, and the LTD is $14,499. The Wildcat Sport XT is $14,599, and the Sport LTD is $15,999. The 2017 Can-Am Commander 800 starts at $11,999 without EPS and $13,149 with it, while the high-end 800 XT is $15,599 to $15,449. Defender HD8s are $10,999 to $21,699 for the enclosed-cab XT.
HOW FAST IS THE R-SPEC?
It’s fast enough to be big fun. The big single reacts instantly to the throttle with a predictable EFI map and quick CVT engagement. It launches smoothly and builds revs at a decent pace until it hits the throttle limiter. Top speed is 52 mph in high and 33 mph in low, and it has the torque to drift the rear end out in turns.
WHAT ABOUT CVT/4WD DELIVERY?
No surprises. The gated range selector is very slick and easy to move, and the 2WD/4WD/diff-lock switch is way better than the old two-button Rhino setup. The CVT is the industry standard, with a sprag clutch keeping constant belt tension and delivering true all-wheel EBS. The CVT clutch engages very smoothly and quickly, and it’s very easy to manipulate for technical obstacles.
HOW DOES THE WOLVERINE HANDLE?
Quickly yet predictably. The wheelbase is almost identical to the Polaris General’s at 81.3 inches, and centralized mass gives the R-Spec a great combination of turning prowess and straight-line stability. It’s a blast to drive on twisty forest-service or power-line roads, and it drifts into and powers out of turns very predictably. Engine braking in 2WD sets up drifts nicely, and it doesn’t push or try to spin out. It gets a bit busy on rougher trails compared to UTVs with more travel and doesn’t like deep whoops, but it’s an awesome trail, woods and mountain machine.
HOW GOOD IS THE R-SPEC SUSPENSION?
Really good. Front travel is only 9.6 inches and rear is 10.6, but it’s high-quality and highly-adjustable travel. Front/rear balance is excellent. Standard settings are 1 1/4 turns out (of 2) on high-speed compression at all four corners. Low-speed compression is set at 12 clicks out (of 18) all around, and rebound is 13 clicks out in front and 14 in back. Backing off of high-speed compression (to 1.5–2.0 turns out) helps the KYBs soak up rocks, roots and other trail junk while still resisting bottoming on water bars and whoops.
ARE MUD AND ROCKS ON ITS DIET?
Yum, yum. The fenders, doors and roof keep water and mud out of the cabin, and the Wolverine has an under-hood engine intake, high CVT inlets and marine-grade electrical connections for wet work. No-slip diff-lock and massive torque keep the 708cc churning until the ruts get deeper than 11.8 inches. Rocky riding is also aided by the 4WD system with EBS, upswept frame sides, a full skid plate and low range. It articulates well in rocks, too, despite the heavy-duty rear torsion bar.
HOW ABOUT THE BRAKES?
They’re overqualified for most jobs. Two-piston calipers squeeze 207mm rotors at all four corners, and brake lines are stainless steel for a good pedal feel. They’re backed up by the EBS and full-time 4WD or select 2WD to set up drifts in turns. The parking brake is a multi-disc unit on the rear transfer case from the Rhino. It has a new alarm buzzer if the driver attempts motion while engaged.
WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
It’s top-shelf, like the YXZ1000R. The seats are comfortable, and the side bolsters and low-boy half doors add security and confidence. The large glove box and center console hold a lot, and the padded passenger grab bar is adjustable. Although the steering wheel doesn’t tilt, it’s shaped well and padded with nodules for thumbs-up driving (recommended and illustrated in the manual). All the controls are very easy to use. Vibration levels in the cabin are low but could be lower, and there is a lot of belt whine while underway. The standard sunroof comes on all R-Specs but not base Wolverines. It keeps rain and roost out but also keeps engine and CVT noise from escaping. Bed cargo is easy to secure via six metal tie-down loops too.
WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
Yamaha not only designed, built and tuned the Wolverine R-Spec well, it named the machine aptly too. The Wolverine is agile, sure-footed, and ferocious in the woods and mountains. It does everything well and inspires confidence doing it thanks to the stout torsion bar and stiff suspension. Big hills pose no problems, and four-wheel engine braking helps the solid brakes on descents. Comfort and durability rank high too. The tighter and more technical the trail, the better the Wolverine R-Spec works.
2017 YAMAHA WOLVERINE R-SPEC EPS 4X4
Engine type Liquid-/oil-cooled, 4-valve, DOHC 4-stroke
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 procedure Turn ignition key
Choke location N/A
Type Washable foam
Access Tool-less, lift center console and 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
Fuel capacity 9.7 gal.
Overall length/width/height 116.9”/60.6”/74.2”
Ground clearance 11.8”
Claimed wet weight 1,311 lb.; SE, 1,404 lb.
Bed weight limit 300 lb.
Hitch 2” receiver
Towing limit 1,500 lb.
Frame Steel round tube
Front Dual A-arms w/ prel./hi-lo comp./reb. adj.
Rear Dual A-arms w/ prel./hi-lo comp./reb. adj.
Front Twin-piston hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Rear Twin-piston hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Parking Lever on console
Front 26×8-12 Bighorn 2.0 2-ply
Rear 26×10-12 Bighorn 2.0 4-ply
DC outlet Console
Front 2 30W Krypton headlights
Rear Dual 21/5W brake/taillights
Instrumentation Fuel-sight gauge, 4WD indicator lights
Colors Steel Blue, Hunter Green, Alpine White,
Realtree Xtra, 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