2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4: "That First Ride"

Published in the April 2018 Issue April 2018 Feature Rick Sosebee

If you have a love for the outdoor world then you and I are cut from the same cloth. There is nothing like getting into an off-road vehicle and venturing off into a day of discovery.

If your family loves riding shotgun then you are in luck as a Georgia manufacturer has released a new side-by-side for the entire group to join you on your adventure. Assembled in Newnan, GA, the new 2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4 might just be your new best friend. This sleek new rig was handed over to us in the mountains of North Carolina for a fun-filled day of test rides and—at risk of giving away the rest of the story—it was an awesome day.

Yamaha had been secretly working on this ground-up project with a core value of getting more families involved outside and using this machine to be the driving force to bring their children to trails and on those incredible adventures that I myself enjoyed as a kid.

The new Wolverine X4 is very much for off-roading but it also leaps into the next chapter for Yamaha with regards to powerful engine platforms and the company’s future in the sport.

New Powerplant

The Wolverine X4 has a twin-cylinder long-stroke 847cc fuel-injected engine that not only brings more power throughout the rpm range but has reduced vibrations in the chassis as well. What many will soon realize is that the powertrain in this model has set a precedence for what is to come.

Although the engine is an incredibly big part of this new vehicle, the chassis and other creature comforts were directly in line with what I would consider the common goals of comfort, capability and family-friendly. Slipping into the cab of the Wolverine X4 you notice the high back seating that makes any rider feel secure with the three-point seat belts offering an added safety factor, especially when the other seats contain your family and friends. I am 6-foot-1 and the seat belt seemed to fit my shoulder height without any problems on the trail. If there is a shorter driver or rider in your family, Yamaha has installed a secondary, lower belt retainer on each seat to adjust for the height of that person to make sure everyone is safe.

Well within reach, the gated shifter on the console is super easy to change into forward gears or reverse, with no clunky feeling as the transmission engages the rear wheels. There is also a parking brake lever right next to the gated shifter that really gets a grip on the wheels to hold the Wolverine X4 in place once you exit the vehicle.

The flooring layout is comfortable as I did not feel cramped at all. The adjustable driver seating in combination with a tilt steering wheel just allows so much more perfection under the wheel. It would be nice if the passenger front seat were easily adjustable as well.

Brushy Mountain

Our ride location for the Wolverine X4 intro was Brushy Mountain Motor Sports Park in Taylorsville, NC. Brushy Mountain has great scenery and all would agree the tight trails were a great place to give the Wolverine X4 a workout. Once started and warmed up we noticed the engine to not only be very quiet, keeping the cab noise down really low, but it seems to be really smooth with no annoying noises as you drop the hammer on the throttle pedal. Low noise in the cab was a big part of Yamaha’s goal sheet and it had worked on many things, including some you may never think to be an issue, to reach its goal.

One of these areas was the seat belt retainer. After finding the engine to be well within the company’s “quiet zone,” it began to notice noises from smaller items and quickly set out to silence them. What we immediately noticed was the quiet ride in the cab.

As we began our ride we found the narrow 59.8-inch width getting us through sections of tree-lined trail without scrubbing off any bark. Maneuvering the Wolverine X4 in the trails, effortlessly slipping around corners, even if they were tight and uphill or off camber had us confident that Yamaha had a winner on its hands.

Having an exo-skeletal-style protective structure assured us that if encountered, the steel tubing would take the beating and not the roof of our machine. The trails were not always easy though, as huge rocks and plenty of rutted or very off camber ditches kept us on our toes changing sides of the trail regularly. Yamaha had included dual sway bars both front and rear which seemed to help this issue by keeping the machine steady in those situations. There were a couple of steep descents that gave our skill a run for the money but with a good line—while locked in 4WD of course—the Wolverine X4 carried us right through it. The Wolverine X4 really does give the driver the right tools for getting through most any trail within reason and that is pretty confidence inspiring. Hopefully your passengers are just as confident as you are in those situations.

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