The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Unbroken, the Yamaha Wolverine X4

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Photos by Iain Harrison

RECOIL takes pride in testing manufacturer claims. Whenever companies want to take a chance on us trying out their products, especially the four-wheel kind, there’s a ravenous anticipation among the staff akin to that of wolves finding stray deer. Given the chance to try out Yamaha’s new Wolverine X4 was something we welcomed with open arms and a heavy right foot. We were ready to treat it like the BATFE treats Branch Davidians, but our inability to snap, burn out, blow up, or otherwise return the vehicle to Yamaha in pieces with a heartfelt “oops” and shrugged shoulders earned this UTV some well-deserved respect.

You may remember our coverage of the Minigun Motorcycle in Issue 30, which was built on a Yamaha R1 Superbike chassis. Since its builders chose the aforementioned platform to create that monstrosity around, we knew breaking the Wolverine would be a challenge. Yamaha already had the benefit of the doubt because of its reputation for quality. But first a little history on this model to provide some context. Its ability to suit a variety of tasks was an eyebrow raiser.

The Wolverine has been a part of Yamaha’s fleet for a while and evolved to incorporate the beefier benefits of a utility chassis, but in a sportier package. With the recent addition of the X4 four-passenger version with sliding/folding rear seats, it’s got more room for passengers and gear. Want a solid trail explorer? Check. Looking for a vehicle that’ll perform ranching or agricultural tasks and also double for recreational use? Good to go. Need to haul up to 2,000 pounds worth of trailered ancillaries? You see where we’re going with this.

One of the common misconceptions buyers often have when kicking tires is engine size. They have their heart set on a displacement or horsepower amount that’s quite a far cry from real-world practicality. As the saying goes: Horsepower sells cars; torque wins races. Sure, the Wolverine X4 might not keep up with other models intended for pedal mashing across flat desert, but we wouldn’t be racing the Mint 400 with it. When it comes to the needs of the firearms crowd, it checks off the proverbial dance card nicely with a good equilibrium of power, balance, handling, and storage capacity.

yamaha utv

To get a little granular for the gearheads, here’s what you get in terms of drivetrain. The engine is a four-stroke 847cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder that’s surprisingly quiet. It’s all hooked to an Ultramatic V-belt drive trans with low, high, neutral, and reverse gearing. An on-command locking differential gives the driver 2WD, 4WD, and full diff-lock 4WD capabilities, rather than the sensing version seen on some other UTVs that’s automatically activated when the vehicle thinks it needs to come on.

We plotted our route from Phoenix to Prescott, Arizona, and back via old mining roads, as we felt the topography and landscape would more than adequately test how much damage the Wolverine would or wouldn’t withstand. Although it may not have the speed some of its contemporaries do, when we were out on the open road with it, it had more than enough power to get where we needed to go and carry what we needed to carry.

Independent rear suspension with self-leveling shocks provide for a pretty comfortable ride. You certainly won’t get this kind of comfort from a Jeep Rubicon used in the same environment without modifying the hell out of the suspension. With the amount of travel the Wolverine offers, it gives damn near a Trophy Truck level of stability and responsiveness. The power steering doesn’t overcompensate to the point where the vehicle is controlling you, rather than you controlling it. Although some might think it’s not responsive enough, we think the Wolverine lets the driver sense the feedback and adjust to the road conditions. Since it’s meant to haul multiple passengers as well as cargo, we think that’s just fine.

Like a good AR, the freedom to accessorize to your personal preference is another benefit this package has going for it. Adding a winch or snowplow, upgrading to a heated and enclosed cab version to go hunting with a few guys in the dead of winter, or adding a stereo are just some of the in-house options, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what aftermarket companies have out there.

Our journey through the rocky desert landscape was in no way meant to be polite. We traversed some areas that looked like something meant for the Mars Rover at wide-open throttle. There may have even been some shouts of “ramming speed!” said among the occupants. We encountered plenty of ravines and boulders in our path that we negotiated without a problem.

There were deliberate and occasional “bangs” that came from the frame and suspension components hitting things that were even enough to startle us into getting out for a quick inspection. Despite the alarming sounds of our aggressive driving, we never got a flat, started leaking fluid, or experienced a breakage that sidelined the vehicle … so we kept right on going until the gas tank dried up.

So what does all this equate to? Compared to its contemporaries, it’s cheaper than a Polaris General, has more room than a Honda Pioneer, and offers more power than a Kawasaki Teryx. So if you’re in the market to purchase a UTV, you may want to kick tires or take one out for a spin to get a feel for our experience with it. We wished we had more time with it. Not only because it was fun, but we really, really wanted to break it. Although we failed in that mission, our conclusion is that it’s a sound investment.

daystar cam can

2018 Yamaha
Wolverine X4 SE
Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking


flir gimbal

10” LED Lightbar

Baja Designs
XL Sport LED

baja designs led light

Gun Scabbard
Condition Zero Mounts
Rackbone Clamp

condition zero utv gun mount

Cam Cans


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