2016 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS
Yamaha continues its push into uncharted UTV territory with the 2016 Wolverine R-Spec EPS. This rugged side-by-side represents the next generation of offroad recreational and work vehicles. The factory has been building such vehicles for a while now, and some of the features show that it is paying attention to customer feedback, and advances by its not inconsiderable competition in this sector. While the name “Wolverine” does imply a certain tenacity, I wonder what the next generation will be called – I’m still waiting for a really mean name, such as the “Tyson” or “Honey Badger.”
Continue reading for my review of the 2016 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS.
2016 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS
The overall look of the Wolverine is utilitarian at its roots, with less of the boxy quality prevalent in the genre. Hood design is angular, and lends an air of aggression to the front end that is relentlessly reinforced by the large crash guard and winch. A flip-down windshield — or mud shield if we are honest — brings to mind the old army Jeeps and doubles down on its workhorse appearance.
While the body has a bit of taper to it, the shape has little to do with aesthetics and more to do with function. The guardrails that stand proud of the body serve to protect the rear wheels and prevent obstacles from striking and binding the rear wheel, ensuring that you can skirt rocks/trees/whatever with confidence.
The frame construction gives us an 81-inch wheelbase with 11.4 inches of ground clearance, while the approach and departure angle tapers allow for tight maneuvers in rough terrain with minimal potential for body-to-ground contact. For instances where contact is inevitable, Yamaha installed full-length welded-steel skid plates that protect the underside like a suit of armor with maintenance holes placed to access the gear, engine and coolant drain plugs.
A-frame swingarms articulate to keep the wheels in contact with the ground with an unusually large amount of suspension dropout.
A-frame swingarms articulate to keep the wheels in contact with the ground with an unusually large amount of suspension dropout. The upswept shape at the ends of the A-frames helps to achieve and maintain the ground clearance and suspension geometry. KYB piggyback shocks float the beast with 9.7 inches of travel up front and 10.6 in the rear, plus the compression, rebound and preload are fully adjustable all the way around.
The Wolverine is capable of towing up to 1,500 pounds with its 2-inch receiver hitch, and the rear bed can carry up to 300 pounds with six steel tie-down points so you can cinch the load down with authority.
Large front and rear disc brakes bind the 26-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires, and the wet, multi-disc parking brake comes as a sealed unit for positive, low-maintenance parking confidence. The namesake electric power steering (EPS) offers precise steering with reduced effort and kickback for reduced driver fatigue.
The beating heart is a DOHC, four-valve, fuel-injected engine that displaces 708 cc and provides smooth throttle response and, according to the factory and test drivers, plenty of low-end torque for precise control on rough and technical trails.
Since this is not a racing machine, the power is used for low-end grunt as opposed to top-end speed.
Since this is not a racing machine, the power is used for low-end grunt as opposed to top-end speed – just what you need for safely negotiating harsh terrain.
Yamaha’s Ultramatic CVT automatic transmission has low, high, reverse and neutral gear selection, and it comes with a constant belt-tension centrifugal clutch that reduces belt slippage (and burnage!) due to extremely tough terrain or operator error.
An On-Command drive control on the dash engages the wheels in two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive or four-wheel full differential lock to provide full and flexible traction control at the driver’s fingertips.
The one-way sprag clutch enables engine braking regardless of drive mode, and does away with the freewheeling sensation when traveling downhill. I would point out that brake pads are cheaper to replace than drive components, so using engine braking instead of “brake braking” may be something of a false economy.
You can score a new Wolverine R-Spec EPS for $13,199 in Hunter Green or Steel Blue, or you can pad that price by another $600 for the hunter-friendly, Realtree Xtra paint scheme. A six-month limited factory warranty comes standard with that price.
“To me, UTV constructs look like golf carts with a bad case of ’roid rage, but this one doesn’t look quite as boxy as some do. I like the fact that the engineers had the grace to poke maintenance holes in the undercarriage armor, because having to remove skid plates for routine maintenance makes me (vigorously) say bad words and expand the vocabularies of anyone within earshot. Good call there!”
My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I don’t have much exposure to these all terrain vehicles. They look like a blast to drive and I’d like to do a weekend mountain trip in one. Yamaha openly compares the Wolverine R-Spec EPS to the Kawasaki Teryx and the Honda Pioneer 700-4. They all look like rugged, capable offroad transportation. I guess it depends on how rugged you need your ride to be."
|Engine Type:||Liquid-Cooled, Four-Stroke, DOHC|
|Compression Ratio:||10.1 to 1|
|Fuel Delivery:||Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44 mm|
|Ignition:||TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|Transmission:||Yamaha Ultramatic V-Belt With All-Wheel Engine Braking; L, H, N, R|
|Drive Train:||Yamaha On-Command; Three-Way Locking Differential; 2WD, 4WD, Locked 4WD|
|Suspension / Front:||Independent Double Wishbone, 9.7-Inch Travel|
|Suspension / Rear:||Independent Double Wishbone, Anti-Sway Bar, 10.6-Inch Travel|
|Brakes / Front:||Dual Hydraulic Disc|
|Brakes / Rear:||Dual Hydraulic Disc, Multi-Disk Wet Parking Brake|
|Tires / Front:||AT26 X 8-12, Steel Wheels|
|Tires / Rear:||AT26 X 10-12, Steel Wheels|
|Turning Radius:||181.1 Inches|
|Ground Clearance:||11.4 Inches|
|Fuel Capacity:||9.7 Gallons|
|Wet Weight:||1,311 Pounds|
|Bed Capacity:||300 Pounds|
|Towing Capacity:||1,500 Pounds|
|Warranty:||6 Month (Limited Factory Warranty)|
|Price - Color:||$13,799 - Realtree® Xtra®, $13,199 - Hunter Green, Steel Blue|