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New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

Yamaha has developed a brand new machine that delivers power and performance without breaking the bank. Here’s our New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review.

New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

Story: Eli Madero // Photos: Provided by Yamaha

New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

While the latest powersports headlines are dominated by manufacturers who are competing for who has the most horsepower and suspension travel to be the dominant UTV in the desert and dunes, Yamaha has taken a totally different approach. Sure, machines like the new Can-Am Maverick R and Polaris RZR Pro have that, for lack of a better term, sex appeal, but in reality the market for those machines is small in comparison to the utility/recreational market. The category that really dominates the powersports UTV market is the recreational/utility SxS market for their great diversity. These are the machines that provide plenty of cargo space in a bed, have a heavy load capacity as well as towing capacity, yet can be enjoyed for a long weekend out on the trails with friends and family.

Sure Yamaha has a great player in the sport market with the YXZ sport SxS lineup, but it’s no doubt that they have set their sights on the general recreational riders. Yamaha already has a strong presence in this market with the popular Wolverine X2 850 and their flagship Wolverine RMAX 1000 UTVs, you’d think that they didn’t need to add to this market. The X2 850 is a solid machine that offers solid performance at a reasonable price point, whereas the RMAX 1000 has all of the power, suspension, and fancy gadgets you’d expect from a top-level machine. The biggest difference in these machines is their price with the X2 850 R-Spec model starting at $15,799 and the RMAX 2 R-Spec at $22,999 with the Limited Edition at the peak $26,699.

The new Wolverine X2 1000 comes in two different trim options. The R-Spec is the bare bones option with a price tag that reflects it, but if you want a few more options like comfort sun top, front overfenders that match the rear, rearview mirror, WARN VRX4500 winch, and exclusive graphics and paint scheme, the XT-R package might be more your style.

New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

What about those that want some of the premier features like power and handling, but don’t necessarily want the fancy gizmos and gadgets? What if you could get a machine at a low price like the Wolverine X2 850 with the power and suspension quality of an RMAX 2 1000? Well that is exactly what Yamaha did by releasing the brand new Wolverine X2 1000.

To meet the consumer wants of increased power, Yamaha installed an engine that was based off the 1000cc powerplant found in the RMAX UTV. Now, in the recent months i’ve been privileged to get quite a bit of seat time in the RMAX UTVs and have to say that these engines are solid. The fuel-injected, 1000cc twin has a good amount of torque yet still seems to rev to the moon providing more than ample top speeds for the average recreational user. Now you’re not going to be winning any races against some of the big HP sport UTVs, but that is not who this rig was made for. This was made for the driver that wants an engine that has smooth power through the entire throttle range and still plenty of power for long hill climbs in rugged terrain, and the engine in the Wolverine X2 1000 delivers just that.

The power of the 1000cc engine is harnessed through a tried and true Yamaha Ultramatic V-belt transmission with low, high, neutral, and reverse shift options. This is the same transmission design that you’ll see in all of Yamaha’s belt driven ATVs and UTVs. The Ultramatic transmission ensures that the drive belt is constantly engaged, which allows for consistent all-wheel engine braking, while minimizing or eliminating belt slippage and prolonging belt life. This is why these transmissions come with Yamaha’s 10 year belt warranty.

The next focus on the new machine were the handling characteristics. Again, they wanted the confidence inspiring handling of the RMAX 2 1000, which has a sport-tuned suspension featuring FOX 2.0 shocks that offer full high and low speed adjustability, that is adjustable on the fly if you get the premier LE package. This suspension works great, but how do you get this kind of suspension performance on a budget? Yamaha went with SACHS ZF piggyback shocks that feature high and low speed compression, and preload adjustments that allow you to really dial in how you want your machine to handle in a wide variety of conditions. These shocks are mounted on a new compact chassis that has strengthened a-arm mounts, differential/gearcase mounts and shock mounts. The front end features dual a-arms with 13.3” of front suspension travel, while the rear RMAX inspired a-arm suspension boasts 15.5” of travel in the rear, with a solid 12.5” of ground clearance. This is very comparable to the 14.2” (front) and 16.9” (rear) of travel in the RMAX 1000 and far greater than that in the Wolverine X2 850 with 8.7” (front) and 9.3” (rear) of suspension travel. Additionally, the front end of the Wolverine X2 1000 has strong YXZ-based steering knuckles for increased strength and reliability.

While you might not be familiar with the brand, the SACHS ZF shocks work great and offer adjustability that you typically only find on high end model UTVs.

New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

Getting the power to the ground is handled by an all new tire and wheel package consisting of 28” “OG” Maxxis Bighorn tires on all four corners of the machine. The great thing about this is that Yamaha went away from the typical narrow front and wider rear to using a 14×6.5” wheel on all four corners to mount the 28×10” rubber. This makes carrying a spare super easy since you’ll be covered on all four corners. The wheels are cast aluminum that have been designed with a Yamaha tuning fork pattern for a very unique look that is perfect for the new platform.

The look of the new Wolverine X2 1000 is very sporty and had a lot of thought put into it. The body is very compact making it great for running tight trails, but the standout feature of the body is the front end. The front of the X2 1000 offers great visibility by having a narrow dash and a hood that has a steeper angle than what you’d find on the RMAX 1000 so you have better visibility of what is coming at your front end. The interior of the machine was designed for comfort as well, with a lot of styling taken from the RMAX 1000. Here you’ll find some of the welcome features like soft touch points in the knee area of both passenger and driver, plenty of accessory cutouts, premium driver controls like steering wheel and shifter, and a ton of storage in or near the dash.

While you can’t really see it, the touch points on the side of the console make riding much more comfortable since it protects your knees from the constant banging you deal with when off-roading. The center console takes a lot of features from the RMAX 1000 in the way of style as well.

New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

While I can talk about the specs and features of the Wolverine X2 1000, what really matters is how it drives and I had the opportunity to test it on the tight trails of Brushy Mountain Motorsports Park in Taylorsville, NC. This area provided miles and miles of twisty, tight trails that were primarily under a heavy canopy of trees. Since a fairly significant rainstorm had gone through the area the night before, the group of us were going to have a great day of no dust but plenty of slick rock and mud. The perfect chance to see just how well this compact powerhouse of a UTV would handle.

Upon first sight, you can see that this is a compact UTV similar to that of the 850. The new Wolverine X2 1000 body styling adds to this appearance. The sloped hood and bodywork make this a great machine for more technical trails, not to say that it likely wouldn’t be a good fit in the open desert. Getting into the machine is easy with the factory doors and door handles, unlike some clunky designs found on other brands.

Here is where I usually get picky about many UTVs. As a driver who is over 6 feet tall and a fairly large guy (230 ish with broad shoulders), I often feel very cramped in the cockpits of some machines. That is not the case with the Wolverine X2 1000. The adjustable seat base, adjustable steering wheel position, and toolless 6-way adjustable seat belts make it easy to get comfortable for a long day on the trail. Once situated and comfortable, I started to get familiar with all of the controls of the X2 1000, and something threw me off.

As previously stated, I’ve had a lot of seat time in the RMAX 2 1000 in the months ahead of this ride, so I’ve been accustomed to seeing a dash full of screens and switches. Not the case with the X2 1000. While it still has the digital dash that provides your crucial info like speed, fuel level, gear, engine RPM, coolant temp, and 4WD info conveniently placed in the upper part of the dash, that is all you really have. There’s a fairly large empty space in the main part of the dash face that lends itself to placement for a tablet or GPS (making sense considering this is where the Yamaha Adventure Pro GPS system would go) or even communications systems can be installed.

Don’t expect to see a lot of fancy touch screens and gadgets in the X2 1000. Keeping the price affordable, Yamaha has provided a simple digital dash that gives you all of the critical information you need to know when wheeling. This leaves plenty of room for accessories you might want to add later down the road with all the money you’ve saved.

New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

The center console has perfect placement for the hand brake, stylish shifter, storage cup, and now even four cutouts for easy placement of rocker style switches for the many aftermarket accessories you can install on this machine. Additionally there is a covered storage box at the back of the console that allows you to store your electronic devices like a phone while allowing the power cord to be plugged into the power supply. The only switches that come from the factory on this unit are the rotary light and 4WD selector switches that are easily within arms reach on the dash.

There is one switch that is sold as an aftermarket accessory, and I highly recommend spending the $100 to get it. This would be for the Drive Mode selector. This feature is standard on the RMAX models and is a direct plug and play accessory, allowing you to choose between one of three throttle response options. With the throttle by wire system on the machine, you can pick between crawl, trail, or sport mode for the responsiveness of your throttle action. Crawl is good for just that… rock crawling where you want as smooth and linear throttle control as possible to avoid surging over every little bump in the trail. Sport mode delivers that instant throttle response you want when looking for the most performance you can get out of your machine. This is great for high speed running when you need to throttle out of precarious situations. Trail mode is the perfect balance of the two for a fun casual cruise.

Our units weren’t outfitted with anything special so we could focus on the performance of the machine itself. The only things we had were the optional drive mode switch and sport top to keep the mud and occasional rain off of our helmets. As you would expect, the 1000cc engines fired to life with little hesitation and after a few minutes of warming up the engines we were ready to roll. We were informed that the trails we’d be on would be tight and they weren’t kidding. We were instantly climbing trails on the side of small mountains that weren’t much wider than the machines themselves so the compactness of the machine was definitely felt and appreciated. When I came to some longer, wider stretches of the trail I wanted to see how the 1000cc engine accelerated and it didn’t disappoint. With the drive mode switch in the Sport position, there was no hesitation in the throttle as I mashed it to the floor and felt my body get sucked into the driver’s seat from the force of the acceleration. It seemed to accelerate harder than the RMAX units I’ve driven previously.

The Wolverine X2 1000 has a great amount of power for a fun trail machine. It offers great torque and acceleration that still has plenty to give on top. Be sure to get the optional drive mode switch when you order your unit and take advantage of the best option you can buy.

New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review

This leads me to discuss the handling and steering of this machine. While it accelerated great, the steering felt darty and overly sensitive to me, which was odd because I’ve always thought that Yamaha’s Electronic Power Steering (EPS) is the best in the business. As I was discussing this with one of the testing managers, I was informed that I could be feeling the difference of the tire size. This made total sense since the RMAX comes from the factory with 30” Maxxis Carnivore tires and the Wolverine X2 1000 is equipped with 28” Bighorns. Obviously with less rotating mass, the 28” tires will accelerate faster and will turn quicker and with less effort. With this understanding it just took a bit of time for me to get a feel for the handling and the uncomfortable feeling seemed to go away.

Overall the handling of the machine seemed very good from the factory. The SACHS ZF shocks soaked up the bumps and occasional rock or tree limb that jumped out into the trail fairly well. I’m sure that with more time and attention to tuning of the compression adjusters, I could really make this a great handling unit. The 1000cc engine had plenty of power to pull the X2 1000 up many of the steep, rocky hill climbs we encountered that day and the compactness really made handling the narrow portions much easier. Did we need ALL the power? Probably not but it was nice to have the torque on demand when we needed it. If you ride on trails that are more wide open, you’ll appreciate the speeds it’ll allow you to run.

The suspension on the Wolverine X2 1000 works great in high speed conditions and on the slower rocky sections as well. The Maxxis Bighorn tires provide premier traction on every surface you want to tackle.

All in all, it’s a great machine that you really can’t beat for a price that starts at just under $18,000. With this price point, you have plenty of play room to install a plethora of accessories like winch, light bars, stereo’s, or anything else your heart desires. I personally would start by upping the tire size to a 30”, but that’s about it. Does it need it? No, but I think it’ll give me the handling I prefer and provide even more ground clearance, not that it was ever an issue. At the end of the day, if you want a solid trail machine that has gobs of power and won’t leave you broke, this is a great option for you to consider. We hope you enjoyed our New Yamaha Wolverine X2 1000 Review.

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