2018 Yamaha Wolverine X4 Review

Fun with four seats

Nov. 13, 2017 By Stephen Elmer

Yamaha has a new way for you and three others to get out on the trail, into the wilderness and have some thrills along the way. It's called the Wolverine X4 and thanks in part to its all-new engine and packaging, it fits into a niche all on its own.

The X4 has an 82.7-inch wheelbase and measures in a 59.8-inches wide, 122-inches long and 77.2-inches tall. Those numbers are all pretty small for a four seat machine, with only the Honda Pioneer's wheelbase of 80.2-inches coming in slightly shorter. The Kawasaki Teryx 4 is a little longer with an 85.6-inch wheelbase, where something like the Polaris General4 measures in with a massive 113-inch wheelbase.

So there are some close competitors to the X4, but the differences are stark in how each brand deals with interior space and the compromises between area for passengers and cargo. In the X4, the rear seats are the same size as the front seats, unlike the Honda Pioneer, which uses small jump seats that fold out of the floor, offering a better stowage option but less comfort for the rear seat passengers.

In the X4, the seat bottoms fold up and the seat backs push forward, clearing plenty of space for cargo. Yamaha's choice allows the rear seats to be full size, while still being able to mostly get out of the way for hauling cargo when needed.

And best of all, sitting in the back of the X4 is not a miserable thing to do. Because the engine is placed down low right in the center of the machine, plastic cladding does encroach on the rear-passengers inside knee room, but for kids, teens or smaller riders, it certainly isn't an issue. Even large adults can fit back there, and unlike some back seats, it's not a torturous affair.

An angled foot rest and a large hand hold in front make it easy to stay planted in the back when things get rough and the slightly raised seating position helps to let those stuck in the back see what is coming up ahead.

Those same well bolstered, comfortable seats are used in the front of the X4, providing good rider comfort. Our only issue came with the plastic sun top, an accessory, which was a little too low. In some bumpy situations, especially when coming down hills and leaning slightly forward, my helmet would make contact with the roof. If you're tall like me (around 6' 2") you might want to skip the roof. For storage up front, Yamaha includes a large center console mounted between the front two seats and a cavernous glove box along with six cupholders, two up front and four in the back.

The Ride

So its sizing allows the X4 to seemingly do it all. Carry passengers in comfort, carry cargo and fit down the tight trails of the northern and eastern United States. But how does it drive?
With the all-new powerplant, a 847cc parallel-twin, liquid-cooled DOHC, Yamaha has achieved an abundance of smooth, low-end torque that's delivered from one of the quietest engines in a side-by-side today. It makes about 69 horsepower while torque have been improved by 47 percent according to the brand.

The key to much of this engine's power are the offset long-stroke pistons, allowing Yamaha to have a compact engine with a low center of gravity to help with handling, while keeping a long stroke for more power.

Shoving the throttle to the floor is met with a consistent and strong rush of power delivered through the CVT. Yamaha's throttle-by-wire system also helps to smooth out any big bumps on the trail that might have the gas peddle bouncing under your foot. Yamaha's transmission is different from others as the drive belt is under constant tension, which means there is no lag off the line and the Wolverine won't freewheel down hills, with solid engine braking that makes you feel in control.

Making sure the Wolverine stays planted is the independent double wishbone suspension found in the front and the rear, offering 8.7-inches of travel up front and 8.9-inches in the back.

There's another trick at the rear of the X4 as well: self-levelling shocks. These units will maintain the ride height at the rear end of the machine, despite the weight placed on it, and best of all, no pumps or external motors are required. As you drive, the shocks use a clever system of valves to pump themselves up to the desired height. Those will help when the X4 is loaded to its maximum carrying capacity of 600 pounds.

All of this comes together to provide a confident, comfortable machine on the trail that dives into corners excitedly. That quick turn in helps the X4 feel more nimble than its 60-inch width would suggest, while its short wheelbase means that winding through the trees is easy. There is some noticeable front-to-back bucking thanks to that wheelbase, but it's nothing the suspension can't soak up to keep the machine tracking in a straight line with minimal effort.

For steering feel, Yamaha has middle of the road power steering that delivers a good amount of feedback and trail feel through the steering wheel, while isolating you just enough to keep the fatigue out of driving. This, combined with the smoothness of the engine and transmission make the X4 an easy side-by-side to get in and feel comfortable in right away.

It seems clear after riding the X4 hard that it is an excellent family fun rig, bringing together everything you would want for you and your clan to get out into the wilderness. Its quiet interior, smooth ride, fun handling and different storage options means that the X4 is a versatile machine ready for anything four passengers can throw at it.


Pricing for the new Wolverine X4 starts at $15,999 not including destination charges. Moving up, you can get the Yamaha Blue model with aluminum wheels for $16,499, while the camo model with aluminum wheels sells for $16,899.

The Verdict

Getting outside and riding is fun to do alone, sure, but it's way better with family and friends in tow. Yamaha is giving riders an option for a fun, confident side-by-side that should deliver miles of smiles for all four passengers.

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