2019 Yamaha Wolverine X2 First Drive - Review

More of all the right stuff

Jun. 06, 2018 By Casey Cordeiro

When you look at the two-seat Sport/Recreation side-by-side market, the Yamaha Rhino was the original cross platform vehicle. At the time of its release, the Rhino could seemingly do it all, packing, good performance, a host of features that made it capable around the farm, and a fairly comfortable cabin that made it a good trail vehicle.

Using that machine as the inspiration, the engineers from the tuning fork brand have come up with something fresh for 2019, which is bound to be the most significant machine to come off of the assembly line in Newnan, Georgia: the all-new Wolverine X2.

READ MORE: Yamaha Wolverine X4 Review

Yamaha is again pushing the boundaries with its side-by-side vehicles, and the all-new Wolverine X2 is so much more than its predecessor, the Wolverine R-spec. In fact, in typical Yamaha fashion, their engineers listened intently to the consumers who purchased or thought about purchasing a Wolverine R-spec. They garnered the feedback and put it to good use, building upon the platform of the R-spec and making it better in every way for 2019 when building the rebranded Wolverine X2.

Recently, we took this machine out for a pre-release drive on some of the awesome trails at Brimstone Recreation Area in Tennessee, to find out how it performs.

Looking at the new X2, we see that it shares many of the same styling and updated powertrain features that were debuted on the Wolverine X4 last year. This includes our favorite update of all the venerable 847cc twin cylinder. This EFI-equipped engine continually rewards with predictable, linear power at all RPMs, thanks in part to Yamaha's throttle-by-wire system (YCC-T). While it isn't the fastest in the industry, it doesn't need to be because the entire package makes it a joy to drive. Paired to the engine is Yamaha's best-in-the-business Ultramatic transmission.

This CVT has a centrifugal clutching system that has set the bar for the smoothest and most reliable in the industry. We challenged it more than a couple times by stopping on steep uphills, leaving the CVT in high, and continuing our crawl up the rocky hills. There was never any slippage thanks to the continuous belt tension, and there is no worry that you are in High range, even when climbing slow. The final driveline component is the on-the-fly 4WD system that engages effortlessly via a dash-mounted rotary dial. The 4WD includes a locking rear differential and a front diff that can either be unlocked or locked for maximum traction. This powertrain combination exudes confidence in any situation, and that is what we like most about this setup. We wouldn't change a thing.

A common complaint about the last generation Wolverine R-spec was that it didn't have a dump bed, so Yamaha incorporated this feature into the X2 and its new chassis. They didn't just put a bed on it, though, they made the cargo bed better in every way, with more capacity (600 lbs now instead of 300 lbs), welded tie down hooks for securing cargo, and the ability to incorporate more accessories in here than ever before. With this revised chassis design and new powertrain combination, Yamaha was also able to up the tow capacity of this vehicle to 2000 lbs.

Speaking of the handling, at 59" wide, it is built to tackle almost any trail in the country. After driving this machine, the Yamaha sporty handling nature that they have infused into so many side-by-sides and quads in the past has come to life again in the X2. The 26" Maxxis tires, which were specifically designed for the X2 and X4, help garner the traction from almost any kind of terrain. To our pleasant surprise, the X2 doesn't exhibit any understeer (pushing) in the corners it turns precisely, exactly where you want it to go at any time. While we like the electric power steering for its neutral effort and precise control, we do wish that it was about a quarter turn faster. When pushing the X2 hard on the trails, which it is fully capable of coping with, we found ourselves having to work the wheel a little too much.

Another significant upgrade to the X2 over the R-spec is found in the suspension department. On upgraded X2 R-spec machines, which include the Camo and R-spec SE models, the vehicles are equipped with fully adjustable KYB gas charged shocks. No matter the model of X2, front suspension travel measures 8.7" and the rear at 8.9". At speed, the bump absorption and general ride quality is composed and smooth, especially if you pair the vehicle with one of Yamaha's accessory 27" tire/wheel packages. You feel the roots, but the shocks absorb the bumps with ease and don't produce a jarring effect. It's when you slow down that things get a little rough. We would probably soften the pre-load at least one or two settings as small choppy bumps at slower speeds were a little too harsh. Luckily, no matter how fast you are driving, the braking system on the X2 is top notch with no fade.

Similar to the Wolverine X4, the X2 has an all-new interior that includes a very clean and well thought out design. High backed seats are very supportive, and drivers can dial in the seating position with a slick and easily adjustable seat bottom. The gauge cluster is also very clean and easy to read, with all of the machine's vitals displayed at a glance. A center console and securely fastening passenger glove box provide plenty of storage for extra items. Like the X4, we felt that this machine is a bit tight on interior space for people larger than 6'2" or so. If you have long legs, your knees will tend to bounce off of the full doors and center console. This isn't something that would keep us from buying the X2, but it is a point to note as you look into this machine.

Yamaha unveiled an all-new electronics system for the X2 called Yamaha Adventure Pro. If you have experienced Polaris' Ride Command system, then think of the Adventure Pro as a direct competitor; the difference is that the Adventure Pro is a mobile tablet that can be removed from the vehicle.

It is essentially a 7" Andoid-powered tablet that mounts directly to the X2's grab handle with a quick disconnect system. You can track your machine's vitals via a dedicated screen in the Adventure Pro app, read any maintenance codes, and even record lap times. In partnership with Magellan, the Adventure Pro system allows you to navigate trails around the world with over 100,000 pre-programmed off-road trails in Magellan's extensive and growing online database (trails in the Adventure Pro are automatically updated!). The Magellan software allows you to track your rides with the GPS system, upload them to your account for future safe keeping, or share them with your friends directly or via social networks. You can even snap pictures along the trails with the built-in camera.

The portability is a standout feature it acts as an additional tablet for everyday use with the ability to download apps and update it with regular Android updates. The Adventure Pro is a $749.99 option. The package is waterproof we even tested it in a massive Tennessee downpour and it includes a free mount and wiring harness.

The bottom line here is that the entire X2 package is a winner, with more capability than ever. The engine and transmission pack the smoothest operation in the industry, with loads of power available for fun, or hard work.

The Wolverine X2 comes in 4 different models and is currently available at dealers, ranging in price from $12,699 to $15,299.


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