2016 Yamaha Kodiak utility ATV all about getting the job done
In Yamaha Motor Corp. USA’s ATV/side-by-side group’s extensive research of consumer buying trends within that segment, the retail experience has changed in recent years. Gone are the days when ATV shoppers would enter a dealership and request a machine of a certain type or engine size, with pricing an afterthought.
These days, Yamaha’s research shows, consumers are more likely to enter that same dealership and proclaim “I have X many thousand dollars to spend — what can I buy?” Or perhaps “I have $200 to spend per month — what vehicle can I get?”
With those thoughts in mind, Yamaha’s all-new 2016 Kodiak 700 ATV, with its all-new engine and chassis, is targeting today’s discerning consumer. That Yamaha has packed a slew of features, in addition to the new engine, into the Kodiak 700 with an eye-catching $6,999 (non-EPS) retail price tag should have their dealers eager for the ATV selling season to begin.
“We’ve been talking to customers and how their purchasing decisions are made, and there’s been a shift in how they make those decisions,” product planning manager Travis Hollins said. “You used to base your buying decision on the engine size you wanted, and that dictates the price point as well. People aren’t doing that anymore.”
What they are looking for, however, especially in the utility ATV market for work-based uses, is the best product at the best price point with the most features. And with the Kodiak 700, Yamaha believes it has them all wrapped into one package.
Geared mostly at B2B customers who will be providing the Kodiak to their employees on the farm, ranch or other ag-related locales, reliability and durability played a key role in the launch of the Kodiak. A new compact cockpit design creates confidence for riders, many of whom will be workhands (as opposed to enthusiasts).
“It’s built to get the job done,” Hollins said. “These users have to ride through rocks, over stumps and logs, and they need vehicles that that are very durable and reliable. They can’t be in the shop, because when they’re in the shop they’re not working, and for these guys time is money.”
The relaxed and easy-to-use build of the Kodiak 700 is geared toward the rider who uses the machine all day, and might throw a leg over the machine hundreds of times per day. The Kodiak has long been associated with “utility” and “heavy working,” and the all-new version is no exception.
Even more, the Kodiak 700 lineup expands to include the Kodiak 700 EPS (MSRP $8,199) and Special Edition (SE) Kodiak 700 EPS (MSRP $8,899) all boasting class-leading performance and value for the hard-working utility ATV customer.
All-new styling includes a low height and easy on/off access, along with functional design elements, including an all-new rear fender with increased thickness that provides more protection from potential utility damage. Larger diameter and higher capacity front and rear steel racks — the same ones found on the 2016 Grizzly — also provide a work advantage over plastic.
“When you go out and break a plastic rack, the machine’s down, and that’s time and money for these users,” Hollins said.
With the movement of the air filter to a location below the seat (as is the case with the Grizzly), the top storage compartment has a capacity of 9 pounds. Of course, the Grizzly and the Kodiak 700 share the same all-new engine. When comparing the 2016 Kodiak 700 with the now-out-of-production Grizzly 550, power and torque both increase in the Kodiak 700 by 30 percent. And the Kodiak 700 is $1,000 cheaper than the non-EPS Grizzly 550 was.
“Do farmers and ranchers need this much power? Not really, but we can change the feeling in the machine for them,” Hollins said. “We can give them a more relaxed feeling and we can give the capacity of still towing and hauling that equipment but at a much less stressful, much easier pace. If you have a 350 or 450 and you’re trying to go across a field, towing a trailer, you’re maxing that thing out. You’re getting from Point A to Point B, but you’re putting the maximum amount of stress on that vehicle. With the Kodiak 700, you bring that stress level down, so you’re not putting that maximum 100 percent level into it, and you’re still getting the job done.”
With the available power, Yamaha was able to change the clutch weighting and engagement ratios of the CVT, compared to the same Grizzly engine. The 2016 Grizzly weight is 18 grams; the Kodiak is 30 grams.
“Grizzly is much more aggressive and sporty and fun. Kodiak is completely the opposite. It’s very relaxed now,” Hollins said. “The engine RPMs come way down, and the settings are very comfortable. It’s still a 700 and you can still tow the trailer and do all those things, but the everyday B2B work being done with these machines is much easier for the rider now. Having this big bore motor and being able to utilize the clutching to bring those RPMs down, you also bring down the exhaust tone and exhaust noise, so the entire machine becomes a lot more subdued and relaxed.”
The Kodiak 700 also features full-length skid plates, with a 3-piece removable design, and a lever-activated 4WD function on the handlebar that offers simple operation. Impressively, fully independent suspension is part of the package, too.
Another important feature to the ag/work end-user is a new sealed wet rear brake. Its maintenance-free design allows for no brake fade due to water or mud. In fact, it’s designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle, and is yet another checkmark for the “time is money” department.
The Kodiak 700 EPS targets a mix of the work and hunting buyer. The EPS model includes a new handlebar light that follows the handlebar movement. A new digital meter includes a fuel gauge, speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, clock, 4WD status, gear position and EPS warning. KYB suspension is provided to maximize all-day comfort. A 2-inch receiver hitch is part of the EPS package also.
Finally, the EPS SE package is offered in carbon metallic paint, and has push button 2WD, 4WD and Diff Lock. Special edition cast aluminum wheels are part of the SE package also.
“The base engine and base chassis are similar between Grizzly and Kodiak, but we’ve taken them in two totally different directions and it allows us to cover price point, model features and customer requirements for the entire lineup,” Hollins said. “Dealers didn’t have this opportunity in the past.”