Four-seat side-by-side offers compact chassis with stowable seats
Winding through the tight trails of Brushy Mountain Motor Sports Park in Taylorsville, North Carolina, the new Wolverine X4 didn’t feel like a bulky four-seater side-by-side.
That was the goal of the Yamaha R&D team, when they developed the X4. Instead of simply lengthening the two-seater Wolverine, Yamaha rebuilt the Wolverine X4 from the ground up.
“It is a completely brand new chassis, brand new engine, brand new drivetrain. Everything about it is built for this machine,” explained Travis Hollins, Yamaha’s ATV/side-by-side senior product planning manager. “It’s been probably about four years in the making as far as from blank piece of paper to where we are today. We get out and try to talk to as many people as we can and try to understand what they’re looking for in a machine, and I think it turned out pretty well.”
In building the X4, Yamaha decided the machine would be aimed mostly at families who ride in tight, wooded trails. Instead of simply lengthening the wheelbase, Yamaha focused on developing a compact chassis with stow-away full-size rear seats. The X4 features an 82.7-inch wheelbase and a 59.8-inch width.
“The size was a lot of discussion, as you can imagine. When you build something like this, you want to get it right. And it really starts with the overall concept of what we’re trying to do,” Hollins said. He added, “We really tried to develop a concept based on the actuality of it, so fitting between the trees, fitting between the narrow trails, being able to do that really comfortably; the power characteristic to be able to do that.”
The goal was to give families or groups of hunters or groups of friends a vehicle they felt comfortable using to navigate through wooded trails to ride or simply to get to their favorite camping, hunting, fishing or swimming spot. The family was the key demographic, as the Wolverine X4 allows for enough room for two parents to sit in the front and two children to get into the back (though the full size rear seats are large enough for adults).
“The guys that are buying these are typically more family oriented; they’re not the super aggressive young kids that want to scare themselves; they’re the exact opposite. They want the family to be comfortable; they want the wife to be comfortable; they want the experience to be very enjoyable, and that’s where the smooth power, the quiet and the good handling are all benefits to that. The downhill engine braking, all that, just gives you such a sense of confidence when you’re out there, and it just doesn’t create any nervousness to that trail riding aspect. That’s what it’s all about is addressing who’s the buyer who wants to buy it.”
Also, getting kids in the backseat at an early age will hopefully lead a new generation of off-road riders.
“We kind of see this cycle, and it’s the young family, if you will, and they’ve got the young kids, and the kids ride, and the family does their thing. And eventually the kids kind of outgrow the backseat; they want an ATV, or they want to drive themselves,” Hollins said.
When not carrying four riders, each of the Wolverine X4’s rear passenger seats can slide up behind the front seats, allowing for up to 600 pounds of cargo to be carried. Offering full-size seats while also carving out room for a bed when not traveling with all four seats occupied, was important to Yamaha.
“Not everybody’s going to have four people all the time,” Hollins said. “We saw that in some of the other models. And the customers, when we were talking to them, they’d have to try to basically put these ice chests and these coolers and this equipment on the backseat and then try to secure them, and it just didn’t work out well. So being able to have that cargo bed, when they don’t have four people, and they’ve only got three people in it, was definitely important. And it really comes down to just versatility. If you’ve got a machine like the X4, there’s really no point in buying a two-seater because you’ve got just as much capacity as a two-seater, but you’ve also got the opportunity to have more people as well. So it really is the best of both worlds and really does everything.”
The Wolverine X4 is powered by an all-new 847cc, DOHC, eight-valve, parallel twin-cylinder motor. In addition to the compact chassis and stowable seats, the Wolverine X4 also features 10.7 inches of ground clearance, 8.7 inches of preload adjustable travel in the front and 8.9 inches in the rear, self-leveling rear shocks, On-Command four-wheel drive, an Ultramatic continuously variable transmission, EPS, 2,000 pounds of towing capacity, Yamaha Chip Controlled-Throttle (YCC-T), a new speed management system with a removable key and an adjustable driver’s seat and steering column.
Yamaha has also come to market with a variety of accessories for the Wolverine X4, including windshields, overfenders, mirrors, brush guards, sound systems, tire and wheel kits and a full hard cab kit.
“The accessory options are almost limitless in this side-by-side world, especially in this family four-seat world,” Hollins said. “And a lot of it goes back to comfort items — our full cab enclosure, so you can ride in the rain and snow and really maximize the value because now you can use it all year round; but things like indoor heaters to keep you comfortable when it’s really cold out; the audio system, so stereos and being able to play music; the storage compartments and cargo boxes and all those things, so you can actually take care of your equipment; an ice chest for your stuff. It’s just really tailored to that particular type of buyer, but there’s really an accessory for everybody, depending on what you want to do. There’s even more aggressive stuff, so the winches and the skid plates and the bigger tires and all those things are for those buyers that want to challenge themselves a little bit more than the average guy. And that’s kind of what the accessories are about is kind of shifting the vehicle one way or another depending on who’s buying it and what they want to do with it, making it your own.”
The Wolverine X4 was introduced in early September, and it began arriving in dealerships in early October. So far, Yamaha reports positive feedback from dealers and consumers alike. Yamaha has already offered demos at dealer ships and at events such as Brimstone Paragon.
“I think what really stands out to everybody is just how smooth and quiet it is, and I think that’s what they really appreciate, and just having the ability to do conversations and talk on the trail is just something nobody’s able to do yet, so it’s just really good feedback,” Hollins reported.
The Wolverine X4 is available in four different configurations. The Graphite model is $15,999. The Yamaha Blue ($16,499) and Realtree Xtra camo ($16,899) versions come with overfenders and cast aluminum wheels. And the Special Edition, available in Matte Silver or Matte Carbon, includes overfenders, painted bodywork, cast aluminum wheels and color-matched interior and shock springs, for $17,249.