By Jon Crowley
The all-new 2019 Yamaha Wolverine X2 combines Proven Off-Road capability and confidence-inspiring performance with Real World comfort in a compact, nimble chassis making it the ultimate trail-exploring vehicle in tight, technical terrain. Its versatile Real World Tough design – purpose built for exploration, work, and play – features a comfortable two-person cab configuration, along with a newly designed 600-pound-rated piston-assist dump bed with an automotive-style single-hand operated tailgate, and impressive 2,000-pound towing capacity. No matter the adventure, both driver and passenger will enjoy the comfortable, quiet ride, which welcomes conversations at any RPM range thanks to the smooth, vibration-free power of the vehicle’s new 847-cc twin cylinder engine.
I missed the press intro for the Wolverine X2 (see YAMAHA WOLVERINE X2 – First Ride Impression), but from what I saw and heard, I knew that I wanted one. I liked the 2016 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec, but couldn’t get past the single cylinder engine. So when I saw the Wolverine X2 had a 847-cc twin cylinder engine just like the Wolverine X4, I asked Yamaha if I could get my hands on a demo unit.
Smooth and Powerful Twin-Cylinder Engine
The Wolverine X2 R-Spec SE is powered by an 847cc DOHC, eight-valve, parallel twin-cylinder motor that features the full range of Yamaha’s advanced performance technologies. Forged pistons and connecting rods ensure durable high-rpm performance, with Yamaha’s 270° Crossplane Concept Crankshaft for linear torque development and excellent power throughout the rpm range. To improve efficiency, the engine features a dry-sump design for a more compact layout and offset cylinder block to reduce friction loss, while rubber engine mounts and a geared counterbalancer ensures smooth running from idle to redline.
Rock Crawling on the Rubicon Trail
For my first trip in the new Wolverine X2, I decided to shake it down on the Rubicon Trail. I am an avid rock crawler and live not far from this iconic trail. Some may think that it may be a little extreme for the Wolverine X2, but my first experience on the Rubicon Trail was in a Rhino back in 2007 so I knew what I was getting into.
We loaded up some gear and were running solo on this trip. Not something I like to do or would recommend, but I was itching to try the Wolverine X2 in the rocks. We started at the Loon Lake trailhead and ended up behind a group of Jeeps from Kansas. They had probably 15 rigs total, and most had never been on the Rubicon Trail. There was no room to pass so we sat and waited for them while they struggled through the old Gatekeeper. I wanted to try and pass them, but also didn’t want to be too cocky since I was in a new UTV with 26-inch tires while no one in their group had anything less than 33-inch tires.
In the last few years, every UTV I have driven on the Rubicon has had 30-32-inch tires. Ground clearance is one of the biggest obstacles for UTVs, and with just 26-inch tires and 11-inches of ground clearnace, I had to work a little bit harder to keep the skid plate off the rocks. Over each obstacle, we maneuvered right through where the Jeeps often struggled. I quickly gained confidence in the new Wolverine X2.
The Wolverine X2 has great visibility from the cab and that really helps with tire placement. It is also a super nimble platform at under 60-inches wide and 115-inches long with an excellent turning radius. So I was able to dodge between and around rocks that the Jeeps had to go over.
Clutching and gearing are also big factors for rock crawling in a UTV and the Yamaha Wolverine X2 shines. Yamaha’s unique sprag clutch constantly maintains belt tension so I never felt the belt slipping and low range is appropriately geared so you can attack tough obstacles with precision.
It was a quick trip, but I was able to make several observations about rock crawling with the Wolverine X2.
Wolverine X2 Rock Crawling
- Excellent clutch and low range transmission gear
- Twin cylinder engine
- Power steering
- Nimble – turning radius and overall size
- Full front diff lock mode
- Good approach and departure angles
- Engine braking
- Small tires (26-inch)
- All steel skid plate (great for most terrain except rock crawling)
Overall, I think the Wolverine X2 did very well considering the small tires. I often upsize on the tires so this really isn’t that big of a deal for me, but the biggest question is how far can you go? Yamaha has a 27-inch tire/wheel kits, and I am hoping that I might be able to sneak some 30-inch tires under there.
Skid plates are also often lacking, but in the case of the Wolverine X2, the situation is a bit different. The unit comes with a full skid that does a great job protecting the underside of the Wolverine X2. But it is made of steel and that is not the best material for rock crawling. Once the steel is bent after a good hit on a rock, it will stay bent. I will look into adding UHMW in addition to the steel with Factory UTV. That way the UHMW can absorb some of the impact and slide over the rocks.
I am planning to use the Wolverine X2 for adventure rides, and I will be adding some accessories to be better equipped for that. First up is a radio and intercom from Rugged Radios so we can communicate with other UTVs in our group and also to my passenger. Then I want to make sure I have a winch and Yamaha has a 3500 lbs. winch and winch mount kit. I will also add a spare tire carrier.
Wolverine X2 – Built for Adventure Rides
I love to explore off-road and there are a few features of the Wolverine X2 that fit well for adventure rides:
- Bed for hauling gear
- More upright seating position
- Fuel efficient for longer range
- Worry-free clutch