2020 Yamaha Wolverine X4 XT-R Edition UTV Review (MSRP: $18,149)
Story: Casey Cordeiro // Photos: Adam Campbell
Last but not least, here is the 2020 Yamaha Wolverine X4 XT-R Edition UTV Review, which also has many similar enhancements for the XT-R package, along with a few updates to the entire 2020 X4 model range.
One of the biggest updates to the X4 lineup is the addition of new front KYB shocks, which are now fully adjustable for spring preload, high- and low-speed compression, and rebound dampening. These are exclusive units to the XT-R edition, and they make this trail vehicle even more capable in the rough stuff with the ability to fine tune your settings. The well dampened self-leveling rear shocks continue to impress with their ability to change their load level on-the-fly.
Just like the X2, every X4 in the lineup received an update to the rear a-arms of the vehicle. The track width is 2” wider this year (51.2” now), and the wheelbase was extended 1” to 83.7” total. With the wider track width, there is no front/rear staggered setup, the measurements are now the same. Not only does this give the rear more clearance for the 28” accessory tire/wheel setups in Yamaha’s Accessory catalog, but it also enhances the overall look of the vehicle from the rear.
In addition to the functional changes in the rear, the XT-R edition gets the same specific upgrades as with other XT-R models. First, the WARN VRX 4500 winch is secured up front with a revised front section of the chassis that is braced better to handle the huge loads that this winch can handle. The wheels and tires are upgraded to Titanium Bronze colorways and radial GBC Dirt Commanders, respectively. Compared to the stock tires, the Dirt Commanders are much tougher with an 8-ply rating all the way around (the stock tires have 4- and 6-ply ratings). Last but not least, the updated graphics package looks great on this X4, especially when you see it in person. After our testing on the muddy trails, the Bronze color ways also don’t care about dirt and mud getting caked onto the side like the metallic painted plastics do. These colors are mud ready!
With the staggered tire setup (9” in front and 11” in the rear), the Wolverine X4 drives very similar in XT-R fashion as it does in the base models. Traction is the thing that is enhanced, as well as an overall toughness to the tire. From the driver’s seat, you can feel the tougher sidewall of this tire as it doesn’t absorb as much of the impact of sharp objects as the stock tires. Yes, the overall ride suffers a bit, but the true point-and-shoot handling of the X4 remains. It is a very fun vehicle to rip around trails. Credit goes to the excellently tuned EPS system, which makes steering adjustments quick, easy, and shock free. This system takes away all of the bumps and shock through the steering, giving the driver more energy to ride all day long. The tires track very well in the rough stuff, too. I was never lacking traction with these tires, and they really seemed to excel in all terrains, even the mud.
With either the X2 or X4, the driver experiences the best clutching on the market – I’m not sure how Yamaha could make this vehicle any better in the transmission department. Plus, the lockable front differential truly makes the X4 an all-out capable vehicle in any terrain, especially when you have the backup of having a front winch.
When riding in the rear seats, I experienced plenty of room lengthwise. The laid back seating position is also very comfortable for shorter or taller passengers, with great side protection for each backseat passenger. Riders back here, no matter what age, will appreciate the protection from the elements and the great view out the front of the vehicle, too. The longer I rode back there, the more I noticed that I could have used a bit more legroom side to side. My legs get pushed to the outside a bit with the plastics forming around the engine, which sits in between the rear occupants, but it isn’t uncomfortable. I’m consistently surprised about how the heat stays out of the cab of the X4, and with how quiet this machine is on the trails. Even with our helmets on, you can still carry on a conversation with all 4 passengers without any communication system hooked up in the vehicle – it is just incredibly quiet.
Like the X2, I found that the X4 interior is a great place to be for long trips. The interior is laid out in such a way that both driver and passenger have easy access to storage compartments, drink holders, and all of the machine’s switches/electronics. The seats are definitely comfortable with plenty of legroom, and, as the driver, I liked the foot positioning for both of my feet, even after driving for an extended period of time with boots on. The seats could use a bit of work, though, to hold you in better on steep descents. I found myself slipping forward a bit on the rocky and steep descents. Yes, a 4-point harness would fix this, but I highly doubt anyone is going to use one of those in this vehicle. So, maybe a bottom cushion with a bit more containment would help to keep my butt in place. Or, maybe my butt just isn’t big enough to settle myself in the seat, that could be the case, too!
I didn’t mention it in the X2 writeup, but both the X2 and X4 have great splash protection when going through the mud and waterholes. The overfenders keep all of the water at bay, as do the full half doors.
Overall, the Wolverine X4 has plenty of power churning out from the 847cc twin-cylinder engine, and the way it lays down the power is smooth and fun. With 4 seats ready for some fun, how could you not want to share the experience with the entire family? If you just want to have the option to have 4 people, then you can slide the rear seats forward in the ingenious transformation system and haul anything you want in the bed (up to 600 lbs).
When you combine all of these features, plus the fact that this is the XT-R model with purposeful upgrades that are included to make your experience on the trail a top-notch affair, I would give it a big thumbs up. You should take a hard look at the X4 for its versatility in the 4-seat category, along with its durability and capability. You literally can’t go wrong, that’s for sure.