Yamaha introduced the very successful Wolverine 700 a few years ago. Then came the X2 version with its 850cc engine which was a bit more powerful and torquey. Although these side by side vehicles offered interesting performances, we always wanted a little more. It’s simple, we felt like the chassis and suspension could take a lot more than the electronic limits imposed. Here is finally Yamaha’s answer with the 2021 Wolverine RMAX 1000.
In developing this all-new model, Yamaha has benchmarked itself against the best of other manufacturers in this market segment, both in terms of dimensions and performance, including the interior and the various features that users are looking for with this kind of vehicle. Without claiming victory, I think Yamaha has hit the nail on the head with the Wolverine RMAX 1000.
What we found is a whole new design with a very aggressive look, chiseled body lines, and “evil eyes” headlights. Its dimensions are impressive and the oversized wheels are a sign of stunning capacities. The changes are far beyond the visual and we must mention a new chassis, new engine, and new suspension. It’s not just a redesign, but an all-new vehicle that has just entered the utility vehicle segment with a sports vocation.
To animate the Wolverine RMAX, Yamaha has transplanted a new engine, an EFI parallel twin of 999cc, and above all which reaches its speed limit at 8500 RPM. In other words, you get a wider band of power to exploit. According to data found on the web, dynamometric tests would reveal an output of 108 HP. This complies with the manufacturer specs, which prides itself on having the best power in this category of vehicle.
With D-Mode, there are 3 driving modes: Trail, Sport, and Crawl. Mode selection interacts with the YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle), or electronic throttle opening with variable speed of the throttle response. Thus, the throttle response can be very aggressive in “Sport” mode or softer in the “Crawl” mode. In addition, D-Mode impacts the action of the engine brake, which reacts according to the mode chosen to adapt even better to the rider’s needs.
In terms of suspension, the RMAX is equipped with FOX QS3 shocks. These shocks offer 3 positions (1 – Soft, 2 – Med, 3 – Firm) which allow improving the flexibility to perform maneuvers in rock crawling situations (soft) or to increase the damping (medium) for a day on the trail or to use maximum damping (firm) during sporty driving.
With these shocks and all-new suspension geometry, there is 14.2 inches of travel at the front and 16.9 inches at the rear. All providing an impressive ground clearance of 13.8 inches.
It’s a safe bet to say that the huge 13.8-inch ground clearance is made possible in part by the 30-inch Maxxis Carnivore tires, mounted on superb 14-inch aluminum rims. An important fact to note: the wheels are identical at all 4 corners. Thus, it is easy to provide a spare tire that will fit everywhere.
Designed for work?
The RMAX 1000 has performance that would make many sportier models blush, but you have to keep in mind that this is a hybrid vehicle that also puts it to work. Its 600 lbs cargo box capacity will allow you to transport just about anything. However, if that’s not enough, be aware that a trailer may be an option since its towing capacity reaches 2000 lbs.
As you take place aboard, you realize that the seats are much more comfortable than those of older versions of Wolverine. They are easily adjustable without tools and the safety seat belt is adjustable in height to obtain maximum comfort while favoring the safety of the occupants. As a bonus, the seats come with beautiful stitched and embroidered accents.
Taking the steering wheel in hand, the textures appear well studied and there are several padded areas, just as you can find in the automotive field. Once again, occupant comfort is put forward.
The instrument cluster provides very legible information and gives all the necessary driving information. In addition, LED interior lighting enhances the very luxurious appearance of this vehicle.
The very first thing you appreciate when sitting in the RMAX is the impeccable finish. The textures of the plastics are appropriate and especially the paint which increases this aspect of high quality. Then, you easily identify the various controls and their arrangement. Everything is in the right place, easy to read, easy to handle … It is very intuitive to be on board the RMAX and you quickly feel comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, the seats are more comfortable than most other manufacturers in this market segment. On the other hand, we would appreciate more space at the shoulders, especially for the bigger occupants. Also, the part that is at the height of the shoulder (protector) was always in our way when boarding or getting off. I would personally have integrated this upper portion to doors that go higher. Visually, it would add to the aggressive design in my opinion, but more importantly, it would eliminate the protector that is too often in the way.
The chassis is rigid and allows the power of the 999cc engine to be fully exploited. The engine sounds great and encourages pushing the machine more and more. The torque is generous, which allows you to come out in force from the curves or to climb hills with ease. The heart of the RMAX is predictable and offers everything we need in this market segment. Even more!
After about twenty kilometers, I wanted to test the D-Mode to see if the system would make a big difference. WOW! It’s truly amazing to find yourself aboard a vehicle that completely changes its driving style depending on the situations you are preparing to face. Indeed, when the time comes to cross a mountain of rocks, the Crawl mode minimizes the sensitivity of the throttle pedal while optimizing the engine braking to make it easier to tackle uneven ground without being tossed around. And when you want a maximum response, “Sport” mode literally allows for instant response. The D-Mode system is awesome and probably my favorite feature as it simply lets you change the behavior of the RMAX and making it even more versatile. The D-Mode system is perfect and even more paired with the FOX QS3 shocks which are so easy to adjust and yet so effective for the different situations that can be encountered on trails, mountains, tight tracks, etc.
You always get the feeling of being in control behind the wheel of the Wolverine RMAX. No matter the speed and the type of terrain, you feel ready to face it without fear. The 30-inch tires are surely involved in this feeling of being invincible. They are perfect for the vehicle and provide a surprisingly smooth ride while still making it easy to climb over rocks with the increased traction.
The last aspect I noticed, and not the least, when you ride aboard the Wolverine RMAX, you realize that there are no clicking noises, no noises of vibration, friction, etc. Yamaha has done a masterful job at this level and very few manufacturers can compete on this aspect.
- Powerful engine offering torque over the entire power band
- Fully modifiable driving behavior with D-Mode and FOX QS3 suspensions
- Impeccable quality of finish (plastics, textures, paint, and details)
- The protective piece at the shoulder height is annoying when entering / leaving the vehicle, as well as when driving for more sturdy people
- Have access to the touch screen option which seems only available in the US at this time
- Very imposing vehicle dimensions for narrow spots and which makes it illegal on some trails with the original tires.
Yamaha may take a few years to respond in certain market segments. However, when the manufacturer unveils a model, most of the time it is deeply studied and very well adapted to what the users really need. In the case of the Wolverine RMAX 1000, Yamaha took pole position in this niche in terms of performance, comfort, versatility, quality of finish, and on and on …