2019 Yamaha Wolverine X2 Review

I don’t know how Yamaha does it, but its employees manage to keep a lid on machines that haven’t been released. They are stoic and smile when I ask questions about something that might be in the works, but no information or even a hint is acknowledge and certainly not said. When I got the invite to a new machine introduction, I was awash with speculation on what it might be. One might even say I was giddy about it. Casey was also invited, and we spent the normal amount of time speculating on what it might be. As it turns out, we were right on the money when Yamaha pulled the cover off the the 2019 Wolverine X2.  I absolutely admit the Wolverine X2 had me at hello even before I was able to drive it! Did I mention yet that I really like the way it looks? Did I mention it is the first side-by-side to have reverse lights? I know; why hasn’t anyone else thought of that!

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There are several impressive things about the Wolverine X2 before you ever get into the specs, and these revolve around Yamaha.  The 2019 Wolverine X2 is already in its second generation after only three years, and it is a completely new machine. That is more attention given to a specific side-by-side model than any other manufacturer that comes to mind. Yamaha listens to customers in a way I have yet to see other companies do, with the Wolverine X2 the perfect example. If you take all the items customers and media alike wanted improved on the Wolverine, what you will find at the end of those items is the Wolverine X2. That is how Yamaha listens and reacts to customer input, and customers are fanatic about the brand because of this. 

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Second Generation Wolverine

I think it appropriate to jump right in and say the Wolverine X2 is a true recreation/utility side-by-side from the top of the ROPS cage to the bottom-tread of the tires. Recreation runs like a lifeblood through its veins just like those that will buy it, and it has some work blood in its veins for good measure. The Wolverine X2 looks the part of the explorer/adventurer the way a horse looks the part of the Wild West. It looks rugged and mean as though it is begging to go exploring the wild, and it is equipped to do just that. The look of the Wolverine X2 and its features carryover from the Wolverine X4 released in 2018. The engine, bodywork, interior, suspension, specs, and most if the chassis are the same or similar to the Wolverine X4, and that is not just a good thing but a great thing. It is a great thing because the Wolverine X4 is just that good. The Wolverine X2 departs from the previous generation Wolverine with its twin-cylinder engine, dump bed, full half-doors, and a comfortable cab.

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We dig the grill, front grill guard, and overall "rugged" look!

The Perfect Explorer

Yamaha has been pushing hard on the adventure/recreation side of riding, which can be seen in its REALize Your Adventure slogan and website, but, more importantly, can be seen in its ATVs and side-by-sides, and none more than the Wolverine X2. There are so many things that make it an exploring fiend, and it starts with the engine. The 847cc twin-cylinder engine is a jewel of an engine, and it is the quietest side-buy-side engine I have ever experienced in any side-by-side. Even at higher speeds you can carry on a conversation with your passenger without straining your voice. The power is ridiculous, with a tremendous amount of low-end torque in the first half-inch of the throttle. The Wolverine X2 will climb a real steep rocky incline without any hard throttle necessary. Our riding group took several very steep inclines in High range, and when I would give the machine just a little throttle, the power was there to effortlessly push me up the hill. Unofficially, the Wolverine X2 has around 69 horsepower, and the engine is in no way short on power. The torque is available at 5 MPH or 50 MPH. When you give the Wolverine X2 throttle the engine responds with power. Mated to the power is the Ultramatic transmission Yamaha is known for, but it has been upgraded to handle the additional power and torque of the engine. No matter what you do, the belt on this CVT transmission will not slip. It is what I want in a side-by-side, and I believe you want that also. The engine and transmission pairing on the Wolverine X2 is like that of a good burger and the right beer; it is perfect!

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The excellent Ultramatic transmission is controlled by a gated shifter and sports a high and low range.

Ride comfort itself is really really good. Both the front and rear suspension features a dual a-arm setup with 8.7-inches of travel up front and 8.9-inches in the rear. The ride feels like it has more! The base model Wolverine X2 has preload shocks, while the R-Spec models piggy-back shocks that can be adjusted in every way possible. We rode hard and fast over all kinds of terrain, and I will say the Wolverine X2 is just excellent. The ride feel is what I want in a recreation side-by-side. I would go for the R-Spec versions for the suspension adjustability and ride quality. 

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 There is no need for a shock change. The stock piggy-back shocks are adjustable for any scenario, or just leave them alone. 


Our Wolverine X2 Review Video


Proven Off Road  

When using the Wolverine X2 to explore the trails, wherever those trails might be, The Wolverine X2 must be able to tackle whatever is thrown at it, and to do that it must be capable. The Wolverine X2 has a fistful of technologies Yamaha has been using for years making it ready to take on the unknown. OnCommand four wheel drive is the first that comes to mind, which is Yamaha’s 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD with diff-lock system. You get to choose what mode the machine is in at any given time. I like being in charge of my off-road destiny, by choosing what drive mode I want to use. Throughout my riding time we did a lot of climbing long and steep rocky grades, and coming down the same. I chose whatever mode I wanted for the terrain I was tackling. I even locked it into diff-lock through some mud holes that required climbing out of, and the Wolverine just laughed at it and kept going. The confidence this level of capability gives you makes you feel unstoppable. 

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The 4WD is controlled with a big turn-knob which takes you from 2WD to 4WD and finally 4WD/Diff Lock You get to choose!

Electric power steering or EPS offers the perfect balance between assisting and protecting the driver in the direction they want to go, and allowing you to feel the tires on the trail. Yamaha’s EPS is the best in the industry. Throughout my time about the Wolverine X2, I hit all sorts of hard rocks and ruts at a good pace, and not once did the steering wheel jerk in any direction other than the one I was pointing it. I do wish there was less steering wheel turn required to move the wheels, but I have since learned the Government is dictated standards now meaning it can’t be changed. Though I wish the steering was faster it, the feel of the EPS is still perfect. 

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The Wolverine X2 really will go anywhere! It is a mountain goat.

Now this brings me to the engine braking or EBS. It is not just good, but it is excellent. I dream of the day other ATVs and side-by-sides could have such a natural and effective EBS system! Let off the gas and the machine begins decelerating, but doesn’t throw you through the front window in the process. Whether the machine is in 2WD or 4WD will determine how many wheels you will get engine braking. Put the machine in Low and you will crawl down declines you never imagined possible, and I love that. I found engine braking in High range allowed me to use the brakes very little. The EBS is Yamaha machines is yet another example of how Yamaha sets the standard in the industry. 

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The interior comfort is solid with very comfortable high-back seats, a center console, and controls laid out well.

Interior Comfort

I am a big fan of the interior of the Wolverine X2 because it is comfortable, roomy, and it makes me feel protected while out on the trail. The seats are high-backed and contoured nicely, with a center console running through the center of the cab for storage, cup holders, and the gear shifter. The dash has a bright instrument cluster, big-round dials for the lights and drive-mode selector, and even punch outs for adding additional accessories. Don’t forget the passenger grab bar and the glove box. The seating position allows you to see directly in front of the machine, with tilt-steering allowing for the perfect steering position to suit your needs. There are two full half-doors that open from the inside to keep you from having to get your hands dirty, and the splash protection is not just good but excellent at keeping the occupants dry and clean even on wet and muddy rides. I found the interior roomy, though Casey told me at 6’3” he was a little “tight”. The Wolverine X2 is so quiet beyond the engine, and this includes the single-handle tailgate release that doesn’t rattle. No really, it doesn’t rattle. The machine interior allows you to the experience the adventure of the outdoors from a comfortable point of view.

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Utility Capability

Being the Wolverine X2 brings with it more utility capability than the previous Wolverine version,  it comes with a dump bed and the aforementioned single-handle tailgate release that doesn’t rattle. The bed is roomy with tie-down points that are welded to the frame for strength. It will haul 600lbs rather than the previous 300lbs, and with the twin-cylinder on board it will tow 2000lbs. That makes for the right amount of utility on a recreational side-by-side. It will work for you when needed, but I hope you spend much more time aboard the Wolverine X2 trailing riding than working.

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Standard on the X2 and X4 is a speed control system allowing you to limit the top speed.

A Few Choices

For those of you who want to accessories your Wolverine X2 than you are in luck. Not only are there many different accessories from Yamaha to choose from, but Yamaha has wheel and tire choices that have been tested with the Wolverine X2 to guarantee they will work well and fit the machine. 

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The innovation award goes to Yamaha for adding reverse lights to the rear LED lights on the X2. Everyone else needs to follow suit!

Adventure Pro

The Adventure Pro is a new navigation and machine information system that mounts in the vehicle, and helps you find and navigate trails along with tell you all sorts of things about your machine such as speed, rpm, coolant temp, trip odometer, fuel level, and so much more. You can find a complete write-up in the Adventure Tech article in this issue. Currently, the Adventure Pro will work with the Wolverine X2, X4, and YXZ1000R models. 

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I am really excited about the Wolverine X2 rec/utility side-by-side, and I can’t wait to get our long-term demo unit. Reflecting back on my time with the Wolverine X2, I find myself thinking how it checks off so many boxes of what I have been looking for in a recreation/utility side-by-side. The Wolverine X2 is what I think might be the ultimate side-by-side for exploring and trail adventures I have been hoping would come along. It has the right amount of power, capability, and comfort to make any adventure a good day. 


Yamaha Wolverine X2 Website