Last week I had the opportunity to make a trip to Alabama for Yamahas media event for the 2020 XTR Edition Grizzly, Wolverines (X2/X4) and the Yxz. Day ones presentation highlighted the changes to the 2020 XTR models, along with the growing success of their second year holding the Xtreme Terrain Challenge at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills Tennessee.
All of the XTR models received cut and sewn seats (minus the Grizzly), along with badging, a titanium bronze tactical black color schemes with factory installed Warn winches, and vehicle specific aggressive tires.
A lot of changes were made to the Grizzly in 2019 when Yamaha stuffed its tried and true 686 back in as the heart of its number one selling 4×4 Atv. The 2020 XTR Edition will Sport 27×10 Maxxis Zillas from the factory wrapped around 14 inch bronze cast aluminum wheels for a true square setup out of the box. This wheel and tire combo helped Yamaha gain a half inch of ground clearance and widened stance to 49.2″ which is 1.6″ wider than non XTR models. The addition of a Warn ProVantage 2500 lb winch with steel cable and updated contactor round out the the changes for the 2020 XTR Edition Grizzly.
In 2020 Yamaha made a few adjustments to all of their Wolverines X2/X4’s. The rear track width was widened to match the front. This was achieved by longer a-arms out back. All Wolverines are now 51.2″ hub to hub front and rear. This is to accommodate the increasingly popular square setups, which enable being able to carry just one spare for all four corners. Square setups also help with tire wear since tires can be properly rotated throughout the life of the tire. Wheel base has also been increased by 1″, bringing the total wheelbase to 83.7″. Rear A-arms were slid back to achieve this to allow for more clearance for larger tires in the rear. Small sections of frame in front and rear were also changed for all 2020 model Wolverines. Rear frame sections where upper and lower control arms mount were essentially moved back to achieve the prior stated clearance and additional wheel base. A portion of the front frame section was beefed up to accommodate the factory installed Warn 4500lb VRX winch on the XTR model Wolverines. The winch features a steel cable and updated contactor. All XTR models come with a color matched winch ready front bumper, along with 27x9x12 GBC Dirt Commander radials up front, and 27x11x12 out back. The Yamaha exclusive radial, 8 ply sidewall, Dirt Commander performed above my expectations(I will get into this more during the test ride section of this article). To round out the changes to the Wolverine XTR Edition category, they have added fully adjustable X4 specific Kyb piggyback fully adjustable shocks up front on the XTR X4. The self leveling rear shocks were retained on the rear for all X4 models for 2020.
Rounding out the 2020 XTR model line up is the Yxz. Like it’s little brother it also received a 4500lb Warn VRX winch with steel cable and upgraded contactor. A sleek color matched front winch ready bumper also comes as a part of the package. A 29x9x14 front and 29x11x14 Maxxis carnage tire was used in this trim wrapped around 14″ color matched bead locks. A new Yamaha center rear view mirror also comes standard on the XTR Edition Yxz. Interior and cabin lighting and exterior auxiliary lights also make it into the XTR package.
Beast of the East! Wolverine or Yxz?
We spent day 2 test riding all of the XTR units at Top Trails in Talladega Alabama. It’s a county owned public park that features 2800 acres of mud in the lows and tight up down and around trails that lead up and over the rocky, clay and gravel filled highs. Needless to say I felt right at home in this type of terrain. We were split into two groups, one group for X2/X4’s, and one group in the Yxz SS. I have tons of seat time in my 19 X2 so I was eager to log some miles in the Yxz. We Did an hour and a half loop, approximately 30 miles in the Yxz. I was absolutely wowed by the Yxz. It took a few miles for me to get comfortable in the car due to my lack of time driving the Yxz. I wanted to keep goin, it was addictive to say the least. The direct connection you experience being able to pick you gear and manipulate your rpms and the power you feel is incredible. I would grab the steering wheel in anticipation of a harsh looking bump, but it never came. It just absolutely ate up everything I threw at it. For my first real drive in a Yxz I felt so in control and confident no matter how off camber or steep or rough the terrain got. With the updated gearing in 2019 and the sport shift transmission the Yxz felt like it was at home in the woods of Alabama. The Yxz left me feeling confident and comfortable, whether I was creeping in a technical section or banging gears off the rev limiter on the straights. It’s truly a different feeling in a Yxz.
Late morning after Yamaha had to pry me out of the Yxz, I hoped in the delightfully familiar XTR Edition X2 for the second part of the test ride. We basically did the same loop we had done earlier on the Yxz. Immediately when you take off in the X2 you realize how quiet and smooth the Wolverine really is. I’ve already heard others say that the 2020 Wolverine seemed to noticeably handle and ride better than prior model X2/X4’s since the rear suspension changes on the 20. I have to say I felt zero difference. The thing that stuck out to me the most was the new GBC tires on the XTR Edition. They thoroughly impressed me. I’ve ran several different brands and types of tires in this kind of terrain. These Dirt Commander Radials felt planted, cleaned out extremely well, and handled rock, roots, clay, gravel, and light mud very well. They were fairly smooth and offered predictable handling. In the Yxz I took guys advice and ran in 4wd the whole time. It had rained pretty hard the day before so the red clay was pretty slick. The X2 I ran like I do here at home in 2wd high and use 4wd when needed. The Yxz is definitely more forgiving and you don’t have to put as much thought in line choice. The X2 you have to put a little more thought into you line and kind of pick your way through the technical and off camber stuff. That being said, IT GOES, It goes very well. We did some technical stuff I’m not quite sure I would have tried on my own if I didn’t see someone else do it first. Not one issue with any of the riders having trouble. You can’t beat the agility of a Wolverine in the tight woods. It’s the king of up down and around thru the tight trees. Lines can be taken and you can blow through obstacles that others have to slow down or even stop for. The Wolverine absolutely shines in the woods!
Same loop, same place, same day, ridden back to back by the same driver, built by the same manufacturer. Would it be the pure sport, high revving triple , or the built for woods, quiet nimble twin? Which do I prefer in the familiar east coast type terrain? The verdict is that I’m gonna need a bigger garage so I can have both! Now I know why so many guys started with one or the other and ended up with the pair. Two distinctly different machines on the same exact trail & I had two completely different forms of fun. Is that possible?