2023 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX4 1000 SE Review
Like our moose hunting trip this year, the 2023 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX4 1000 LE is mostly unchanged since its inception in 2020, with the exception of 2 things. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, one of us missed the mark. And I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t Yamaha.
Power and Performance
After a long and slow 12-hour drive into the expansive northern Ontario wilderness, the only thing that we want to do is stretch our legs. And I’m not talking about my hunting buddies, I’m talking about my boy, Mr. RMAX4 1000. He’d been cooped up in a trailer for 24hrs and was begging to go for a ride. So, I obliged.
First thing I did was but it in sport mode and hammered the throttle and it immediately brought back the big, stupid smile I had on my face the first time I drove this thing back in 2021. That 999cc engine with 108 Horsepower rockets you back in the seat immediately and with all that linear power delivery coming from the Ultramatic CVT, it doesn’t stop, until you do. It still shocks me how good that engine and transmission combo is. It feels like it has an endless amount of power, that I can never fully grasp because there’s so many turns on the winding forest access roads that we hunt near.
But, that really allows me to test out the near perfect power steering on the machine, as well. The steering wheel feels so light in your hands, yet somehow very connected. You feel every bit of input from it, but it just absolutely floats around a corner. Of course, if you just want to cruise around, there is a trail mode, as well as a crawl mode, which is perfect when maneuvering around camp or going over big rocks as it really dampens the throttle input to make it less jerky.
Suspension and Capability
Although we arrived 2 full days before hunting season opens, that doesn’t mean it’s all play. We have to search for signs of moose, so that allowed me to put these Fox QS3 shocks to work. The most significant update since I last tested this machine is the addition of IQS on the shocks. This allows you to quickly change the stiffness without leaving your seat. With the push of a toggle switch you get 3 settings. Comfort, medium, and firm. Firm is the best for all-out performance driving when you’re racing down the trails. We hunt about 20 miles from our camp so I’m always trying to shave as many minutes off as I can. But there’s also tons of rough patches where you actually need comfort mode. It makes a big difference. And with 4WD with diff lock, you can get through just about anything, comfortably.
We like to hunt where no one else does, and the reason no one hunts there is because it’s incredibly hard to get to. There’s a few sections where beaver dams and broken culverts have completely washed away the road and without a very capable machine, you’d never make it. And part of what helps us get there are the 29” Maxxis Carnage tires, which have incredible grip on just about any terrain, not to mention the 14.2-inches of suspension travel in the front and 13.3-inches in the rear.
Design and Features
Day 1 of hunting is like Christmas morning. You wake up feeling electrified, but with a little trepidation because you might see a giant, bearded creature, lurking around a tree in the dark. But you quickly get over that as you realize this is your best chance of getting a moose because they haven’t been scared into hiding, from all of the pressure, yet. Because of all this excitement, you don’t pay much attention to the machine you’re driving, until the hunt day is over. And, as you’re driving back to camp, you see other hunters looking at you in awe and hear the occasional, “Oh dude, that’s an RMAX”.
Although it’s been out for 4 years, they still garner a lot of attention, especially with the new colors. This is the only other updated thing on the machine. Now I’m not a huge fan of the fluorescent yellow livery added for this year, but I do really love the matte grey and blue. I think they should’ve stuck to just those 2 colors, but it does really draw people’s attention. And I still think it has one of the most aggressive and well-designed front ends, especially with those evil-eye LED headlights. And, when it starts to get dark, you realize how good they work.
After day 3 or 4 with little to no sign and walking through endless miles of densely packed poplar and pine trees, that constantly latch onto your gear and slap you in the face, it starts to wear on you. So, we usually skip 1 or two morning hunts to recharge, and also replenish on wood and water. The RMAX4 is the perfect machine to help with that. While it is comparatively spacious and comfortable overall, and you can actually fit adults in the back seat, it’s still tight back there, and getting in and out is tough. That’s one thing I wish they would fix. Entrance to the back seat requires movements akin to a contortionist. So, if we’re not hunting we typically only put two guys in the machine and slide the rear seats forward which adds a ton of space and it can haul up to 600lbs. The mechanism itself is kind of annoying though. They constantly bind when pushing the seat forward and takes 3 or 4 tries to get it to lock into place. One other thing of note is that it can tow up to 2000 lbs. although, I didn’t get the chance to test that out.
One thing I was really hoping we’d get, is the “Yamaha Adventure Pro” LCR screen. I thought at the top trim level it would come standard, but unfortunately, it’s a whopping $2,489.95 CAD. It is cool because you can load trail maps onto it as well as connect to Bluetooth for music, but the speakers are also extra. Coming in at $1,743.95 CAD, for just 2 of them. That’s an outrageous amount of money just to have a nav screen and some music.
One last feature that’s worth mentioning, which I was really hoping I’d get to use again, hauling a moose up into a tree, is the WARN VRX 4,500 lb. winch. It comes standard on the SE and LE models, and it is a fantastic addition. Although, I wish it came with the synthetic rope instead of the steel cable.
At the end of every hunt trip, I look at my visa bill and ask myself the same question “is it worth it?”. And the same question can be asked about the RMAX4 1000 LE, especially since it will run you $34,999 CAD, and that’s just the MSRP without any options. There’re definitely many cheaper ways to have fun. I love deer hunting at the in-law’s farm, and that is significantly cheaper. I also like driving around in a ride on lawn mower, but it’s just not the same. So, if you’re willing to part with the extra dough, of course it’s worth it. But just like a moose hunting trip, if you tried to cut back a bit on your spending and went with just the RMAX4 1000 R-Spec, you’d save $4,000, and I don’t think you’d be any less happy. And, although the 2024 models have just come out, and there is still no change (other than the colors) it is still, IMO the best all-around UTV when it comes to practicality, fun, and reliability, and I wouldn’t want anything else for hunting Ontario’s big game. And even though we were unsuccessful in our moose hunt, it’s really about enjoying the outdoors, connecting with nature, and creating friendships that last a lifetime. And like I tell myself every year, “That’s worth every penny”.
Hassle free suspension adjustment with FOX IQS shocks
Excellent power delivery
Excellent build quality
Fun and practical
Rear door entrance is very small
Roof height makes it nearly impossible to fit in enclosed trailer
Sliding rear seats bind on rails
More by Chris Blanchette