2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec vs. Polaris General Deluxe + Video

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
The 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec and Polaris General Deluxe may both be Sport-Utility UTVs, but they are vastly different machines and shine in different areas. But that didn’t stop us from seeing how they stack up against each other.

Mama always said to not let your eyes overload your mouth at dinner, but I think in this case it may be the wallet that some overload. One of the toughest things to do for me is to shop. Whether its tools or off-road rides, I hate trying to decide on one specific item especially when there is so many involved that I would love to have one of each. I am sure there are many UTV owners out there that may have felt the same way when they first went in search of the big UTV purchase and maybe now have a little buyer’s remorse because what looked like a sugar-coated dream machine might not fit their more realistic riding situation. It happens way too often and with the 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec and Polaris General Deluxe, we found out that after several days of riding these two machines together in the same terrain, both have their place and their own individual personality.

Polaris intended the General to be a cross between the RZR sport machine and the Ranger working machine. This would give that sense of brute power ownership with capability to actually perform chores should the need arise. With the seats positioned higher in the cab and better egress into and out of the cab than the RZR, the General was also suited to those who do work hard.

2017 Polaris General Deluxe Beauty

The Powerful ProStar mill is that of its RZR brethren and gives up an incredible 100 horsepower while maintaining a dumping bed. With the FOX Podium 2.0 QS3 shocks, you also had a little bit of performance tuning ability for the suspension that seemingly anyone could understand. This Polaris General gives that power loving, go-fast driver who sometimes needs to tow the fencing trailer around the ranch something to brag about to his friends. The Polaris General mill is built for a bit more open trail system to allow the engine to get into its productive power range, but does work in the tight stuff as well.

2017 Polaris General Deluxe FOX QS3

Handling large g-outs and stumps or roots gives the General owner a sense of confidence when the road ahead gets cluttered with debris. This is a great performer that does not disappoint when you need comfort, agility and plenty of gusto.

The 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec was built to be an exploring machine with plenty of long travel suspension (both up and down as this vehicle has very good suspension drop out) and fully adjustable KYB shocks. When we dig in deep, the power numbers may be deceiving but in this machine’s defense the 708cc mill pumps out a very efficient 47 horsepower that gives this Wolverine its stride.

2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Beauty

Also with the 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec, we see a purpose built, nimble platform that gets around in the really tight stuff with little issue of finding or even blazing new trails. The exo-skeletal framework and “Mini-Nerfs” right in front of the rear wheels allows the Wolverine to bounce around in the woods without tearing plastic body panels off. The cargo bed can haul 300 lbs of cargo even though it does not dump and the two-inch receiver will tow up to 1500 lbs for those needing to do a little work before play. The bed sides are tapered to be overall narrower at the rear of the machine for those really tight off camber situations.

With the long travel KYB shock package you can adjust in many directions to get your ride just right and the ground clearance at 11.4 inches keeps the trail moving under the machine even if mother nature fills it with obstacles. The cab of this Wolverine is comfortable and gives a secure confident feeling while tucked inside.

2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Cab

Before we began testing these two machines side-by-side, it was clear that there would be some who would pick a winner just by the numbers and maybe there was even a cloud of biased opinion before we even began. However, as the days went on and we tested these two together in two different riding areas and situations, we had been pleasantly surprised. You might be asking yourself why it was even a consideration to pair these two machines. Trust us, it was in our minds as well. But they fall into a similar category of owner/model/segment so that’s where we began the idea.

2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec-Polaris General Deluxe Profile

Our first ride location was tight, twisty trails that required attention to the trail details and a smooth foot operation to negotiate the trail system without becoming over bearing to the driver. With narrow off-camber up and down hill sections, as well as a load of rocky hills to negotiate, we had begun to get enlightened about how both machines dealt with the terrain. Our second location was not totally different, but it did have a wider trail system that gave us a chance to get into the General’s engine a little bit more. Longer runs of rough terrain also helped us look deeper into the suspension of these rides. With a rainy day in the slick muddy conditions of the tightest trails to start off the testing it was sure to be a challenge for any traction, but we were happy to give these machines a work out anyway.

The Polaris General has the most power by far and on paper it’s over double the output of the 2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec. But as we were to find out big numbers can be difficult to tame on the trail. The suspension travel is not far apart, but again in the paperwork it seems to lean towards the General. This is where we started to really evaluate the differences and found some very interesting points that should get any UTV owner to rethink their machine. Often consumers get caught up in the specifications on paper, but the real-world testing is what gives us our final insight.

2017 Polaris General Deluxe Action 3

In the cab the machines are comparable, but the Polaris General does seem to have that extra comfort and detail, yet with a substantial price increase between the two machines. This was also a Deluxe edition Polaris General, so I would say it might be expected at their price. The Wolverine does keep the comfort and confidence in the race with the high back seating and tucked in feel of this machine, as well as a well laid out control center. You do sit a bit lower in the cab of the Wolverine and this can be an advantage for that “Lower center of gravity” guy on the trail when it comes to confidence.

As we made our way along the trail we noticed that the Yamaha Wolverine could use a bit more ground clearance in comparison to the Polaris General. Some larger rocks would tend to strike more often, but the Wolverine never stopped moving due to its slick welded-on skid plates. The Polaris General’s motion was swift and even though we chose our lines carefully there were plenty of rocks to keep us on our toes.

2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Action 2

Controlling the wheel of either of these machines was not an issue. The electronic power steering on both of these rigs worked well with the 2017 Yamaha Wolverine giving us a bit more feedback on the trail. This is also a regressive system that offers less assist as the speeds pick up. The EPS on our General worked well also, but seemed as if it could be tuned out just a tad for better connection between the terrain and the driver.

With a lengthy time behind the steering wheel of both machines, we found that one thing did seem to prove itself to us: in the type of terrain we typically ride the Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec seemed to perform better. The Wolverine’s throttle delivery is much smoother in the really tight stuff and even though the Polaris General’s FOX shocks are easier to adjust, it seems the Yamaha Wolverine has more adjustments for that finer tune of the suspension.

2017 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Action 1

It’s a real toss-up between these two incredibly different (both price and features) machines and I think you need to find the right ride for your terrain. It’s hard to choose between the two, but I would say that for our conditions the Wolverine has to edge out the General and with the new 2017 Yamaha Wolverine X4 in the market now that new engine may just up the game even further.

Rick Sosebee
Rick Sosebee

Whether he is in Mexico covering the Baja 1000, building ATVs for local racers, or out enjoying the trails, Rick’s passion shows in his stories. Learning to wrench his own machines from his grandfather, Rick also has an undying appreciation for the mechanics of off-road vehicles. Do not let the dirt and mud fool you, though, as Rick also has a deep love for street cars.

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