2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Tactical Black Review

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
The Rhino gets a bold, military-inspired look

When Yamaha engineers first envisioned the Rhino side-by-side we wonder if they had any idea how much it would transform the industry. Just like the General Lee is to the Dukes of Hazzard, the Yamaha Rhino is to the side-by-side industry.

Over the past couple of years the Rhino has been updated with fuel injection and the engine displacement was tuned up just a few numbers and this year Yamaha offers a new look befitting the wild muscle of the Rhino.

For 2013 Yamaha has gone tactical. Tactical Black that is! The 2013 Yamaha Rhino SE Tactical Black should get the service-oriented military men and women excited as well as local law enforcement. Although this is merely a beautiful flat black color, it represents a bit more than just that. It helps show that the Rhino is not just a farm vehicle or a wild weekend racer; it’s also a machine that can also be used to protect and serve our soldiers and law-enforcement officers.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Beauty

The 2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE dressed in Tactical Black does not look like a machine to be messed with.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Roof

Anti-cinch seatbelts mean pain-free shoulders at the end of a long ride. Accessory roof and windshield offer protection from the elements.

As you slip into the driver’s seat you will notice the molded bucket seats that provide support for a long day on the trail as well as the diamond-shaped headrest located on the safety cage. Keeping you securely in the seat are three-point seatbelts, each outfitted with an anti-cinch top hook to make the jerky belt days of old just a memory. Interior comforts also include plenty of passenger handholds with a grab bar on the left lower seat that includes a webbed strap with a large handhold built in as well.

The digital dash on the 2013 Yamaha Rhino Tactical Black provides the driver or co-pilot with all of the important information. Some things that can be found here are fuel level, gear selection, 4WD status, and even a clock for those who are on a schedule with the wifey! Easily reached from the driver’s seat is the parking brake as well as the gear selector that gives you choices including High, Low, Neutral and Reverse. We also appreciated the dual cup holders located down low between the seats for that extra drink you cannot do without.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Bed Rails

Able to hold 400 pounds, the bed of the Rhino can be dumped with the assistance of a hydraulic shock. Our test unit was outfitted with accessory bed rails.

If hauling is on your list of chores you’ll appreciate the steel bed, which will carry a solid 400 pounds. This bed is rugged and built to withstand years of abuse. Yamaha’s accessory division also has a great rubber mat if you do not like to hear the junk rattling around in your trunk. To help make unloading easier, this bed will dump via a small lever on either side and with a small hydraulic shock to control the lift the stress is off of the user. If you need to carry more than the bed can hold, the Rhino 700 can also tow more than 1,200 pounds, so you shouldn’t have to go anywhere without the essentials.

Having both front and rear independent suspension has been a staple in the book of Rhino, but for this SE model the addition of Piggyback shocks adds a little more comfort to the trail ride. With a whopping 12.1 inches of ground clearance the Rhino can clear most trail debris without issue.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Action Left

Yamaha’s trusty 686cc, fuel injected, single cylinder engine should provide many years of worry-free use.

Working the machine at night or maybe just checking the fence lines in the dark? With dual 30-watt Multi-reflector Krypton headlights you’ll be able to see the trails well and with 7.9 gallons of fuel capacity you can roam the woods until dawn.

The engine of the 2013 Yamaha Rhino has not changed in a couple of years but this format seems to have worked for the machine and its intended purpose so Yamaha saw no reason to mess with it. The 686cc single cylinder engine is capped off with a four valve head at 9.2:1 compression and gets its go juice via fuel injection. Using a large radiator and oil cooler the Rhino should keep its cool during most any circumstances. The power from the heart of the Rhino is delivered through the Ultramatic belt drive transmission easily to the ground under the Maxxis tires.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Bumper

Our test unit came with this rugged Front Grab Bar Guard for added protection.

A few other details that may be well known but are worth the mention are the roto-molded doors that keep debris out and your feet or legs in the vehicle and safe. The rack and pinion steering makes turning the Yamaha Rhino a breeze and it doesn’t take an entire acre to get the machine turned around. This will be important to the end user working in tight quarters. Also of note, at only 1199 pounds the Rhino is on the skinny list of current similar SXS vehicles. This is important when hauling the Yamaha Rhino to and from the ranch or out for patrols in the great wide open. Helping set the SE model apart are the really sporty looking cast aluminum wheels.

We’ve spent plenty of time in the Rhino in recent years, but Yamaha recently invited a few of us lowly journalists out to Prescott Arizona in simulated tactical situations. We took the Rhino out through rocky hilly trails and searched out targets to engage. Using the bed of the Rhino as cover we had the pleasure of taking targets at over 100 yards.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Targeting

Using the bed of the Rhino for cover, we did out best to pick off targets. Yet another use for the Rhino!

Traversing the rough landscape allowed us to see once again the mild power of the single cylinder machine. Getting on the gas pulled us out of anything we could find and the stability of the machine is a definite bright spot. As we traveled around the 2,000-acre ride site we had to use our On-Command push button differential a couple of times as the recent rain had made some of the trails a little slick. This easy-to-use feature will keep many unsuspecting adventurers moving forward when the trails get tough. The all-wheel engine braking is also helpful in keeping you under control on steeper descents.

Though the shocks included on the Tactical Black Rhino handled the terrain well, with only 7.3 inches of front and rear travel it was easy to locate the bottom of the spectrum.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Action Cornering

Though we’d like to see a little more travel in the shocks, the Rhino 700 SE is impressively stable in the corners.

We may have been riding some rough trails, the seats in the Rhino kept us comfortable. We’d personally like to thank the inventor of the anti-cinch belts as our shoulders were spared much abuse because of this little addition.

If you step back and look at the 2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Tactical Black model you will see a sleek and proven machine that will serve its purpose for many years to come. We have many friends who own Rhinos and most wouldn’t trade it for anything. That proves to us that the Yamaha Rhino is here to stay and we tip our collective hat to Yamaha for bringing the Tactical Black Special Edition to market as it is sure to be a hit with many.

2013 Yamaha Rhino 700 SE Action Front Right

Whether it’s used for military drills or a leisurely trail ride, the Yamaha Rhino is up to the task.

Related Reading

2009 Yamaha Rhino 700 FI Sport Edition Review

2008 Yamaha Rhino 450 4×4 Review

2008 Yamaha Rhino 700 FI Review

2010 Kawasaki Teryx 750 FI 4×4 Review

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.

More by Rick Sosebee