Skip to main content

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000

Yamaha lets its 2021 crossover UTV out of the cage.

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000

The all-new Wolverine RMAX2 1000 and RMAX4 1000 models are stout, powerful, and the most off-road capable recreational side-by-sides on the market today. (Photo courtesy of Yamaha) 

From the pages of Wheels Afield

Side-by-side recreational vehicles are typically designed for one of two things: hauling stuff or hauling ass. Once known as utility trail vehicles, or UTVs, the oversized, cab-fitted four-wheelers were good for plodding down trails at a mule’s pace and packing the bed full of hunting gear and dead deer. Then along came the sport-class, which was more akin to a hopped-up go-kart with a suspension capable of taking on the Baja 1000. Still, there was never quite a happy compromise between the two: a side-by-side vehicle that could perform double-duty as a capable hunting rig and a fun, fast trail ride.

In recent years, Yamaha has done a better job than most manufacturers of bridging that gap with their recreational class of side-by-sides that fall under the Wolverine series. I got my first experience with them on a hunt for whitetail deer in Texas a couple years back. I was handed the keys to a 2020 Yamaha Wolverine X4 and given free range of the trails and roads that crisscrossed the rough and tumble country typical of southwest Texas. The 847cc twin-cylinder engine provided plenty of oomph to kick up dust on the straight tracks, while on-demand 4-wheel drive, including differential lock, got me through a few sticky water crossings. I was thoroughly impressed, although the one thing the four-seat X4 lacked was a bed to haul out my Texas trophy. (The X2 trades the backseat for a short bed that would just fit a Texas-sized whitetail.)

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000
The design of the RMAX 1000 offers great suspension travel and 30-inch rubber for added trail capabilities. (Photo courtesy of Yamaha)

Flipping the calendar a year into the future finds Yamaha giving the series a serious upgrade, adding more power and stellar performance with the new Wolverine RMAX 1000 side-by-sides. As the name suggests, the RMAX2 is a two-seat design with a short utility bed, and Yamaha also offers an RMAX4 with two-row seating, with a backseat that folds down for limited storage options.

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000
The interior of this machine is more suited to an on-road vehicle rather than an off-road utility machine. (Photo courtesy of Yamaha)

Continuing with the cabin of the RMAX 1000 series, passengers will find a ride experience that rivals, if not exceeds, budget-class automobiles. Instead of hard plastic, many of the areas where a rider may contact the machine are padded, including knee-knockers, an adjustable Jesus handle in front of the passengers, and the otherwise elbow-bumping console. The seats are comfortable, and with the XT-R option, color-matched to the exterior. Six-position safety belts comfortably secure all sizes of riders. Three-piece doors offer easier access to the interior, even while wearing heavy boots. Controls and display are car-like, too, with an over-molded, tilt-adjustable steering wheel and blue LED-backlit switches and gauges.

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000
The RMAX 1000 lineup answers the call to what off-road enthusiasts have been demanding: extreme performance, capability, versatility, and durability. (Photo courtesy of Yamaha)

At 64 inches wide, the Wolverine RMAX is trail-capable and features steel skid plates throughout to slide over most obstacles without fear of damage to the undercarriage. Yamaha did fit a durable plastic skid plate upfront that is easily replaceable should the increased ground clearance provided by the on-the-fly tunable Fox 2.0 QS3 suspension and 30-inch Maxxis Carnage tires fail to clear anything. (Note: The four-seater RMAX4 has 29-inch rubber.)

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000
 The Fox 2.0 QS3 shocks allow adjustability while in the field to make sure your ride is perfect. (Photo courtesy of Yamaha)

The tough, tube frame is double-covered against pitting and corrosions thanks to a two-stage process that finishes with a durable powder coat. Welded-on wheel protectors protect the tires out back, and an aggressive front bumper is fitted with a Warn VRX 4,500-pound winch, proving the RMAX 1000 series is a real workhorse that’s ready for anything. Hunters and other load haulers will really appreciate the RMAX2’s cargo area. Though not oversized, it does boast a 600-pound capacity and piston-assist tilting bed to make dumping a deer, seed, wood, and other loads easy. Both machines also have a 2,000-pound towing capacity and come standard with a two-inch receiver.

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000
The front end is fitted with a WARN winch to get you out of those sticky situations. (Photo courtesy of Yamaha)

You might think all the features I’ve listed leans the RMAX 1000 series toward the working side of the sport-utility class, but it’s not named a Wolverine for nothing. The real beast lies under the proverbial hood, with an eye-popping, G-inducing 999cc DOHC, eight-valve, parallel-twin engine that redlines at 8,500 rpm. Switching the chip-controlled throttle into the Sport Mode custom drive and mashing the pedal pushes the passengers back into their seats and will likely induce a nervous giggle from all but the most seasoned off-road pros. Other drive modes include Trail, with controlled acceleration and full engine braking to master serious downhills, and Crawl, which allows for a more moderate throttle response and smoother acceleration to safely take on technical trail hazards. And, of course, there’s a brother-in-law governor, known under the corporate-friendly moniker “Speed Management System,” that keeps the top speed below 25 mph.

With any side-by-side, belt failure can put a halt to the fun, and it’s usually the weakest link in an otherwise robust powertrain. Yamaha has worked to strengthen that link by designing a reliable Ultramatic transmission system that, according to the company “accommodates the increase in power and maintains constant belt-tension while idling or engaged in high-rpm and high-torque situations.” In layman’s terms, that means the belt won’t fail, and Yamaha backs up that claim with an unheard-of 10-year warranty on their belts.

A New Species of Beast: Wolverine RMAX 1000
MSRP: Starting at $21,999 | (Photo courtesy of Yamaha)

This article was first featured in Wheels Afield, a magazine dedicated to the adventure lifestyle. Hunters and anglers are the original overlanders, and Wheels Afield caters to outdoor enthusiasts who adventure to the back of beyond for their sporting pursuits. It’s packed full of truck, ATV and SUV reviews, ultimate off-road builds and compelling, photo-heavy journals from all corners of the globe. Click here to visit the OSG Newsstand to pick up your copy today.


Current Magazine Cover

Don't Miss

The Essentials Gear Box.

Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.

Learn More

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

Cedar Break Bucks

David Draper is with Dory Schoby talking about the benefits of using red dots for hunting and taking a look at the Aimpoint Micro H2.

Aimpoint Red Dots for Hunting

David Draper is with Nathan Robinson of Winchester talking about the 6.8 Western Cartridge. It offers impressive long-range accuracy, low recoil and staggering knockdown power when you need it for both long-range shooting and hunting.

Winchester 6.8 Western

Joe Ferronato is joined by Luke Thorkildsen from Weather by to check out the Backcountry 2.0, which builds on the classic steel Mark V action — with some key updates.

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0

Nosler has some exciting new products. Mason Payer of Nosler shows our own Joe Ferronato new suppressors, 21 Chassis Rifle and Trophy Grade Ammunition.

New from Nosler!

Shawn Skipper of Leupold explains their Custom Dial System to Petersen's Hunting's Joe Ferronato.

Leupold CDS

Kevin Steele gets a chance to test this impressive rifle at Roundtable 2022.

CZ 600 Range

Petersen's Hunting's Dale Evans is with CJ Johnson of Bushnell checking out their new Elite 4X.

Bushnell Elite 4500 4X Scope

Tim Herald shares tips on how to best use a ground blind.

Trijicon Tip: Ground Blinds

Petersen's Hunting Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Petersen's Hunting stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now