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ATV Review: Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI Auto 4x4 EPS

http://ak.c.ooyala.com/t4bG8wYzrKGpcnE_3yDfPWqe2RTMns07/Ut_HKthATH4eww8X4xMDoxOjA4MTsiGN

2012 Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI Auto 4x4 EPS
MSRP: $9,499 – Hunter Green; $9,749 – Steel Blue; and $9,949 – Real Tree HD Camo

Back in the summer of 2006, I was one of the first people in the world to ride the completely redesigned 2007 Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI Auto 4x4 EPS. I logged several hundred miles in the mountains of Montana aboard that Grizzly and instantly fell in love with it. At that point, Yamaha was the first manufacturer to successfully integrate electric power steering (EPS) into an ATV, and it elevated the Grizzly into a category all by itself. Over the next few years, the rest of the manufacturers eventually caught up, incorporating their own version of EPS.

The 2012 Grizzly remains largely unchanged, with some small enhancements along the way. The biggest and most important difference between the ’07 and ’12 Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI Auto 4x4 EPS is the fact that all the new Grizzlies, and nearly all other Yamaha ATV’s and Side-by-Sides, are now assembled right here in the U.S. at Yamaha’s Newnan, Ga. facility.  

I spent the last two months riding my 2012 Yamaha Grizzly 700 demo, logging several hundred miles on the trails, as well as using it as the primary tow rig to test several off-road ATV trailers. I was impressed the first time I rode an EPS equipped Grizzly six years ago, and the ’12 model left me just as satisfied. Featuring a compact chassis, powerful and efficient engine, impressive handling, and a solid reputation for reliability, the new Yamaha Grizzly 700 is a comfortable ride that remains a front runner in the big bore 4x4 utility market.

Engine/Transmission/Drivetrain

Performance:

The Grizzly had enough power to float its front end over obstacles, yet was tame enough to negotiate a drama-free crawl through gnarly rock gardens and slippery canyons. Cold weather starting is effortless and the fuel injection did a nice job of compensating for atmospheric conditions and altitude changes. Besides a clunky shifter that required the rear brake be held in before shifting, the Ultramatic transmission worked flawlessly. The transmission incorporates a very effective and natural feeling engine brake that utilizes the engine’s natural compression to help slow the machine down. Yamaha employs a unique 4x4 switch that made both four wheel drive and differential lock actuation very easy to engage and disengage.

Hits:
- Engine is smooth, powerful and incredibly reliable.
- Ultramatic Transmission is smooth and operates very quietly.
- Uniquely designed four-wheel drive and differential lock switch.

Misses:
- The gear selector is notchy and requires the rear brake to be engaged before shifting. 

Key Features:
- Powerful Engine: The 686cc liquid-cooled single overhead cam four-stroke engine provides plenty of smooth, linear power.  The reliability of this engine is legendary.
- Fuel Injection: Provides effortless starts despite the temperature, altitude, or atmospheric conditions.
- Ultramatic Transmission: Yamaha’s Continuously Variable Transmission features Park, Low, Neutral, and High gear.
- On Command 4WD: Selectable two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and four-wheel differential lock provides the traction to crawl through, over, or around nearly any obstacle.

Chassis/Suspension

Performance:

Because of the added level of safety EPS delivers, I wouldn’t personally purchase a new ATV without it. Encountering rocks, ruts, roots and other hidden obstacles on the trail with our EPS equipped Grizzly was confidence inspiring. Those obstacles, which could very easily have ripped the handlebars out of the hands of a pilot on a non-EPS equipped machine, are conquered effortlessly.  In slippery situations where differential lock is required, the EPS also helps control handlebar feedback as the tires claw for traction.

The Grizzly is fairly tall and narrow — the Grizzly exhibits some body roll in the tight corners when pushed to its limits, even with a rear stabilizer bar. I am a fan of separate front and rear brakes like those found on the Grizzly. This is especially important on an ATV that will likely be used for both work and play. Yamaha is one of the few manufacturers that actually mount a rear disc brake on both rear wheels, rather than just a driveline brake on the rear driveshaft. This not only provides more braking power, it also prevents unnecessary brake chatter that is often felt through the rear driveline on a machine equipped with only a single rear disc.

Hits:
- EPS is phenomenal.
- Separate front and rear brake levers give experienced riders the choice the use the brakes separately. This is advantageous, especially in very technical riding situations.

Misses:
- EPS only functions when the ATV is in motion.  Other manufacturers provide power assist when stationary. This is helpful with a heavy load on the front rack or with a snowplow mounted on the Grizzly.

Key Features:
- Electric Power Steering (EPS): steering effort is greatly reduced, especially when in four-wheel drive. Bump steer is also virtually eliminated, increasing the safety factor when operating in rough terrain.
- Four Wheel Independent Suspension: helps to deliver a smooth ride and excellent traction.
- Four Wheel Hydraulic Disc Brakes: provides excellent stopping power. Separate front and rear brakes can be operating independently of one another. 
- 11.8 inches of ground clearance: allows the Grizzly to be driven over obstacles, rather than into them.

Ergonomics

Performance:

The Grizzly 700 has one of the most comfortable seats in the industry. Plastic racks look nice, but steel racks made out of round bar make securing odd types of cargo easier. A set of Ogio Honcho rack bags have been secured to the Grizzly since the day I brought it home. Those bags gave me the ability to haul all types of cargo on the Grizzly that I could have never done before.

The handlebars look like miniature “ape-hanger” bars and on first impression, gave me the sense that they were too tall.  However, as with many things, looks are deceiving. The bars actually feel very natural and give the rider an unimpeded view of the gauge pod located on the hood in front of the handlebars.

Hits:
- Steel racks make securing all types of cargo simple.
- Very comfortable seat.
- The Grizzly is easy to move around on, allowing it to be ridden aggressively.

Misses:
- Accessing the airbox requires a Phillips screwdriver to remove the plastic cowl covering it. 

Key Features:
- Comfortable Seat:  a super soft seat cushion makes long days on a rough trail bearable.
- Tubular steel racks:  provides a great place to easily tie down all types of cargo.
- New Oil Access Cover:  Makes checking the oil easier than previous models.
- Digital gauge pod: easy to see and read, thanks in part to handlebars with an open center that doesn’t impede viewing.

Fit/Finish

Key Features:

- Textured Fenders: Designed to help prevent scratches on the plastic body panels.
- Easy access battery and electronics: located at the front of the ATV under a plastic hood, the battery and marine grade electronic connectors are accessible without any tools.
- New Maxxis Tires: The tires are lightweight, have impressive traction, and have withstood a beating without suffering a flat.

Hits:
- Maxxis tires performed impressively.
- Real Tree HD Camouflage pattern looks great.
- Body panels fit perfectly and have no sharp edges to snag pants or jerseys.
- Winch hookup is simplified because the battery and all the electronics are mounted under the front hood.

Misses:
- A hitch ball can be mounted, but the Grizzly doesn’t accept a 2-inch receiver.
- There are two small storage boxes, but neither is large enough to store a portable air compressor.

Final Thoughts
In a society where bigger often equates to better, the Yamaha Grizzly 700 goes against the norm.  While several competitors have outfitted their premiere big-bore models with engines that are as much as 300cc larger, those same machines weigh 150 pounds more than the Grizzly. Light weight with a compact chassis, potent 686cc engine, and slick handling, the Grizzly relies largely on finesse to accomplish the same job.

A Grizzly 700 equipped with EPS starts at $9,499, which is one of the least expensive EPS equipped big-bore 4x4’s on the market. The Grizzly 700 is also assembled right here in the USA. So, laying out almost ten grand on a new ATV might be an easier choice knowing that your new ride may very well have been built by a neighbor, friend or relative.  If you’re looking for an exceptionally balanced ATV that can negotiate the harshest terrain while still providing years of trouble-free service, the 2012 Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI Auto 4x4 EPS deserves a solid look.

Specifications

Engine
Type: 686cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled single; SOHC, 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 102.0mm x 84.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Ignition: 32-Bit ECU
Starting System: Electric
Transmission: Yamaha Ultramatic® V-belt with all-wheel engine braking/H, L, N, R, P
Drive Train: Yamaha On-Command® pushbutton; 3-way locking differential; 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD; shaft drive

Chassis
Suspension / Front: Independent double wishbone; 5-way preload adjustment, 7.1-in travel
Suspension / Rear: Independent double wishbone; 5-way preload adjustment, 9.5-in travel
Brakes / Front: Dual hydraulic disc
Brakes / Rear: Dual hydraulic disc
Tires / Front: AT25 x 8-12 w/aluminum wheels
Tires / Rear: AT25 x 10-12 w/aluminum wheels

Dimensions
L x W x H: 81.3 x 46.5 x 48.8 in
Seat Height: 35.6 in
Wheelbase: 49.2 in
Turning Radius: 126 in
Ground Clearance: 11.8 in
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gal
Wet Weight: 648 lb
Rack Capacity: 99 lb Fr./187 lb Rr.
Towing Capacity: 1322 lb

Other
Instrumentation: Digital LCD multifunction display: speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeter, hour meter, clock, fuel gauge, gear position, EPS and EFI function
Lighting: Dual 35W Halogen multireflector headlights & 21W/5W brakelight
Warranty: 6 Month (Limited Factory Warranty)
Type: 686cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled single; SOHC, 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 102.0mm x 84.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Ignition: 32-Bit ECU
Starting System: Electric
Transmission: Yamaha Ultramatic® V-belt with all-wheel engine braking/H, L, N, R, P
Drive Train: Yamaha On-Command® pushbutton; 3-way locking differential; 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD; shaft drive

 

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