; When Yamaha introduced the
Rhino a decade ago, nobody could
have guessed how that one machine
would change the powersports market. Yamaha was probably just as surprised at its success. Fast-forward to
today and the rest of the world is surprised that Yamaha is not following
up the Rhino with a sporty machine to
compete with the likes of the RZRs,
Mavericks,Wildcats or even the new
Teryxs of the world.
What Yamaha did introduce this
year is a machine that is aimed more
at the hunter, farmer, rancher rather
than the weekend warrior. This was
pretty much the intended market for
the Rhino originally and now has competition from Honda with the two
Pioneer models and Polaris with their
extensive Ranger line. This work-first,
play-second segment is a much bigger
piece of the pie. Yamaha claims it is
more than 50 percent of the market, so
they gave us the Viking.
The Viking is sort of a unique
machine, with room for three occupants
spaced across the cab situated on separate bucket-like seats. The center passenger has a backrest that has a slight
recline, helping the situation feel somewhat roomy. It works. Even when cruising with three full-sized adults, you don’t
feel cramped. As an added bonus, both
passengers have footrests and solid
handholds to hang on to if needed.
This machine is powered by a version of Yamaha’s proven 686cc,
SOHC, liquid-cooled, four-stroke
engine that is also used in the Raptor,
Grizzly and Rhino. For the Viking,
they gave it a 10.0:1 piston, fuel injection and the newly calibrated
Ultramatic clutch system (with high
and low range) to efficiently move the
1342-pound machine and give it a
600-pound payload capacity and
1500-pound tow rating. Those numbers show that this machine is a
workhorse under the aggressive-looking bodywork. It has a huge steel
dump bed, a 2-inch receiver hitch
and a wheelbase of 84.1 inches.
The Viking is no slouch on the
trails. It’s quick and fun to drive. Top
speed is limited at just over 50 mph.
Power is exciting enough to offer a
thrill, but not overwhelming or racy.
This is not a farm machine meant for
chores only. On the right trails, you
can have a blast behind the wheel or
in either passenger seat of the Viking.
We tested both power-steering and
non-power-steering versions and
liked them both. Without EPS, you
have more steering-wheel feel, but
it’s not heavy or tiring after long dis-
tances. Also, steering effort between
two- and four-wheel drive was not
noticeable. In fact, we wonder why
Yamaha doesn’t just make this
machine four-wheel drive all the
time. With EPS, steering is ultra light
and nearly effortless, although the
steering is not as quick lock to lock as
the Rhino was.
Yamaha did a good job reducing
cabin noise versus the old Rhino. To
do this, they placed the engine
behind the center passenger and
mounted the air intake under the
hood. Drivetrain noise is also much
quieter than the Rhino.
Hydraulic disc brakes are found on
all four corners, as are 25-inch
Yamaha-designed Maxxis Big Horn
At over 61 inches wide, you’re not
going to take the Viking where you
could go with a Rhino. It can tackle
rough or smooth terrain well thanks to
good clutch tuning, four-wheel drive
with diff-lock, and great ergonomics.
Yamaha gave the Viking aggressive
modern styling. It has a wide stance of
61. 8 inches of overall width. It’s too big
to fit in many pickup trucks or down
Even if you can find 600 pounds of
cargo to haul in the bed of the Viking, it
can handle it. In fact, we like driving the
Viking better with some weight in the
bed. When empty, it rides a little rough.