Yamaha introduced the YXZ1000R in September of 2015. The launch marked Yamaha’s entry, or some would say re-entry, into the pure sport segment of the side-by-side market. The YXZ1000R was the first side-by-side with a manual 5-speed sequential-shifting transmission as opposed to a CVT. The vehicle is powered by a 998cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline three-cylinder and produces about 112 HP. YXZ1000R also features FOX 2.5 Podium shocks and a boatload of suspension travel. (Full specs) For drivers less experienced with a manual transmission, a Rekluse clutch option is available so the clutch pedal does not have to be used.
For 2017 the base model and the SE models remain essentially the same except for some body color changes. The biggest addition for the 2017 model year is the SS variation that has paddle shifters, which avoids the need for using a clutch pedal while shifting. As is noted in the review comments, the original YXZ has more appeal to drivers with manual transmission experience. The paddle shifters should widen the appeal of the YXZ to riders with more varied driving experience.
With the importance of Yamaha’s entry into the sport segment and unique manual transmission, there are quite a few expert reviews of the YXZ1000R. Most of the reviews are based on day long test drives.
Not surprising for a high-end side-by-side, the reviews are generally very positive. Some of the key takeaways across all reviews:
- Designed for the desert rider
- Manual transmission requires more experienced driver but those drivers will really like the unique driving experience
- Shifting is smooth and precise
- Downshifting and engine braking are great for downhill runs
- Engine works better at higher RPMs and suspension is better at higher speeds
- Vehicle feels planted and has limited body roll and steering is precise
- Comfortable seating
The following are some of the key comments from individual reviews.
UTVUnderground.com – Day long test drive in dunes at Glamis.
- From the outside the YXZ isn’t the most appealing UTV on the market.
- The seating position is the best of any UTV I have driven. The seats lean back and are comfortable.
- Seats should have a 4 or 5 point harness instead of the standard 3 point seat belts
- Overall the interior is good.
- The design of the YXZ is unique – particularly the hood design which gives a different feel while driving than other UTVs.
- Rear Suspension – The lower arm is much like a trailing arm but unlike what you see on a RZR or Wildcat it also has an upper control arm which really helps the rear of the car to stay stable and planted to the ground.
- The factory setup is designed for the desert rider
- Rear wheels feel planted and there is minimized body roll. The ride may be considered stiff.
- Handled all of the riding conditions encountered.
- The torque felt great; shifting allows the driver to deliver the power where they need it and while it can be tricky to remain in the right gear, once you master it you can control the YXZ unlike any other UTV on the market.
- You really need to run it up in the RPM to get the most of it, especially in the dunes.
- The 5-speed gear box was what I was most impressed with on the YXZ. I had been expecting a very loose feeling shift and weak clutch but what I got was a real performance minded feeling of a tight shift and instantaneous engagement.
- You can’t really up the size of your tires without drastically reducing your performance.
- The Yamaha is very limited as it pertains to setting up for other types of riding, it was designed to be a pure sport desert machine.
- While it will be tricky to drive for the average Joe, for anyone with any sport or performance driving / riding experience, they will love the YXZ!
- We drove 20 plus units with over 500 miles on them and not one machine was towed in or broken at the end of the day.
Dirtrider.com – Day long test drive in dunes at Glamis. This reviewer comes from more of an off-road motorcycle background.
- There is a built in safety light that will tell you to shift when absolutely necessary.
- In 2nd gear you’ll climb the steepest dunes, 3rd gear will lug around most open trails and 4th and 5th are for blasting whoops and racing friends.
- Shifting is smooth and precise
- Gas pedal reach may be an issue for shorter riders with the stock adjustable seats.
- Downshifting with actual engine braking, gives the Yamaha a very dirt-bike-like feel
- This isn’t the best option as a family rock-crawler.
UTVDriver.com – This test drive involved the YXZ1000R SE which had Silver Metallic and Blaze Red Metallic painted exterior and interior with color matched seats, A-arms and beadlock rings.
- The exciting YXZ experience is more like riding a sport quad, but it takes much more effort than a CVT-equipped High Performance UTV.
- The Rekluse clutch prevents the YXZ from stalling when coming to a stop. It has no effect on shifting whatsoever. The Rekluse clutch is a great purchase for new drivers or those spending their time rock crawling, mud bogging or on tight woods trails.
- Top speed near 80 mph
- Brakes as good or better than anything currently on UTVs.
- The engine braking and manual transmission helped on downhills.
- The vehicle was stable and predictable.
- The shocks and suspension work better at faster speeds
- It is hard to bottom out the suspension
YXZOwners.com – These comments are a summary of a long discussion on a YXZ owners forum about the clutch and manual transmission of the YXZ.
- The consensus is that it takes more effort to drive
- The machine can handle other terrain besides dune and desert like tight trails, rocks and mud with some driver skill.
- A less experienced driver may ruin the clutch before its time.
- Many posters reported driving hundreds of miles with no clutch problem
UTVGuide.net – Day long test ride at Sand Mountain Nevada with the YXZ1000R SE
- Flimsy plastic skid plate
- Zerk fittings, properly routed wires, lines and cables, the fit and finish on this machine takes it to the head of the class from the get go.
- Very comfortable adjustable seating
- Engine sounds fantastic
- I found the YXZ to shift as easily and positively as any manual transmission I’ve ever operated.
- Engine works better at higher rpms
- Engine is smooth and strong
- Stiff suspension with factory settings but adjustments can be made.
- Feels planted and rode better at higher speeds with little body roll.
- Very good brakes
- Front locking differential worked well on technical climbing sections but the YXZ requires more skill and effort to operate in these conditions than a UTV with a CVT.
- The manual transmission is good for downhill runs. I can’t emphasize enough how much better the YXZ handles downhill runs with it’s manual transmission, it’s a huge plus.
- Shifting is a huge part of what makes the YXZ so much fun to drive and make no mistake, Yamaha’s flagship sport UTV is a seriously fun machine to operate.
Lanesplitter.jalopnik.com – Review of YXZ1000R after day long test ride in desert conditions.
- Driving in the sand with a real manual transmission adds to the experience in a special way, allowing you an entirely new level of control.
- Handled bumps really well, a very smooth suspension
- Good cornering
- Precise steering
- Attention to detail
- Some heat coming from engine and transmission when pushing it.
User Review – This is a user generated video. They take the YXZ1000R out for a short ride in a gravel parking lot.
- Doors – smooth on the outside so nothing catches
- Really like the cabin
- Really smooth shifting
- Yamaha makes best power steering – easy steering
User Video – No comments, just a video montage of theYamaha YXZ 1000R in action on various terrain.