Yamaha's largest Grizzly 4x4 holds a special place in the trail explorer's heart. Its popularity does not come from large a displacement; its sub-700cc SOHC sits well below the top high-performance models. When the numbers game took off, the utility ATV market saw 700s turn into 750s, 800s and a staggering 1000cc plateau. Yet, Yamaha has stood firm and focused on the necessities. The Grizzly's attraction comes from a balance of features that will continue to sell machines year in and year out, and this holds true with the release of the 2014 Grizzly 700. Yamaha could have easily slapped on some bold new graphics or different paint scheme and called it a day. Instead, they've listened to the many dealers and owners around the country and pushed hard to improve their already stout ride.
The Grizzly's 686cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC power plant is the largest mill in Yamaha's ATV and UTV arsenal. For those of you who believe bigger is always better, you should skip this paragraph and take a look at Kawasaki's Brute Force 750, the Polaris Sportsman 850 or Can-Am's 800 and 1000cc 4x4s in our ATV Buyer's Guide. If you're more of a "how you use it" type, you'll be attracted to the Grizzly 700's incredibly smooth power band - a range that was boosted on the 2014 models via a redesigned head assembly, modified piston shape that increased compression (9.1:2 to 10.0:1), improved low-end torque and noticeably increased throttle response. Even at elevations above 6,000 feet, the EFI-equipped Grizzly was quick and snappy.
Helping to bring this bump in horsepower to the wheels is Yamaha's Ultramatic automatic transmission, which has an extra centrifugal clutch built in to reduce wear and tear on the belt. Come to a stop on the Grizzly and the drive clutch stops moving, too, whereas on most CVT systems the drive clutch is always spinning and rubbing against the belt. This transmission offers some of the most natural-feeling engine braking we've tested. You can ride straight into a steep descent and feel confident in your engine braking without having to worry about a switch to engage or button to push; it engages when engine speed is lower than the wheel speed. It does this by locking onto the shaft and forcing the wheels to slow the engine. In 2WD, the rear wheels offer engine braking and in 4WD, all four wheels offer engine braking. This transmission features high and low range, reverse, neutral and park.
Four-wheel drive capabilities on the Grizzly are darn near flawless. The three-position, on-command system allows you to match the terrain by selecting 2WD, 4WD limited slip, or 4WD with full differential lock just by pushing a handlebar-mounted button. We rarely rode the Grizzly in 2WD, thanks to addition of Electronic Power Steering (EPS), and unless you're spending a lot of time rock crawling or mud bogging, the full differential lock can be labeled as an emergency-only button. This 4WD system is just that good. We still wanted to see how the diff-lock operated, so we spent some time navigating a rock garden. Yamaha not only increased steering assist in 2WD and 4WD for 2014, but also in full diff-lock! There was a time when being in shape was a necessity for riding in the gnarly, but not any more. Eat, drink and be merry!
Speaking of Yamaha's Electronic Power Steering, this is best $500 you can spend on a utility ATV upgrade, period. In fact, if we didn't have power steering, we might not have made it home from testing. We tested this machine in Big Bear's tight and windy trail system that is laden with "hidden" rocks and tree roots that could potentially eat you for lunch. On the "last run" of the day, and without a care in the world, we were stopped dead in our tracks by one of those hidden gems. The Grizzly's EPS kept the hit from breaking our thumbs, the bars stayed straight and the last run was a good one. EPS makes the Grizzly feel safe and controllable at all times, and though most of the time we didn't even notice the EPS at speed, it's definitely there when needed!
Improved Comfort & Ridiculously Tough Tires
The Grizzly platform has always served well for the aggressive, on-your-feet rider, but has never been in the same comfort class as Polaris and Can-Am. For 2014, Yamaha hooked up the new Grizzly 700 with a wider, more-stable chassis and increased the suspension stroke. They also worked with Maxxis to develop a front tire with less sidewall roll and a rear tire that breaks lose and slides better around corners. These tires also had sharp rocks running for cover - they're some of the toughest tires we have ever tested. All together, these adjustments greatly improved comfort at low speeds and made the 2014 Grizzly feel more nimble, even with its wider stance.
Braking is excellent. There are left and right handlebar controls, as well as a right-foot rear brake pedal. The left-hand brake lever controls the dual hydraulic discs in the rear while the right side slows the dual hydraulic discs up front. There isn't an emergency brake, but the transmission features a Park mode, found on the left-side shift lever, that keeps the Grizzly in place.
The Grizzly 700's rider-friendly ergonomics are matched with a plush seat, full-size floorboards, raised foot pegs and oversized fenders. There is a multi-function LCD display illuminating fuel injection and electric power steering information, as well as bar-type fuel gauge, speedometer, odometer, trip meter, clock and diff-lock indicator. On the left side of the LCD is a water-resistant DC outlet for charging your cell phone or GPS, and to ensure that you can see without effort late into the evening, the dual 35-watt multi-reflector halogen bulb headlights with high/low beams are plenty bright. There are also two onboard storage containers that are found under the seat and on the right front fender. The steel cargo racks carry a total of 286 pounds combined (99 front, 187 rear), and the Grizzly can tow more than 1,300 pounds with its center-mounted, heavy-duty trailer hitch.
For years, we've claimed that the Grizzly 700 was one of the most precise handling 4x4 on the market. For 2014, those great handling characteristics were met with an improvement in comfort and a slight bump in performance. The Grizzly 700 EPS runs for $9499 in Hunter Green, Steel Blue and Red. It's an additional $450 for the Realtree AP HD camouflage and the Special Edition, Tactical Black, EPS model runs for $10,999.
High-Performance 4x4 W/ EPS Comparison Chart
1. EPS settings are right on
2. Improved comfort and handling
3. Instant throttle response and smooth power band
4. Some of the toughest tires ever developed
5. Dual brake controls and full differential lock
6. Storage is lacking
2014 Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS 4x4
MSRP: $9499 (Green, blue, red) / $9949 (Realtree AP HD) $10,099 (Tactical Black)
Type: SOHC, 4-valve single
Bore x stroke: 102.0 x 84.0mm
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Fuel system: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Starting system: Electric
Drive system: Shaft, selectable 2x4/4x4; three-way locking differential
Transmission: CVT with high/low range, reverse, all-wheel engine braking
Front: Dual A-arms/7.6"
Rear: Dual A-arms/9.2"
Front: Maxxis AT25x8-12
Rear: Maxxis AT25x10-12
Front: Dual hydraulic discs
Rear: Dual hydraulic discs
Claimed wet weight: 648 lb
Ground clearance: 10.8"
Length/width/height: 81.3" x 46.5" x 48.8"
Seat height: 35.6"
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal
Turning radius: 126"
Rack capacity, front/rear: 99 lb / 187 lb
Towing capacity: 1322 lb
Lighting: Dual 35-watt halogen multi-reflector headlights and 21/5-watt brake light
Instrumentation: Digital LCD multifunction display of speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, hour meter, clock, fuel gauge, gear position, EPS and EFI function
Colors: Hunter Green, Red, Steel Blue, Realtree AP HD