2004 Yamaha Rhino 660 ATV
Yamaha Rhino 660
Exactly what do we want and need from an All Terrain Vehicle? Versatility, the ability to go where we want, do anything work related that we may need to accomplish and have the most impressive and reliable machine available. That�s not asking too much, or is it? Until recently, I would have had to rethink that question. That is until I was invited to test drive the new Yamaha Rhino, a new side by side utility cargo unit with a true sporty style and all the necessities. What necessities? Well, how about the standard Yamaha reliability, push button four-wheel drive, comfort, impressive power and a serious off-road attitude.
The past few years have been great for the entire industry, but maybe exceptional for Yamaha. The manufacturer has developed an engine design with a five valve head configuration. Three medium size intake valves and two large exhaust valves. This winning design has been the basis for several of Yamaha�s newest models including the Grizzly, Rhino, Raptor and the YFZ 450. Yamaha engineers keep using the design for several reasons; function, dependability, quick revving power and excellent response. Also, they have produced one basic engine design that can be put together to perform at many different performance levels.
The Rhino is unique. Yamaha started with the same power-plant and drive-train from the all-ready proven automatic Grizzly 660 4×4 and then spun the entire engine/transmission around and mounted it backwards. This initially gave a better mounting position due to the height of the engines cylinder-head, and more importantly lowered the vehicle�s center of gravity. Easy maintenance is another benefit to the engines position, checking and changing engine fluids could not be easier. Also, incorporated into the Rhino is the Grizzly�s drive-train. The borrowed technology includes the same front and rear differentials including the in and out four-wheel drive with the true front locking differential which makes the Grizzly so versatile. Yamaha seems to have put together a true winning combination with the Rhino, not only have they produced what could be the next level in side by side cargo utility vehicles but they have also found a way to cut production costs. Using the same engine/drive-train as the Grizzly enables Yamaha to keep cost production costs down. That in turn allows Yamaha to place more expensive features on the Rhino and still keep the list price of ,500 US.
Let’s talk about why anyone would purchase a Rhino, how about the ability to travel with all your gear, do so safely and with the option of comfortably taking along a friend. When I say comfort believe me, I have never sat in an operators seat that felt more comfortable than in the new Yamaha Rhino. The ergonomics could not be better; the automotive style seating puts the driver in a relaxed position with the steering and shifting controls in a natural position. The gas and brake pedal are placed perfectly allowing plenty of leg room. The soft seating is enhanced by great personal restraints that include two safe places for the passenger to hang on, one to the right forefront and one over the passenger�s left shoulder. The unit is a bit larger than your typical ATV, coming in at 113.5 inches in length, 54.5 inches wide, and 72.9 high. Most of the other side by side cargo utilities are even wider, but the Rhino does not seem hampered by trail width. We tested the unit on the same trails in which other conventional ATVs traveled and never came across any restrictions due to width. The Rhino is a solid unit with no rattling or unusual sounds, hunters will love this side by side! The Rhino is definitely smaller than most other side by side units, and with a smaller size comes less cargo capacity. The Rhino only has a bed capacity of 400lbs. not that bad for a smaller unit, however it is one of the lowest cargo allowances of any side by side. The Rhino has a dry weight of only 1,049lbs and a towing capacity of over 1,200lbs. The steel reinforced lifting cargo bed resists dents, is light weight and uses a pick-up style tailgate. Towing is made simple with the use of an industry standard 2 in. pick-up style tow-hitch.
The Rhino uses a fully independent suspension, which is no surprise. The Grizzly has an independent suspension, why should the Rhino be any different or better for that matter. Well, the Rhino is the first independent suspension that really works! Other independent suspensions work ok, but the combination of a longer frame and correctly designed sway-bar make for a true independent ride. I would go so far as to say the Rhino has the best working independent suspension I have yet tested! Yes, the independent wheel travel supplied great traction by keeping each wheel on the ground. Uneven terrain put the Rhino at its best. I enjoyed the traction and the stability. The combination of the frame design, independent suspension, engine/transmission position and great working sway-bars make the Rhino absolutely the best independent suspension I�ve tested to date! Couple that with 12 inches of ground clearance and you have a HumVee type vehicle with versatility and a sporty style. The next function we should talk about is the Rhino�s power and acceleration. Just think about crawling into a sleek comfortable cockpit with everything in easy reach, you strap-in, make sure the unit is locked into four-wheel drive and hit the gas. The acceleration would definitely surprise anyone! Wow, the unit just takes off! The operator feels like they are in a performance race vehicle.
In the first few seconds the operator will experience the impressive acceleration, superior rack and pinion steering, and enjoy the benefits of extreme braking! Describing a first ride in the new Rhino is hard but the first few seconds of really getting on the gas while driving down tight trails will give new meaning to the word responsive! The Rhino uses dual hydraulic disc brakes with a twin piston caliper front and a driveshaft mounted hydraulic disk rear. In the driver�s cockpit there is a unique self adjusting emergency brake, the small lift knob of the E-brake is a good example of function without bulk.
Function and fun reach new levels with this new side by side cargo unit. Every function of the Rhino worked well, the unit is capable of extreme rock crawling with its ample ground clearance and full length skid plate or just creeping along a field edge. I really can�t find much to complain about but if there was one thing I would like to see changed, it would be for Yamaha to turn the optional Grizzly style digital dash mounted display into standard equipment on the Rhino. Yamaha should be saving enough on production costs to at the very least give the purchaser a top of the line digital display. Besides that, nice job Yamaha, I can�t wait to get one of these here in the Northeast for an extended test!