First Look: 2014 Yamaha Viking EPS Side-by-Side

Yamaha introduced the 2014 Viking EPS Side-by-Side with three person seating last week. Although I have not driven this unit, the stats are pretty impressive.

The new Viking’s three-person pass-through bucket seating has an offset center position (set 5 degrees back) with generous shoulder room for all three occupants. There are three-point seat belts, headrests all around, and adjustable handholds for passengers.

The frame has changed notably from the Rhino, with a new engine position and wider stance. The UT should feel agile and stable on aggressive terrain. Under the hood is Yamaha’s strongest four-wheel drive engine to date — a 686cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke, SOHC, single-cylinder, 4-valve fuel-injected power plant. This proven engine has been optimized for working conditions with strong low-end torque. Quick throttle response and smooth power delivery are maintained throughout the rev-range. Yamaha says performance tests indicate the machine will hold its own with competitors’ 800cc machines.

Other nice additions include easier-to-service filters, improved engine accessibility, marine-grade electrical wiring, and a generous 9.7-gallon fuel tank.

Yamaha’s three-way On-Command system, featuring 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with differential lock, is a driver-controlled system with an automotive-type rotary dial selector. It allows the driver to choose to lock in all four wheels instead of an automated system making the decision for you. The Ultramatic transmission with high, low, and reverse CTV system with dual speed gearing has an automatic centrifugal clutch that maintains constant belt tension for reduced wear and all-wheel engine braking.

The Viking’s optional Electric Power Steering (EPS) system reads steering wheel torque, vehicle speed, On-Command setting, and negative feedback to determine the appropriate amount of assist in any given situation.

The rear steel cargo bed is large enough to carry a fully loaded pallet, and the assisted dump bed can hold up to 600 pounds of equipment and supplies. Additionally, the standard two-inch receiver hitch is rated to pull 1,500 pounds.

The chassis has nearly 12 inches of ground clearance at the lowest point, a full steel/composite smooth skid plate front to back and side to side, and an optimized frame with up-turned side rails for smoother transitions over obstacles.

Also worth noting are four-wheel disc brakes, a mechanical disc parking brake, and a fully independent suspension with long travel and gas charged shocks.

The Viking EPS and non-EPS models will be available starting this August. Standard models come in Steel Blue, Hunter Green with sun top, and Red with sun top and Realtree AP HD camo with sun top. The MSRP for non-EPS models start at $11,499; EPS models start at $12,499. A Special Edition Tactical Black model will be available in spring 2014.

Every Yamaha Viking is being manufactured exclusively in the USA at Yamaha’s factory in Newnan, Georgia, for worldwide distribution.

First Look: 2014 Yamaha Viking EPS Side-by-Side