The side-by-side revolution has arrived in the backcountry and is overwhelming. Once only utility vehicles for farmers, ranchers, and hunters, the side-by-sides have morphed into recreation utility vehicles that are lots of fun and fit where our larger vehicles can't. Some states have even legalized side-by-side on-pavement usage on 45 mph and under secondary streets! We plan on using a side-by-side to scout trails and perform utility tasks. No, we're not turning into an ATV magazine, but we would be remiss if we didn't bring you the word on these great trail machines.
Yamaha loaned us a new 2009 Rhino 700FI Sport model that comes with a reliable 668cc liquid-/oil-cooled 4-stroke fuel injected mill. The fuel injection is a major improvement as there are no more jetting issues to deal with when changing altitude. Our Rhino Sport is upgraded from the base model with fully adjustable coilover reservoir shocks, one-piece cast aluminum wheels, new injection-molded sun top, Baja front bumper, special brushed silver body panels and graphics treatment. It has a convenient dump bed when it's time to do some work around your property. The Rhino is built in Newnan, GA, USA.
There's a comfortable interior with automotive-type controls: Steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator pedal, center-mounted console shifter and parking brake lever, turn-to-start ignition switch, indicator lights, and 12-volt accessory outlet. The three-position On-Command(r) In/Out 4WD lets you switch between 2WD, limited-slip 4WD and locked-up, electric differential 4WD-all with the simple push of a button. The fully automatic Ultramatic(r) transmission with dual-range (High/Low) and reverse works great in the dunes, on the trail, or in the rocks. With a spool in the back and real electric locker up front, the Rhino can tackle the toughest trails.
The Rhino Sport features fully independent four-wheel suspension. Double wishbones front and rear deliver 7.3 inches of wheel travel and 12.1 inches of ground clearance; the coilovers have spring preload, rebound, and compression damping adjustments so you can dial in the Rhino for amazing comfort while navigating rough terrain at any speed. Four-wheel disc brakes provide superb stopping power and the parking brake is very convenient (and necessary, as there's no Park in the transmission).
We'll be letting you know how the Rhino is working for us both in the magazine and on our website. While we haven't driven it much yet, we can report that the Sport suspension works very well and the new 700cc fuel-injected engine moves the Rhino with authority. The 7.9-gallon fuel tank allows plenty of exploring. Axle-wise, the Sport is locked up and ready to go. So are we.
Type: 686cc liquid-cooled w/fan, 4-stroke; SOHC, 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 102.0 x 84.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Carburetion: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) , 41mm
Ignition: 32 Bit ECU
Starting System: Electric
Transmission: Yamaha Ultramatic(r) V-belt with all-wheel engine braking/H, L, N, RDrive Train: Yamaha On-Command(r) pushbutton;3-way locking differential; 2WD,4WD, locked 4WD; shaft drive
Suspension/Front: Independent double wishbone; 5-way preload adjustment, 7.3-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Independent double wishbone; 5-way preload adjustment, 7.3-in travel
Brakes/Front: Dual hydraulic disc, twin piston
Brakes/Rear: Dual hydraulic disc
Tires/Front: AT25x8-12 NHS
Tires/Rear: AT25x10-12 NHS
L x W x H: 113.6 x 54.4 x 73 in
Wheelbase: 75.2 in
Turning Radius: 153.5 in
Ground Clearance: 12.1 in
Fuel Capacity: 7.9 gal
Dry Weight: 1140 lb
Bed Capacity: 400 lb
Towing Capacity: 1212 lb
Instrumentation: Digital LCD Multi-function display; speedo, odo, dual trip, hour, clock, fuel, and gear position
Lighting: Dual 30W Krypton multi-reflector headlights & dual 21/5W LED brake lights