Test Drive the Viking VI
New Viking VI
Yamaha recently introduced a new utility side-by-side: the Viking VI. I had a chance to test drive this brand new machine in Austin, Texas. The trail ride included flat pastures, hills, dirt and gravel roads, tight turns, and a path through some prickly brush. The variety of terrain was ideal for testing the capabilities of the Viking VI.
Last year Yamaha introduced the all-new Viking. (You can see me in the Viking on the left.) The Viking VI is built-off this platform. The most obvious difference is that the Viking VI carries six passengers and the Viking seats three. However, the VI isn’t just an extended version of the original model. Adjustments were made across the machine to ensure that the riding characteristics and utility functions achieved in the Viking cross over to the VI.
Built on a new frame, the Viking VI chassis features six comfortable and secure bucket seats with 3-point seat belts and headrests. Similar to the original Viking, the middle seats are reclined 5° to provide more shoulder room. I tried out almost every seat in the cab (driver, middle-front, middle-back, etc.) and was impressed with the amount of legroom in each space and how secure I felt thanks to the passenger handholds and footrests.
Complementing cab comfort is the ride itself. The extended wheelbase and all-wheel independent suspension with 8.1 inches of travel gave a smooth ride over rough terrain. The strong hydraulic disc brakes provided secure stopping power from a top speed on gravel roads to a complete stop.
The Viking VI pulls power from a 686 cc 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, 4-valve, fuel-injected engine proven on the Viking and optimized for the Viking VI. The engine gets a redesigned intake system, fuel injection, and ignition advance mapping, plus changes in the clutch specification to power up for the larger platform.
Yamaha’s Ultramatic fully automatic transmission incorporates a CVT system with centrifugal clutch, which maintains constant belt tension so there are no slamming belts or jerky transitions. The system also features a sprag clutch that engages natural-feeling engine braking, which was particularly important on the steep hills.
With 600-pounds hauling and 1,500-pounds towing capacity, the Viking VI promises to work as hard as you do. The steel cargo bed holds a full pallet and makes hauling gear easy with standard tie down hooks and one-touch tilt assist. A two-inch receiver hitch can easily tow trailers to distant fields and hard to reach pastures.
A specially designed rack and pinion layout and the electric power steering (EPS) setting provides natural assist with just the right amount of feedback. The EPS steering assist lightens the steering effort without creating a floating or inconsistent steering feel.
Big Horn tires
Reaching down to the ground are new Maxxis Big Horn tires that were designed exclusively for Yamaha and optimized specifically for the Viking VI. The aggressive tread patterns are similar to the original Viking, but the construction and pressure setting have been optimized for the VI.
For varying terrain, you can move easily from two-wheel, to four-wheel, to four-wheel drive with a fully locked front differential, simply by turning the rotary dial on the dash.
When you step into the Viking you’ll notice it’s set up with an automotive-style driver position, including dash-mounted controls, an adjustable driver seat, and a full digital display panel with speedometer, odometer, trip meters, and fuel level.
The all-new Viking VI will be available this July and comes in hunter green, red, and Realtree AP HD camo. MSRP starts at $12,799 for non-EPS and $13,799 for EPS models.
Take a spin in Yamaha’s newest side-by-side. Photos by Frank Hoppen.