UTV TEST: 2009 Yamaha Camo Rhino 700FI; Camo side-by-side for hunters and Sportsmen

Yamaha is one of the leading makers of ATV and Side-by-Side or (UTV) vehicles in the world. They build the 700 FI sport and utility Rhinos, as well as their line of 450cc powered models. The company has helped to push the entire UTV industry towards building sportier and better handling side by sides with this stellar lineup.

We found we could plunk our way up virtually any hill with the Rhino’s CVT system and differential lock 4WD. Engine braking is also quite good, and you had complete control on steep downhill descents as well.

One of their core markets, however, has been their hunting, or camouflaged Rhinos for outdoor sportsmen. The Rhino Ducks Unlimited 700FI has been very popular with hunters, and this camo model is back in the 2009 lineup, along with a Realtree HD camouflage version. Both models have provided hunters and sportsmen with a capable trail companion for getting out to their favorite blind, deer stand, or hunting spot.

“Traditionally, the new model Rhinos were available later in the year due to production timing, and we had hunters asking for earlier delivery so they could ramp up for the fall season,” said Steve Nessl, Yamaha ATV/SxS group marketing manager. “Hunting and the outdoors are a big part of our company’s focus, and we’re extremely pleased to be able to offer the 2009 Rhino earlier this year.”

The Rhino 700 FI gained significant changes and upgrades in 2008, and it carries those features over into the new year. The 700’s engine is derived from Yamaha’s sporty Raptor 700 FI ATV. Actual displacement is 686cc, and the liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valve, four-stroke motor features fuel injection, and the quad has four wheel hydraulic disc braking, and a fully automatic, CVT-style transmission. It also comes with a new standard digital instrument panel, with battery level gauge, diagnostic and engine hour meters.
Yamaha also claims that the latest sportsman Rhino 700FI has an over-all quieter and smoother ride than their previous 2008 model. That is something every hunter can appreciate; however, we’ll be the judges of that.
While the standard Rhinos come in Hunter Green and Steel Blue, the model most hunters and outdoor sportsmen will want is the Realtree AP HD Camouflage version. This model, along with a “Ducks Unlimited” version, will come outfitted in Realtree AP camo patterns on all the plastic body panels.
The standard retail price of the Camo equipped Rhino is $11,249, with the Ducks Unlimited version selling for slightly more at $11,649. The special Ducks Unlimited models also come with a roof and Yamaha’s over-fenders. Yamaha donates a portion of each DU models sale price to the Ducks Unlimited Outdoor preservation program. Nice.
Other special edition Rhinos will be offered in Red, Black Metallic, Brushed Silver and Red Midnight Armor. MSRP for the standard Hunter Green or Steel Blue colors starts at $10,499.

There is plenty of torque available for serious hill climbing on the 686cc engine found on the latest ’09 Rhinos. With a major upgrade last year (’08) the latest Rhino has a engine very similar to the one found on the sporty Raptor 700R ATV. Top speed, however, is limited to 42 mph tops, thanks to the stock machine’s rev limiter.

To see how our Camo Rhino ran and handled, we took it up to the Kanab, Utah mountain ranges. This scenic mountain city is smack dab in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas in the western USA. It is located in southeastern Utah, bordering the Zion, Dixie and Grand Canyon National Parks. It is one of the most diverse and awesome ride areas we have ever gazed at or ridden on, with scenic vistas located virtually every place you look.
Getting started on our journey, we took off out of Kanab and headed up to the Dixie National forest. This ride spot is located a scant 20-minute drive from Kanab, Utah. Once we unloaded our vehicles, we proceeded with our guide, Tony Wright of Anasazi ATV Adventures (866) 256-7628.
Tony is a certifiable character, combining a bit of the old west, with Barnum and Bailey circus smarts. He is a true cowboy, through and through, and knows the trails around Kabab thoroughly. Tony had brought out his rugged Can-Am Outlander Max to ride and he gingerly led us on our exploration of this majestic riding area.
Also accompanying us on our test outing were Tucker Rocky’s Kristen Rettberg, and the newly crowned  ATVA motocross champ, Suzuki’s Dustin Wimmer. Dustin was there for an outing with the Tucker Rocky group, and was mounted aboard a Suzuki King Quad 450 4×4. Dustin kept the Suzuki King Quad he was riding pegged the entire time he rode with us. Whenever we glanced backwards on our Rhino, he was there, pegged wide open, within a few inches of our rear end. Never hit us, though, so the guy obviously has skills.

Before hitting the main trail at the Dixie National forest, we pulled off the dirt road and proceeded to shoot the detail photos of our 2009 Camo outfitted Rhino 700FI. A quick glance at the machine showed off the detailed outline of the Reatree AP-HD camo pattern on the bodywork. While the camo had a bit more woodsy camo pattern than the desert terrain we would be riding in, it certainly would blend in better with the eastern and northern woods we’ve ridden. But we  would not mind seeing a choice of camo patterns, including a desert terrain version, in addition to the Realtree woods camo.
The other thing we noticed right away was how quiet the engine was once we hit the turn-key starter. In 2008, the motor was upgraded from a 660 to a 686cc engine.  Moving the airbox location to under the hood in 2008, has also helped quiet things down on the latest Rhinos.
More improvements from the ’08 model include the new multi function dashboard, cup holders, and a new passenger hold point, located between the seats. Now it’s much easier for your buds to keep a handhold inside the safe confines of the machine itself.

A camo version of the hugely popular Yamaha Rhino is now available in time for most hunters to get ready for the fall/winter hunting seasons. “Hunters have asked for earlier delivery on our Rhino lineup so they could get ready for the fall season,” says Yamaha marketing manager Steve Nessl. “We listened, and now have the Rhino camo edition, and Ducks Unlimited versions, available earlier than ever.”

Once we started hitting the rolling whoops on our trail ride, we noted that the latest suspension settings help the overall handling. The Rhino’s double A-arm front and rear suspension offers up 7.3 inches of independent travel at both ends. It handles mid and larger hits with a bit softer bounce than last year’s machine. The ride was less jarring and more responsive overall.
All Rhinos now come with closeable and lockable plastic side doors. These help keep your feet safely tucked inside the vehicle at all times. The seats themselves are a bit on the hard side but comfortable, and fit a wide range of body types.
The seat belt system is easy to use, and all the controls on the Rhino are well located and easy to use as well.

With elevation changes from 4000 to 9500 feet on our ride, the Rhino 700’s fuel injection system didn’t miss a beat at these extreme elevations. Power delivery was okay, not exactly overwhelming, but there was plenty of torque, especially at these high altitudes.
With the Rhino’s built-in ignition rev limiter, our top speed, regardless of where we rode, was always right around 42 mph. Steady but not exactly fast. Even with the flat power output, the Rhino 700FI was a gas to drive. The fuel injection really helps it pull cleanly from the get go, even though there is not really a strong hit anywhere in the powerband. The steering is also very easy, and it slides and drives very predictably through corners.
Since the Rhino uses a three-position engagement system for the fully automatic CVT transmission (2WD, 4WD and a fully locked differential 4WD mode) there is very little that the Yamaha will not climb up. It works best on steep, rocky uphills and downhills, with plenty of engine torque to crawl up nasty sections of trail and good engine braking on descents. This is one of the best features of the machine, especially for sportsmen looking to assume the abilities of a mountain goat, and get out to their favorite hunting location.
Another hunter-favorite feature is the assisted dump bed on the rear of the UTV. This allows you to carry up to 400 pounds of gear or game on the back of the machine. A standard towing capacity of 1212 pounds also means that you won’t have a problem towing a trailer with this unit anywhere you want to take it.
Even though the machine weighs in at a hefty 1124 pounds dry, it does not drive or feel “heavy” on the trail. We also liked its large 7.9-gallon capacity gas tank, which provides plenty of fuel for long excursions. Also, a set of Krypton headlights and rear taillights let you run the machine at dusk and night, so you can get back to civilization from your hunting trip.
After a long day’s pounding, with the gas pedal kept firmly planted to the floorboard, we enjoyed the comfort, steady handling and ample hill climbing abilities of the 2009 Rhino 700FI. Nothing broke, fell off, or caused us any grief.

We can see why America’s hunters are going to have a strong response to this machine. It has the agility of a cheetah on the trail, with the ruggedness of a pack mule for taking your gear along with you. Even with the limited top speed,, the fuel injection system allows you to get maximum performance, regardless of the elevation you’re riding in. This is a keeper.  Price-wise, the ’09 Camo Rhino’s MSRP of $11,249 is $600 less than Kawasaki’s Camo Teryx 750 and $950 more than the Polaris RZR 800 ($10,799). Stay tuned for when we get the latest Polaris RZR, Arctic Cat Prowler, Kawasaki Teryx and Kymco UTV to compare it to.


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