When price is a bigger priority than horsepower but you still want features like independent rear suspension, an automatic transmission and fuel injection, there are plenty of options. Hondas Rancher line has been the best selling ATV in this category for years. For that same time frame, Yamaha has held the top spot for large bore machines with the Grizzly 700 and more recently with the Kodiak 700. Now they want to capture the mid class buyer and to do so have introduced an all new 2018 Yamaha Kodiak 450.
Starting at right under six grand ($5,999) the base model Kodiak is priced $400 lower than the Hondas base Rancher 4X4 which has a manual shift transmission and straight axle rear suspension. This Kodiak is $1,400 less than Hondas Rancher that does include IRS and an automatic transmission. Add EPS to both machines and the Yamaha is still $1,300 less than the 2017 Honda Rancher.
Powering the smaller Kodiak is a single over head cam, 2 valve, liquid cooled, four stroke with 421cc. This is the same, torquey engine that formerly powered the Grizzly and Kodiak 450’s a coupe years back and was proven pretty bullet proof. The motor under the 2018 Kodiak 450 is fuel injected and the gas tank is mounted in the traditional spot not toward the rear of machine like on the bigger Kodiak and Grizzly. Storage is provided under the seat which can just be popped off and on for easy access. The battery and air filter are also under there and the filter can be removed without tools. Power is transferred out to the tires using Yamaha’s great CVT transmission. The machine does not have a front differential lock option. Other than color choices, the options you can choose is to get it with or without EPS.
To attract buyers to this bear, Yamaha has added a couple new colors on the aggressive bodywork and several new features. Those colors are called Armor Grey, Fall Beige, which has Realtree camo accents plus green, and red. New to this machine is an easy to read digital display and pre installed wiring for a winch you may install in the future. Plus the holes are pre drilled in the frame to mount any winch plate. The real improvements are in the suspension and handling departments. The A-arms have been widened one and half inches on each side and are now equipped with nitrogen charged, oil dampened, 5-way preload adjustable shocks. This improvement also allowed Yamaha to switch from a 2-ply tire to a stronger, 4-ply tire from CST. Yamaha built a new engine cradle to reduce vibration. The footwells have been increased in size, and the gate shifter has been moved higher up on the left fender. Plus you do not have to put your foot on the brake anymore to shift between gears.
Yamaha still gave the 2018 Kodiak 450 a much smaller chassis when compared to their two 700’s. In fact, its actually slightly smaller than the 2017 Honda Rancher 420. Overall the measurements read 80.1” long , 46.6 inches wide and 45.7 inches tall with a seat hight of 33.6 inches and a 650 pound curb weight. So the machine is not just a large chassis with a small motor like what Yamaha did with the Grizzly 550 a few years back and some manufacturers still do today.
Dual A-arms are found on all four corners. with preload adjustable shocks featuring 6.7 inches of travel in the front and 7.4 inches in the rear. Twenty five inch, 4-ply, CST tires help provide 9.6 inches of ground clearance. Braking is provided by dual hydraulic discs up front and a single multi plate disc set up in the rear. Wet brake systems in the rear have the same performance as a drum but are virtually maintenance free. Plus the unit is completely sealed, so there is no chance of water getting into the system and freezing up like you find with drum systems. Finally, much to our liking, separate hand levers are provided to operate the front and rear brakes and a foot peddle that operates the rear only.
We expect that the majority of 2018 Kodiak 450’s sold will primarily be used for work on ranches and farms or even small job sites and for that the machine will be a great investment. For under 6K, the Kodiak can handle large loads on the racks of over 250 pounds, and tow a respectable 1322 more after you add a tow ball. You can also easily add a Yamaha Genuine Accessories winch quickly and dress the rest any way you need. After that, the Kodiak should give years of trouble free use.
RIDE IT FOR PLAY Pleasure riders will know if they need a machine this small and why. Our first test ride took place on a trail system that was barely wide enough for a full size Grizzly or Honda Rincon, Polaris Sportsman or Can-Am Outlander. So if you ride places like this you want a narrow machine that won’t clip tree stumps, rocks or other obstacles. It’s actually very fun to thread in between trees that line the trail or rocky washes that are narrow and steep. That’s a big appeal of mid sized machines for us. We actually like a machine we can man handle and control rather than a machine that controls the rider. In the tight tails of the Washington ride area, the 2018 Kodiak 450 shined. Power was smooth and quick enough to excite and stay on top of. The clutch is tuned to give low end power that allows you to creep along while still having acceleration left at mid throttle.
On the open trails, we could get the little 421cc mill up 55MPH and at that speed, the lighter, narrow ATV still feels stable and completely controllable. It's ultra comfortable when sitting or standing. The new foot wells and pegs provided a stabile platform and never felt slippery. To slow the machine down, we really appreciate that Yamaha still uses two lever braking to separate the front and rear. Not only can you give the right balance of brake pressure slowing yourself down from high speeds, in technical terrain, you can hang off one side of the quad and always have a brake to reach. Also in some steep hill situations, you need to use one brake more than the other to get down safely.
CONCLUSION For work or play, the 2018 Yamaha Kodiak can produce miles of smiles. If you are rider that needs to thread the needle at your local ride spot on a smaller, mid sized machine, that offers comfort, precise control and a great reliability record, the smaller Kodiak is the best Yamaha has and in fact it’s possibly the best from any manufacturer. On the competitive machines, we can pick out several features about them that we don’t like such as twitchy steering, funky engine braking, excessive heat coming from the engine, lack of storage etc. With the 2018 Yamaha Kodiak 450 we can’t gripe about any of that. About the only thing we can complain about is that we don’t get ride ATV’s this affordable and well made often enough.
|SPECIFICATIONS:||2018 Yamaha Kodiak 450 4x4 ATV|
|Engine Type:||421cc liquid-cooled SOHC 4-stroke; 2 valves|
|Bore x Stroke:||84.5mm x 75.0mm|
|Fuel Delivery:||Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 34mm|
|Ignition:||TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|Transmission:||Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking; H, L, N, R, P|
|Final Drive:||On-Command selectable 2WD or 4WD; shaft|
|Suspension / Front:||Independent double wishbone; 6.7-in travel|
|Suspension / Rear:||Independent double wishbone; 7.4-in travel|
|Brakes / Front:||Dual hydraulic disc|
|Brakes / Rear:||Multi-disc wet brake|
|Tires / Front:||AT25 x 8-12|
|Tires / Rear:||AT25 x 10-12|
|L x W x H:||80.1 in x 46.5 in x 45.7 in|
|Seat Height:||33.6 in|
|Turning Radius:||122.0 in|
|Maximum Ground Clearance:||9.6 in|
|Fuel Capacity:||3.7 gal|
|Wet Weight:||650 lb|
|Rack Capacity:||88 lb front / 176 lb rear|
|Towing Capacity:||1322 lb|
|Warranty:||6 Month (Limited Factory Warranty)|
|Colors:||Fall Beige w/Realtree Xtra; Armor Grey w/Aluminum Wheels; Hunter Green|