Let's face it, finding extra money in the budget for our toys got a lot harder in the past year. By no means does this mean we will go without (I believe in some circles they call this an addiction), but it does mean that we are going to research our purchases better and make them do more for us. Here is our story...
I would love to have a compact tractor to clear snow in the winter and cultivate food plots in the summer. I would also love to have a snowmobile for riding thru the snow in the winter with friends. It would be great to have one of the many sport ATVs on the market for when we hit the trails, and a sweet 4x4 machine for the radical trails that we occasionally traverse as well. A guy can dream, can't he? More than likely, most of it will remain a dream because neither the budget, nor the wife will approve of that wish list. Taking into account all of the different vehicles on the list, we were able to combine the best traits of each into one economical way to quench our thirst. It was deemed that the Grizzly 550 4x4 with EPS both fit into the allotted budget and was capable of meeting our long list of "wants." It was time to go to work.
Off To Work We Go
If you want to increase your chances at a big buck in the fall, put in a food plot in the spring. For this task, the Grizzly would have to be our tractor, pulling a disc and packer to work up the soil and create a smooth seed bed. Although the Grizzly 550 FI 4x4 looks nearly identical to its big brother, the Grizzly 700, the engine is all new and was developed to supply all of the amazing features of the Grizzly 700, yet with a milder but still torquey power delivery. Always a stickler for details and fine-tuning, Yamaha made sure the crank balance was optimized for the smaller piston, and an all new cylinder head was developed with a ceramic composite plated cylinder to help maintain the low end power. The Grizzly 550FI also comes with Yamaha Fuel Injection for consistent fuel delivery regardless of elevation, temperature or task at hand.
To maximize efficiency in getting the 550's power to the ground, the Grizzly utilizes Yamaha's Ultramatic CVT transmission, which is a "put-it-in-gear-and-go" system. A one-way sprag clutch gives the Grizzly its natural-feeling engine braking system, and the centrifugal clutch allows for smooth shifting throughout the entire gear range. Pulling any sod-busting implement and plowing snow means engaging 4wd, and a sliding, thumb switch gets the front wheels clawing at the ground. Transition between two- and four-wheel drive is quiet, effortless and almost instantaneous. Switching into diff lock is just as simple, but designed in such a way that it can only be engaged when the Grizzly is in four-wheel drive. Also, thanks to the EPS, steering with diff lock engaged is not nearly as difficult as it is in models without power steering. Although switching into 4wd can be done on the fly, never engage 4wd when the wheels are already spinning wildly, or when you're pulling a heavy load like we were. We also changed out the stock Yamaha tires for a more aggressive set of Dunlop tires and ITP wheels which grabbed better traction when turning over soil or plowing snow.
Being able to switch immediately to four-wheel drive was very handy when we found the terrain changing with every turn of the trail, or for those steep, muddy, or very rocky sections. With 11.8 inches of ground clearance, the Grizzly 550 also clears nearly every obstacle on the trails, including ones you expect to hit but somehow pass over without the usual metal / plastic on rock grinding sound. We also like how the Electronic Power Steering works almost like a steering dampener and takes the impact from trail side rocks, eliminating kickback of the bars into your hands. Also, storage is extremely important on any utility ATV, and the Grizzly 550FI comes complete with two, water-tight storage areas. One is located in the right, front fender while the other compartment is hidden just under the ample seat. Along with its storage compartments, the durable steel racks can carry 99 pounds of gear on the front, and 187pounds at the rear. In addition, there are many aftermarket accessories available to get the job done.
Long Term Impression
Three items stand out in our minds on our "Jack of all Trades" Grizzly. First, is the gate-style, gear selection slot. While the shifting action is pretty much identical to that of the past, the gear selection knob now follows the gated slot. This makes it super simple to use, so easy in fact, a 3 year old could do it. (Please don't let one try!) The next item is the fuel injection. The engine fires right up and runs smoothly with good throttle response and a light throttle pull. I'll gladly state that I hope to not deal with a carburetor again for a very long time. The last item that stands out in our minds is the power-steering.
While we feel that there may be a few other versions of power steering on the market that work differently, this is an option that we don't want to be without on a 4x4 when doing any work, or when carrying a load on the front end. With two fingers, you can turn the handlebars and it makes life great, even if you have a heavy snow plow weighing it down.
Out on the trails, the Grizzly is an animal; on the job, it's a work-horse! Handling is precise and sharp while the overall protection package allows you to go almost anywhere without fear that you'll damage your machine. Power for work is also sufficient to get the job done, almost regardless of what you throw at it. The crew at Yamaha also thought proactively when it came time for maintenance chores, rather than some OEM's where it was an afterthought. Air-filter accessibility was simple, as was oil check and change points. Making it easy to do these tasks, which are critical for the long-term health of any ATV, means people are more inclined to do them. When it came time to remove body panels for cleaning and maintenance, it was relatively simple and quick.
We've taken the Grizzly trail riding, working in the fields, working around the yard, and almost everywhere in between. When it came right down to it, the Grizzly 500FI 4x4 EPS did everything and anything that we asked of it with never so much as a stutter or hint of inability to do the task at hand. With the combination of long-term durability, ease of maintenance, strength, and the "fun-factor," the Grizzly 550 has easily become our "Jack of all Trades." It has the power to get the job done, and the ability to play all weekend.
|MSRP||Hunter Green / Steel Blue $8499, Realtree Camo $8899|
|Engine||558cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-valve SOHC|
|Carburetion||Yamaha Fuel Injection, 40mm throttle body|
|Transmission||Yamaha Ultramatic V-belt w/all-wheel engine braking / H, L, N, R, P|
|Drivetrain||Push-button, 3-way locking differential, 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD|
|Suspension, Front||Independent double wishbone, 5-way preload adjustment, 7.1” travel|
|Suspension, Rear||Independent double wishbone, 5-way preload adjustment, 9.5” travel|
|Brakes, Front/ Rear||Dual hydraulic disc|
|Fuel Capacity||5.3 gal.|
|Dry Weight||600 lb.|
|Rack Capacity||99 lb. front, 187 lb. rear|
|Towing Capacity||1322 lb.|
|Instrumentation||Digital LCD multifunction display, speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeter, hourmeter, clock, fuel gauge, gear position|