At first glance, the new Yamaha Rhino 660 looks like a souped-up golf cart. Indeed, the side-by-side seating and controls give it the look of a machine poised to do little more than navigate the fairways of your favorite duffer's playground. With the new trend of lifting and repowering stock golf carts to look better and run faster, it came as no surprise to us that the Rhino would eventually appear. Heck, the Rhino takes all the work out of retro-fitting a stock golf cart for off-road excursions, and it comes with a warranty. After just a few seconds behind the wheel of this machine, we learned that golfers never had it this good, nor do they need an over-the-top machine such as the Rhino. This bad boy was built for climbing mountains, hauling a load, and roostin' through trails that would make most ATVs turn tail and run.
The Rhino is a clean-sheet design, powered by the same awesome engine that motivates Yamaha's Grizzly 660 4x4 ATV. This means that the Rhino has more than enough power on tap from the liquid-cooled powerplant to go anywhere. And when we say anywhere, we mean it. On a recent off-road excursion through the trials of Turkey Bay, Kentucky, we pointed the Rhino straight up a few nearly vertical rock faces, climbing up and over them with ease. The dash-mounted, on-command 2WD/4WD with differential lock makes traversing steep hills and deep mud a breeze. Once you've driven your way to the top of the mountain, getting back down is a snap, thanks to Yamaha's Ultramatic transmission with Reverse and the engine braking system, which allows the machine to glide downhill in a controlled manner with zero wheel lockup.
Blasting through the trails, we were given plenty of opportunities to flog the Rhino. One of the most interesting aspects of the Rhino, and much to its credit, is that it's no wider than a standard ATV, which makes navigating tight-wooded trails very easy. In fact, the Rhino is so comfortable that we opted to drive it rather than ride an ATV up many of the nastier sections of our trail ride. The 25-inch tires and independent double wishbone suspension soaked up every last tree stump, ditch, and rock as we rocketed through corners and crevices. We equate driving the Rhino to riding in a Cadillac; the ride is smooth and stable, and you feel completely safe strapped into the seats with three-point shoulder seatbelts. The hydraulic disc braking system also performed smoothly and firmly, and brought the vehicle to a stop on command.
Did we mention that the Rhino is just as adept at working as playing? The body is available in several colors as well as high-definition Hardwoods Hunter graphics, which help it blend into the woods. The Rhino is also equipped with a standard 2-inch receiver hitch and dump bed for hauling loads and towing a trailer. The Rhino is in a class of its own; it's every bit as fun to ride as a sport-class ATV, but works as hard as a utility ATV.
SpecificationsVehicle: '04 Yamaha Rhino 660 4x4
Engine: 660cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, five-valve SOHC
Transmission: Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking; on-command push button for three-way locking differential
Suspension: Independent double wishbone; 7.3 inches of travel; five-way preload adjustment
Front tire: AT25x8-12
Rear tire: AT25x10-12
Front brakes: hydraulic disc, twin piston
Rear brakes: hydraulic disc, shaft-mounted parking
Dry weight: 1,049 pounds
Towing capacity: 1,212 pounds