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Test drive: the 2014 Yamaha Viking SxS utility vehicle

This month, Farm Industry News took a three-legged plane ride and drove 30 minutes by car to reach the Red Reflect Ranch,a 27,000-acre working cattle ranch just outside the town of Ten Sleep, Wy. The purpose of the trip was to test the new 2014 Yamaha Viking side-by-side (SxS) utility vehicle, which rolled off productions lines for the first time in August. We gave you a full report on the vehicle when it was launched in June.

The Viking is billed as a “multi-purpose” utility vehicle, designed to serve all segments of the SxS market—working, hunting, and trail exploring. It was designed to pick up where the old Rhino, retired last month, left off. Yamaha says the Rhino chiseled out the category of SxS’s, with its multi-passenger seating, a large cargo bed, diff lock, On-Command steering, and an automatic transmission that made it fun to drive. While those features were nice, Yamaha says, young buyers expressed a need for a roomier vehicle that was easier to access, vibrated less, allowed for more passengers, and had more cargo room. All of those features were built in to the new Viking.

The key performance claims of the Viking are “best cabin design," "most off-road capable in its class," and "the best balance of work and recreation." The claims are made relative to other vehicles in the SxS class, the closest one being the Polaris Ranger. Other names include the John Deere Gator and the Honda Pioneer.

The Red Reflect Ranch, nestled in the Wyoming Big Horn Mountains, was the perfect testing grounds to verify Yamaha's claims. The terrain varied from rolling foot hills made up of red rimrock to aspen forests, limestone canyons, and mountain meadows. Here are some highlights of my experience with the new 2014 Yamaha Viking SxS.

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Which side-by-side utility vehicles do you like and why? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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