Just because the new Yamaha 450 EPS is the little brother doesn’t mean it comes in third. It still packs a wallop with many of the same features as big brothers Grizzly 700 and 550, but bundled in a smaller, more compact unit.

Its electric power steering (EPS) feature is the biggest bonus if you spend a lot of time on the machine, like I recently did when I took a test ride through Capitol State Forest in Washington. EPS made the tight trails and endless twists and turns less strenuous.

Although the Grizzly 450 is a smaller machine, it fits into the number-one price-sensitive and most influential segment (351 to 450 cc) of the market, says Travis Hollins, Yamaha ATV product planning manager.

The mid-level 450 comes with an industry-exclusive Ultramatic automatic transmission. The On-Command feature lets you switch between 2-wd, 4-wd and a fully locked differential 4-wd with the push of a button. High and low range, reverse, neutral and park are the automatic gear options. It also comes with an all-new one-piece frame and new rear-sealed wet brake.

The wet brake moves the brake discs inside the rear gear housing, keeping out the elements, such as mud and water. “The brake’s been completely redesigned and now has virtually no maintenance,” Hollins says.

The 2011 model also gets a new one-piece frame along with a new rear anti-sway bar. Even with the addition of EPS, the new frame helps make the vehicle nearly 10 lbs. lighter than previous Grizzly 450 models.

The Grizzly 450 4x4 is powered by the same 421-cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC four-stroke engine that provided the torque in the earlier model. Plus, it comes with an all-new and more durable stainless steel exhaust system.

A four-wheel independent suspension helps make the ride controlled and smooth. It features 6.3 in. of travel up front and 7.1 in. in the rear. The system is coupled with nearly 11 in. of overall ground clearance.

Full-sized floorboard, plush seat and oversize fenders make for a comfortable ride. Steel racks feature a Duragrip finish and allow more than 250 lbs. of total carrying capacity (88 lbs. in front; 176 lbs. in rear). Towing capacity is 1,322 lbs. It even has a 12v electrical outlet.

“Something farmers will like is that you can easily replace the air filter,” says Hollins. “It’s a reusable foam filter that you can wring out if it gets wet.”

The Grizzly 450 will be available in Hunter Green for $7,499, Steel Blue with cast aluminum wheels for $7,799, and Camouflage for $7,849. It also comes in a non-EPS model. For more information, visit www.yamaha-motor.com.