There are those brands that are synonymous with quality. You probably have a few of them in your gun cabinet, and probably one in the driveway, too. When it comes to power sports vehicles, Honda is the oldest name in the business. After all, they did invent the ATV. With much of the market for all-terrain vehicles dominated by side-by-sides, it was only a matter of time before Honda made the leap with a vehicle they felt would make an impact and get a lot of attention.
1,000cc’s of awesomeness
OK, it’s actually 999ccs of awesomeness, but still. Honda came out swinging with a big motor. The Pioneer got a parallel twin-cylinder Unicam engine that shares a lot of DNA with their sport motorcycles. The engine is deceptively smooth – and what I mean by that is, you think that with that big of an engine, you’re going to get thrown back in your seat when you stomp on the gas. The fact is; it is really smooth. When riding it near Missoula, MT, we took it down some fire and logging roads and some steep trails. I expected a little ripping, but settled for the snorting. It’s a smooth engine with a lot of power on tap.
To shift or not to shift
This may be one of the coolest features of the Pioneer 1000 – the transmission. Instead of going with a CVT belt drive automatic, like just about every other manufacturer, Honda went with their awesome DCT Dual Clutch Transmission system. What this does is gives you options and reliability. For one, you don’t have to worry about burning out a belt. I don’t know about you, but if I got stuck in a mud pit back in elk country, I would hate to burn out a belt trying to get out. The DCT system gives you the option too, of shifting yourself, which is done via some really cool paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. When you’re in automatic mode, you can feel the engine shift, which does take a little getting used to. There is also a Sport mode, which lets the engine rev out a little more between shifts. I spent the majority of my time driving in regular automatic mode and occasionally shifting up or down, which you can do while in auto, when the terrain called for it.
There are two different Pioneer 100 models – the regular 3-passenger version and the Pioneer 1000-5. The 5 has two seats that fold out of the cargo bed, with seat belts and cargo nets to keep everyone safe and secure. You can haul 1,000 pounds of cargo in the bed and with the Pioneer 1000-5, the Deluxe version comes with load-leveling suspension. The load-leveling suspension keeps the ride height and the suspension action very close to the same whether the bed is loaded or not.
Seating in the Pioneer is excellent and offers plenty of room. The controls are also well thought of and are easy to operate. You don’t have to make long reaches or any of that stuff. One thing I really appreciated is the comfort of the seat belt. There are some machines that are outstanding, but the seat belt dang-near rips your head off. Not so with the Honda. Even the back seats, while not as big as the front seats, are comfortable. The Honda doesn’t rattle, shake or squeak like some machines will either.
There are a lot of UTVs on the market, so why should you care about another one? Versatility is one of the major things that separates the Pioneer 1000 from its competition. Look at the 1000-5. You have two separate back seats that fold out. Only need one? Only fold out one. You still have cargo room, and the bed still functions normally. There’s a 2-inch receiver hitch that is far enough to the rear of the machine to allow most any trailer. The transmission also lets you have a plethora of options, with six gears in both low and high range, giving you the torque on tap when you need it. Plus it’s a fun machine to ride. You can trail ride, explore, hunt, fish and work, all with one machine.
The bottom line is, there’s a lot to like about the new Honda Pioneer 1000. There are several different options available for models and an array of colors, including Honda’s Phantom camo pattern. The base model starts out at $13,999 and the top-of-the-line 1000-5 Deluxe lists for $17,199. You can find more information here. The Pioneer is definitely a machine made for the outdoorsman.
By Derrek Sigler