Ever since the beginning of time, the wait in our offices every summer wondering what Honda was going to introduce each year has been an exciting one. In 1984 the 200X ATC shocked us, as did the announcement of the first 250R Fourtrax in 1986. In 2003 the Rincon 650 4×4 was as surprising, as was the TRX450 the very next year. Fast-forward to modern times and it’s UTVs that a lot of us are looking forward to, and Honda has had us waiting the longest (if you count out Suzuki). Sure, the Pioneer 500 and 700 models are good machines, but we have been yearning for something faster. That wait is now over.
In terms of pure sport driving or racing, Honda’s new Pioneer 1000 is not exactly what we had hoped for, but it is very promising. On the other hand, hunters, fishermen and all sportsmen across the county should be very impressed. They can choose between a three- or five-seater version. Similar to the Pioneer 700, which has convertible rear seats that tuck away in the floor of the cargo bed, the 1000 has a larger, more roomy seating area. In fact, the chassis and cockpit up front are wide enough for three-row seating like the Yamaha Viking, the Arctic Cat HDX700 and many Polaris Rangers. According to Honda, the hauling capabilities of this machine are at the top of the class, with a 1000pound limit for cargo in the bed and a 2000-pound tow rating.
What is totally unique to this machine and Honda in particular is the powerplant. The Pioneer 1000 features a parallel twin-cylinder, single-cam mill with fuel injection mated to a dual-clutch, six-speed transmission. It’s controlled by paddle shifters for manual-driver active shifting, or, if you want, you can drive the Pioneer in pure automatic mode (standard or sport) and let the transmission do all the shifting for you. An open or locked front diff and rear diff (Turf mode) are standard equipment on all models. The engine is the most interesting part of the news, as it could very well find itself in a high-performance long-travel UTV soon. It’s the first 1000cc powerplant not using a drive belt. We think Yamaha has this same type of powerplant coming in their new sport UTV as well.
SUSPENSION AND MORE
Up front dual A-arms with 10.5 inches of travel are found, while dual A-arms are also used out back with 10 inches of movement. Honda claims the rear shocks are self-leveling on the five-seat model, but we have not confirmed with them on exactly what that means. Brakes are hydraulic disc at both ends. Honda wrapped 27-inch-tall tires around 12-inch steel rims on all models except the Deluxe editions. Those have 12-inch machined-aluminum wheels. This will be one of the smallest multi-passenger UTVs, meaning it will be able to be driven in tighter spaces, like in the woods and in between rocks. Overall, its size will be a little bigger than the Pioneer 700, so it is unlikely it will be able to fit in the back of a pickup truck. Honda has not yet released the specs on overall length, width or wheelbase yet. Honda did announce that the Pioneer 700 and 500 will return in 2016.