Honda’s run in the recreational and utility UTV area has been, well, just like you’d expect from Honda – a little different. Their first foray into the scene was the Big Red, a machine that took the namesake of Honda’ legendary three-wheeled utility machine. The Big Red was interesting and simple. It worked pretty well for what it was, but it never seemed to mech with the market and was soon replaced by the Pioneer 700. These machines had more going for them, and it clicked with consumers. The Pioneer did things that were very Honda-like and is a very reliable machine, but it lacked in one area that always seemed to be the demand in the market – horsepower. With Polaris and Can-Am locked in a power struggle to create more power, the race to the 1,000cc mark was on. Honda delivered and several years ago, we were invited to Montana to get our first ride on the Pioneer 1000.
One thing was very clear from our first impressions of the Honda Pioneer 1000. Honda had designed a machine that was well equipped for trail fun, and utility work as well. We found ourselves grinning from ear to ear as we hammered the trails around the famed Paws Up resort in Greenough, Montana. It was early autumn, so the scenery and temperatures were perfect for the rides. Our only complaints about the machine were that it could use a little better instrument cluster, and a little better heat shielding for the passenger seating. Well, Honda has made some serious upgrades with the new 2022 Honda Pioneer 1000 lineup. We’re excited to get our hands on one. Let’s run down what we know so far.
Honda, like every other Japanese-based manufacturer is very tight-lipped about horsepower numbers. They choose to not get into the battle raging from the North American OEMs, and honestly, that is fine with us. A number doesn’t really matter, it’s all about how usable that power is for you. Honda has announced that the 2022 Honda Pioneer 1000 line produces more power through the mid-range and top end. But that’s not all.
The twin-cylinder 999cc Unicam engine that Honda made famous with the African Twin motorcycle, is now more compact, while having the same overall quality and design of the original. The New Honda motor is mated to an updated transmission that works to boost the low-end power and acceleration. The Pioneer has lowered gear ratios that bring the power to the ground more efficiently than previous models.
This new really excites us because the Previous powerplant was a favorite of ours. Part of what makes this happen comes from the ability to use the transmission in automatic and manual modes, you can control exactly how the machine shifts, and this is a big bonus, especially in low range. We will once again say the simple truth – if you want to know which UTV has the undisputed best engine braking, drop a Pioneer 1000 into first gear in low range.
Other updates and new stuff
Honda updated the the dash display cluster with a sleek new look and clever displays of all the information you need while driving. They also did something that may make you laugh at first, but when you climb in, you’ll be happy about. They made the cupholders bigger. These updates, however, are minor in comparison to the other tricks Honda’s design team had up their sleeves.
Honda revised the chassis of the Pioneer 1000 line to make the ride more responsive to terrain changes and more forgiving to the driver. This is a huge update to a machine that handled pretty good to begin with. With this chassis, Honda also revised the suspension geometry and shocks to match. The power steering system has been renovated as well, making steering more responsive and natural to the driver. We have been told that the steering makes the driver feel more connected to the wheels, without any of the kickbacks that can fatigue the driver.
Honda also updated their sweet i4WD system, giving the drive more interaction with the brakes. This gives you better control during up- and down-hill driving scenarios. It also makes handling better with less kickback from rocks and other obstacles, and lighter steering, without the drag you can get from other machines with the font differentials locked.
Honda also gave the Pioneer 1000 line new 27-inch tires on 15-inch wheels. We don’t know much about the new tires yet, but from what we’ve seen, the tread looks good. And speaking of looking good, how about the new sleeker front end? If you’re going to revise the chassis and engine and make the machine better than the previous model, you need some new styling to further set it apart, right? We really like the new look.
But what, there’s more
There are now 4 trim levels to the Pioneer 1000 and Pioneer 1000-5. You have the standard model with steel wheels. The Deluxe model with aluminum wheels is next up and adds a silver color option for the Pioneer 1000, and a bright blue option in the 1000-5. New for 2022 are the Trail and Forest trims. The Trail version adds a 4,500 winch, rearview mirror, forward cab light and, more importantly, Fox QS3 shocks that add another level of ride quality and control to the machine. Want more? The Forest model really speaks to the hunting crowd with Honda Forest Phantom camo, a 4,500-pound winch, blacked-out aluminum wheels, a bed light, forward cab light and an oversized from bumper capable of protecting the grill from brush and such as you get back into the forest to your secret spots.
These models all share the basics with a 1,000-pound bed capacity, 2,500-pound towing capacity, 13.8-foot turning radius and 7.9-glallon gas tank with 1.7-gallon reserve to get you back home. The 1000-5 models also share the quick-flip rear seating that converts back to a cargo bed. What really makes us happy is that all models are supposed to have greatly reduced heat transfer to the passenger seating area. This is huge news, as that was an issue Honda had right from the start. When the weather was cold, it wasn’t a problem. In fact, it made things more enjoyable, but come summer…
The only thing that excites us as much as an all0new machine, is when a company revises an existing line that we really enjoy and addresses all the things we would see as things to be fixed. It shows that the manufacturer is truly listening to what the consumer and media have to say after they put the machine through the paces of their needs. Polaris did that with the Ranger redesign a few years back, taking every customer complaint and using them as the starting points for the machine planning. This is why we’re so excited for the new 2022 Honda Pioneer 1000 and Pioneer 1000-5 models. Honda took a great machine and refined it into what we expect will be a solid machine in the rec/utility category. Exciting stuff.