Early on in 2014, Honda solidified its presence in the recreational-utility market place with the introduction of the Pioneer 700 line-up and has been concentrating its efforts in this segment ever since. This direction may disappoint some of the more “high-performance” minded Honda purists who are anxiously waiting for Honda to introduce a unit in the pure sport segment. This day may come but for now Honda needed to up its game in the recreational-utility category.
With the introduction of the Honda Pioneer 1000 line-up, Honda did not only up its game but it has become a solid contender in the recreational-utility segment. Honda’s flagship Pioneer 1000 raises the bar in terms of power and features with robust capabilities in both work and play applications.
The Honda Pioneer 1000 is available in two configurations: the Honda Pioneer 1000 EPS (three-people) version and the Pioneer-5 with a convertible cargo box which offers seating up to five passengers. We have decided to base our review on what we feel is the slightly sportier version, the Honda Pioneer 1000 EPS.
The Pioneer 1000 big power comes from a purpose-built, inline, twin-cylinder, 8-valve 999cc engine with proven Unicam design. The engine is mounted longitudinally in the frame, allowing direct driveshaft alignment to front and rear drive units for improved power output at the wheels. The engine and exhaust system are rubber-mounted, minimizing vibration and noise transmitted to the frame and body, allowing for a quiet operation. This quiet engine is also claimed to produce 72-horsepower.
The Honda Pioneer 1000 is also the first UTV in the industry to utilize a six-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) with both Automatic and Manual modes. In Automatic mode the driver can choose between Standard and Sport modes, while in Manual mode the driver has full control and shifting is done via paddle-shifters located on the steering wheel.
The Honda Pioneer 1000 rides a fully Independent double-wishbone suspension front and rear. The suspension design offers 10.5-in. (26.67 cm) of travel upfront and 10-in. (25.4 cm) in the rear and our test unit had 12.9-in. (32.77 cm) of ground clearance.
I would like to point out an innovative suspension feature, which is only available on the Honda Pioneer 1000-5: Honda’s self-leveling rear suspension, which is said to automatically adjust based on load and cargo for improved handling and ride comfort.
TIRES, WHEELS AND BRAKES
The Honda Pioneer 1000 sits on a set of 27-in Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires (Front: 27 x 9-12 / Back: 27 x 11-12) mounted on 12-in steel wheels. The unit is brought to a stop by 210 mm hydraulic discs brakes.
COCKPIT AND ERGONOMICS
When we first set eyes on the Honda Pioneer 1000 we immediately appreciated its aggressive bodywork and styling. For our personal taste we were more drawn towards Pioneer 1000 rather than the 5-passenger model, but beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, right? For us it portrayed a sportier appearance and this is why we put so much seat time in this unit. In Canada, the Honda Pioneer 1000 is available in White or Orange coloration and for your reference the Pioneer 1000-5 is available in either Red or Metallic Silver.
Ingress and egress couldn’t be simpler as the Pioneer 1000 features high-sill doors with protective door nets, which include automotive style double latches. While on the subject of doors, I wish that Honda had included an easier method to open the doors from the exterior, something as simplistic as a “pull-to-open” door handle. This would be a definite “nice to have”, but at least we must give them props for including high-sill doors (standard) on all Pioneer 1000 models.
Once seated, you will find that the 3-person bench is comfortable due to its wider offset configuration. For added comfort and control the Honda Pioneer 1000 also comes equipped with a tilt steering. You will also find that the cab is spacious and you will immediately notice the superior fit and finish.
A large LCD digital display provides you with all the needed information such as: speed, odometer, double trip meter, gear indicator, hour meter, clock, fuel level, water temperature, drive mode, and maintenance reminder. The four drive modes (Turf Mode, 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD Differential Lock) are selected via the shifter situated near the center of the dash while gear selections (P/R/N/H/L) are controlled by the shifter next to the steering column. To the right of the gear shifter is also where you will find the rocker switch that enables you to choose the AT/MT and Sport modes. As previously mentioned, the Honda Pioneer 1000 can also be operated in manual mode; gear selection in this mode is selected via the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
As far as storage and cargo are concerned, the Pioneer 1000 features open dash storage areas and a weatherproof glove box. For additional cargo/storage of course there is the cargo box with tilt function and it has a cargo capacity of 1000 lbs.
To shakedown the all-new Honda Pioneer 1000, Honda invited us out to Missoula, MN at the stylish Paws Up resort. The trails surrounding this property where truly picturesque, the riding areas we traversed were mostly made of hard packed surfaces and wide-open terrain.
The first day of our test rides consisted of a guided ride “follow the leader” type scenario. We were broken up in two groups each with our own chase vehicle and set off to tackle the surrounding trails. As mentioned earlier, the trail conditions were optimum hard-packed surfaces, nothing we faced this day even came close to challenge the Pioneer 1000. This first day was mostly to give us a first feel of the unit to allow us to familiarize ourselves with the surrounding trails.
Day two of our test ride was when things got interesting, as we where left on our own to explore what the Pioneer 1000 really had to offer. Our first test was conducted on AT (Automatic Transmission Mode) as we blazed down the open straight sections. The Pioneer 1000 did all the work and provided smooth and constant power. However, even in AT mode, if at anytime gears weren’t changing fast enough for our driving style, we could use the paddle shifters to enhance the experience.
We also tested the SPORT mode at various instances during the day; according to Honda this mode keeps the engine in its optimal power range and allows for added performance. In this mode we did notice a throatier sound and higher engine revs but not a significant difference in performance.
Next, via the rocker switch we selected MT (Manual Transmission Mode) and this is where the fun really started for us. In this mode, via the paddle shifters we controlled how the Pioneer 1000 would perform based on the trails that lay ahead. On open straights, fast paced cornering and even rocky hill climbs/descents the Pioneer 1000 handed it all and the driving sensation was boldly augmented due to the MT mode.
Manual Transmission Mode on this unit is nothing to be apprehensive about. If for some reason you would forget to downshift due to slowing down or trail obstacle, the Pioneer 1000 would self adjust by placing the engine in the proper gear based on the engine RPM. To take it one step further, if no driver response is received then the unit would automatically shift back to AT mode! Now how beautiful is that!
So if you are looking for a sportier ride, there is no reason not to drive this unit in MT mode.
SO DID WE LIKE IT?
Our overall experience with the Honda Pioneer was exceptional, as this unit is just plain fun to drive. This multiuse vehicle has the muscle to be used in work applications but most of all it has the performance capabilities to have pure unadulterated fun out on the trails.
We are all aware of the reliability of the Honda branding, so if you are in the market for a Recreational-Utility vehicle I strongly urge you to take a good look at the Honda Pioneer 1000 or Pioneer 1000-5.