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TEST: HONDA PIONEER 700 DELUXE

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April 21, 2017
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Way back in 2013 when UTV Action first learned that the Pioneer 700 was going to be produced, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it, because we expected it would come with manual and automatic shift modes. We knew the Pioneer was going to be driven by an engine and transmission developed from the one used in the Rincon ATV, which has manual and automatic shifting, so were ready to shift some gears! Honda had other ideas, and the Pioneer 700 was offered with a fully automatic transmission only—until now!

The Pioneer is perfectly at home in hilly, rugged terrain. Its versatile transmission and 4WD system with natural engine braking make climbing and descending easy and secure.
The Pioneer is perfectly at home in hilly, rugged terrain. Its versatile transmission and 4WD system with natural engine braking make climbing and descending easy and secure.

 

HOW DOES PRICE COMPARE?

The Pioneer 700 Deluxe is $11,899 and the Pioneer 700-4 Deluxe goes for $13,499. The Pioneer 700 starts at $10,499, and the base Pioneer 700-4 is $12,099. Polaris’ Ranger XP 900 is $12,299. Can-Am’s Defender DPS HD8 is $13,099.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017?

Manual shift mode on the 700 Deluxe and 700-4 Deluxe is the big news, and the Deluxe models also come with painted bodywork, power steering, cool-looking cast-aluminum wheels, and contrast-colored suspension springs—silver on the 700 and red on the 700-4.

The Pioneer 700 seats two adults comfortably. The 700-4 has room for four.
The Pioneer 700 seats two adults comfortably. The 700-4 has room for four.

 

WHAT KIND OF UTV IS IT?

It’s a recreation/utility machine. People pick the Pioneer when they have serious hauling, towing or plowing to do in challenging terrain, but this machine isn’t a slow, pure-utility UTV. It can do 40 mph, and the suspension has 7.9 inches of travel up front and 9.1 inches of rear travel. The 700 seats two, can carry 1000 pounds in its tilting bed and tow 1500 pounds. The Pioneer 700-4 seats four.

WHAT POWERS IT?

A 675cc, single-cylinder, push-rod, four-valve engine. The engine is mounted longitudinally, which puts the crankshaft in line with the driveshafts to reduce power losses.

Shock springs on the 700 Deluxe’s non-adjustable front shocks are silver; they’re black on base and camo models. The front suspension has 7.9 inches of travel.
Shock springs on the 700 Deluxe’s non-adjustable front shocks are silver; they’re black on base and camo models. The front suspension has 7.9 inches of travel.

 

WHAT KIND OF TRANSMISSION DOES IT HAVE?

An automotive-style, three-speed automatic with a hydraulic torque converter. There are several Pioneer 700 models with this transmission, but only the Pioneer 700 Deluxe and 700-4 Deluxe come with manual shift mode. Shifting is done with sports car-like paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, and you can override the automatic mode and shift manually without switching out of automatic mode. As with Honda’s other geared UTV transmissions, the 700 has no drive belt. The range selector and the paddle shifters have a smooth, positive feel.

WHAT KIND OF 4WD SYSTEM DOES IT HAVE?

Selectable 2WD/4WD with manually selectable front differential-lock mode. There is no unlockable rear differential like on the Pioneer 1000.

With 1500 pounds of towing capacity, the Pioneer easily pulls more than its weight, and you can carry half a ton in the tilting bed. The rear suspension has 9.1 inches of travel.
With 1500 pounds of towing capacity, the Pioneer easily pulls more than its weight, and you can carry half a ton in the tilting bed. The rear suspension has 9.1 inches of travel.

 

HOW FAST IS IT?

It’s quick enough to be fun and powerful enough to handle tough trails, but don’t expect sport UTV-like acceleration. The Pioneer 700’s shift program is so well engineered that you’ll do better in drag races in automatic mode than shifting yourself.

HOW IS THE POWER DELIVERY ON THE TRAIL?

Thanks to the Pioneer 700’s unique transmission, you have more control over its power delivery than most other UTVs. Automatic mode works well for getting down or up the trail with ease, even in hilly, technical terrain. The transmission shifts smoothly, and it always finds the right gear to get you up hills or cruising comfortably in open terrain. Unlike continuously variable transmissions, you feel it upshifting and downshifting just as you do with most car and truck automatics, but it doesn’t hunt annoyingly to find the right gear.

Manual shift mode opens up a new side of the 700. When you want to have fun, being able to pick the gears you prefer and ride in those gears, or shift at will, makes the Pioneer feel sporty.

Shifting manually is handy for putting the Pioneer to work too. Holding the machine in first gives access to serious torque for towing, hauling or plowing. Holding second or third is handy in conditions where you want the smooth, broad power of second or relaxed cruising in third. Regardless of the gear you’re in, the transmission downshifts for you when you come to a stop.

Fully automatic and manual shifting makes the 2017 Pioneer 700 Deluxe more capable and fun for adventure and chores than previous models..
Fully automatic and manual shifting makes the 2017 Pioneer 700 Deluxe more capable and fun for adventure and chores than previous models..

 

WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION HAS IT GOT?

There are double A-arms and non-adjustable shocks up front with 7.9 inches of travel. In the rear, spring preload-adjustable shocks on double A-arms with a sway bar produce 9.1 inches of travel.

HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK?

It’s very comfortable and compliant at a normal pace, even in very rugged terrain, but big bumps can bottom the front pretty easily if you’re rushing down the trail. The Pioneer’s suspension performs well at quick pace on dirt roads, though it’s tuned more for comfort than for speed.

A switch on the dash lets you choose manual or automatic shifting, and you can shift manually in automatic mode
A switch on the dash lets you choose manual or automatic shifting, and you can shift manually in automatic mode

 

HOW DOES IT HANDLE?

It’s agile but very surefooted and stable. Power steering and smart weight distribution make the Pioneer easy to maneuver, and it feels securely planted, even in steep, uneven terrain. There’s very little body roll, and the 59.7-inch-wide machine handles tight, quick turns with no sense of tipping. The Pioneer will even drift predictably around turns if you like.

HOW DOES IT HANDLE HILLS?

It’s outstandingly capable. Four-wheel drive with front differential-lock mode lets you find traction even in the most challenging conditions. The Pioneer isn’t massively powerful, but puts its power to the ground very efficiently, so it can climb any hill most drivers will care to take on.

Few UTVs feel as secure as the Honda going down steep hills. True, natural engine braking to all four wheels in four-wheel drive and the added control the manual shift mode provides let you regulate downhill speed very precisely. The front disc brakes and single driveshaft-mounted disc offer very good power and feel.

A compact, push-rod, four-valve, 675cc engine keeps the Honda’s center of gravity low.
A compact, push-rod, four-valve, 675cc engine keeps the Honda’s center of gravity low.

 

HOW ARE THE DETAILS?

Very good. The Pioneer has its share of nice fine points, like power steering, door-mounted drink holders, and the rich-looking paint finish, but many of the Honda’s details are more subtle. The whole vehicle operates more quietly than most UTVs. The exhaust and intake are well silenced, and there’s no distracting noise from the transmission or suspension. The range selector and the door releases have a smooth, high-quality feel. The front- and rear-brake hydraulic systems are separated, as they are on modern cars, so damage to one system can’t disable the front and rear brakes. Is there room for improvement? Yes. Most UTVs with doors don’t come with nets, but Honda is so safety-minded that the Pioneer comes with both. The doors are great, but the nets can be inconvenient at times, even though they add safety. Tilt steering wheels are so common on UTVs, it seems strange that the 700 doesn’t have this feature.

WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?

The Pioneer 700 Deluxe isn’t a hot rod, but it’s an extremely capable machine for adventure and getting heavy work done. Its refinement and high-quality fit, finish and feel will also appeal to UTVers who appreciate an exceptionally well-made machine.

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HONDA PIONEER 700 DELUXE

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-valve, OHV 4-stroke

inline twin

Displacement 675cc

Bore x stroke 102mm x 82.6mm

Compression ratio 9.2:1

Lubrication system Semi dry sump

Carburetion 40mm throttle body

Starting/back-up Electric/none

Starting procedure In any gear with brake engaged

Air filter:

  Type Oiled foam

Transmission 3-speed w/ manual and auto modes

Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ locking

front differential

Final drive f/r Shaft/shaft

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS

Fuel capacity 7.9 gal.

Wheelbase 76.8”

Overall length/width/height 114.7”/59.7”/77.6”

Ground clearance 10.7”

Wet weight 1268 lb.

Bed capacity 1000 lb.

Towing capacity 1500 lb.

ROLLING CHASSIS

Suspension/wheel travel:

  Front Dual A-arms & non adjustable shocks /7.9”

  Rear Dual A-arms & preload adjustable shocks w/

sway bar/9.1”

Brakes:

  Front 200mm discs

  Rear 170mm discs

Tires:

  Front 25×8-12 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

  Rear 25×10-12 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

DETAILS

DC outlet Auto-style waterproof plug

Lighting:

  Front Two 35W headlights

  Rear LED tail/brake lights

Instrumentation Speedo/odo/tach/trip/hour/fuel/

gear position/diagnostics/clock

Colors Diver Blue

Minimum recommended operator age 16

Suggested retail price $11,899

Contact .Honda, www.powersports.honda.com

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