2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 Test
Honda is out to offer owners of UTVs with serious work capabilities something more. Not more hauling or towing capacity; it matches the class leaders there. The new Pioneer 1000 has a six-speed, paddle-shift transmission that’s more fun than an automatic, and it can operate as an automatic too.
IS THE PIONEER 1000 ALL NEW?
Yes. The 1000 is not a Pioneer 700 with a larger engine. It’s an all-new vehicle that’s longer, wider and more powerful. These machines have tilting beds that can carry 1000 pounds, and they can tow 2000 pounds. There are two models—the Pioneer 1000, which seats three, and the Pioneer 10005, which seats three or five. There’s a base and power-steering version of the 1000 and a base and Deluxe model of the 1000-5. The base 1000’s transmission doesn’t have paddle shifters or the sport setting in automatic mode. The Deluxe comes with power steering, 27-inch radial tires on cast aluminum wheels, LED headlights, and colored door and bed panels. Prices start at $13,999 for the base model and climb to $17,199 for the 1000-5 Deluxe.
HOW DOES PRICE COMPARE?
The Pioneer 1000 EPS we tested is $15,199. Kawasaki’s Mule Pro-FX EPS LE is $14,199. Can-Am’s Defender DPS HD10 is $14,999. The Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS goes for $15,299.
WHAT POWERS IT?
A single-overhead-cam, eight-valve, 999cc, inline twin with Honda’s Unicam cylinder head design. The Pioneer’s Unicam heads are much like the 450R sport quad’s, which operate the intake valves directly from the cam and the exhaust valves with roller rocker arms. It’s lighter and more precise than using rocker arms for all the valves. The Honda makes an impressive 72 horsepower, the same as Can-Am’s Defender HD10. The Polaris Ranger XP 900 makes 68 horsepower.
HOW DIFFERENT IS THE TRANSMISSION?
It’s an automotive-style, dualclutch, six-speed transmission that’s completely different from the belt-type continuously variable automatics used on most UTVs. With no drive belt, there are no belt maintenance issues. As with many cars, you can shift gears for more fun and control, or use automatic mode and let the transmission do the shifting for you. You can also use low or high range in either mode, and all but the base model have a sport setting for automatic mode that times the shift points for more performance. On all but the base model, you can also shift manually with the paddle shifters, even in automatic mode. No matter who does the shifting, you’ll feel the shifts, so the Pioneer’s transmission isn’t quite as smooth as a belt-type automatic. The Pioneer 1000’s transmission is also different from the torque-converter style automatic in the Pioneer 700 and the Pioneer 500’s paddle-shift, automatic-clutch, manual transmission.
IS THE 4WD SYSTEM SPECIAL?
Yes. Most sport and sport-utility UTVs have selectable 2WD/4WD with a locking front differential and no rear differential—just a locked rear axle. The Pioneer 1000 has selectable 2WD/4WD, and you can unlock the rear differential for delicate turf or tighter turning. There’s also a front differential lock mode for maximum traction.
HOW FAST IS IT?
This thing moves! We expected the Pioneer 1000 to be powerful; after all, it is a 1000. But, it’s also a tilt-bed UTV aimed at utility users and hunters, so we didn’t expect the kind of acceleration the Honda is capable of. It’s no pure-sport machine, but when you floor this thing in sport mode, you get where you’re going in a serious rush. Actually, it doesn’t matter which mode you’re in. If you put your foot in it, the 1000 delivers serious, satisfying speed.
HOW IS THE POWER ON THE TRAIL?
Abundant and easy to tailor to the conditions. With its many transmission and 4WD system modes, the Pioneer can handle trail obstacles that call for big-bore muscle or careful application of power. Learning which mode works best where takes time, but experimenting adds to the fun of driving the Honda. Automatic transmission mode can get you down the trail as fast as shifting yourself, but we spent plenty of time choosing our own gears just because we could—and because it’s fun. Holding the lower gears gives you access to more punch, and the inline twin likes to rev, sounds great and makes plenty of top-end power. It’s also smooth as glass at all rpm, so the engine feels happy no matter how you use it. The 1000 has plenty of power to pull a tall gear and cruise as well. Manual mode works great for demanding towing, plowing and hauling. After some experimentation, we found we liked the automatic sport mode even more than shifting manually for fast driving. The shift points are spot-on, and you can shift manually in auto mode. Normal automatic mode is the way to go for quiet, relaxed cruising. The transmission finds the right ratio for mild or challenging terrain without hunting between gears.
WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES IT HAVE?
There are double A-arms and nonadjustable shocks up front with 10.55 inches of travel. In the rear, spring preload-adjustable shocks on double A-arms with a sway bar yield 10 inches of travel.
HOW IS THE SUSPENSION?
You’re going to think somebody carpeted your favorite trails. Not so long ago UTVs with massive hauling and towing capacity didn’t have very refined suspension, but times have changed. Kawasaki’s Pro Series Mules and Can-Am’s Defenders raised the bar, and Honda developed a very capable suspension package for the Pioneer. The ride is remarkably plush, so the Pioneer glides over rocky terrain and ruts, and the power steering mutes the shock bumps try to send through the steering. Bottoming resistance for big bumps and high-speed riding is very good too. You can cruise at a quick pace in rough terrain with very good comfort and control.
HOW’S THE HANDLING?
Light and precise. The Pioneer 1000 is a big UTV, but it doesn’t feel like it from the steering wheel. Power steering that’s not over-assisted and plenty of attention-to-weight distribution give the Pioneer a sure, sporty feel that’s more like a sport-utility UTV than a machine with serious work capabilities. It’s outstandingly stable, which keeps it calmly planted in corners and in off camber terrain. Power figures into the Honda’s handling too. If you want, you can steer with the throttle, unless the surface is super tacky.
HOW IS IT IN MUD AND WATER?
The Pioneer is built for it. The Honda has 12.4 inches of ground clearance, and the engine air intake is located high up, under the hood. Water can’t make the belt-less transmission slip. The Pioneer’s 4WD system provides all the traction a wheeled vehicle can generate, and there’s plenty of power, even for deep mud. The bodywork also provides splash protection that drivers of most sport UTVs can only dream of.
HOW DOES IT DO ON HILLS?
It defies gravity. The Pioneer 1000’s engine performance keeps power from being a factor on practically any hill, and the versatile 4WD system makes sure you won’t lose momentum to lost traction. UTVs that go up must come down, and the Honda has that part of the climb wired as well. The transmission provides natural engine braking to all four wheels in 4WD, and strong, precise four-wheel hydraulic discs slow the machine with plenty of feel.
HOW ARE THE DETAILS?
Most are extremely well-done. The Pioneer hasn’t got as much storage or fuel capacity as some UTVs in its class, but it has cup holders and a glove box, and the 7.9-gallon tank is more than enough for most adventures. The Pioneer’s seat and ergonomics feel just right from the moment you climb in the cab and continue to be comfortable all day. The seat holds three and is sculpted to offer good support in rugged terrain. The center seat places the middle passenger slightly forward to create more shoulder room. What the Pioneer doesn’t have makes it nice too. The lack of noise and vibration increases comfort and makes it easy to talk to passengers while you’re on the move.
WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
If you’re not having fun at work, you need a Pioneer 1000 at your job site. But, the Honda is much more than a work vehicle. It’s a machine with massive hauling ability that conquers tough terrain like a sport utility UTV, and it offers the kind of control only vehicles with manual transmissions can.
HONDA PIONEER 1000 EPS
Engine type …….Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC 4-stroke inline twin
Bore x stroke …92mm x 75.15mm (2)
Compression ratio …10:1
Lubrication system …Wet sump
Carburetion …44mm throttle body
Starting procedure …In any gear with brake engaged
Type …Paper mesh/screen
Transmission …6-speed with manual and auto modes
Drive system …Selectable 2WD/4WD with locking front and rear differential
Final drive f/r …Shaft/shaft
Fuel capacity …7.9 gal.
Overall length/width/height …116.8”/62.9”/76.1”
Ground clearance …12.4”
Wet weight …1541 lb.
Bed capacity …1000 lb.
Towing capacity …2000 lb.
Front …Dual A-arms & prel.-adj. shocks/10.55”
Rear …Dual A-arms & prel.-adj. shocks w/
Front …210mm discs
Rear …210mm discs
Front …27×9-12 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0
Rear …27×11-12 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0
DC outlet …Auto-style waterproof plug
Front …Two 35W headlights
Rear …LED tail/brake lights
Colors …Red, orange, white, Honda Phantom Camo
Minimum recommended operator age …16
Suggested retail price …$15,199
Contact …Honda, www.powersports.honda.com