It’s been a crazy time in the UTV universe with tons of new models, major upgrades and exciting events; however, as far as ground-up new UTVs are concerned, only the Honda Talon 1000X and 1000R have earned that designation. Both Talons will share the honor of 2019’s Best New UTV of the Year, and the award is well-deserved for a variety of reasons.
It wasn’t that long ago that we first drove the Pioneer 1000 and immediately said, “If this engine were slightly tuned up and stuffed into a sport chassis, Honda would have a winner in the sport category, too.” At just over 100 horsepower using a dual-clutch transmission, that power gets to the ground very efficiently. The power output makes it super smooth to drive slow and a blast to drive fast. In fact, in our comparisons, the narrower Talon 1000X was faster than the Yamaha YXZ1000R SS in straight-line drag races up to the Honda’s top speed of 74 mph.
Honda’s six-speed transmission shifts faster and more accurately in automatic than we can in manual mode, but it’s still nice to be able to shift up or down manually if there is something ahead that the computer cannot see or predict.
For the speed demons and dune addicts out there, Honda was smart enough to quickly release info on a turbo kit dealers can install for you that offers 60-percent more horsepower. We have yet to try the turbo kit in a car on our own trails, but knowing it’s available will keep potential customers from shying away.
The 2020 race is already heating up with the early release of Polaris’ all-new RZR Pro XP and Kawasaki’s brand-new sport SxS, and the CFMoto 950 is already turning heads. We bet there will be a couple more to consider by the end of next year.
Both Can-Am and Yamaha made significant improvements to their models in 2019 that are worth noting. For Yamaha, major changes to the YXZ1000R are keeping it at the top of the 64-inch, two-seat, non-turbo category. Internally, Yamaha did make the engine more turbo-ready by beefing up the connecting rods. On the outside, the cage was restyled and the radiator was moved rearward, helping cab comfort and eliminating clogged radiators in deep mud situations. The suspension was softened up with different shocks settings, and the braking was improved with larger rotors and hubs. Finally, the wheel-bolt pattern was changed to 4/156, and the tires were beefed up with an 8-ply rating.
Can-Am’s small-to-midsize Maverick platform got a welcome addition in the form of the Sport X rc. If this little rock crawler were new from the ground up, it would have been in the running for UTV of the Year; however, it has the same chassis and most of the same drivetrain as the Maverick Trail and Sport models. Highlights of the X RC include Smart Lock front diff, 30-inch-tall Maxxis tires and reservoir shocks. This car is 64 inches wide but still as nimble as its narrower cousins. Expect to see the popular platform at your local riding area. If you don’t need long-travel suspension or a turbo, this is Can-Am’s best option, and it is as good as any of its competitors.