Honda’s sport UTVs were the sport’s most eagerly anticipated machines partly because enthusiasts had to wait so long for them, but mainly because of Honda’s track record for offering outstanding quality, engineering and performance. Honda wasn’t trying to build suspense. It spends more time testing and developing its vehicles than other manufacturers, and it’s time well-spent because the results are usually outstanding. Unfortunately, that extra time makes the period of anticipation painfully long for lots of UTVers. As you probably read in UTV Action and on UTVActionMag.com, Honda jumped in with two game-changing, two-seat sport UTVs in 2019. For 2020, Honda introduced the Talon 1000X-4 and the Talon 1000X-4 Fox Live Valve, two four-seaters that are sure to rock the UTV market and end an agonizing wait for families who enjoy UTVing. This month we test the lower-priced 1000X-4.
WHAT KIND OF UTV IS IT?
The Talon 1000X-4 is a four-seat, 64-inch-wide sport machine with 104 horsepower.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
The Talon 1000X-4 is $21,999. The Talon 1000X-4 Fox Live Valve is $23,999. There are other four-seat 64-inch sport UTVs out there, and some cost less. Polaris’ RZR XP 4 1000 goes for $21,499. Can-Am’s Maverick X3 Max Turbo DPS is $21,999.
WHAT POWERS IT?
A naturally aspirated, single-overhead-cam, 8-valve parallel twin. Honda dealers offer a turbo kit that can reliably bring 170 horsepower and more from the sturdy engine.
WHAT KIND OF TRANSMISSION DOES IT HAVE?
A beltless, dual-clutch 5-speed with automatic and manual shift modes. You shift with sports-car-type paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The transmission also has high and low range and sport and normal shift programs. You can also shift manually in automatic mode. The transmission on the more expensive Talon 1000X-4 Fox Live Valve also includes launch mode that allows full throttle starts, but the 1000X-4 leaves the line plenty hard without it.
HOW FAST IS IT?
Seriously fast. The Honda’s 104 horses get to the ground at a gallop more instantly than on machines with belt-type automatics, thanks to the gear-to-gear transmission’s greater efficiency. Keep the gas pedal mashed in automatic mode, or shift manually and the Talon delivers crisp, quick shifts and forceful acceleration. The four-seater is heavier than the Talon two-seater, but its specially tuned automatic-shift programs help it feel nearly as quick as the two-seater.
HOW IS THE POWER DELIVERY?
You tailor it to your liking and the demands of your driving conditions. The Talon’s engine has strong throttle response from just off-idle to its 9000-rpm rev limit, and it’s also tractable in technical terrain. Because you can shift the 5-speed transmission manually and choose low or high transmission ranges, and sport and normal automatic shift programs, you can manage the power any way you like. We like automatic sport mode even more than manual shifting for fast trail riding because the shift points are so spot-on. Automatic normal mode works fine for cruising.
HOW IS THE SUSPENSION?
It’s fine for fast trail riding. Even at a quick trail pace, we liked the Fox QS3 shocks to set to full soft. Most drivers found the Fox QS3 piggyback reservoir shocks’ two firmer compression damping settings harsh unless the Talon’s was driven hard with all four seats full. That’s understandable, this is a sport machine, not a recreation rig tuned for comfortable cruising like the Pioneer 1000. We have driven the Talon X-4 Fox Live Valve, and it’s more comfortable than the Talon X-4 for cruising and more capable when you’re racing your buddies, but that magic-carpet ride costs an extra two grand.
HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
It’s so nimble we forgot we were driving a four-seater more than once, and the Talon’s stability is excellent for a 64-inch-wide car.
HOW IS IT IN CHALLENGING TERRAIN?
Its totally up for the challenge. The Honda has the muscle for steep hills and deep mud, and the precise throttle control you want for slick side-hill trails and rock steps. Its I 4WD system provides differential-lock-like traction, hill-start assist for easy pulling out on steep hills, and automatic brake-force distribution.
HOW ARE THE DETAILS?
Well done. Honda is known for attention to detail, and the Talon upholds the tradition with impressive touches all over the machine. The X-4 is remarkably quiet with no unwanted engine of transmission noise. The sound the engine does make is music to performance-minded riders’ ears. All the seats are roomy with just-right firmness and openings to accommodate harnesses, though drivers over 6 feet tall could use more legroom. There are large cup holders for everyone the car can hold, plus a big glove box and spacious under-seat storage. The doors open and close with car-like quality, and the finish of the vehicle is excellent—just what we’ve come to expect from Honda’s American factory. The only things we’re not wild about are the old-school instrument display location in the center of the dash, the three-sided cargo bed and the smallish 7.7-gallon fuel tank, though the X-4 gets outstanding mileage for a 1000cc sport UTV.
WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?
Honda’s 64-inch-wide sport four-seater is something special. It’s not cheap, but you get a versatile, beltless transmission; an engine that delivers more than you expect; and the quality and durability that have made Honda the most popular name in motorsports.
HONDA TALON 1000X-4
Engine type Liquid-cooled, Uni Cam, parallel twin,
Bore x stroke 92mmX75.1mm
Compression ratio 10:1
Lubrication system Wet sump
Additional cooling Auto fan
Induction 46mm EFI (x2)
Starting procedure Turn ignition switch w/ brake on
Type Paper pleats
Access Behind panel in bed
Transmission Dual range w/ reverse
Reverse procedure Move range selector to “R”
Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ auto diff-lock
Final drives Shafts
Fuel capacity 7.7 gal.
Overall length/width/height 152.6”/64”/78.5”
Ground clearance 12.8”
Claimed wet weight 1735 lb.
Bed weight limit 299lb.
Towing limit N/A
Frame Steel round tube
Front Dual A-arm w/ prel./comp.-adj. shocks/14.6
Rear IRS 3-link trailing arms w/ prel./
Front . Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Rear Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Parking Park position on range selector
Front 28×9-15 Maxxis MU9H Radial
Rear 28×11-15 Maxxis MU9H Radial
DC Outlet Console
Front 2 LED hi/lo headlights w/ accents
Rear Dual LED brake/taillights
Instrumentation Digital or analog Speed/odo/trip/hour/
Colors Metallic Grey/Pearl Red
Minimum recommended operator age 16
Suggested retail price $21,999