… BUT THE ONLY PROBLEM IS HONDA DID THAT 28 YEARS AGO.
— When Polaris came out with the single-seater Ace UTVs several years ago, most of us thought that was a cool idea. However, for the older off-road enthusiasts out there, we all knew it had been done before. Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s Honda had a fun machine known as the Pilot 400. It actually began life in the ’70s and was originally known as the Odyssey 250. It was like a small, rear-drive only dune buggy powered by a simple 250cc two-stroke with a CVT. Over the years the Odyssey evolved to a 350cc engine and with more sophisticated suspension. It became liquid-cooled and offered a reverse gear as well as electric starting.
When the engine was enlarged to 400cc the machine became known as the Honda Pilot. It was still a rear-drive only machine, but a good Pilot driver had no problem making it through some gnarly trail situations. The term “UTV” wasn’t being used at the time, but the Pilot could technically qualify as a UTV today, even without four-wheel drive.
Is it possible that Honda could bring back the Pilot to compete in sales with the line of Polaris Aces? Perhaps, but they would have to come up with another name, because Honda’s automobile division stole that name for their SUV car. They also stole the Odyssey name for their van. If their Pilot-style machine did return it would most likely have a four-stroke engine instead of the two-stroke power plant. Would it also be re-designed to be a 4×4 or keep the more simple two-wheel drive system? Well, all we can do is speculate, because at this point Honda has given no indication on plans to re-introduce the Pilot 400 in any configuration. If you’d like to see Honda offer a machine like this perhaps you should make that known to your Honda dealer. The corporate office does listen to their dealers.
The Polaris ACE 570 is like a Honda Pilot, but with four-wheel drive and easier to get in and out of. What would Honda do differently if they had a new machine to compete with it? Email your thoughts and comments to us at [email protected]