Honda’s long-awaited Talon 1000s are game-changers, and 2020 heralds the introduction of the Talon 1000X-4 and X-4 Fox Live Valve. Both X-4s are being advertised heavily on television, and rightly so. The four-seat Talons are the most sporty and technological normally aspirated UTVs on the market. We tested the 1000X-4 in our January issue and saved the HONDA TALON 1000X-4 LIVE VALVE for this month. The Live Valve has the most innovative and high-tech electronic suspension of any non-turbo sport UTV, and it has many other performance enhancers, such as launch mode and i-4WD with electronic brake force distribution.
WHAT IS AN 1000X-4 LIVE VALVE?
The HONDA TALON 1000X-4 LIVE VALVE is a four-seat, 64-inch-wide sport machine with 104 horsepower and Honda’s exclusive Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT). It also sports Honda’s intelligent i-4WD system that applies pressure to individual brake calipers to maintain constant traction under hard acceleration in slippery conditions.
The Live Valve edition has Fox Podium 2.5 shocks with electronically controlled Live Valve adjusters instead of the base model’s 2.0 front and 2.5 rear QS3 Podiums. The shocks are controlled by a Bosch ECU that takes inputs from the engine/DCT ECU, mode switch, IMU, and brake pressure and steering angle sensors. Shocks are adjusted every 5 milliseconds, and the system stiffens outside shocks during cornering and front shocks during braking. The driver can also toggle between normal and sport settings, and the Live Valve system adds 18 pounds.
The Fox Live Valve also adds a launch mode for even faster acceleration from a standing start; the DCT transmission gives Talons the fastest launch of any production UTV. To get launch mode, press the brake pedal, the launch-mode toggle, both paddle shifters, and floor the gas pedal. When ready to launch, release the paddles.
The Live Valve also has orange frame tubes, cage, bumper and shock springs; bold graphics; and two-tone aluminum wheels. Considering that Fox’s iQS (tested last month) is $2,075, the Live Valve’s features are well worth the extra $2,000 over the base model.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
The base Talon 1000X-4 is $21,999, while the Talon 1000X-4 Fox Live Valve is $23,999. There are other four-seat, 64-inch sport UTVs out there, and a few cost less. Can-Am’s X3 Max Turbo is $21,999. The Max X3 DS Turbo R is $23,699, and the DS Turbo RR is $27,499. The Maverick Sport Max 1000 DPS is $19,599. The Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo is $23,699, and the XP4 Turbo Pro starts at $25,699 and jumps to $32,299 for the Ultimate.
HOW POTENT IS THE POWER?
Very potent! While the X-4 is 263 pounds heavier than the two-seat 1000X, acceleration is still very strong, and it launches immediately due to the dual-clutch transmission. Power is so potent it seems like the ECU has been flashed, and the Talon will easily turn 35-inch tires. It’s a blast from turn to turn, but it’s not much of a slider due to the i-4WD system. If you want to drift into and out of turns, go to 2WD. The Live Valve also sports the launch mode for even faster starts, if drag racing your buddies is your thing.
WHAT ABOUT THE DELIVERY?
It’s typical Honda—amazing. The DCT shifts at the right moments and does so super smoothly; you can choose between auto- and manual-shift or “sport”-mode shifting programs, and the driver can manually downshift into corners. Downshifts are so smooth that you barely feel them. The DCT is almost like driving a UTV with a CVT, but it will deliver the same driver-connected feel of a Yamaha YXZ. Rock crawlers will also appreciate the smooth EFI power delivery and the traction control delivered by the i-4WD system, although low range could be lower for crawling. We got 75 mph in high and 53 in low, and engine braking is excellent.
HOW IS THE LIVE VALVE SUSPENSION?
It has a lot of great features, but the ride quality could be better. Fox iQS and Polaris Dynamix 2.0 have three adjustment settings, while the Honda Live Valve has only two, which we correlate to the iQS’s medium and firm. The Live Valve system does a great job of leveling the ride under hard cornering, acceleration and braking. We prefer the “normal” setting for choppy trails and “sport” for dune G-outs. Spring rates are softer on the Live Valve than the base model. Like the two-seat Talons, the Live Valve is valved very stiff for long-term durability over ride quality. Honda does three times the durability testing of most other manufacturers, so we’ll have to see how the suspension works after 2,000 miles. Ride quality is also impacted by the 28-inch tires and 15-inch rims.
HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
Like it’s on rails. The Live Valve doesn’t have any body roll or weight transfer under hard turning, braking or acceleration, although some faster test drivers like the base model’s ability to squat coming out of turns. The Live Valve is so smooth, you don’t feel it working like Polaris’ Dynamix system. The i-4WD system keeps the Live Valve hooked up and hauling. We also like the grip of the Maxxis MU9H tires; the shorter sidewalls of the 28×15 meats have less sidewall flex in turns. Slides in 2WD are very predictable.
HOW STRONG ARE THE BRAKES?
Very strong. Two-piston front and single-piston rear calipers squeeze 250mm perforated rotors all around, and the Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) system adds greatly to the braking forces. Engine braking is also very potent, and manual downshifts amplify that. Talons also have 17mm master cylinders and low-expansion brake lines.
HOW IS IT IN CHALLENGING TERRAIN?
Up to the challenge. The DCT also has hill-start assist, and the i-4WD and EBD make the Talon a very sure-footed UTV in rock crawling. Normal Live Valve mode is best for rocks, and the rear torsion bar allows good articulation. The bodywork does a good job of keeping most mud out of the cabin, except the quarter doors do let some roost inside. Mud enthusiasts will definitely want taller tires for deep ruts; ground clearance is 12.8 inches. The i-4WD is also a big bonus in mud.
HOW ARE THE CREATURE COMFORTS?
Mostly fantastic. We like the HONDA TALON 1000X-4 LIVE VALVE ride quality better than the QS3s’, even with the QS3s on full soft. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the driver’s seat has automotive-grade adjustment on sliders with bearings. The seats are also harness-ready and weather resistant, and the rear seats are stadium style for better passenger vision. The T-bar for the front passenger is adjustable yet rattle-free, and the lined quarter doors have grab handles as well. A full-width bar provides rear passenger hand-holds. There are cup holders for all four seats, and the glove box and dash cubbyholes and compartments under the seats provide lots of storage. Engine noise and vibration inside the cabin are low, and the roof is very nice. Build quality is awesome, and the gated range selector is slick and handy.
We don’t like the center-dash instrument location, as its harder to read than on-the-column readouts. While the “dead-pedals” on the floor have high-traction texture, the center floorboard is too narrow for both feet. The quarter doors allow dust in the cab; Honda has accessory door lowers ($209.95). The bed only has three sides, but Honda has a full-bed cargo box ($459.95), half cargo box ($305.95), and cargo bag ($189.95) that act as bed completers. The glove-box lid came off on one ride.
WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?
A couple of rough edges aside, the 2020 Honda Talon 1000X-4 Live Valve is well worth the wait. While Honda usually waits to enter an established market, the Talon X-4 Live Valve charts new UTV territory for four-seat sport UTVs. It’s built from the ground up to deliver new levels of comfort and performance for four full-sized adults. Power, delivery, handling, braking and overall performance are all outstanding. The electronic Fox Live Valve shocks and Honda management system deliver a new level of four-seat suspension performance, and the Talon engine and DCT belt-less transmission are even more impressive. The aftermarket is already hard at work perfecting the Live Valve for an even better ride.
2020 HONDA TALON 1000X-4 LIVE VALVE
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 pleated
Access Behind panel in bed, undo 9 clips
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 1,753 lb.
Bed weight limit 299 lb.
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./comp.-adj.
Front . Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Rear Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Parking Park position on range selector
Front 28×9-15 Maxxis MU9H
Rear 28×11-15 Maxxis MU9H
DC outlet Console
Front 2 LED hi/lo headlights w/accents
Rear Dual LED brake/tail lights
Instrumentation Digital or analog Speed/odo/trip/hour/
Colors Metallic Grey/Metallic Orange
Minimum recommended operator age 16
Suggested retail price $23,999