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TEST: HONDA PIONEER 1000 LE

October 3, 2017
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— Honda’s Pioneer 1000 offers a unique combination; its six-speed transmission with manual and automatic modes, powerful, refined engine and impressive handling make it fun to drive, and its massive hauling and towing capacities make it a serious work machine. For 2017 Honda created a Pioneer 1000 that’s even more unique, the LE. Traction control increases its sure-footedness in challenging terrain, and Fox shocks enhance its suspension performance. We tested the Pioneer 1000-5 LE with convertible seating for three to five in our May issue. This month we test the three-seat Pioneer 1000 LE.

Fox QS-3 shocks provide great control for faster driving, easy compression-damping adjustment, and a plush ride at cruising and exploring speeds.

 

HOW DOES COST COMPARE?

The Pioneer 1000 LE is $19,999. The Pioneer 1000 starts at $14,199. The Pioneer 1000-5 LE is $21,599 and the Pioneer 1000-5 starts at $16,399. Can-Am’s Defender XT HD10 is $17,899. The Polaris Ranger XP 1000 Ranch Edition is $19,999.

WHAT MAKES THE LE SPECIAL?

The LE package includes I-4WD traction control, Fox QS-3 shocks, hill-start assist, electronic brake-force distribution, Matte Gray Metallic-painted bodywork, power steering, aluminum wheels, aluminum skid plate and A-arm guards, red springs and A-arms, under-dash storage, additional cup holders, and illuminated switches.

The six-speed transmission can be shifted manually with paddle shifters, or you can select standard or sport automatic shift modes.

 

WHAT IS I-4WD?

Honda’s new I-4WD traction control system is designed to provide as much traction as the locking front differentials on non-LE Pioneer 1000s, and it’s simpler to use. I-4WD automatically optimizes power delivery to the front tires, so you don’t have to lock the front differential for maximum traction. You still have the option to lock the rear differential or leave it open for delicate turf. I-4WD also provides electronic brake-force distribution, which balances the braking force applied to the front and rear brakes to match load and traction conditions. The system also includes hill-start assist, which momentarily holds the brake to stop the vehicle from rolling back on hills when you switch from the brake to the gas pedal.

WHAT POWERS IT?

A 999cc, inline, two-cylinder engine. The eight-valve Unicam head for the twin is much like the four-valve versions on Honda’s motocross bikes and the 450R sport quad. A single cam operates the intake valves directly and the exhaust valves with roller rocker arms. The Pioneer 1000 produces 72 horsepower.

The 999cc, single-overhead-cam, eight-valve inline twin uses the light, high-performance Unicam engine design first seen on Honda’s motocross bikes and the 450R race quad.

 

WHAT KIND OF TRANSMISSION DOES IT HAVE?

Honda’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission offers manual shifting with sports-car-like paddle shifters and automatic mode. You can select standard or sport shift programs and low or high range. There is no belt to worry about, no manual clutch to operate and you can shift manually even in automatic mode. All 2017s have a memory feature that retains the mode you select after engaging reverse.

HOW FAST IS IT?

It’s quick. Of course, we expect that from a 1000, but the Honda offers more excitement than some recreation utility UTVs simply because you can pick your own gears and control the power more than with an automatic. Even so, automatic sport mode provides the fastest acceleration in most situations, and the 1000 accelerates a touch harder than the 1000-5 because it’s 62 pounds lighter. The Pioneer tops out at 62 mph.

The Pioneer 1000 LE has Fox QS-3 shocks front and rear. The three-position compression-damping adjuster makes adjustments simple.

 

HOW IS THE POWER DELIVERY?

The Pioneer 1000’s engine is strong, quick-revving and silky smooth no matter how you use it, and the transmission lets you pour on the power as aggressively or as gently as you like.

We like having the option to shift or not. It’s fun to pick and hold gears for some trails, but some drivers and some trails call for automatic mode. It’s hard to beat standard mode for cruising. Automatic sport mode is our favorite for faster driving. It provides earlier downshifts and more revs in each gear.

WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES IT COME WITH?

The Pioneer has double A-arms front and rear with a rear sway bar to limit body roll. Travel is 10.6 inches up front and 10 inches in the rear. Piggyback-reservoir Fox QS-3 front and rear shocks offer convenient three-position compression-damping adjustment knobs and adjustable spring preload.

The Pioneer 1000 and 1000-5 can carry 1000 pounds in the bed and tow 2000 pounds

 

HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK?

The Pioneer 1000 LE has a plush, comfortable ride like the other Pioneer 1000s, and the Fox shocks add better control and more resistance to bottoming. It’s really a win-win. You get exceptional comfort at cruising and exploring speeds, even on rocky, rutted terrain and the freedom to enjoy the 1000’s speed more. The shocks’ easy adjustability is another plus when the terrain changes or you feel like driving more or less aggressively.

HOW DOES IT HANDLE?

For a recreation utility rig, the Pioneer’s handling is impressively sporty. It’s nimble and predictable on winding trails and body roll is minimal. Thanks to its power and balanced feel, it can slide around turns with very good control. The Honda is also outstandingly stable, which makes driving steep or off-camber terrain more fun.

CAN IT CONQUER MUD AND WATER?

Definitely. The Pioneer’s 4WD system is very effective and easy to use, and the machine has 12.7 inches of ground clearance to keep you dry and out of trouble. The Honda’s bodywork offers excellent splash protection for the riders, and the air intake is high and under the hood.

The battery and coolant tank are easy to reach under the hood.

 

HOW IS IT ON HILLS?

Confident. With the 1000, power isn’t an issue, even on big, difficult climbs, and with I-4WD traction control, you don’t have to lock the front differential to get maximum grip. We usually avoid stopping on our way up hills, but the Honda’s hill-start assist takes the drama out of the situation by keeping the vehicle from rolling back as you move from the brake to the gas pedal. Electronic brake-force distribution makes braking on downhills very sure, and the Honda’s transmission helps by applying natural engine braking to all four wheels in four-wheel drive.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Early pioneers could have used this Pioneer’s help. There are no belt worries with the geared transmission. The Pioneer’s dump bed holds 1000 pounds of cargo, and the vehicle can tow a ton.

The Pioneer 1000’s engine is strong, quick-revving and sounds great. It has a refined, automotive feel that most UTVs lack.

 

HOW ARE THE DETAILS?

Nicely done. The Pioneer 1000 isn’t an average machine with nice features; the whole vehicle shows a lot of attention to detail. The engine sounds good, but it and the transmission are very quiet. The contoured three-passenger seat puts the middle passenger slightly forward for more elbowroom. The lighted switches and extra cup holders are useful luxuries. With everything the LE comes with, it seems strange that a roof isn’t part of the package, but the Honda does have features other machines don’t.

WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?

Some limited-edition UTVs are little more than special paint and wheels on the regular edition, but the Pioneer 1000 LE truly is something special. The LE is sportier than the other Pioneer 1000 models thanks to its high-performance shocks, more convenient and surefooted because of traction control, and more luxurious due to its many comfort and appearance features.

 

HONDA PIONEER 1000 LE

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC 4-stroke inline twin

Displacement 999cc

Bore x stroke 92mm x 75.15mm (2)

Compression ratio 10:1

Lubrication system Wet sump

Carburetion 44mm throttle body

Starting/back-up Electric/none

Starting procedure In any gear w/ brake engaged

Air filter:

  Type Paper mesh/screen

Transmission 6-speed w/ manual and auto modes

Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ traction control and lockable rear differential

Final drive: f/r Shaft/shaft

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS

Fuel capacity 7.9 gal.

Wheelbase 80.2”

Overall length/width/height 116.8”/63”/76”

Ground clearance 12.7”

Wet weight 1642 lb.

Bed capacity 1000 lb.

Towing capacity 2000 lb.

ROLLING CHASSIS

Suspension/wheel travel:

  Front Dual A-arms w/ compression &

preload-adjustable shocks /10.6”

  Rear Dual A-arms w/ compression &

preload-adjustable shocks with sway bar/10.0”

Brakes:

  Front 210mm discs

  Rear 210mm discs

Tires:

  Front 27×9-12 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

  Rear 27×11-12 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

DETAILS

DC outlet Auto-style waterproof plug

Lighting:

  Front Two 35W headlights

  Rear LED tail/brake lights

Instrumentation Speedo/odo/tach/trip/hour/fuel/

gear position/diagnostics/clock

Colors Matte Gray Metallic

Minimum recommended operator age 16

Suggested retail price $19,999

Contact .Honda, powersports.honda.com/pioneer.aspx

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