Inside Scoop On Honda’s New Pioneer 700 & 700-4 & What This Might Mean For The Future.
By Thad Josey
Remember the 1980’s? Better yet, remember in 1988 when both a popular television show on one of the major networks and the U.S. government ganged up on Hondas three wheeler line-up claiming it to be dangerous? The undeserved attacks led to countless lawsuits, the banning of further production of three-wheelers and set a horrible new precedence for the future of four-wheeled production performance off-road vehicles. Long story short, till this very day when it comes to Hondas utility and recreational vehicles, they are generally conservative on the approach, mild on power and performance with top focus on safety and quality. Of course there have been exceptions.
Just in case you were wondering, that in a nutshell is why Honda has taken such a conservative approach to the UTV market! Well, that is till now as they have committed to stepping in deeper with a new full on commitment to the UTV market with the 2014 Pioneer 700 & 700-4, although that does not likely mean you’ll be seeing any super high powered rides at the level both Can-Am and Polaris have been producing, but an exciting move forward in my opinion! I predict that Honda will in have extremely exciting releases in the coming days, months and years.
INTRODUCING HONDA PIONEER 700 & 700-4
Fresh off a new adventure, I was lucky enough to see the very first Pioneer roll off the assembly line, meet some of the great Americans that are assembling it, and take it for a test spin so that I could give some first impression feedback and thoughts to our readers. Lets say the experience heightened my excitement levels drastically. First off, it’s exciting to hear that 65 new jobs have been created right hear in the good ole U.S of A., Timmons, South Carolina to be exact and to hear the excitement these people have for building a top notch quality vehicle for their customers. It’s also a boost hearing directly from Honda that Pioneer is just the start, as it represents the first of many. Come on guys, this is Honda and that’s exciting right! And to top off my experience, getting behind the wheel and pushing it hard proved to me that even though it is able to accomplish all that Big Red could accomplish work wise, it was just as able to go to the next level by being extremely fun when piling in it for fun on the trails.
WHAT IS PIONEER
Boring you with large paragraphs of specifications and details might cause both youre and my brains to swell up and explode, so Ill just touch on the important highlights. The Honda Pioneer 700 and Pioneer 700-4 is a utility/recreational UTV which focuses on quality, reliability and affordability. It is offered in two versions, the 2 or 4 seat models. It is powered by a 700cc, liquid-cooled OHV, single-cylinder four-stroke engine that is three MPH faster than its predecessor Big Red. Thats a total of 43 MPH and also offers a peppier response to acceleration. Its makes use of pretty much the same style transmission found in Big Red, that means no squeaky wet, slippery or shredded belts to deal with. It does not currently offer a power-steering model, yet engineers claim that its designed to steer with just the right amount of ease and precision and that helps in obtaining a much more cost effective vehicle. Yes, I happen to agree that they are for the most part correct although Im sure certain scenarios might be better handled with the extra assist. On the 4 seat model, the seats fold up for those times of hitting trails with friends or family, yet fold down creating a bed for hauling quite easily. The conversion overall is simple and easy to switch back and forth from. For those who like accessorizing, Honda currently offers 57 items to a growing list of approved factory accessories. They made it clear that the list is still growing, so expect a wide variety of options to be available.
Like mentioned above, a cost effective, high quality UTV that works as hard as Big Red and plays just as hard was the focus. For the 700 model, expect a price tag in the range of $9,999. Add a couple of seats and the 700-4 model will run about $11,699.
FIRST RIDE IMPRESSION
Just as it says above, this is a first ride impression and we only had a minimal amount of test time. With that said, I spent my time in both the 2 and 4 seat models as wisely as possible. A portion of more technical testing as well as pounding hard through the weaving tight and somewhat rugged South Carolina pine-tree filled trails were my focus. So lets dive in.
Quality was for the most part just what youd expect from Honda, although the finish seemed maybe a notch under what Im used to seeing in some portions of the machine for example, the area where seats fold into a bed. Functionally it was great, it just didn’t have quite the polish while keeping in mind they were working towards keeping that price more affordable. But in other areas, it was on par. Doors operate easily, finding the door handle isn’t as its hidden inside and not marked. Driver and passenger ergonomics were typical, meaning excellent. The shifter moved into any gear with ease, parking brake was tight for parking on unleveled ground and the floorboards have traction built into it to help keep your feet from sliding around too much in rough terrain. A decent amount of storage space is available in the glove compartment, but you might have to search in the accessories catalog if you need a lot of space. If I had any complaints, it would be the frustration of getting in and strapped quickly. Getting doors opened and closed, seatbelt buckled, nets secured are all great safety items, but were frustrating to get locked down quickly.
When it came to the power and performance side of things, I for sure found the acceleration noticeably peppier than Big Red. It pulled as hard as can be expected for its purpose and reached top speed fairly quickly. It didn’t bog down the motors power when loaded with all four passengers. I personally was impressed with the stability while I darted through the trees, diving hard into each turn. It did not have that scary rollover feeling, actually planted itself nicely regardless of speed. That goes for off-camber creeping and crawling as well. The ride actually seemed smoother on the 700-4, especially when it was loaded with either all four passengers or a heavy load in the bed. Of course the front suspension bottoms easily when hitting a pot hole, ditch or object at speed, but its not really a vehicle intended for deep whoops or XC racing.
IN A NUTSHELL
For those looking for a high performance race machine, Pioneer is not for you. For those who need a good quality, hard working UTV, those who need a good vehicle to go fishing and hunting in, and maybe youd even like to go on some adventures and do some trail riding, Honda Pioneer just might be for you. I think its good quality, its work able, its a ton of fun and it has a decent price tag on it. Oh, and its Honda. It proves to me that were more than likely going to see some really great models added to the Honda lineup sometime in the near future. At least, thats my opinion.
For those disappointed that Honda hasn’t hit that sportier mark, hang tight. I’m not claiming a high performance desert ride, but I did get the impression that the recreational sport segment would not be ignored.
- Typical Honda Quality – For The Most Part
- Typical Honda Ergonomics
- Works Super Hard
- Fun For Recreation With Friends/Family
- Better Affordability
- Some Fit & Finish Sacrifices For Pricing
- No Tilt In Steering
- Lacking Sufficient Storage Space
WHAT’S THE OVERALL SCOOP
- Honda Has Entered, Its A Great Time To Be A UTV Enthusiast!
American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 2200
Torrance, CA 90509-2200
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. is the sole distributor of Honda motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and personal watercraft in the U.S.