The Honda Pioneer 1000-5 Limited Edition is battling in a crowded segment full of machines that offer a family of four the opportunity to get out on the trail all in the same unit, but Honda goes about it differently than other builders.
First off, the wheelbase on the Pioneer comes in at 80.2-inches, shorter that the Kawasaki Teryx4 and the Yamaha Wolverine X4. So Honda keeps the Pioneer small, though this machine is the only one out of the two previously mentioned that comes with a dump bed. How does Honda make that work? Some clever engineering.
The rear seats are able to tuck away neatly into the floor of the bed in the back, allowing you to choose between fully operational dump bed and having space for two passengers in the back. When folded down, the seat backs to create some slits in the floor that debris such as sand or gravel can fall into, but Honda accessories sells bed inserts that will solve this problem.
And how do the seats hold up? That’s where the compromise of this flexibility comes into focus. The seats themselves are fairly comfortable with some decent cushioning, but it’s the floor position and legroom that make sitting back here so tough. The seat bottom and the floor are not all that far apart, which means any fully grown adult is going to have trouble getting comfortable in this backseat thanks to knees that jammed into your chest. These are good for children or in a pinch, but an adult can’t ride in these seats all day long.
Powering this Pioneer is a 999cc fuel-injected twin-cylinder engine with Honda’s famed four-valve Unicam cylinder head. The engine makes 72 horsepower which is sent to one, two or all four wheels depending on which setting you choose on the dash-mounted lever. On our Limited Edition model, the four-wheel drive is called i4WD, with the ‘i’ standing for intelligent.
A six-speed dual-clutch transmission handles shifting duties, and we did experience one hiccup with it. In the cold (about -5 celsius), the transmission shifts quite slowly, and you have to drive the Pioneer softly to avoid big lurches. Once fully warmed though, the dual-clutch fires off shifts quickly and best of all, you can control which gear you’re in with large paddle shifters mounted behind the wheel.
Unlike the front and rear locking differentials of the standard Pioneer model, the Limited Edition gets a rear locker and front limited-slip differential that can send torque to each individual wheel. The real trick up front is the individual wheel braking which the machine can apply to help send the power to the wheel with traction.
To see how the four-wheel drive system holds up, we ran the Pioneer 1000-5 through some deep water, thick ice and muddy and snow, and the i4WD system served us well. You can feel the Pioneer’s front wheels slip and almost immediately feel the machine sending the power to other wheel. The reaction is fast and seamless and suddenly you can feel the power getting to the wheel with more traction.
The 27-inch Maxxis Big Horn 2.0 tires also did a fine job of keeping traction with the earth, especially considering we were running them through some deep snow.
Supporting the Pioneer Limited Edition are FOX QS3 shocks offering 10-inches of suspension travel in the front and 10.5-inches of travel in the rear, more than enough for this Honda to feel comfortable, even when hitting obstacles with some real speed. And thanks to three different settings on the shocks, the owner can dial this machine in exactly how they would want it.
Up front on the interior Honda offers lots of under dash storage along with two cup holders and a deep glove box. But one of the best convenience features is simply how wide the doors open, going well past 90-degrees. This makes ingress and egress that much simpler for this machine, not to mention that with the rear doors opened wide you have a new side access to the dump bed.
So what does it all cost? That’s where the Pioneer starts to look a little expensive compared to its competitors. In the US, the 2019 Honda Pioneer 1000-5 LE will sell for $22,099, a little expensive when compared to the the Kawasaki Teryx4 LE that goes for $17,199 and the upgraded Yamaha Wolverine X4 model that sells for $17,249.
In Canada, the prices are more expensive but the gap stay about the same. The 1000-5 LE sells for $25,999 compared to the Teryx4 LE at $19,699 and Wolverine X4 at $21,499.
So going for the Pioneer will cost you a premium over the competition, but seeing as this is the only one of those machine to offer rear seats and a dump bed, Honda does work hard to set itself apart. Not to mention the dual-clutch automatic transmission, solid steering feel and powerful engine.
It’s not the cheapest machine out there, but the Honda Pioneer 1000-5 could be the most versatile side-by-side in the segment, and if that flexibility is important to you, than Honda can deliver.