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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I am researching side by sides and was very interested in the midsize ranger 800 . I will be using it for 50% work building a hunting cabin and hunting and 50% for play. I like the 50 hp that the ranger provides. They ( Polaris seem to be the off road kings and have been in the market years before Honda ( with regards to sbs ). BUT after reading so many reliability issues with Polaris I started looking at a Pioneer , I do like it for me 45 mph is fast enough I am a little concerned about low end power . There is no denying Honda reliability and believe me I do not want my money going into my side by side every weekend. So what I am asking is how is the Pioneer reliability factor ( have they even been out long enough to ask )
Thanks in advance
Bill
 

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Probably a little early. have 53 miles on mine with no problems ( other than the minor seat defect) and I have roughed it up pretty good. I've got a 93 TRX 250 X, 04 Rubicon 500 and a 07 TRX 90 that have been problem free from day one and that is why I stick with Honda.
 

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The drivetrain is the same as the Big Red and Rincon. There are plenty of Rincons out there with 10,000+ miles. Don't worry about it.
This leaves the chassis and electrical systems. Honda just doesn't screw stuff like that up, so don't worry about that either.

Polaris deserves credit for taking ATVs/SxS's where they are now...but what i have found is that a large number of Polaris fanboys have a) never owned another brand b) Forgive faults that would have Honda owners performing a lynching and c) Are willing to take fast and powerful for sketchy durability.

I also feel that Polaris made major in-roads by "dumbing down" the ATV with single lever brakes and CVT's. This got more people into the sport because just about anyone could jump on a Polaris and ride...never mind that perhaps many of them shouldn't do so. CVT's are great, but if you can't shift your own gears or work separate brakes due to a lack of coordination, you have no business on a 800 pound ATV capable of 60 MPH.

Now, i very nearly bought a RzR 570. Great ideal and price, but suffers from the same old "Polarisness" that always turns me away. In fact, my biggest wish was that it had been made by someone else...
For 10 years i would go on rides with tons of Sportsman. Powerful, comfy machines. Just when i thought that maybe i should look into these things, one of them would break and need to be towed, or have to turn back.

I say all this not because i have an agenda against Polaris. On the contrary, i really want them to be good enough for me to buy for their many advantages...but thus far, they haven't quite made it.
 

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You see lots of issues with Polaris, that's for sure. They sell so many units though, it's to be expected. I have a friend whose family owns 2 dealerships. 60% of their business is Polaris . Kawasaki , Honda , and Suzuki make up the other 40%.

What machines do they work on the most? Well it's Polaris. My friend doesn't correlate that directly to the sales numbers. He feels about half of the reported problems are from inexperienced owners. Broken or wet belts. Cams not getting enough oil due to neglect. Not cleaning the vehicle regularly or checking components before they become a problem. Most first time buyers are going to see what most people are driving and thinks that's the best thing for them. I don't blame them. If I walked into a restaurant and saw most everyone eating a hot dog, I'd probably say to myself, "****, they must make a mean hot dog" . I don't even like them that much, but maybe I will get it to see. Maybe a hot dog is a bad analogy, because they don't cost $15,000+.

I was in the same boat as you for the last couple years. I kept wanting to pull the trigger on a Ranger purchase, but after driving them and researching them, I kept hoping for something to change the next year to make it just right. Two weeks ago I almost bought a 900 crew. Drove the family about an hour out to go see it. After looking it over, I asked to test drive it , and the salesmen hesitated. He finally agreed and it ran like crap. Felt like it had a belt slipping and had the most god awful rattle in the cage. I went back and he could see by my face I was peeved to put it lightly. He said, seem like it was slipping a bit? I said a bit?? He went on to explain how they could rectify that in short order and delivery late the next week. I left with the family and my wife and I talked on the way home about how if it was more like $10,000 instead of $17,000 maybe we could live with that rattle. Needless to say that led me here. I haven't owned a Honda since a trail 70 back in the mid 1980's. I am not a Honda guy. I'd bet my life on a Suzuki or Kawasaki and I actually have before streaking down the pavement at 150 mph.

My best friend from since I was just a little baby moose, well his family always ran Hondas. I have seen those things beaten and beaten and beaten. I mean it made me cringe at times. They just keep going though. His latest ATV, I think it is a Rincon. It runs the same 675cc motor as the Pioneer. That gave me the resolve to buy the 700-4 after I decided it was the right machine for my needs.

I wish you the best in your decision. Just remember that no matter what you buy, maintaining it is going to make the biggest difference in regards to shop time and repairs. The Honda is pretty straight forward. Just check the oil is the biggest thing. Another good piece of advice for breaking less stuff is, when that little voice in your head says, jeez I might break something trying to do this, well then just go ahead and figure out another way to do it.
 

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My Honda has done something my two Polaris machines never did: Crank every time, and held a low idle. My duck hunting buddies with Hondas nicknamed my Sportsman 500 "the paperweight" since it never cranked and had belt slipping problems every time I got it near water. Meanwhile the honda guys would park IN the same water I would not drive through, hunt 4 hours, crank and go home. My 500 HO stayed in the shop literally more than it stayed at camp. I would walk in with decoys on my back before I owned another Paperweight Polaris.
 

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I have always liked Honda but in the past 4 years they did not have a SXS that fit my needs. I purchased both a 800 and 570 rzr. I have had numerous problems with both machines and it was not due to lack of care on my part. I rode SKi DOO snowmoblies for years while my brother rode polaris. Every week his sled was in the shop for one thing or another while the ski doos just ran. I was glad when Honda came out with the pioneer and you can see a much higher level of build quality compared to the a rzr. I was concerned that the pioneer did not have a low range but after having driven it a couple of hundred miles I have climbed several steep hills without a problem. I think the first gear is pretty low with 2nd and third being spaced out well. The automotive tranny in the pioneer is almost bullet proof. With any polaris you always carry a spare belt because there is no question that you WILL have to change it at some point out on the trail or get towed back in.
 

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Hi. My name is John and I am a long time Polaris rider! I am considering an upgrade to a SXS. The ranch we hunt is really rugged. As I age I tend to appreciate a smoother ride from the IRS and the comfort of sitting in a cab out of the weather. I have test driven both the Ranger and Pioneer. One thing I noticed with the Pioneer is the transmission downshfts to a lower gear when you let off the gas. The automobile transmissions don't do this unless you manually downshift. Is this the normal operation? I am a bit concerned about going downhill and having the transmission and engine doing the braking. I have always thought it better to use the brakes and avoid the wear and tear on the expensive pieces (engine and tranny). Am I imagining something that is not supported by reality?
 

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I was in the same boat not just 3 weeks ago, needless to say I went with the pioneer. My buddy owned a ranger and I borrowed it all the time and ridden in them many times. My family owned the bulletproof 300 4trax and the 300 big red 3 wheeler. Now that you know my past, here is the present. I had all the same concerns with no low gear, but I knew the pioneer would be bullet proof and after breaking it down, I didn't need anything over 45 mph so I bought the pioneer. You have to make your own decision but here is my advice, BUY the pioneer. I have climbed trees (don't ask why), taken it up seriously steep climbs (loaded down) and towed heavy trailers with it. Basically if you can get over the top speed, then the pioneer tops in every catergory. I know you will be happy. I wanted a machine that would last a lifetime and I think it will.
 

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Hello from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

My Dad and I recently purchased a 2013 Ranger 500 EFI (for our deer camp) after test driving it and noting that it had plenty of power (and better fuel economy than the 800). And then we traded it. Consider what follows a short review of Ranger 500 vs. Pioneer 700-4.

Nothing was wrong with it, just that after driving the Pioneer 700-4 we couldn't ever be happy with the Polaris. The Honda was without argument smoother, quieter, had fewer rattles, better mpg from our testing (18.5 on first tank ~75% gravel road - before 100 mile tune up), and automotive grade engineering.

Something that impressed me was the that if you look at the Pioneer's rear differential it is specifically designed so the drive shaft is at an angle other than the usual 90° to the axles - this way only one universal joint had to be used to connect the differential to the transmission. Look at a Polaris and you'll see a dizzying amount of U-joints between transmission and axles. Also, every U-joint on the Honda has a robust rubber cover on it! Honda's engineers were definitely top of their class.

I also love how the Honda crawls over obstacles where the Polaris required a tap-dance between throttle and brake. The Honda was just smooth and easy to control.

Regarding comfort - Pioneer hands down. Much more comfortable seats, and there are lots of clever spots to put your feet in the Pioneer. The doors are also very nice on the trail for mud (and help keep feet and legs warmer in cold weather). Ride quality and handling is subjective, but I thought it better on the Pioneer. Funny thing - both me and my dad after 600 miles on the Ranger always considered it an ATV. In just 100 miles on the Poineer we have both reached to flick a turn signal before taking a corner. It tricked us both in to thinking we were in a car (Pioneer does't have turn-signals). The smoothness of the Pioneer is also deceiving of the speed. When cruising at 30-35mph on the forestry roads it feels slower than you are actually traveling. The Ranger was much noisier and gave a more telling auditory indicator of speed than the Pioneer.

A few pics at this link of the machine's I mentioned (the blog is off-topic but it's easier than re-uploading the pictures here): Thoughts on SxS's | offgridcabin
 

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Hi. My name is John and I am a long time Polaris rider! I am considering an upgrade to a SXS. The ranch we hunt is really rugged. As I age I tend to appreciate a smoother ride from the IRS and the comfort of sitting in a cab out of the weather. I have test driven both the Ranger and Pioneer. One thing I noticed with the Pioneer is the transmission downshfts to a lower gear when you let off the gas. The automobile transmissions don't do this unless you manually downshift. Is this the normal operation? I am a bit concerned about going downhill and having the transmission and engine doing the braking. I have always thought it better to use the brakes and avoid the wear and tear on the expensive pieces (engine and tranny). Am I imagining something that is not supported by reality?
The Pioneers transmission does function as an automotive automatic does. However, your shift points are much closer together, as you top speed is only in the low 40's. So letting your foot off the gas does cause downshift as would your car shift if you slowed to the next gears range. Engine braking is perfectly okay. You don't want to rely on just one or the other. Use both the engine and your brakes. If you are in very rugged or technical terrain, responsive downshifting and not having free wheeling are really two really good allies. I have spent the last two days hauling 1000lb loads over rocks, trees, ruts, hills, and sand. The pioneer is built around a proven drivetrain and I prefer it to the loose belt feel when transitioning speed on a Polaris.

I wish you the best of luck in you decision.
 

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Hello from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

My Dad and I recently purchased a 2013 Ranger 500 EFI (for our deer camp) after test driving it and noting that it had plenty of power (and better fuel economy than the 800). And then we traded it. Consider what follows a short review of Ranger 500 vs. Pioneer 700-4.

Nothing was wrong with it, just that after driving the Pioneer 700-4 we couldn't ever be happy with the Polaris. The Honda was without argument smoother, quieter, had fewer rattles, better mpg from our testing (18.5 on first tank ~75% gravel road - before 100 mile tune up), and automotive grade engineering.

Something that impressed me was the that if you look at the Pioneer's rear differential it is specifically designed so the drive shaft is at an angle other than the usual 90° to the axles - this way only one universal joint had to be used to connect the differential to the transmission. Look at a Polaris and you'll see a dizzying amount of U-joints between transmission and axles. Also, every U-joint on the Honda has a robust rubber cover on it! Honda's engineers were definitely top of their class.

I also love how the Honda crawls over obstacles where the Polaris required a tap-dance between throttle and brake. The Honda was just smooth and easy to control.

Regarding comfort - Pioneer hands down. Much more comfortable seats, and there are lots of clever spots to put your feet in the Pioneer. The doors are also very nice on the trail for mud (and help keep feet and legs warmer in cold weather). Ride quality and handling is subjective, but I thought it better on the Pioneer. Funny thing - both me and my dad after 600 miles on the Ranger always considered it an ATV. In just 100 miles on the Poineer we have both reached to flick a turn signal before taking a corner. It tricked us both in to thinking we were in a car (Pioneer does't have turn-signals). The smoothness of the Pioneer is also deceiving of the speed. When cruising at 30-35mph on the forestry roads it feels slower than you are actually traveling. The Ranger was much noisier and gave a more telling auditory indicator of speed than the Pioneer.

A few pics at this link of the machine's I mentioned (the blog is off-topic but it's easier than re-uploading the pictures here): Thoughts on SxS's | offgridcabin
Great review on your website.
 

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My buddy has a rzr s. He rides that thing really hard at the sand dunes. So far he's replaced the motor, gone through 2 belts, some suspension components, the 4wd doesn't work, among other things I've probably forgot. It seems like there's one thing after another. He has had it for less than 2 years I believe. Good thing he has the 5 year warranty. It makes me never want to buy a Polaris though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
all,

you have said it well . To tell you the truth I think I new Honda is were I wanted to be.Thanks for all your input and help .
 

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How do you like the folding windshield? Think I'm going that way also.

robf
What I have is a windshield that opens a crack (not all the way up of down like some). It allows extra airflow to the cab - since it has been <50°F every time I've ridden I can't yet say if this is a good feature for summer or not (maybe if you're wearing a helmet? - which I don't). We've had a lot of wet weather lately and the full windshield with wiper accessory is starting to look like a good idea actually. When looking at windshields I'd rate scratch resistance above the folding feature.

I have the hard-coat poly windscreen. Added three small rubber anti-slip stick-ems due to a rattle that occurred under hard riding (between bottom 1/4 panel and windscreen). Worked like a charm. So far completely happy with our windscreen.
 

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Samuels comparison is spot on as I owned Polaris 500EFI Ranger putting 1300 miles on it. Loaded with lots of extras it never failed me. But I have owned Honda's since the Big Red 3 wheeler days and I jumped at the chance to go "Beltless" again. The Pioneer is better in everything except the "turf-mode" Polaris offers. I might miss that. But the the Pioneer is just first class everywhere. This machine also fits my trails on our hunting property. It is just better plain and simple. Pioneer is the winner and I am looking forward to using for years to come.
 

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all,

you have said it well . To tell you the truth I think I new Honda is were I wanted to be.Thanks for all your input and help .
Glad we could be of service. Be sure to update us with some details when you pick up the beast!
 
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