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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My personal comparison test

I finally had the opportunity to give my new Pioneer a good test, and in the process compare it to other side x sides I currently have, and have had in the past.

I have owned a 2004 Yamaha Rhino, a 2009 Kawasaki Teryx LE, and a Polaris 800 RZR-S. I currently own a Polaris 900 RZR XP, and now the 2014 Pioneer 4.

To begin, I believe the new Honda Pioneer automatic transmission is going to be the future of SxS's, and I would bet that every other manufacturer already has a Pioneer that they have disassembled and are seriously studying. I also believe the four seat option will be copied in one way or another. Now having said that I also believe Honda is still way behind some other brands in the recreation S x S area.

I bought the Pioneer to be my utility vehicle and I am very happy with that. However, in the recreation only area, I rate it about equal to my old Rhino. Any of the Polaris RZR's will easily outperform it, as will my old Kawasaki 2009 Teryx LE. The Pioneer has adequate power, but it is only adequate, as even the 700 Teryx would easily run away from it. I have already upgraded the tires so they are fine, but the stock Honda Pioneer shocks are marginal at best.

Now to be fair, this was in desert terrain so a comparison done in some other area may come out different. On top of that, neither of the RZR's can match the Pioneer in a utility application. However, the Teryx, with its dump bed could, and with its better shocks would easily outrun the Pioneer in most off-road areas.

So I guess the bottom line is, for the Honda pioneer to match the other brands in a recreation application it will need (1) more power & (2) better suspension (better seats wouldn't hurt either).

Now if the automatic trans holds up, like I expect it will, then we will probably see a lot more automatics in the other manufacturers side x sides.

If I could go back in time I would still buy the Pioneer, but there are a few areas that Honda should address.

Oh I forgot to add; I didn't see any need for power steering, even with the bigger tires.
 

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Great write up. I enjoy seeing seat of the pants comparisons. I have had a rzr 800 and currently have a 570 rzr and a pioneer. I find the shocks on the Honda to be comparable to the 50 inch rzr shocks. The rzr s has better shocks and suspension for sure. On a full day ride I find the Honda seats to be more comfortable than the rzr seats and my wife also thinks the Honda's are better. I would love to see some better shocks for the pioneer. I had a long ride in the desert last week and found the front shocks to be a little weak for fast desert runs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Great write up. I enjoy seeing seat of the pants comparisons.
Thanks Soapy.

I was just giving an assessment of my new Pioneer in comparison to other vehicles I have owned.

Since the Pioneer leans more towards a utilitarian machine I would not expect it to run heads up with a true recreational side x side. However, with just a few improvements Honda could certainly make it better.

Some people think it is sacrilegious to criticize their favorite brand product and therefore would never agree that some other manufacturer might make something better. However, honest criticism is one of the best venues to force, or even just motivate, product improvement and development.
 

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I like your perspective Qualt. You have obviously had plenty of experience owning SxS's. I saw the Pioneer the same way you did. It's a utility vehicle that I can have some fun in. Plus these days with the internet, and a host of parts. (Well hopefully more soon), that utility vehicle can retain it's towing and payload, yet we can tune the motor and add better shocks and tires, to bring up its sport side. It's a lot harder to start sport, and go utility in my opinion.

I agree that I think the rear seats will be copied, I just don't know about the auto tranny being so easily copied by others. They have pounded their belt systems into our brains for years, and I just don't see Polaris taking a step back. Their strangle hold on the market is pretty firm at this point. If sales slip, maybe, but I don't see them changing their formula else wise.

I really don't see Honda stepping up into the high end of the sports class to challenge. Not that they couldn't, I just think they don't want too. I remember in the 80's when they made the funnest stuff on three wheels, and people acting like me and my friends did back then, were probably some of the people responsible for them stepping out of the cutting edge sports into the utility ATV to avoid lawsuits. The Big Red was the logical first step for them in the SxS world. The Pioneer being the second, we might see a third, but I doubt they will wade in further than that. Who knows though.

I'm glad they made the Pioneer and brought a little fun for the family back to the brand, but also kept it something useful for the people still working in the great outdoors.
 

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as far as power/speed goes I'm sure some smart guy (didn't wanna say nerd) with a laptop will crack the ECM. We will then see programs and what not to do custom maps/tunes on these jokers. My guess is they can made to have more power and speed.
 

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Can you elaborate more on your review?

How are the brakes? I have found the can-am brakes (commander), as well as Teryx brakes to be very lacking in performance. However, EVERY polaris I have owned has awesome brakes! The above mentioned would NOT lock the brakes up on pavement, and every polaris I had would, and stopped very well. Wondering how the P4 would compare in this area?

Also, how is the turning radius? The overall wheelbase is good, just wondering how it turns??

I notice most say power steering is NOT needed, but I wonder if they did like Polaris, and changed the rack ratio to compensate, thus requiring a lot more hand over hand turning just for some fun trail riding?

Any other comments you wanna throw out are welcome.....just trying to get a good idea of any complaints/concerns with this machine.
 

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I don't see them copying the trans any time soon. It's my understanding that the trans has been around a while in the atv side. That being said, they've had plenty of time with this trans.

You could argue that Honda has forced the competition's hand in the utv trans world but time will only tell. My guess is that the belt drive is much cheaper and now Honda has them stuck with it. So, their sticker price is higher with a cheaper trans which makes it hard for them to make that leap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Can you elaborate more on your review?

How are the brakes? ............

Also, how is the turning radius?.......

I notice most say power steering is NOT needed, but I wonder if they did like Polaris, and changed the rack ratio to compensate, thus requiring a lot more hand over hand turning just for some fun trail riding?

Any other comments you wanna throw out are welcome.....just trying to get a good idea of any complaints/concerns with this machine.
Yes I can elaborate more, and answer your questions, but please remember that my comments were in desert terrain and therefore they may not be relevant to other usages (i.e. snow, mud, swamps, hunting, etc).

1) The brakes felt fine and until you asked I hadn't given them any thought. In my review I was never carrying a load and therefore, as the driver, I was the only extra weight it had to stop. However I did go down some very steep hills, in loose terrain, and the brakes did what I would expect them to do. I never gave them a second thought.

2) The turning radius also seemed fine and I do remember thinking to myself that it turned quite sharp for a four wheel drive vehicle, but I never gave that any more thought either.

3) As for power steering, I don't see any need for it and if it was an option, even a no cost option, I wouldn't want it. Now maybe with two passengers and a 1000 lb load in the bed it might need PS, but so far I haven't seen a need for it. Plus, the general rule of thumb is; the less stuff to go wrong the better, and power steering would just be another thing to break (and yes Honda's break too, that's why they sell Honda repair parts).

As for power, it seemed adequate most of the time except for soft sand where even with the wider tires it was noticeably lacking. Wide tires make a big difference in soft sand so I can only guess how bad the power would have seemed with the stock tires.

For me, the top speed of 45 mph is plenty fast for this kind of machine so I do not have a problem with Honda limiting it to that. Heck, even my 900 Polaris RZR can rarely use more speed than that. There are a few places where I can safely go faster but not many.

So my only other comment to a potential buyer would be; if you are strictly looking for a high performance recreation side x side, then there are better choices than the Honda Pioneer, but if you want a S x S with all around utility and unique features that no other manufacture can match (auto trans, short wheelbase w/ four seats and a dump bed) then you should seriously look at the Pioneer, especially for the price.

Hope that helps.
 

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Yes I can elaborate more, and answer your questions, but please remember that my comments were in desert terrain and therefore they may not be relevant to other usages (i.e. snow, mud, swamps, hunting, etc).

1) The brakes felt fine and until you asked I hadn't given them any thought. In my review I was never carrying a load and therefore, as the driver, I was the only extra weight it had to stop. However I did go down some very steep hills, in loose terrain, and the brakes did what I would expect them to do. I never gave them a second thought.

2) The turning radius also seemed fine and I do remember thinking to myself that it turned quite sharp for a four wheel drive vehicle, but I never gave that any more thought either.

3) As for power steering, I don't see any need for it and if it was an option, even a no cost option, I wouldn't want it. Now maybe with two passengers and a 1000 lb load in the bed it might need PS, but so far I haven't seen a need for it. Plus, the general rule of thumb is; the less stuff to go wrong the better, and power steering would just be another thing to break (and yes Honda's break too, that's why they sell Honda repair parts).

As for power, it seemed adequate most of the time except for soft sand where even with the wider tires it was noticeably lacking. Wide tires make a big difference in soft sand so I can only guess how bad the power would have seemed with the stock tires.

For me, the top speed of 45 mph is plenty fast for this kind of machine so I do not have a problem with Honda limiting it to that. Heck, even my 900 Polaris RZR can rarely use more speed than that. There are a few places where I can safely go faster but not many.

So my only other comment to a potential buyer would be; if you are strictly looking for a high performance recreation side x side, then there are better choices than the Honda Pioneer, but if you want a S x S with all around utility and unique features that no other manufacture can match (auto trans, short wheelbase w/ four seats and a dump bed) then you should seriously look at the Pioneer, especially for the price.

Hope that helps.
i will disagree about the honda powersteering having problems in the ATVs . back in 07 when honda introduced the powersteering there were a few problems (1 out of 50 had issues) honda recalled everyone with PS and replaced the units ....... since then i have only herd of 2 or 3 units going bad on forums or from dealerships (that i have talked to and i have over 17,000 post on a honda atv forum ) honda fixed the problem with there PS and is one thing on there atvs that you will never need to replace .....my bet is that if honda ever did introduce the PS in the pioneer it to would give you many trouble free years . Honda learns from there mistakes , granted change is slow to honda but when they do change it is built right ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
i will disagree about the honda powersteering having problems in the ATVs ..............
I was not implying that Honda would have power steering problems, so if what I wrote has been taken as such, then I apologize for my sloppy writing.

What I was trying to convey was; the more parts a machine has, and the more complicated it becomes, the more prone it is to malfunctioning. So, as far as I am concerned, my Pioneer doesn't need power steering and therefore I don't want it at any price.......even free.
 
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