Modern Day Pioneers

Modern Day Pioneers

2014.honda.pioneer700-4.red.front-left.riding.on-trail.with-passengers.jpg“We’re in with both feet, and we’re in it to stay.”  Honda’s Bill Savino left no doubt about the company’s position at a meeting before the official start of production of their new four-seat Side x Side, the Pioneer 700-4.  Not only did Honda open up about the innovative 700-4, but they were quick to share inside information about the recently announced two-seat version of the Pioneer 700 as well.  For a company that usually guards secrets like it was their grandmother’s jewels it was an unusually candid conversation.  Throughout the presentation of market studies, customer surveys, and dealer sales info it was clear the new Pioneer was designed to be right in the heart of the majority of UTV sales, and to take a big bite out of Polaris, Arctic Cat, Can-Am, and Kawasaki.  Make way for the new Pioneers.

Pioneer 700-4 Details

When the Pioneer 700-4 was announced and a few details released most assumed it was primarily a new body style perched atop the existing Big Red chassis, albeit with an innovative ability to quickly transform between two, three, and even four seats.  That was incomplete and a mistake.  The Pioneer 700-4 rides on an all-new chassis although some design elements from the Big Red were retained based on what Honda had learned, and what customers had requested.  Highlights of the new Pioneer chassis include:

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  • 2 inches more wheel travel than Big Red
  • 1.2 inches added width
  • 8” front wheels for more precise steering
  • A very short 14.8 foot turning radius for a four-seat machine
  • Same length wheelbase (76.8) in either two or four seat configuration for maneuverability and the ability to clear trail obstacles without bottoming mid-chassis
  • Tube steel chassis
  • 2WD, 4WD, or 4WD with Differential Lock
  • 2” receiver hitch at the rear, 1500 pounds towing capacity
  • 1000 lb. capacity cargo box

Engine

The new Pioneer uses a liquid cooled, EFI equipped, 675cc engine based heavily on the motor found in the Big Red, which also finds its roots in the Rincon ATV.  Rather than a CVT belt configuration to drive the transmission though, Honda uses a unique, automatic transmission very similar to the one in your truck.  The transmission uses a torque convertor, three clutches, and three forward gears plus reverse, but the engine and transmission have one other very unique trick; adaptive learning.  What that means is the Pioneer monitors your driving habits, load data, and other factors and adjusts shift points accordingly for optimum power delivery.  This also helps with overall fuel consumption, especially when just out for a casual trail ride, again just like with your truck.  Top speed is said to be 43 mph.  It’s not overly fast, but fast enough for a crossover machine.  

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Honda goes through great lengths to insure ride quality, and a big part of that is eliminating vibration.  To accomplish that goal with the new Pioneer models the engine rides on automotive style rubber mounts between the engine cases and the main chassis members.      

New Chassis Styling

We think the new Pioneer models look great!  We like the edgy, strong styling lines that flow from front to back on all models.  It gives a nice, uniform look to the entire bodywork and we know the Honda plastic will hold up.  On the 700-4 the rear seats can be flipped up and down in seconds and the seat backs are spring loaded to make the job a little easier.  An added benefit of the spring pressure is less tendency to bounce or rattle around with no weight in the bed, or without a passenger back against it.  Honda also took care to prevent dust from circulating up into the cab as well, and a rubber seal fills the gap between bed and front seat backs.  

The dash on the Pioneer is a major advancement over the Big Red, and thanks to customer request (or more likely demand) all Pioneer models come with a full digital instrument package, a shift lever on the dash, a parking brake to the right of the steering wheel, and an actual glove box door.  Half doors are standard, as well as three point seat belts and roll-up side nets for added safety.     style=

The Numbers Game

With the new Pioneer models Honda was able to meet two other major goals.  All of the new Pioneer models weigh much less than the Big Red.  The standard Pioneer 700 tips the scales at 1261 pounds, while the 700-4 runs 1396.  The Big Red was a portly 1433 pounds.  The most important number to most owners though is the price, and Honda really impresses in this area.  The Pioneer 700 lists at an MSRP of $9,999 while the four seat Pioneer 700-4 carries an MSRP of $11,699. 

Return of Big Red?

The Pioneer was designed, tested and is being built right here in the U.S.  Don’t expect this to be the only Side x Side in the Honda lineup though.  You don’t build a new factory for one model, and Honda just invested over 27 million dollars in a new line specifically dedicated to Side x Side production.  As Savino states; “We are committed to Side x Sides.  We have a lot of good products coming and it will be at the same Honda standard for quality, and at a price that works.”  Like Bill said, Honda is all-in.

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June 21, 2013

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