New Model Test - Going Big

Honda Introduces the Pioneer 1000
Written By: 
John Arens

2016.honda.pioneer1000.red.front-left.riding.in-woods.jpgHonda needed their newest and biggest machine to be more than just good to compete in a class with some great machines already. It would take input from every division in the company – auto, motorcycle, atv - to create a great, innovative machine of their own. Goal achieved.

Every move at Honda is calculated. That’s why when they call their new Pioneer 1000 “the most important new Honda in 15 years,” they mean every word of it, and they’ve put everything they know about design, engineering, and manufacturing into it. And their resources are considerable. Let’s face it, the multi-billion dollar car company has an enormous toolbox of talent and manufacturing to draw from, and they use it as skillfully as Master Kenobi wields a light saber. Still, with excellent models like the Polaris Ranger, Can-Am’s new Defender, and Kawasaki’s bullet proof Mule Pro-FX already in the class, the bar was set high. Like AC/DC’s Brian Johnson growls out, “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll!”

PIONEER BASICS

The Pioneer 700 set a new direction for Honda. It was and still is an innovative machine that delivers all the performance many owners want, with the ability to handle work duty and weekend trail rides with equal ease. Best of all, it was a bit of a transformer, and two seats could be folded out of the rear dump box. It was also the test bed for things to come. Enter the all-new Pioneer 1000, and Pioneer 1000-5.2016.honda.pioneer1000.close-up.dash.jpgThe Pioneer cab and dash. Notice the digital display, transmission gear lever, and 2wd/4wd/diff lock lever in the dash.

A NEW FACE

Both models of the new Pioneer ride on a nearly identical chassis that is noticeably bigger than the Pioneer 700. Overall body styling is aggressive but refined and Honda did a nice job of finishing the look with a set of excellent, color matched doors. Body lines are continued from front to rear panels, but more importantly, the doors keep your feet, legs, and lower body well protected. They also close and latch securely every time and don't rattle around or cause extra noise on the trail. This was one area where Honda was able to draw from their automobile experience, but it really shows inside the cab.

Honda realized they needed extra passengers and power to compete for top honors in the class and a bench seat fits three comfortably. To avoid the usual shoulder jostling, the center seat is elevated and slightly forward and from any seat the Pioneer 1000 is comfortable. Just ahead of the passengers is an excellent dash design with all controls at the driver’s reach, and an easy to read digital display shows pretty much all vehicle functions. A good sized glove box offers protected storage, and there are two open shelf areas in the dash for storage as well. The most interesting feature is the paddle shifter just behind the tilting steering wheel, and if you’re like us, you’ll come to love it very quickly.

While both the Pioneer 1000 and 1000-5 come with the same front seat configuration, the 1000-5 model has a trick. Two additional seats can be folded out of the dump box! Access is through another set of doors that are neatly concealed in the dump box sides, and like all passengers in the Pioneer, three point seat belts keep you safely inside. It’s actually a lot of fun to ride in the back. With the rear seats deployed, the box storage area is reduced but a lockout mechanism keeps anyone from dumping the cargo bed with startled passengers inside.2016.honda.pioneer1000.red.right.riding.in-field.jpgDoes mountain trail exploration get any better than this? The Pioneer was perfect for it!

TECHNOLOGY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Honda believes CVT systems have no place in a heavy duty Side x Side, or even in an ATV for that matter, and they make no bones about it. Once again, their experience in the automotive world comes into play though, and the Pioneer 1000 gets a transmission first used in their Formula-1 racing program. It’s a long way from the streets of Monaco to the trails of Montana, but the technology in the dual clutch transmission is basically the same, and it works like magic.

The Automatic Dual Clutch transmission from the Pioneer actually features two clutches with each controlling half the gear set. As one gear set is driving you forward, the transmission has already engaged the next, but the clutch is standing ready to make the transition, which it does nearly seamlessly. The result is a fast shifting, smooth transmission, and the entire system is managed by the ECU which controls the electronic shifting. Complicated? You bet! Does it work in the field? It’s reliable, all but bullet proof, and we like it very much.

The Pioneer transmission has one other set of tricks; it’s infinitely adjustable to your driving habits and needs at the time. On the dash is a button allowing you to select between three drive modes, Fully Automatic, Sport Mode, or Fully Manual with the use of the paddle shifters. The system even features adaptive learning (again like some cars and trucks do) and it begins to sense your riding style and adjust itself accordingly. With all the different drive modes, there is practically an infinite amount of gearing, and switching between modes can be done on the fly. At any time though, if you feel the gearing is not what you want for a particular situation, you can over-ride it with the paddle shifters. This is almost certainly the most advanced technology on any current Side x Side or ATV.2016.honda.pioneer1000-and-1000-5.red.right.parked.in-field.jpgThe 2016 Honda Pioneer 1000, and Pioneer 1000-5

With all the shifting options, Honda wanted to offer a matching drive system. A dash mounted lever selects either 2WD (locked rear differential), 4WD (locked rear/limited-slip front differential), Turf Mode (unlocked rear for tighter turns and sensitive turf), or 4WD Full Lock for when things really get sticky.

Electronic Power Steering has become a welcome feature on premium models like the Pioneer, and once again Honda does not disappoint. The Honda EPS system senses steering load, speed, drive mode, and adjusts the steering assist accordingly to provide consistent feel.

NEW ENGINE & CHASSIS

Honda couldn’t introduce an all-new, flagship machine without a motor to match, and the new Pioneer gets a 999c liquid-cooled, OHC Unicam parallel-twin engine. It’s also the largest engine Honda has ever built for any off-road machine. It wasn’t all about the size though; the engine had to perform in every way. Sport riders will recognize the Unicam design as straight off the TRX 450R ATV or the Honda motocross bikes, and the advantage is a powerful engine with a relatively small size, and great reliability. To eliminate friction loss in shaft and gear direction changes, the engine is mounted sideways in the chassis with the drive shaft poking out the end. Rubber mounts on the engine and exhaust keep vibration to a minimum, and it seemingly floats down the trail. It’s also fairly quiet. We were also happy to find a very easy to reach dip stick right under the seat, and the airbox is mounted for easy access as well. The new engine definitely delivers plenty of power (72hp claimed), with a maximum towing load of 2000lbs.2016.honda.pioneer1000.white.front-left.riding.on-path.jpgThe Pioneer 1000 is also available in white

The frame on the Pioneer is unique in that it features a modular style chassis that is actually many pieces bolted together with high-strength bolts. This certainly makes fabrication and shipping to final assembly easy. On the trail the chassis feels rigid and we noticed no squeaking or noise from chassis flex.

We really like the 12.9 inches of Pioneer 1000 ground clearance. It comes in handy on rough trails or when crossing rocks. To compensate for extra passengers in the rear seats, the Pioneer 1000-5 gets self-leveling shocks that feature an internal chamber that resets the shocks when it senses the extra load. This insures a smooth ride for the rear passengers, and consistent handling for the driver. Dual A-Arms are used at all corners, and the front of the Pioneer has 10.5 inches of wheel travel while the rear has 10 inches. Hauling and towing heavy loads means you must be able to stop them safely as well, and heavy duty disc brakes are used at each wheel.

RIDE EFFECT

We were impressed with the new Pioneer 1000 and 1000-5 after our initial inspection, but what really counts is how it performs. Luckily we were able to load it up for work on a Montana cattle and horse ranch and true to Honda’s promise, it could handle everything we could stack in the back of it or tow behind. Even with a heavy load, the suspension resists bottoming, and the motor never lacks for power. Most of the time we left the transmission in 2WD and Fully Automatic mode and it performed very well. When switching to TURF mode, the turning radius is noticeably tighter. This was handy for tight turns in the woods, and when not wanting to tear out pasture sod. Switching to 4WD definitely improved the performance in a few areas where standing water marked soggy ground, but we never came close to getting stuck. We also noticed the EPS system provided excellent feel of the terrain in all drive modes. Honda must have spent considerable time dialing in the EPS system because it provided good assist without taking away feel. The Pioneer is a worker, but it was time for some extended trail rides.

The terrain around the ranch began at the rocky banks of the Blackfoot River and climbed into heavily forested foothills with spectacular views. This was certainly Big Sky country. We pointed our modern day Pioneer at the trails and headed out to explore.2016.honda.pioneer1000.close-up.seats.jpgThe three person bench seat on the Pioneer 1000. Notice the center passenger seat is slightly raised, and the back rest is slightly forward for less shoulder contact. It works!

We began our adventure with the Pioneer transmission again in Fully Automatic mode. It never had a problem, but we preferred slightly higher shift points, so we switched it on the fly to Sport mode. This definitely kicked it up a notch, and the engine revved higher between shifts. We also tried Full Manual mode and it was very fun to work the paddle shifter through the corners, but the Sport Mode provided better, more consistent response. There is one way to improve on it, however. At all times you can override the transmission with a flick of the paddle shifter. This made it an absolute blast to leave it in Fully Automatic Sport mode, and then flick it down a gear in the corners with the paddle shifter. We LOVED it! In any mode the DCT transmission works EXCELLENT!

Even though the Pioneer 1000 is designed to be a serious working machine, we really enjoyed it on the trails as well. The suspension handled whoops and trail obstacles easily, and it feels stable in the corners, while the engine never runs out of power, even at higher elevations. We could feel some sidewall flex from the Maxxis Bighorn tires because Honda specs out the Pioneer with a 4 ply sidewall tire for a better ride, while most aftermarket Bighorns are 6 ply. Still, we’ll take it. When racing back to camp, we managed to hit 65mph, and just as importantly, when we jammed on the brakes, the Pioneer immediately clawed at the ground to stop quickly, with no darting or pulling to either side. About the only thing we would like is more storage. Best of all, with different options there are four different Pioneer models to choose from!

MOST REFINED HONDA YET

There is no doubt in our mind this is the most refined Honda yet. The Pioneer is an extremely well designed and built machine from front bumper to rear tail gate, and no detail was overlooked. It runs excellent, it handles well, and it’s ready for a lifetime of work or weekend trail rides. We’re impressed with Honda’s new engine and F-1 derived DCT transmission, although you’ll need to get your own supermodel to truly have the F-1 experience. Then again, the Pioneer 1000 already is one.

2016 HONDA PIONEER TRIM LEVELS


Pioneer
1000

Pioneer
1000 EPS

Pioneer
1000-5

Pioneer
1000-5
Deluxe

27" bias tires

X

X

X

27" radial tires

X

12" steel wheels

X

X

X

14" aluminum wheels

X

Electric Power Steering (EPS)

X

X

X

Tilt steering wheel

X

X

X

Paddle shifters

X

X

X

Sport mode

X

X

X

Color-matched door/
bedside panels

X

X

Available Honda
Phantom Camo®

X

X

QuickFlip® Seating for 5

X

X

Self-Leveling Rear
Suspension

X

X

LED headlights

X

COMMON FEATURES to ALL 2016 HONDA PIONEER MODELS

  • 999cc Liquid Cooled, EFI Equipped parallel twin, four stroke engine

  • Unicam® head and cylinder design like that of Honda’s CRF motocross models

  • Longitudinal engine mounting eliminates unnecessary right angles in the driveline

  • Fully Automatic DCT transmission

  • Six-speed automatic on all four types. Models with EPS also have a sport mode switch and manual paddle shifters2016.honda.pioneer1000.close-up.engine.jpgThe longitudinally mounted engine on the Pioneer 1000. It’s the largest engine Honda has ever built for off-road.

  • Advanced shift logic: The system monitors variables including throttle position and input, engine rpm, vehicle speed and brake input to determine driving style.

  • The low-range sub-transmission has a 1.42:1 ratio (like a 4WD truck), essentially doubling the number of gears from six to twelve.

  • Multiple drive-system modes. 2WD (locked rear differential), 4WD (locked rear/limited-slip front differential), Differential Lock (locked rear/locked front to maximize available traction), Turf Mode (2WD with limited-slip rear differential, to protect lawn or crops).

  • Dual A-arm design and fully independent suspension front and rear, with 10.5 inches of plush travel up front, 10.0 inches in back.

  • Ground clearance is an impressive 12.9 inches on the 1000 and 1000 EPS, and 12.4 inches on the 1000-5 EPS and 1000-5 Deluxe.

  • All Pioneer 1000 models come equipped with 27” tires. The Deluxe model comes standard with premium Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires

  • Self-Leveling suspension on the five-person models. (Available as an accessory for the three-person models)

  • Tilt steering on all models with EPS.

  • LCD multifunction display with large, easy-to-read screen, showing speed, odometer, trip A and B, tachometer, gear selected, transmission mode, drive mode, clock, fuel, water temperature, mode and maintenance reminder.

  • Two open dash-storage areas and a weatherproof glove box.

MSRP:

  • 2016 Pioneer 1000 $13,999
  • 2016 Pioneer 1000 EPS $15,199

  • 2016 Pioneer 1000-5 $16,199

  • 2016 Pioneer 1000-5 Deluxe $17,199

2016.honda.pioneer1000.red.front.riding.on-path.jpgExcellent ground clearance and sturdy undercarriage armor lets the Pioneer 1000 explore rocky trails with no fear.

2016.honda.pioneer1000.red.front-left.riding.on-trail.jpgThe Pioneer is an excellent exploration machine. We had a blast running the trails of Montana on it.

2016.honda.pioneer1000.red.left.riding.on-trail.jpg

2016.honda.pioneer1000-5.red.front-left.parked.on-dirt-road.jpgThe Pioneer 1000-5 Deluxe model with a full weather protection cab. This system is a great defense for working in northern climates and nasty weather

2016.honda.pioneer1000-5.close-up.air-intake-system.jpgThe air intake tract on the new Pioneer. We like how it pulls clean air from the front of the machine, and the intake is mounted high in the chassis.

Organization: 
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