Honda Hunting

Which is right for you?

Published in the May 2018 Issue May 2018 Feature Lane Lindstrom

When it comes to deciding which Honda side-by-side is best for you, it might end up being a matter of needs vs. wants.

Of course, making that decision is not much different than with many other manufacturers who offer a wide range of side-by-sides (and ATVs). Of course, we all want the bells and whistles (and there are plenty to choose from) that many of the top-line powersports vehicles come with these days, but are there times we don’t really “need” them or, better yet, can’t afford them? The short answer is yes.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of dissecting which Honda Pioneer might best suit your “needs” and riding style, there is one feature we continue to be adamant about as far as features on today’s side-by-sides and ATVs goes: electronic power steering. EPS is one feature we would argue is a need and not a want.

Unless you drive your off-road vehicle on a flat dirt road with no turns and you drive about 25 mph all the time, you need EPS. Save your lunch money, don’t go out to eat for a while or stop buying video games for a few months so you can save enough money to afford EPS. Yes, it’s worth that sacrifice to have that want-slash-need feature.

Price Difference

There is a $1,200 price difference between the non-EPS Pioneer 1000 and Pioneer 1000 EPS, but not all that money can be pinned on the EPS as this version of the 1000 also comes with a tilt steering wheel, manual shift mode (paddle shifters) and “Sport” mode. 

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, what about the other needs vs. wants features when it comes to the Pioneer?

Looking at the Pioneer lineup, which comes in three engine sizes—500, 700 and 1000—there are some fairly big differences (aside from the obvious engine sizes) between the various models. Those differences include diff lock, EPS, Quickflip convertible seating, aluminum wheels and more. One common feature in all three engine sizes (on select models) that is not only Honda-specific but fun and engaging as well is the transmission that allows you to change on the fly between fully automatic and manual electric shift modes. That feature alone adds a whole new level of sportiness to the Pioneer lineup.

Briefly, the Pioneer 500 is a base model that, thanks to its 50-inch width, fits in the back of a full-size pickup. New for model year 2017 on the 500 is the transmission that can change between fully automatic and manual electric shift modes via a toggle switch. This is a basic side-by-side with some impressive features. The Pioneer 500 MSRP starts at $8,999. 

The Pioneer 700 got two new Deluxe models last year, one a two-seater and the other a four-seater. What makes them Deluxe are aluminum wheels, EPS and painted suspension springs. Additionally, the Deluxe models’ fully automatic transmission comes with a manual mode that can be activated via a dash-mounted toggle switch. There are also two base models in the 700 class, again one a two-seater and one a four-seater. The four Pioneer 700 models come with diff lock, whereas the Pioneer 500 doesn’t. Pricing for the non-EPS Pioneer 700 and with EPS Deluxe 700 is $10,599 and $12,099, respectively.  

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