We were absolutely stoked when hearing from the good people at Honda after a long period of slow activity in the fields that always keep us interested and on our toes. They certainly are an impressively capable bunch, pioneers in the art of manufacturing quality ATVs, and now of course Side by Side vehicles also. The 4 occupant Side by Side was more recently made popular with the arrival of many models, enabling the introduction of a new crowd into the outdoor living way; entire families can now appreciate and reap the benefits of this awesome adventurous, enriching, educational, healthy lifestyle that is trail riding.
We were only a little bit sad about the fact that this new vehicle was replacing the Big Red; a formidable vehicle in many ways, yet maybe a bit too BIG. This new 2014 Honda Pioneer-4 700 has much more potential to appeal to a broader range of client types, first and foremost because of its much more practical compact size. More importantly, simple trail adventurers who want to share nature’s gift with their loved ones, might be taking a very close look at this cool Honda transformer. A few quick moves and the rear tilting cargo box transforms into one or two passenger seats. Of course, as soon as one seat is flipped up, a patent pending mechanism locks the tilting action solidly. This means that you can ride three and keep the unused side of the box for gear or anything else. Rubber liners are strategically placed to keep loose materials on the cargo box side of the backrests. Cool idea this four-occupant no larger than most two-occupant Side by Side vehicles on the market, able to achieve everything efficiently at work and then transform into the whole family’s toy for a therapeutic weekend camping trip.
Powered by Honda’s proven fuel-Injected 700cc-class liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke engine that features an automotive-style automatic transmission with hydraulic torque converter, three forward gears and reverse, this vehicle does have a lot to offer but stays within reach of families on a tight budget. Until now fans of the brand didn’t have a Honda Side by Side made available to them with the right dimensions to truly explore without dealing with size restrictions on many trails. At only 61.1 inches in width and from what we were able to discover during this short but very telling experience in the very trails Honda people use to abuse their products, the Pioneer makes for a very nimble and efficient tough trail conqueror, which will serpentine through Canadian trails like a true champ, at a very reasonable price. Plus, it is packed with new Honda technology, as usual aiming to heighten the quality of the product in general and the client’s continuing satisfaction after long term use. The new TPE plastic used for the CV boots has tougher puncture resistance than current CR (rubber) material. The engine is shear-mounted to a cradle, which is rubber-mounted to the main chassis, so vibration is greatly reduced.
They also installed a new digital meter, and among other things the Honda automatic transmission now switches automatically between two different shifting modes depending on the driver’s behavior.
Testing the 2014 Honda Pioneer-4 700 at HSC (Honda South Carolina) was a truly special thing for us. What an honor it was to ride on Honda’s very own trails! This is where they test all their ATV and Side by Side models. Users may sometimes wonder if the vehicles they decide to buy are fitting for the type of terrain they use it in, or if the maker has pushed a certain model through similar challenges. Well, from what we have had the pleasure to experience at this Honda facility, we can tell you that all Honda machines are put through every imaginable extreme. The trail would seem quite normal and only a little challenging and then you would end up having to conquer a stretch of huge bowling ball-sized rocks obviously dumped there on purpose. A good amount of logs were also laid down purposely, some larger than others, sometimes positioned diagonally, sometimes perpendicular to the trail, placed at different intervals, many close together, then fewer, distanced differently. There were even some areas where mounds of dirt were strategically added in different configurations. It was a truly fitting place for us to find out a lot about this vehicle in very little time. Much to my surprise, the tight woods trail suddenly disappeared replaced by a reflection of upside down trees. This particular obstacle seemed like it might be a bit more naturally occurring and had me stop for a second and wonder if I should try to conquer it without anyone else around. I parked my unit and was out in a zap, I later realised that this was due to the fact that the door handle is placed in line with where your hand would land with your arm relaxed. No need to touch any handles but the park brake, which is very close to the left of the steering wheel. All of a sudden, another Pioneer unit loaded with other media representatives passes by and is confidently thrown into this intimidating swamp by its driver.
The vehicle’s light growl was replaced by a weird gurgling noise, which was low enough to let the giggles of the occupants be heard through the trees. Quickly, the group disappeared into the distance, their success in reaching dry ground on the other side made obvious by a few joyful screams of celebration echoing into the woods. All righty then, no need to try and figure out the depth of this water, I jumped back in my seat as fast as I got out, the seat belt was easy to find and click in. I only needed to operate the handle for the park brake again and gunned the 2014 Honda Pioneer-4 700 into the flooded trail. Water quickly got up right to doors edge and only a little was able to find my leg, which played a double role of encouraging me to get out and quit smoking, since my pack was now drenched in my pocket. My bad, I should have used the sealed glove box, a huge upgrade over the open compartment in the Big Red. The 50 meters or so of flooded trail was conquered with great ease in open 4WD, in good part thanks to the narrowness and surprisingly aggressive thread pattern of the tires, specifically designed for this vehicle. I actually didn’t need the 4WD with front diff-lock position at all that whole afternoon, selected with a drive mode selector in the center of the dash, exactly the same as in the Big Red. Yet I did try it to see how much harder it would be to steer, since this vehicle does not come equipped with power-steering. It wasn’t all that bad. The narrowness of the front tires (8 inches) and very well-conceived front-end geometry, made it feel like it used to in my 1982 Toyota Tercel. In 2WD it actually feels like it does have power-steering, super easy to steer! Still, people constantly working in harsh conditions needing the diff-lock often might wish for that feature enough to add it themselves. We were told that the vehicle shouldn’t have a problem powering such a system with its improved AC output generator.
Side by Side vehicles have become a thriving part of the off-roading world, able to perform well both at work and during play, in a shareable fashion. The sharing part was obviously important to the Honda team and they made sure that the kids would be in a very safe seating position in the back, at the cost of losing a bit of upfront view if compared to existing competitor’s 4-seat models. Tall adults can also feel safe and comfortable, but for those the floor panels feel a bit high. For me at 6’3’’ and I would rather not say how much weight, I sort of felt like a lump of cargo in the back when things would get rough on the trail. Fact is there is a surprisingly good amount of room when taking into consideration that they effectively built a safe vehicle for four occupants, or 3 with a half load of gear in the back, or 2 with a full 1000 pounds of merchandise in the tilting cargo box, that is no bigger than most two-seat models on the market. We were pleasantly surprised with the fun factor of this Side by Side, left hopeful that it will succeed at bringing in even more people into our wonderful trails. At first glance, it looks much more like something one would want to drive just for fun.
A full line of more than 50 accessories will be available for both the 700-2 and 700-4 Honda Pioneer models including Honda Signature Accessories:
Hard Roof, Fabric Roof/Rear Panel (Camo, Black), Bimini Roof, Glass Windshield, Glass Windshield Wiper Kit, Hard Front Doors, Fabric Front Doors (Camo, Black), Fabric Rear Doors (Camo, Black), Hard Cab Rear Panel 2P for 4P, Soft Rear Panel (Black), Soft Rear Panel 2P/4P (Black), Bed Extender, Rear Cargo Net, Roll Cage Cargo Bag, Full Storage Cover, Rubber Floor Mats (rear row, front row), Front Seat/Headrest Covers (Camo), Rear Seat/Headrest Covers (Camo), Poly Bed Liner, Bed Mat, Switch Plate/Auxillary Wiring Harness, Heater/Defrost Kit, Auxillary Lights, Light Bar, Flag with Mount, Graphics Kit, Rear View Mirror, Side Mirrors on Hard Doors.
As well as Honda Genuine Accessories:
Poly Two-Piece Windscreen, Poly Windscreen, Poly Half Windscreen, Winch, Snow Plow, Hitch Ball, Receiver Hitch Plug, Draw Bar, Bed Extender, Aluminum A-Arm Guards (FR, RR), Rear Bumper, Front Bumper, Backup Alarm, Horn Kit, Side Mirrors.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Honda Website