2014 Honda Pioneer 700s
Two brand new side-by-sides provide outstanding work/recreational capabilities
By Larry D. Walton
(Photos by Honda)
Honda ATVs have always been very popular among hunters, farmers and ranchers with a solid reputation for reliability and for getting the job done.
However, Honda fans felt they needed something better than Big Red when it came to utility-based, multiple-passenger Side-by-Sides (SxS).
Their wishes are now a reality with the introduction of the Pioneer. This new SxS has the looks, performance, and functionality sure to please a lot of potential buyers.
Honda has now jumped into the multi-purpose SxS segment wholesale with several features that took other manufacturers a while to develop including automotive style doors and more importantly a four seat model, the Pioneer 4, right out of the gate.
The aggressive looks of Honda’s two new SxS models places them squarely in the mix of multi-purpose SxS competitors.
Even a casual observer can tell that these machines were built for serious recreation use with full roll cages, three point seat belts, safety netting, long travel suspension, brush guards and skid plates.
A closer look reveals that both Pioneer models are powered by Honda’s proven 675cc liquid-cooled OHV single cylinder four-stroke four-valve engine with Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) for precise fuel metering under a wide variety of operating conditions.
The Pioneer has Honda’s distinctly different automotive-style Honda automatic transmission features a hydraulic torque converter, three hydraulic clutches and an Electronic Control Module (ECM) to automatically select one of three forward gears and one reverse gear.
Running through a range of gears and changing rpm is a very different experience than the constant drone of continuous-variable-transmission equipped competitors.
The ECM monitors throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine rpm, gear selector position, brake application and engine oil temperature for optimum performance. Also, on downhill slopes the transmission provides positive engine braking that supplements the hydraulic disc brakes for consistent slowing power in real-world conditions.
New to the Pioneer models is a dual shift-mapping program that automatically selects between two transmission shifting modes—either Cruise or Sport mode—for optimum shift timing depending on the driver’s pattern of throttle operation.
During aggressive use, the Sport mode kicks in and holds the transmission in gear longer before shifting to deliver more aggressive performance.
During more casual operation, the Cruise mode allows the transmission to shift up sooner for extended range from the Pioneer’s 8.2 gallon fuel tank.
Choice Seating For 4
Honda engineers put a lot of thought into the Pioneer 700-4 design, which is likely to be very popular with utility and construction companies because of its convertible seating arrangement; it can be quickly and easily converted from two-seat to three-seat or four-seat configurations and back to an open load-carrying bed without the use of tools.
Each of the two rear seats simply tilts up out of the bed structure with the release of a latch and locks into place for three or four person seating depending on the needs at hand.
The rear passengers can easily access their three-point seat belts, which are located up on the Roll Over Protection Structure (ROPS) where they stay out of the way when not in use.
When the seats are folded in the down position, the bed maintains its full tilting functionality.
Refined Inside & Out
Both Pioneer models feature a 2.0-inch gain in suspension travel compared to the work ATV, Big Red.
The front has 7.9 inches of travel via double-wishbone independent suspension. The double-wishbone independent rear suspension system (IRS) provides a full 9.1 inches of travel for excellent off-road capabilities.
The twin rear shocks are adjustable for spring preload, so it’s easy to adjust the rear suspension for added comfort during recreational use, then quickly ramp up the spring preload when it’s time to carry heavy loads.
Speaking of loads, both Pioneer models can haul 1000 pounds in the tilt bed. Towing capacity is 1,500 pounds, and multiple D-rings on the bed and wall of the cargo area provide your choice of tie-down points.
The Pioneer also has an extensive selection accessories including several roof options, winch, storage covers, light bars, A-arm guards, bumpers and hitches.
At $9,999 for the Pioneer 700 and and $11,699 for the Pioneer 700-4, the new Honda SxS models are a great value in the multi-purpose segment.
What does it lack compared to the competition? Top speed is 43 mph while some of the other side-by-sides are topping 60-plus.
Pioneers could also use electronic power steering (EPS), a tilt-steering wheel and a bit more bolstering in the seats.
But there’s always next year – and it’s still a really strong start for Honda’s deeper entry into the side-by-side field.
With Honda’s proven reliability, automotive style transmission and the outstanding versatility of the 700-4, working or hunting from a Honda SxS just a got a whole lot better.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2014 Honda Pioneer 700
- Engine Type: 675cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke
- Transmission: Automotive-style with hydraulic torque converter, three forward gears and reverse. Three drive modes include 2WD, 4WD and 4WD with differential lock
- Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshafts
- Front: Independent double-wishbone; 7.9 inches travel
- Rear: Independent double-wishbone; 9.1 inches travel
- Front: 200mm hydraulic disc
- Rear: 170mm hydraulic disc
- Front: 25 x 8-12
- Rear: 25 x 10-12
- Length: 114.8 inches
- Width: 60.0 inches
- Height: 77.6 inches
- Ground Clearance: 10.3 inches
- Wheelbase: 76.8 inches
- Turning Radius: 14.8 feet
- Towing Capacity: 1500 pounds
- Payload Capacity: 1000 pounds
- Fuel Capacity: 8.2 gallons, including 1.2-gallon reserve
- Colors: Red, Olive, Honda Phantom Camo
- Curb Weight: 1261 pounds