2020 Honda Rubicon 520 Review- First Impressions
2020 Honda Rubicon Review- First Ride Impressions
Honda has been shooting out new and updated models for 2020 with one of the biggest updates being to the 2020 Rubicon. In June I had the opportunity to not only ride a new 2020 Rubicon for the first time during the 2020 model reveal, but I brought one back to our ATV ESCAPE World Headquarters (I enjoy saying that) for some long term use! Use it I have for all sorts of stuff but mostly for sheer fun. The important thing to note is that by riding it weekly, I notice so many of the details both good and bad. So here are my initial “First Impressions” of the updated 2020 Honda Rubicon DCT EPS in Matte Green Metallic.
Mr. Casey "air" Cordiero had the opportunity to ride one recently and has officially given the Rubicon a "thumbs up"!
I like the overall look and feel of the Rubicon. It is definitely a full-size ATV both in looks and feel. The Rubicon has an updated grill which I am truly indifferent about, but the matte green metallic paint scheme is FANTASTIC.
The new larger metal racks are compatible with Honda’s Pro-Connect line of accessories, and have lots of of places to use as anchor points.
The front rack also includes this new a small utility storage box, and the 50-watt LED assist headlight in the handlebars has been updated.
I am a big fan of the additional headlight in handlebars. All ATVs should have them.
Yes, the engine displacement has been raised to 518cc’s, with that additional power being focused in the low to mid range. Despite the 43cc boost in power, which I am happy about, I don’t notice a huge difference overall from the previous model. The Rubicon is a 500-class ATV and has 500-class power. I think it has plenty of power for both fun and work. If you jump on the throttle it will shift down and take off pretty rapidly. I will say it has a lot of torque-feel in first and second gear.
Just to define things, DCT stands for Dual Clutch Transmission, and this is very significant since Honda uses a hydraulic 5-speed transmission with metal gears rather than a CVT transmission with a belt. This DCT hydraulic transmission is an automatic transmission that shifts both with up-and-down buttons in manual mode, or can be set to automatic mode, which allows the ATV to handle all the shifting for you. Now I will tell you that I use automatic mode almost all the time because I don’t want to mess with shifting. If I have a reason to need to hold a gear for engine braking for say descending a steep decline, then I can change to manual mode and hold a gear. This is also useful if towing a trailer, spraying a fence line, or doing some plowing. Now, one thing to note here is that one update made to the Rubicon DCT transmission is that you can be in automatic mode and click the up or down shift arrow, and the transmission will shift for you then go back to full-auto mode. I am a fan of this ability because it lets you downshift before going up or down a hill while still remaining in full-auto mode. This is a nice feature.
Now for my opinion of the DCT transmission. Honda has worked out a great system with its DCT. I like being able to choose the mode, and it is nice to have a manual mode in an automatic transmission. It shifts extremely quick, and the mapping of shift points adjusts itself depending on speed and style of riding. There are times when going uphill that it gets bogged down before shifting for a moment, but then it shifts quick with all that torque to keep pushing up the incline without losing all your momentum. The ability to “override” the auto moment for a moment by shifting up or down with the shift buttons really does address this problem. I would also say that if you want to put it in full-auto mode and just go riding all day, you can definitely do that.
It is also important to note that the Rubicon has a true Low-range for extreme situations. All I can say is it is “low”. I would think if you were towing a super heavy load, or rock crawling at slow speeds this would come in really handy.
See Favorite Feature Video Below
Reverse Engagement System
If I were to pick a single option on the updated 2020 Rubicon that every Honda owner should know about, it would be the updated way in which you put the Rubicon into reverse. This is truly a game changer. In years past, a rider would have to put the transmission in Neutral, pull a mechanical lever located on the left handlebar backwards with the brake lever, and then it would allow you to shift into reverse. This was a beating! It took practice to get the lever in the right position along with the brake lever in order to make it work. Even with practice it wouldn’t necessarily work without a couple of tries. Doing this on the trail was a beating, and I can’t imagine if you were using the Rubicon for plowing!
All of that frustration is no longer an issue with the Rubicon’s (and Rancher’s) new electronic reverse engagement lever. Come to a stop, pull the lever, click the downshift button, and “boom” the Rubicon will skip neutral all together and go straight to reverse. You can then pull the lever again and skip neutral yet again to wind up in first gear. This makes even plowing much much easier on a Honda than any competitors’ ATV. I can not even put into words how much easier this system is compared to the old system. Going into reverse could not be an easier.
All Honda Rubicons come with IRS, so the ride is pretty good overall. You can adjust the preloads if you would like to change the ride. It is fairly smooth, but I would say it is not super plush. I would also say it is not on the sporty side, so the Rubicon has body roll when cornering hard. That is not a problem for me when we are talking 500-class utility ATV. On day-long trail rides with mostly moderate terrain, I don’t think you will be worn out. I will report back on this after I take it for a day long trail ride!
The feel of the EPS overall is natural. It smooths out front wheel bumps and hits from the trail. It also makes steering easy in most situations. You still get a “feel” of what the front wheels are doing when riding along which I like.
Driveline & Trail Chops
The Rubicon has a 2WD, 4WD, 4WD Diff-Lock electronic system. You change from 2WD to 4WD with a push-button, and then you slide a switch over in order to push the button for Diff-Lock. I want a diff-lock on my ATV, and this system works great and let’s me choose what mode I want to be in. I find the Rubicon will go where it is pointed like any good ATV. Extreme terrain doesn’t slow it down!
The Rubicon is very comfortable in the way it feels once you climb aboard. The seat is very well padded and comfortable. All the switches are well laid out, and the electronic instrument cluster is easy to read and understand. I like the raised foot-pegs which give you a good place to base yourself if you want to ride more aggressively. The footwells are large, and, when combined with the plastics, offer excellent full-coverage splash and trail protection.
So far, I can’t find any changes I would make of any significance. No, I am not coping out either. I have thought and thought about what I would change, and I can’t find anything that stands out in any significant way considering the Honda Rubicon is a 500-class utility quad. Honda addressed my number one issue by solving the reverse-lever process, which I always have thought was way to complicated for everyday use. Since I have the Rubicon for a while longer I will work to find anything I can point out that I would improve, but so far I got nothing!
The Honda Rubicon is a standard in the industry, and this latest version is just the best version of the Rubicon yet. I like the boost in power, ground-breaking improved reverse engagement system, and added storage on the 2020 model. I appreciate the fact Honda regularly updates its ATV models in order to continually make them better. I appreciate the look, feel, and capability of the Rubicon. Then there is the level of quality Honda is known for that is obvious on the Rubicon and every other ATV in the Honda lineup. The Rubicon is just a solid all-around ATV.