Honda Talon 1000X-4 First Ride Impressions- Review
2020 Honda Talon 1000X-4 First Ride Impressions- Review
Life is truly better side-by-side…
It’s a marketing scheme that Honda has deployed to great effectiveness – the Talon not only lives up to the slogan, but the Talon has also quickly become the #2 selling naturally aspirated 1000-class machine on the market (according to Honda). They are exceeding sales goals with just the 2-seat Talon on the market; can you imagine what’s going to happen when the 4-seater gets in the hands of dealerships?! That day has arrived, and we are here to bring you the “scoop” from our first ride on the trails near Caliente, NV.
I’ve had plenty of experience in the 2-seat Talon lineup now, so I was really looking forward to seeing how a stretched chassis and a new suspension system would work on the Talon 1000X-4. Ever since I first sat in a prototype 4-seat vehicle back in June 2019, I knew it was going to be a comfortable ride for all passengers thanks to the elevated seating in the back, along with a very well designed rear passenger layout.
To be clear, the 64” wide Talon 1000X-4 should not be regarded as the ultimate desert and whoop-conquering machine. It does tackle the whoops and does it with a straight-line attitude that doesn’t make you wish you had let off the throttle before the section began, but it just doesn’t have the big suspension specs to do this for long periods of time with limited travel (14.4” in the front and 15.0” in the rear), but it does have every credential necessary to make it a trail-devouring machine.
As with the 2-seat Talons, the 4-seater has the tried and true 999cc parallel twin cylinder engine, which is directly mated to the 6-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). The DCT retains both its automatic and automated-manual shift modes, the latter of which is actuated via a switch on the dash and allows the driver to shift manually with paddle shifters right behind the adjustable steering wheel. My preference? Definitely the manual mode, but the automatic shifting is so nice on a “cruise” day with the family. Honda nailed it with this transmission setup. Routing power to the wheels comes in the form of either a 2WD or 4WD system, the latter of which is known as i4WD. Intelligent 4WD is a fancy traction control system that also includes a torque biasing front differential. This system works by automatically braking whichever front tire is losing traction, which then sends power to the tire with the most traction. After seeing the system work in person, I can assure you that the fancy lingo isn’t marketing fluff – it really works! 3 wheels can be spinning with no traction and the front wheel with the traction will literally pull the vehicle forward and up a 45 degree incline. Craziness! This translates to the trail in very effective ways. Drivers can feel the i4WD engaging even on flat, twisty terrain where all 4 wheels are literally pulling you around corners. While our rock climbs weren’t too gnarly on our test drive, I could still feel the i4WD system pulling us forward – it engages seamlessly and effectively.
The engine and transmission are the same units out of the 2-seat Talon models, except for one important feature. The Fox Livevalve 4-seat Talon has a nifty feature called “Launch Control”!! Yes, it’s fantastic and works like a charm. There is a bit of a learning curve to engaging it – you have to really press on the brake to get it to engage – but it works as described and allows the driver to unleash full-throttle launches from a stand still. I had a blast testing it out, and the system will be very useful for those looking to get some extra oomph against their buddies. Launching in 2WD proves to be a case of tire-spinning mayhem on loose surfaces with the stock tires, so please just always launch in 4WD. It’s much more effective...
The overall power output on this 4-seater isn’t astronomical, and it will be lacking in a power-robbing sand dune environment. However, on the trails that we were riding, the power was absolutely plenty and perfect for this vehicle, even with 4 people in the vehicle. Haters are going to hate, but Honda tuned this engine very well – it has power where you need it and performs very well in its intended environment. In 2WD, I was easily swinging the back end around and having a blast power sliding this 1000X-4 out of corners. The neutrally balanced chassis, excellent brakes, and quick power steering all contribute to the great handling dynamics of the Talon 1000X-4, too. I was able to push the vehicle into the corners, brake hard with the very well-weighted progressive pedal, shift down with the paddles, and then quickly power out. The chassis is a thing of beauty in these situations with such a balanced feel that doesn’t ever feel tippy or out of control. The Livevalve model makes these situations even better as it increases the compression in the outside shocks automatically, thus keeping the vehicle flat and in control at all times, even with the backend swung out 45 degrees in a powerslide (again, it’s a blast in 2WD!). Honda truly gave this UTV some of the best handling dynamics on the market. It is a blast to push through and out of the corners. Credit the curb weight of just 1753 lbs (Livevalve edition weight; the base model weighs even less at 1735 lbs) – Honda kept the quality up and the weight down, which helps with the excellent driving dynamics on the trails.
The only thing that consistently lets this Honda down are the tires. If you like the powerslides, you’ll be able to do tons of these with these tires, but they really lack the forward bite that we look for in UTV. We’ll have to test out more sets of tires here in the near future to see what works best, but the stockers are just not up to the standards we would expect.
Two models of the 1000X-4 will be offered – the base model and the Fox Livevalve edition. The latter comes with electronically adjustable shocks that allow you to choose from “Normal” or “Sport” mode, premium paint, and Launch Control as the main upgrades. Driving the base model is very reminiscent of the 1000X 2-seat model. It is a great vehicle, but the suspension and tires really let this vehicle down – it is just oversprung and harsh in rough terrain (you really notice it on washboard roads and whooped out sections, it is just rough in all 4 seats). The Fox Livevalve edition has a true dual rate spring setup with the electronically adjusted compression dampening, both of which give this particular model the superior ride and handling characteristics in the Talon 1000X-4 lineup. Yes, it’s $2000 more, but man it is worth every penny if you can spring the extra cash. It soaks up the little chop better and allows you to haul 4 people much more comfortably. Plus, when the speeds increase and going gets rough, “Sport” mode stiffens up the shocks and allows you to keep pushing through the rough terrain. The smart system is truly a great addition to this vehicle, and, again, it is well worth the money to upgrade.
Another homerun on the Honda Talon is the interior comfort. At 6’2”, I found the rear seats to be superiorly comfortable with great sightlines. This might be my favorite backseat in this particular UTV market segment. Your legs don’t bash up against any metal or protruding parts. The front seats are equally as comfortable, and there is a good amount of storage options for the front seat passengers, but there could be more storage areas, especially for the rear seat passengers. You also won’t be buying a Talon for the technology built into these machines, mainly because there are no options for navigation systems or other new-age technology solutions. But, at the end of the day, that’s okay because the Talon has the right type of necessities to make your off-road journeys comfortable and fun.
Another stand out quality on these Talon’s is the overall build quality. It just doesn’t rattle, and the driveline is so solid. The front differential does make a bit of noise when i4WD is engaged, but that is expected. The doors are so solid with great latches. You can pull full throttle upshifts all day long without any issues. When you look at the tubing on this Talon 1000X-4, it is massive and makes you feel safe when strapped into the vehicle. It’s just really solid, again.
Will the 7.7 gallon fuel tank be enough for true long distance adventures in this machine? That is yet to be determined. We didn’t have a chance to do a fuel mileage run, but we hope to do that in the near future.
Yes, some people will be looking for more power in the Talon, but, honestly, that is a bad excuse for not purchasing this vehicle. The balanced chassis, option to upgrade to the Fox Livevalve edition, excellent quality both inside and out, comfortable ergonomics for all-day adventures, and signature Honda reliability are all reasons to buy this Talon 1000X-4.
Talon 1000X-4 models are at your local dealers now, with the base model retailing for $21,999 MSRP and the Fox Livevalve edition retailing for $23,999 MSRP. Take a seat in one and see what you think.
Until next time, be safe on the trails and we’ll see you out there!