First Look- 2014 Honda Pioneer 700 & 700-4 Hot
Honda shocked the UTV world in the Spring with the announcement of a convertible 2- to 4-seat side-by-side coming out in the Summer for the 2014 model year. We at ATVESCAPE.com took a hard look at the new machine, and it has some unique features. We kept an eye on the news, and then Honda shared they had a two-seat-only version sitting in the wings for release also. The Pioneer 700 replaces the Big Red in the Honda lineup, and Honda has said this platform will be used to introduce more new Honda side-by-sides to the market. Honda’s aim is to roll out the Pioneer 700 to the segment of the market which wants to work and play on a side-by-side. The Pioneer 700 definitely brings Honda into the side-by-side market in a way Big Red did not, and with the Pioneer comes Honda’s innovations to this segment. So let’s take a look at both now that we have the specs.
Basically the Honda Pioneer 700 and 700-4 have almost identical specs in every way, with the only difference being the tilting bed having two convertible seats in it on the Pioneer-4. There is also a ROPS cage around the rear tilting bed on the 700-4 to protect passengers, a feature that obviously is unnecessary on the two-seat 700 Pioneer. The engine in the Pioneer 700 is the proven 700 class single-cylinder fuel-injected liquid-cooled 675cc engine,and, unique to Honda, the transmission is an automotive-style hydraulic transmission featuring 3 forward gears and one reverse gear rather than the CVT transmission found in all competitive units. The transmission contains an ECU (Electronic Control Unit) that operates in two different modes: Sport and Cruise. Just the fact the word “sport” is in a transmission mapping shows Honda’s desire to have a side-by-side that shows a sporty side. The ECM will switch modes automatically depending on how the driver is accelerating. If the driver throttle input is light, then the transmission stays in Cruise mode allowing for shifting gears sooner to maximize fuel economy, but if the driver is a little “heavy footed”, then the transmission goes into Sport mode and holds the gear longer for more of a fun factor. The suspension setup is more geared to the work and play crowd with 7.9 inches of travel up front and 9.1 inches in the rear with independent double-wishbone setup in both front and rear. The shocks in the rear also have adjustable preloads to account for changes in weight, and to allow the driver to dial in the ride. The front shocks do not have any preload adjustment. The suspension has 10.3 inches of ground clearance, and offers 2WD/4WD/4WD-Diff Lock modes, activated by a lever on the dash, for pulling you through the terrain on the trail. The Pioneer can tow 1500 lbs and haul 1000 lbs in the tilting cargo bed. The dash is typical Honda, easy to use, simple, and a bit utilitarian. There is a glove box to hold a few items out of the elements. For passenger comfort, there are three-point seat belts and head rests for the front passengers, and cargo nets to keep everyone in the cab. Honda has also worked at keeping vibration out of the cab with improved engine mounts.
The seating arrangement on the Pioneer platform is nothing short of great innovation. The length, width, and wheelbase remains the same across the Pioneer platform regardless of whether it is the two or four seat version. The cargo bed also tilts regardless of which model is chosen. The flexibility of being able to choose to fold up one or two seats in the cargo bed for carrying two of three passengers is brilliant. Honda hit the ball out of the park with that feature. If that is any indication on the innovation Honda is going to bring to the side-by-side segment, we can’t wait to see what is next. Honda seems to have made it clear it intends to play in the side-by-side market, and to be a strong competitor.
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