Ox Ranch, Uvalde, Texas: There’s nothing like an 18,000-acre test bed to evaluate the updated capabilities of a multipurpose UTV. Set in the picturesque Texas Hill country south of San Antonio, this exotic game and hunting ranch provided the perfect place to learn about the new smart technologies added to the triumvirate of models that has boosted Honda’s powersports sales, with upgrades to the 2017 Pioneer 500, the industry’s top-selling, entry-level side-by-side; add-ons for the midsized 2017 Pioneer 700; and a new LE trim for the top-of the-line 2017 Pioneer 1000. We concentrated our drive review on the flagship Pioneer 1000, motoring it over many miles of flat two-track dirt roads to courses of moderately tough and highly technical off-road trails with steep hill climbs and descents, as well as through water crossings and up and across rock outcroppings.
After introducing the all-new 2016 Pioneer 1000-5 with a collection of impressive technologies, the powersports manufacturer known for its extensive array of engines for diverse applications, that range from powering jets to snow blowers, has upped its UTV game again. This popular model used by hunters, ranchers and a variety of enthusiasts, now gets a new limited-edition version of the five-passenger 2017 Pioneer 1000-5 LE and the three-person 2017 Pioneer 1000-3 LE; both are endowed with a new I-4WD system. A first in the rapidly-growing powersports industry, the “intelligent” system comes from Honda’s automotive-engineering expertise, and incorporates the industry’s first off-road brake traction control system to manage the amount of slip between left and right front wheels, applying torque to the wheel with greater grip.
The Pioneer 1000 has a class-leading 999cc twin-cylinder engine that makes 72 hp. and is matched to the industry’s first fully automatic six-speed dual clutch transmission. For the 2017, all versions—including the five-person Pioneer 1000-5 Deluxe and Pioneer 1000-5, as well as the three-person Pioneer 1000 EPS and Pioneer 1000—have thicker seat foam for increased comfort, plus a winch-ready wiring harness.
There are three significant updated advantages onboard: brake traction control, hill-start assist, and electronic brake force distribution. Meshed with the 1000’s Torque Biasing limited-slip differential, the new system can provide as much tractive force as a locking diff, plus it’s engineered for reduced steering effort and less kickback. The result is impressive grip on a broad collection of technical surfaces, a more relaxing drive, and no need to stop to engage diff-lock. Also new are FOX QS-3 shock absorbers, for improved comfort and protection. The Pioneer 1000 comes in EPS, Deluxe and LE trim levels.
Over 80 ’17 Honda Pioneer 1000 accessories are available, including cargo, tops, doors and protection, designed specifically for the Pioneer.
Honda now combines the four-wheel-drive and diff-lock functions into a single selection mode. LE models also feature hill-start assist to brake while transitioning to the accelerator from a stop on an incline, and optimize brake force distribution between the front and rear brakes while coming to a stop—loaded or empty. The hill assist button allows about 3 seconds to take your foot off the brake pedal and move it to the gas; no two foot maneuvers are needed. Engaged with a dash mounted switch, the brake is momentarily held while transitioning to the accelerator from a stop on an incline.
The 1000-5 adds versatility with exclusive QuickFlip in-bed seating that allows you to go from a 3-seater to a 4- or a 5-seater in seconds, without tools. It’s rated for 1000 pounds of bed cargo and can tow up to 2000 pounds.
The dual-clutch transmission can be operated with a set of paddles mounted on the steering column or you can let the tranny shift for you. A sport mode raises the shift points and reduces the amount of hunting for the right gear when are driving aggressively. All Pioneer 1000 models get a new memory function that retains the last transmission mode after engaging reverse.
The UTV stayed planted in corners and climbed loose slopes and slick-rock trails with confidence. Turf mode is standard as an aid for traveling over grass and soft terrain at slow speeds, when you don’t want to leave tire tracks or disturb the ground.
All Pioneer 1000-5 models come with Electric Power Steering system (EPS) that reacts to both vehicle speed and steering input for precise driving feedback and reduced steering effort- even with the front differential locked.
Fox’s adjustable QS3 shocks can be set by turning a knob on each shock for soft, medium and firm settings; we found that soft works well for straight and even track at slow speeds, medium is perfect for most easy trail riding when there is the need for quicker response and a flat ride, whereas the firm setting is good for more aggressive driving on bumpy surfaces or for drop-offs.
All Pioneer 1000 models have fully independent front and rear suspension and surprisingly long suspension travel.
The Pioneer 1000 has won many accolades as the industry’s benchmark for multipurpose side-by-sides, as a result of its engine, drivetrain and chassis, plus it has the market’s only automatic six-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) gearbox. In addition to the LE trim, The Pioneer 1000 and Pioneer 1000 EPS offer the same chassis and engine as the Pioneer 1000-5 models, but have a three-seat front bench and a conventional tilt bed. Available in three trim levels, updated to be more comfortable for 2017 with improved front seats, it’s also been pre-wired to make winch installation easier.
All come equipped with 27-inch tires; Deluxe and LE models come standard with premium Maxxis Bighorn 2.0s, featuring radial construction for top ride comfort and traction. A skid plate provides protection against rocks and debris.
The air inlet is positioned high under the hood to bring a clean supply of air and for an impressive clearance for water fording. The air-cleaner element is a viscous paper type, for exceptional filtration and a long service life.
Convenience-minded additions include illuminated dash switches for nighttime use; transmission-mode memory function to retain Automatic, Sport, or Manual mode after engaging reverse; a prewired winch harness, new cabin-storage compartments and cupholders in all four doors.
Giraffes in Texas!
Critters with horns are a little more like it.
The Ox Ranch boasts thousands of native and exotic wildlife free ranging on over 18,000 acres of Texas Hill Country, including giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, axis, blackbucks, elk, feral hogs, red stags, and whitetail deer. The Ranch has been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, ESPN, and numerous shows, including, Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild and L.L.Bean Guide to the Outdoors. Although primarily a hunting ranch, the lodging and accommodations rival many of the world’s finest resorts, with activities for families, such as hand-feeding giraffes, driving and firing a WWII Sherman tank, machine gun shooting, skeet shooting, fishing, jet skiing, and cave exploring.
2017 Honda Pioneer 1000-5 LE
Engine Type: 999c liquid-cooled OHC Unicam parallel-¬twin four-stroke, four valves/cylinder
Bore x stroke: 92.0x75.15
Fuel system: Fuel injection, 44mm throttle body
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Clutch: 2-¬multiplate wet
Drive system: I-4WD with difflock and turf mode
Transmission: Six-speed fully automatic DCT w/Sport mode, paddle-shift manual
Front: Double Wishbone; 10.6 inches
Rear: Double Wishbone; 10 inches
Front: Hydraulic w/(2) 210mm discs
Rear: Hydraulic w/(2) 210mm discs
Wheelbase: 80.2 inches
Turning Radius: 13.8 feet
Claimed curb weight: 1526 pounds
Ground clearance: 12.4 inches
Turning radius: 13.8 feet
Length/width/height: 116.8x63x76 inches
Fuel capacity: 7.9 gallons, 1.7-gallon reserve
Cargo capacity: 1,000 pounds
Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds
Colors: Black, Camo