There has been a longstanding aura of quality as well as loyalty when you speak with consumers about Honda‘s off-road machines.

Fast Facts

Engine: 999cc Twin Cylinder

Transmission: Fully Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission

Drive System: Direct front and rear driveshafts

Bed Capacity - 1000 lbs

Price: Base - $13,999; EPS- $15,199

When the Pioneer came along we knew it would be dependable, tough and purpose-built, but who could have known that Honda would eventually step into the large displacement battle that has been going on in the UTV segment. For model year 2016 Honda is here with the Pioneer 1000 and in the hills of Missoula, Mont. in a little town called Greenough, we had a chance to try one on for size.

Our ride location was set in the Montana wilderness at the Resort at Paws Up. This location not only allowed us to get a feel for the 2016 Pioneer 1000, but it let us see how this machine could be a useful tool around the homestead or farm. The rugged Rocky Mountain range trails and wilderness surrounding Paws Up proved to be a challenging testing ground.

Understanding the locations of the trail system helps us explain just how well the 2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 had performed for us during our ride. Climbing into about 6500-7000 feet in elevation also gave us an idea of just how well this new 999cc fuel injected engine would perform.

2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 Action Ranch

With access to some Rocky Mountain trails, we put our Honda Pioneer 1000 EPS to the test.

Looking closely at this new Honda Pioneer, you will notice the redesign of the front end and the overall character it has gained. More aggressive lines and over fenders give the Pioneer a really fresh new look. From the side of this machine we noticed the new colored plastic panels that also add to the overall appearance. This new Pioneer is stunning and as an owner of the original Pioneer 700-4 seat machine, I am quite envious. We also noticed the front bumper on our test ride is ready for a big winch from Honda’s accessory catalog should you want to add one. The one item we missed on our Pioneer 1000 were those incredible LED headlights we saw on the Pioneer 1000-5. Those would make a worthy upgrade.

As we left out on a very early and brisk 25-degree morning to head into the hills, our Pioneer came to life and seemed ready to go after only a minute or two of warming up. Getting into the cab it was clear how well the interior of the new Pioneer was laid out. It is much different from the original Pioneer, but also much better. The controls are easy to reach and very easy to figure out. With a true gate-style shift mechanism and a parking gear that is separated from the other options it is easy to get the Pioneer going into the gear you need. If you should need 4WD, and we did along the trails many times, the separate shifting lever was well within reach on the dash. The options for the driveline ranged from 2WD to 4WD and a 4WD-differential lock option. One more selection was the Turf mode that unlocks the rear differential for traversing sensitive grass or terrain.

2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 Action Front

When the going gets tough, shifting into 4WD was smooth and easy.

Our Pioneer EPS model had tilt steering as well as the incredible option of Paddle shifters. This made the day even more fun on the climb into the Garnett Mountain range. After pressing the switch on the dash into Manual mode it was up to us to change the gears with the paddle shifters, but we soon realized that if you happen to forget to downshift while coming to a stop the intelligent DCT transmission does it for you. And if you simply did not do anything when starting back down the trail again, the transmission goes back into auto mode and controls everything for you. We were simply amazed at the intuitive dynamic built into the Pioneer. It allows the rider to concentrate on the task of driving without consequence of forgetting to shift. The six-speed Dual Clutch transmission is a hit in our book. Shifting is really smooth and seems to be much less quirky than we experienced on previous models. The transmission also knows when it needs a lower gear or higher gear as the strain on the engine picks up or subsides.

2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 Action Right

Honda’s Dual Clutch transmission is a joy to use.

As for the workability of the Pioneer we were able to tow a small boat down to the Blackfoot River picnic area and get a feel for the maneuverability of the machine when towing. As expected, the Pioneer handled the extra length in style and the trail’s terrain was the only thing limiting us. Although we did not have a chance to really load the cargo bed or tow a maximum capacity load, we were informed that this machine will carry 1000 lbs in the bed anywhere in the USA except for California, where the regulated weight is 600 lbs. The Pioneer can also tow 2000 lbs from the receiver hitch.

2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 Bed

The Pioneer 1000 can carry up to 1000 pounds in the cargo bed. (Accessory bed liner shown)

As we traveled the trail system up higher into the elevations it was clear that not only was the Pioneer 1000 a performer, but it has the power you’d expect from a 999cc engine. The Pioneer 1000 is approximately 145 pounds lighter than its five-seat brother and this really is noticeable in the power delivery. This three-seat Pioneer seemed much more responsive with a peppy throttle. During our ride we encountered a few trails that were slightly muddy and slick. This gave us an opportunity to try out the 4WD system as well and with our EPS model Pioneer having the Maxxis Big Horn 2.0 tires grabbing at the trails, it was very easy to make the climbs. Having dual 210mm hydraulic disc brakes was also very helpful in getting this machine slowed down and controlling the descents across the other side of the climb.

2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 Action Water

Honda’s legendary fit and finish is complimented in the Pioneer 1000 with grin-inducing power from a 999cc engine.

Our ride took us many miles up into the Garnett section of the Rocky Mountains. We noticed the Pioneer just seemed to sip at the 7.9 gallons of available fuel, even as we gave the throttle a little extra push on the wider and less technical trails. Over varying terrain the Pioneer did Honda proud every step of the way and the 10.5 inches of travel in the front as well as 10.0 inches in the rear seemed to soak up the roughness fairly well. Whether in two wheel drive or four we did not meet an obstacle we couldn’t get over or around.

The cab remained very comfortable during the ride and the thick seating helped soak up the chop along the trails. For adventures over long distance, this off-road Pioneer can get the job done well.

2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 Beauty

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