We head to the mountains to drive Honda’s trail-focused Sport UTV
A few months back we had a chance to spend a little time with the new 2019 Honda Talon 1000X and 1000R models just before the vehicles were officially unveiled to the public. You can read about that experience here. While the introductory ride was great, we were hungry for a more thorough test ride of each of the two units. As luck would have it, we recently had a chance to ride spend an entire day riding the 2019 Honda Talon 1000X in the mountains of southwestern Utah near Zion National Park.
Honda Talon 1000X Features and Details
Engine: 999cc Parallel Twin
Transmission: Six-Speed Dual-Clutch
Shocks: Fox Podium 2.0 QS3
L x W x H: 123.9 x 64 x 75.4"
Curb Weight: 1,490 LBS
The Talon 1000X is the more compact of the Talon siblings at 64 inches wide, 123.9 inches long, with an 87.6-inch wheelbase. Despite its more compact size, the Talon 1000X still offers an impressive 12.7 inches of ground clearance and tips the scales at 1,490 pounds ready to ride.
Fox Podium 2.0 shocks with QS3 triple setting adjusters are found at all four corners. Those shocks control 14.6 inches of travel up front using a traditional independent double-wishbone design, while in the rear a three-link trailing arm suspension doles out 15.1 inches of travel.
Honda partnered with Maxxis for tires that are specific to the Talon, based off of the Coronado. The front tires are 28×9-15, while the rears are 28×11-15.
Powering the Honda Talon 1000X is a 999cc parallel-twin engine that is mounted longitudinally. The engine produces a claimed 104 horsepower. We know a lot of people were hoping for turbocharger to pump up the horsepower north of 150, but Honda’s feeling is that far more people by naturally aspirated engines, so that was a logical place to start.
That power is controlled by a six-speed automatic Dual-Clutch Transmission with high/low subtransmission. The Talon can be driven in 2WD or Honda’s innovative I-4WD – each with three shift modes: Standard, Sport, or Manual with paddle shifters. However, even if you are in automatic mode, you can use the paddle shifters to shift up or down at any time.
The interior of the Honda Talon 1000X is quite comfortable. We were particularly impressed with the seats, which are plenty wide and feature a high-back design with generous side bolsters to help keep you locked in place. There is ample room a large driver and passenger without worrying about banging elbows or shoulders when driving aggressively.
Both driver and passenger are secured with car-like three-point seatbelts, but the Talon is ready to accept four-point harnesses thanks to cut outs in the seats and a bar to anchor them to. If you are wondering why four-point harnesses didn’t just come stock, most manufacturers believe that drivers and passengers are less likely to actually go through the trouble of buckling into those harnesses, so they keep it simple with a three-point system and make it easy to change to a more secure option if desired.
Another interior feature that stood out was the passenger grab bar. The bar in infinitely adjustable fore and aft and locks down tight. We experienced absolutely zero play in this bar and no rattling around no matter how hard we drove it.
Passenger leg room is one area we’d like to see improved with the interior. There are left and right footrests you can use to sort of lock yourself in when needed. In the middle there is a spot so you can stretch out, but we couldn’t fit both of our feet in that area at once. If it was another few inches wide that would have been enough.
Our test drive took place on the Barracks Trail, which is just outside Zion National Park. Terrain was mostly hard pack and sand, but it was pretty rutted out in places and quite muddy in others due to significant rainfall in the area before we arrived. Most of the trail was fairly tight with limited room for two-way traffic. Fortunately, we didn’t see anybody else out during testing.
Our big takeaway with Honda Talon 1000X is how well it handles. It feels remarkably well planted in the corners. While we are certain you could get in trouble if you do something stupid (and we definitely brushed up against stupid once or twice), we never ended up on two wheels.
The entire front end deserves recognition for holding a line really well. While this trail didn’t have any nasty whoops to throw you off, it was littered with trail chop and deep ruts with ease, which the Talon handled with ease – especially at speed. When we drove at slower to moderate speeds we could feel a good bit of vibration from almost rib-like trail chatter, but as soon as we got up to cruising speed it all seemed to disappear.
We spent all our time in either the softest or middle settings on the Fox Podium 2.0 QS3 shocks. You could have certainly moved up to the firmest setting if you were particularly aggressive, but we weren’t exactly taking it easy and didn’t come close to bottoming out the shocks despite some solid impacts.
Traction was very good all day. We did slip around a little in the mud, but that was to be expected with the multi-purpose 28-inch tires. But these tires were plenty capable for the conditions and had no trouble getting through the muck. Another bonus was how clean and dry we remained in the vehicle while hauling through the slop. We got a bit of spray from the chest up, but our legs remained mostly clean. The cut outs in the bottom of the doors (which are there for ventilation) did let in a bit of mud splatter, but it was limited.
We also managed to stay dry during more than 20 crossings of the Virgin River each way on the trail. Due to the aforementioned rain, some of the river banks were pretty slick with mud, but the Talon had no issue climbing up and out without incident.
For the vast majority of our ride, we kept the Honda Talon 1000X in I-4WD in Sport Mode. While we did tinker a little with the manual setting, the transmission is better at shifting in the right spot than we are. We were able to make quick downshifts even in full auto mode, which came in handy a time or two.
On the Barracks Trail, we were never left wanting more engine out of the Talon. We probably peaked at about 52-55 mph, but that was plenty fast for the conditions. And keep in mind we were testing at about 5,000 feet of elevation, so the 999cc engine was probably down somewhere between 15-20% of horsepower (naturally aspirated engines lose approximately 3% of power for every 1,000 feet of elevation).
Honda engineers and designers are no doubt at least tinkering with the idea of a turbocharged Talon for the future, but for the type of trail riding we were faced with, the Talon has more than enough power on hand.
It’s also worth pointing out that none of the seven Honda Talon 1000X media test cars (plus two carrying Honda staffers) had so much as a flat tire. Nothing bent, broken or damaged for anybody during more than 400 combined test miles. That says something about the durability of these machines.
The 2019 Honda Talon 1000X is an impressive debut for Honda in the crowded Sport UTV landscape. It offers excellent handling, forgiving suspension, and the durability you expect from Big Red. Yes, some people will scream for more power, but for trail riding the Talon 1000X has everything you need and then some.