2014 Honda Pioneer 700 and 700-4 Review
We review the two- and four-seat versions of the Honda Pioneer 700
Starting off by letting the media know that the fate of the Big Red had been made with the introduction of this Pioneer, Honda engineers eagerly introduced us to the next generation of Honda SxS. The entire plant would be stopped and focused on its introduction. As the first production model rolled off the assembly line, many dignitaries were on hand for the release – it was a grand celebration. Our job had just begun, though, as the media were granted permission to get behind the wheel of the newest Red ride on the very property where it was tested and built.
The definition of Pioneer is sometimes described as a name given to a person or thing that sets a standard for exploration or innovation. A Pioneer can also be considered a person who opens up a new area of thought, research or development. With the 2014 Honda Pioneer, the innovative thinking has been put into motion and this machine is a direct result.
Powering the dynamic duo of the Honda Pioneer 700 and 700-4 is the 675cc OHV (Over Head Valve) single-cylinder four-stroke. This engine is liquid cooled to properly maintain temperatures no matter what type of work or play you have in mind. Getting the gas into the engine is Honda’s patented PGM-FI, or in laymen's terms, its fuel injection system. This makes for quick starts in most any weather or elevation. The automotive-style transmission give the driver three forward gears and is unlike other models in its class as it does not use a belt to achieve this. Getting down the trail is also helped by the 10.3 inches of ground clearance and wheel travel ranging from 7.9 inches in the front and 9.1 inches in the rear. The independent front and rear suspension make the ride in the cab more comfortable and confidence inspiring.
The cabin of the new Honda has comfortable seating. With its many features, the interior makes for a plush ride in most any terrain. The controls of the Pioneer are all well within reach of any driver with the direction selection being a simple Drive, Neutral and Reverse just off the right side of the steering wheel and mounted high on the dash. Only a few inches to the right of that gate-style shifter is the 2WD/4WD/4WD differential lock selection lever. Both have designated slots or gates that keep the positions separate to ensure you know what position the machine’s drive gearing is in at all times. The digital dash component is right in front of the steering wheel and gives the driver clear and concise information about how the machine is doing. With the most common information such as drive position, fuel level, 2WD/4WD indication lights as well as engine warning lights you have all you need to know right in front of you. When you step out of the Pioneer the parking hand brake is located on the left side of the steering wheel to keep the machine right where you left it.
This is where the traditional two-seat machine stops and the next generation of Honda Engineering begins. The big brother to the Honda Pioneer 700 is the 700-4, (four-seat model) and it has struck some serious curiosity as to how the third and fourth passengers would feel in the rear of the machine. The engine is laid out right between the front two seats creeping back just a little into the second row; however, it is not intrusive enough to create any alarm for potential buyers. The seats are incredibly engineered and seem like something out of a Transformers movie. The bed will haul a serious load of 1000 pounds when the seats are lowered and hidden, but in just a matter of seconds the two seats are lifted, back rests dropped in place and the Pioneer is ready to get two full-size humans dropped in for a fairly comfortable ride. The doors also work very well and do not need to be slammed to close them.
As we mentioned before, the press ride of the Pioneer was held on testing grounds at the manufacturing facility in Timmonsville, SC. This was just after the big release of the very first production model off the assembly line and the local dignitaries made it known how this additional production would stimulate the local economy.
The trails, although somewhat flat, featured many manmade obstacles laid out to give us the best testing possible. The rock garden helped us understand the steering effort and manners of the Pioneer. This lane of probably 150 yards of large rocks proved the steering wasn’t going to wander due to trail debris. Little to no bump steer was present. The large water crossings in the trails were something swamp-like and our thoughts leaned toward doubt as we dropped off into the smelly marsh. But with a tap on the gas the Pioneer pulled through with ease, and we even took the time to shoot several photos right in the middle of the deepest sections with never so much as a single issue. It was impressive to see the Pioneer make a name for itself from behind the wheel.
We led the Pioneer to several areas that had decent hills and it never faltered. We climbed these hills even while sitting in the rear of the 700-4, and our experience went off without a hitch. The rear seats could be compromising for a taller rider, but shuffle that person to the front and a smaller rider to the rear seats and the problem is solved. We felt comfortable the entire time in the back seats either left or right.
Leaving the plant that day we had again been impressed by the Honda Pioneer. It is exciting to think Honda still has many different off-road vehicles coming and we are ready for the next layer of icing on the cake!