Honda's FourTrax Rancher AT GPScape is the world's first ATV to offer a built-in Global Positioning System

The world's first ATV with a built-in GPS

Sep. 01, 2003 By Jarret Gleason

New and improved recipe, now with more "sport"

We put the new Rancher to the test in the woods, on the trails, in the dunes, on patrol for public safety, and even down on the ranch.

Honda has really gotten close to my dream of a true sport 4x4 ATV with their New Rancher 400AT. They have taken the old 350 rancher and bred it with the popular features found on their Baja-winning Rincon 650, forming a peppy and fun trail machine. For good measure, they have thrown in better suspension, TraxLok 2WD/4WD on-demand 4x4, and the Hondamatic transmission with the option of Hondas ESP thumb-shifting at the flip of a switch, and tons of power. In a nutshell, this is the ATV to get if you are looking for utility that can put the "U" in fun. Comfortable, predictable, and gobs of power at the flick of a thumb, this is a truly fun 4x4, but also a quad that can cut serious work duty just as easily.

The Ranchers Instrument panel, and GPScape.

  Get Lost!

The most standout feature on the new Rancher is the weatherproof GPScape system built in the Rancher AT's instrument housing. Below the LCD readouts for the speedometer and gear indicator are Mode and Way Point buttons. The Mode button allows the rider to select GPScape, as well as a compass, a clock, odometer, tripmeter, or hourmeter. Selecting the GPScape mode also causes an arrow outlined by a circle to appear on the LCD display. The WPT allows the rider to select and store a way point; that is, your current location. Doing so locks-in your location on the face of the Earth, so the rider can find the way back to that point. The arrow on the LCD face points the direction to the chosen waypoint. As an added convenience, GPScape can store up to 100 way points, especially useful if a rider is in unfamiliar territory. We found it indispensable in precise trail building.

Automatic to manual at the flip of a switch.
New to the Rancher for 2004, TraxLok 2WD/4WD On Demand 4x4.

Reliability? I am convinced.

The one thing Honda has definitely convinced me is that this ATV will last. We beat on it without mercy for three weeks straight, 8+ hours a day, not a problem. It was itching for more, so we even took it to the Oregon Dune Fest for a little abuse, and it scooted around possibly the tallest dunes in North America without a problem again. After its tremendous performance at Winchester Bay, Oregon, it spent an additional three days of 15 hours+ abuse - it even towed back a sandrail that broke down. We rode it alongside a 1999 Honda 300 4x4, a 2001 Honda Rancher 350, and it was the clear that the new Rancher AT was a big improvement.

The new Honda Rancher on the Ranch.
A Rancher on the Rancher, "This is my next ATV purchase".

We stopped in to the Sand Lake satellite office of the ODNRA USDA Forest Service and talked the dune patrol into going for a spin on the new Honda. They did so gladly. When the Ranger returned he compared the Rancher to his Polaris 500 4x4. He liked the feel of the Hondamatic better than the Polaris's CVT-type transmission, and stated that the GPScape feature was a nice touch. He commented that the new Rancher AT would be "just what they were looking for" for patrolling the trail systems in the wooded part of their district.

When we returned from the dunes, we dropped it off on my brother's farm, where ATV's are a daily necessity. He put it to the Rancher to the test on the ranch, and gave one of his Honda 300 4x4's a little break. He loved it, comparing it to the 300 & 450 Foreman, both of which have an impeccable track record as a proven workhorse. He also noted that it was extremely fun, stating that is was a real sport 4x4 (yes, he rides for fun too). He liked it so much, his next ATV purchase is going to be a new Honda Rancher 400 AT. Surprised? Go for a ride on it.

USDA Forest Service on patrol with the new Rancher AT.
Forest Service comments on the Rancher AT and GPScape.

The Rancher hits the trails, and pulls work everyday, without any problems, and looks good doing it. Below are the specs on Honda's new FourTrax Rancher AT.

Happy Trails,

Jarret Gleason

MODEL FourTrax® Rancher® AT GPScape
M.S.R.P. $6,199.00
ENGINE Air-cooled OHV dry-sump longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke
BORE X STROKE 85.0mm x 70.0mm
STARTER Electric with auxiliary recoil
CLUTCH Automatic
TRANSMISSION Fully automatic hydromechanical, continuously variable, with electronic controls
FINAL DRIVE Direct front and rear driveshafts with limited-slip front differential differential
SUSPENSION Front: Independent double-wishbone, 5.9 in. travel
Rear: Swingarm with single shock; 5.9 in. travel
BRAKES Front: Triple-sealed hydraulic drums
Rear: Sealed mechanical drum
TIRES Front: 24 x 8-12
Rear: 24 x 10-11
LENGTH 80.0 in.
WIDTH 43.9 in.
HEIGHT 45.2 in.
WHEELBASE 49.1 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.4 in.
DRY WEIGHT 559.0 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.8 gallons, including 1.1 gal. reserve
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