With the introduction of the 2014 Pioneer 700 and Pioneer 700-4, Honda ushers in an exciting new generation of side-by-side off-road machines. These brand-new two-person and four-person Pioneer models not only replace the highly respected Big Red in the Honda lineup, they also kick off a whole new phase of Honda side-by-sides, with more exciting Pioneer models to come in the future. For this debut these two Pioneer machines, designed by Honda Research and Development in Ohio, and built at Honda South Carolina (using domestically and globally sourced parts), have plenty to offer off-road enthusiasts who like to use their machines to work hard and play hard while also bringing folks along for the ride.
Creation of the Pioneer models began with an all-new chassis formed around Honda's proven 700cc-class liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke engine coupled to a unique automotive-style automatic transmission. This brand-new chassis incorporates a long-travel suspension system for a smooth ride over tough terrain, and the distinctive, all-new bodywork comes standard with integrated doors and headrests. The ability to carry hefty loads over many different kinds of challenging terrain also ranked high in design priority, as well as the ability to tow big loads. And perhaps best of all, these two machines deliver fantastic value, slotting into the popular, rapidly expanding multi-purpose category of side-by-sides with the two-person Pioneer 700 at $9,999, while the Pioneer 700-4 starts at $11,699—about the same neighborhood where some competitor two-seat machines live. Bottom line: once again, Honda is offering innovative new models packed with Honda's fabled quality, fit and finish at a superior value.
One of the big attractions of the Pioneer 700-4 is its convertible seating arrangement; it can be quickly and easily converted from two-seat to three-seat or four-seat configurations and back to an open load-carrying bed without the use of tools—an industry first. Each of the two rear seats simply tilts up out of the bed structure with the release of a latch and locks into place, converting to three-person or four-person capabilities depending on the needs at hand. The rear passengers can also easily access the three-point seat belts, which are located up on the Roll Over Protection Structure (ROPS) where they stay out of the way when not in use. And when the seats are folded in the down position, the bed maintains its full tilting functionality.
The tough and durable heavy-duty steel frame used by both Pioneer models features a wheelbase just slightly longer than the Big Red's—76.8 inches versus 75.7 inches—yet overall length has been reduced just a pinch and overall width is narrower by nearly three inches to make the Pioneer models more compact with more agile handling. This new configuration also gives the Pioneer a tight 14.8 feet turning radius and there's plenty of ground clearance available—10.3 inches. However, perhaps the most telling specification focuses on suspension travel: both new models deliver comfortable and well-controlled 7.9 inches of travel via double-wishbone independent front suspension system, while the double-wishbone independent rear suspension system (IRS) provides a full 9.1 inches of travel for excellent off-road capabilities. The twin rear shocks are adjustable for spring preload, so it's easy to adjust the rear suspension for added comfort during recreational use, then quickly ramp up the spring preload when it's time to carry heavy loads. With this 2.0-inch gain in travel at both ends, these new Pioneer models deliver an appreciably plush ride whether it's on the trail or at the jobsite. In addition, both versions of the Pioneer 700 also feature new front tires sized 25 x 8-12. These new tires help give the Pioneer improved steering feel and more agile steering response.
Another very significant innovation involves a new engine mount system developed specifically to help tune out vibration and produce a noticeably smoother ride. Thanks to a newly developed engine-mounting subframe and accompanying vibration-isolating bushings, every contact point for the driver and passenger—steering wheel, handholds, floor, seat bottom and seat back—now transmit noticeably less engine vibration. The result is markedly improved comfort and a newly elevated, high-quality feel.
Both Pioneer models are powered by Honda's proven 675cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke four-valve engine with Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) for spot-on fuel metering under a wide variety of operating conditions. This muscular yet smooth-operating powerplant delivers strong acceleration and good top speed, and it's coupled to an automotive-style Honda automatic transmission that features a hydraulic torque converter, three hydraulic clutches and an Electronic Control Module (ECM) to automatically select one of three forward gears and one reverse gear. The ECM monitors throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine rpm, gear selector position, brake application and engine oil temperature for optimum performance. Also, on downhill slopes the transmission provides positive engine braking that supplements the hydraulic disc brakes for slowing power, technology that is superior to side-by-sides with electronic engine braking systems that can result in inconsistent performance in real-world conditions.
New to the Pioneer models is a dual shift-mapping program that automatically selects between two transmission shifting modes—either Cruise or Sport mode—for optimum shift timing depending on the driver's pattern of throttle operation. During aggressive use, the Sport mode kicks in and holds the transmission in gear longer before shifting to deliver more aggressive performance. During more casual operation, the Cruise mode allows the transmission to shift up sooner for more casual performance and extended range from the Pioneer's 8.2 gallon fuel tank. All in all, the driver enjoys optimum performance—automatically.
To convert all that power into terrain-grabbing traction, both Pioneer models feature full-time true 2WD for improved traction. Thanks to a new rear-wheel drive setup that now incorporates a non-differential rear end—one related to the setup used on Honda ATVs equipped with IRS—the Pioneer delivers superior drive characteristics. When the going gets especially tough, a handy gearshift selector makes it easy to positively engage the 4WD mode, and there's also the option to engage the front differential lock for maximum pull.
In keeping with the design of all Honda side-by-sides and ATVs, the Pioneer forgoes a belt-style transmission for the more positive automotive-style automatic transmission and durable shaft-drive design.
When it's time to load up the Pioneer and get to work—whether it's supplies and tools on the job or an entire camping setup for a multi-day backwoods trip—both the Pioneer 700 and Pioneer 700-4 are more than up to the task. The versatile tilt-bed is rated for an outsized 1000-pound hauling capacity, plus the Pioneer offers an impressive 1500-pound towing capacity. Multiple D-rings on the bed and wall of the cargo area provide convenient tie-down points for securing cargo while underway—a welcome convenience.
Both versions of the Pioneer abound with Honda's distinctive attention to detail: Redesigned 37.5 watt headlights provide a more even distribution of light for driving after dark; an improved air intake system is more resistant to ingestion of dust and water; a higher AC generator output—from 410 watts on Big Red to 450 watts—provides power for added accessories; increased fuel capacity adds greater driving range; a larger-capacity, sealed glove box provides more room to pack items, and much more. There's also a full line of Honda Genuine and Signature Accessories—over 50 different items—allowing owners to configure their Pioneer to meet their specific needs.
It all adds up to an innovative Pioneer duo that meets the widely varied needs of off-road recreational users, hunters, outdoor-oriented families, hard-working job sites, and everything in between. The new 2014 Pioneer 700 and Pioneer 700-4 deliver a whole new level of side-by-side capabilities along with incomparable Honda quality and value.