HOW FAST IS IT?
front differential. It keeps the
500’s steering light, but can’t
provide as much traction as
limited slip or locking front
Faster than we expected.
The Pioneer pulls well for
500, and it accelerates harder
than some small automatic
transmission UTVs in tight
corner-to-corner situations on
twisty trails. Being able to pick
a gear and punch the throttle
gives you quick access to the
power. Top speed is 37 mph,
which doesn’t sound very fast,
but it’s more than enough for
most challenging trails.
HOW IS THE POWER ON THE
It works great. Throttle
response is crisp, and the
500 pulls well from low revs
and has a broad power curve.
The pushrod Foreman-based
engine doesn’t rev as high as
some overhead-cam UTVs,
but it makes power from just
off idle until the rev limiter cuts in. The
low first gear is low enough for seriously
challenging low-speed technical terrain,
like deep mud and rock crawling.
Second through fifth are closely spaced
so the engine pulls well through upshifts
on uphills. Because you can pick and
hold the gear you want, the Pioneer
500 gives you just the kind of speed
and response you like for turns and
climbs. Automatics can be caught off-guard at times, leaving you with delayed
power. If you just want to cruise, the
500 is able to torque its way along in a
tall gear at low revs.
WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES IT
It has double-A-arm independent
suspension front and rear and there’s
a rear sway bar to limit body roll. There
are non-adjustable shocks up front and
spring preload-adjustable shocks in the
back, and both ends provide 5. 9 inches
HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK?
The ride is smoother than we
expected for a machine with such short
travel, and the suspension handles fast
trail riding well with very good control.
The suspension even handles small
jumps with no problem. There are always
a few big ruts and G-outs on most trails,
and unless you back out of the throttle,
the suspension will bottom. As you’d
expect, it’s easier to use all the travel
with two riders in the machine than one.
The front end bottoms more easily than
the rear, but there are no adjustments
on the front shocks to firm them up. Like
other sport utility UTVs, the suspension
lets you have fun on the trail, but it’s not
designed to handle seriously aggressive
driving, like sport UTVs.
HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
Remarkably well. As UTVs go, the
Pioneer 500 is small and light, so we
expected it to be agile and easy to
handle, and it is. The compact Pioneer
turns so effortlessly and maneuvers in
small spaces so well, it makes a normal,
big, sport utility UTV feel like a UPS van
loaded with uranium. Making a 50-inch-
wide machine stable takes some smart
engineering, and plenty went into the
Pioneer. The short-travel suspension and
low, compact engine weight keep the
Pioneer securely stuck to the ground in
turns and on sketchy off-camber trails.
The Honda is so stable, it slides around
slippery turns with complete security.
The Pioneer 500 doesn’t have power
steering, but it doesn’t need it. Steering
effort is light, even in 4WD, thanks to
the open front differential, and there’s
no uncomfortable feedback through the
wheel in bumps.
Honda already has more than 40 accessories for the
Pioneer 500, so your dealer can customize it the way
you want before you take it home.
The engine air intake is as high as the rear
rack and the airbox is easy to get to. The
sealed beltless transmission doesn’t need an
Just like on many paddle-shift cars, the right paddle is for upshifts and the left is for
downshifting. There is no full automatic mode.