HOW DOES THE PRICE COMPARE?
The Ranger ETX sells for $8799,
while the Pioneer 500 is $8499, or
$9099 for the Honda Phantom Camo
version. The Kymco UXV 450i starts
at $7999, and the UXV 500i starts at
$9499 and jumps to $12,999, but the
carbureted UXV 500 is only $7999.
HOW NEW ARE THEY?
Both are brand new, and we tested
the Pioneer 500 in the August 2014
issue and the Ranger ETX in July 2015.
Polaris created the ProStar engine for
the Ace and now the ETX Ranger UTV
and Sportsman ATV. The DOHC, EFI
single puts out 31 horsepower and
displaces 325cc, and the mid-size
Ranger chassis sports MacPherson
strut front suspension and dual-A-arm
independent rear suspension. Mixing
and matching the ETX engine with
the chassis from the 58-inch Ranger
570 lets the new Ranger ETX come in
$1000 under the 570. It has a towing
capacity of 1200 pounds and a tilting
bed with a 450-pound capacity.
Honda wrapped an all-new chassis
around the re-tuned Foreman 475cc,
five-speed engine to create the first-ever UTV with paddle shifters on the
steering wheel. The 500 is USFS
legal, with a 50-inch width and fully
independent suspension, and it fits
easily in the back of a full-sized pickup.
The exoskeleton frame extends down
from the ROPS cage to protect the
bodywork, and it has a rear flatbed rack
(450-pound capacity) instead of a tilting
bed, and it tows 1000 pounds. Build
quality and innovations like the single-use doors with nets make the Pioneer
500 deliver a lot of bang for the buck,
whether you’re working around the
ranch, hunting or trail riding.
WHICH UTV IS FASTER?
The Polaris 325 is faster with a top
speed of 41–42 mph, while the Honda
scoots up to 37 mph, which is plenty
fast for trail riding in the woods or
mountains. The Ranger ETX accelerates
harder and gets to top speed faster as
well, but the Honda is more fun to drive
with its paddle shifters. On the other
hand, the Polaris has low range for hills
and heavy loads, but no engine braking
to speak of, so it freewheels when you
chop the throttle.
WHICH HAS BETTER DELIVERY AND
Without a CVT belt to slip or break,
the Pioneer 500 is more maintenance-
free but requires the driver to select the
proper gear. What’s really cool is that
Honda designed fuel and ignition cut-
offs so you don’t have to let off of the
throttle to shift, and it has very effective
four-wheel EBS. However, the TraxLox
4WD system doesn’t have a locking
front diff like the new Foreman ATV.
The longitudinal engine placement also
means more driveline efficiency.
The Polaris CVT doesn’t require
a lot from the driver, nor does the
on-demand 4WD system, which only
engages the front diff when sensors
detect the rear wheels spinning. This
is great for going up hills, but not so
much on steep descents. There is
no dedicated EBS, and you have to
maintain a little throttle to keep the
clutch from freewheeling. Even then,
only the rear wheels slow the machine,
so you have to use the brakes more.
WHICH HAS BETTER SUSPENSION?
The Polaris has more travel, but it’s
looser and allows a lot of body roll.
McPherson struts sport 9 inches of
travel up front, and the rolled IRS rear
end provides 10 inches of travel. It’s
tuned to provide a plush ride yet firms
up fairly well for bottoming resistance.
Honda has a totally different view on
suspension to keep the center of gravity
low and handling crisp. Travel is limited
to 5. 9 inches all around, so the little
Honda handles like a slot car, but it
bottoms if you hit water bars or roots
too hard. The ETX comes with 25-inch
tires, and the Honda sports 24-inch
rubber. So, the Ranger ETX absorbs
more terrain before bottoming but
allows more weight transfer, while the
Pioneer is more sporty.
WHICH HAS BETTER HANDLING?
Honda. The lighter (about 60 pounds)
and smaller Pioneer 500 has great
turning prowess and a lower center of
gravity for snaking
woods. Its tighter
make for high
speeds as well.
two are nearly
identical at 73
and 73.1 inches,
but the Ranger
ETX has a
so it can enter
corners with more
it can’t go places
the Honda will.
The 475cc engine has a 92mm piston, a short 71mm stroke, a
36mm EFI throttle body and 9.5:1 compression. It sits longitudinally
behind the cab and has a five-speed transmission with reverse. The
hydraulic rear brake sits on the front of the rear transfer case, and
EBS and compression braking assist the binders.
Although its width makes
it seem like it would
be tippy in turns, the
Pioneer 500’s low center
of gravity and short
suspension travel make it
snake through tight spots
with ease. The wider
Ranger ETX has more
travel and body roll, and
it can’t turn as tightly as