Honda’s $8499 Pioneer 500 is
the first UTV to sport a paddle
shifter and has a tight handling
package with its 50-inch width.
Polaris’ $8799 Ranger ETX
packs a lot of performance and
versatility in a premium package
that replaces the Ranger 400.
HOW ABOUT ROCKS AND MUD?
With a clear travel advantage and
a locking front diff, the Ranger picks
its way over rocks better, but it only
has about a half-inch more ground
clearance, so the advantage isn’t
so big in deep mud or water. Both
draw air from high in the frame and
have excellent splash protection, but
the Honda has no CVT belt to get
wet, slip or burn from abuse.
WHICH IS THE BETTER WORKHORSE?
Polaris. With its tilting bed with
sides and a tailgate, it can carry
trash cans and hay bales easily yet
tilt for cleaning. The ETX has higher
towing and cargo capacities, but
fastening the nets is a pain, so they
tend to stay undone. The tilt steering
wheel is nice. If you don’t use the
seat belt, top speed is limited to 15
mph, and the bench seat is great
for taking dogs along. Although the
Honda doesn’t have a tilt bed, it
does have an accessory cargo tray
that attaches to the rear rack, and
there’s an accessory under-hood
storage. Although the Pioneer has
better drink holders, it doesn’t have
a glove box.