This may come as a surprise to some UTV Action readers, but the Polaris Ace wasn’t the first single-seat UTV. The Pilot was the most advanced ver- sion of Honda’s single-seat machines that first appeared as the Odyssey in
1976! Introduced in 1988 as a 1989 model, the Pilot was so high tech and well-equipped, UTV enthusiasts are still enjoying prized examples of the machine today.
The first-generation Odyssey was fun
but very basic. It was a two-wheel-drive
machine with a pull-start, air-cooled,
250cc, two-stroke engine, and the
single-range, belt-type automatic transmission had no reverse. It had a trailing-arm front suspension with less than 4
inches of travel, drum front brakes and
no rear suspension!
By 1985 the Odyssey had evolved
into a machine much like modern UTVs.
It was still a 2WD vehicle, but it featured
electric starting, a fully automatic trans-
A single-seat UTV that was way ahead of its time
mission with reverse, and independent
front and rear suspension.
WHAT MAKES THE PILOT LIKE, AND
UNLIKE, TODAY’S UTVs?
For a vehicle produced 27 years
ago, the Pilot’s design shares a lot with
modern single-seat sport UTVs, though,
like the Odysseys, it was 2WD. It was
powered by an electric-start, 397cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine with a
belt-type, fully automatic, continuously
variable transmission with forward,
neutral and reverse. The big difference
EVOLUTIONOF THE HONDA PILOT
is the Pilot’s powerplant was a two-stroke. It also had a backup pull-starter.
The Pilot’s chassis design is like a
pattern for today’s machines. It has
double-A-arm suspension front and
rear with gas-charged rear shocks with
remote reservoirs. The travel— 5. 9 inches up front and 7.1 inches in the rear—
doesn’t sound like much now, but it
was impressive for the time. Its 59.5-
inch width is a close match for today’s
60-inch-wide woods-width UTVs, and it
made the Pilot very stable.
Amazingly, some of the Pilot’s features beat what we see on similar
machines today. Shoulder harnesses
and rear-view mirrors were standard
equipment, and the Pilot weighed just
592.5 pounds. A Polaris Ace is 830
When we tested the Pilot in
1989, we said it provides “
one-of-a-kind thrills you won’t find