Honda has recently unveiled an exciting addition to its side-by-side UTV lineup. The new Talon 1000R-4 Fox Live Valve is designed with increased width and length, enhancing its off-road capabilities in rugged terrains.
In addition to the Talon 1000R-4 Fox Live Valve, three other versions of the 2023 Talon 1000 (1000X-4, 1000X, and 1000R) have received tuning updates to improve suspension comfort and travel. Honda also promises further updates to the Talon lineup later in 2023.
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Polaris Off Road, the world leader in powersports and off-road innovation, has expanded its offering of class-leading vehicles with the return of its popular RANGER CREW XP 1000 Texas Edition and RANGER SP 570 NorthStar & RANGER CREW SP 570 NorthStar Edition designed for the rancher, farmer and landowner. For ATV riders, Polaris is bringing back its Sportsman 850 and XP 1000 High Lifter Editions, Sportsman 570 and XP 1000 Ride Command Editions and Sportsman 570 Utility HD model packed with factory-equipped technology and features allowing riders to explore further when on the trails or in the mud. Thanks to enhanced performance and durability features across the line up, Polaris is delivering class-leading features to keep up with the demands of hard-working riders.
“We are constantly learning from the unique ways customers use our products,” said Steve Menneto, President of Polaris Off Road. “From mudding to property maintenance, these vehicles are purpose-built with enhanced features that enable our customers to make the most of their day, and we’re excited to bring them back for 2023.”
From task to trail, the RANGER and Sportsman models offer all-day comfort and uncompromising toughness to tackle the toughest jobs. They are packed with features to meet the needs of riders that require more capability, performance, and durability from their off-road vehicle. From mudding and trail adventures to property maintenance and hard work, these models are designed to meet the needs of riders and their lifestyles.
Honda is offering a wide range of multipurpose side-by-side models which has now grown larger with the addition of the Pioneer 1000-6 Crew. The off-roader is a longer version of the regular Pioneer 1000 that can accommodate up to six people in an open-air cabin, with a full-size cargo bed at the back.
Honda describes the new addition to the range as a “longer, roomier version that is ready to get the job done at worksites and ranches, and to help outdoors enthusiasts pursue pastimes like hunting and fishing”. The Pioneer 1000 can be driven by individuals who are over 16 years old and is not street legal.
The four-door Pioneer 1000-6 Crew measures 152.2 inches (3,866 mm) long, 63 inches wide (1,600 mm) wide, and 76.1 inches (1933 mm) tall, with a wheelbase of 115.2 inches (2,926 mm). This makes it 35,1 inches (892 mm) longer than the two-door Pioneer 1000. The stretched wheelbase results in 28 inches (711 mm) of legroom which according to Honda is best-in-class. Besides the full-size rear bed, there is also under-seat storage in both rows.
Just like the rest of the Pioneer 1000 family, the Crew is fitted with Honda’s 999cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder Unicam engine producing 72 hp (54 kW). Power is sent to all four wheels through a dual-clutch transmission and a selectable i-4WD system with a differential lock. The model has front and rear independent double-wishbone suspension and dual 210 mm hydraulic brake discs. Specifically for the Crew model, Honda added a self-leveling rear suspension that adapts to the weight when the cargo bed is loaded, plus a tow/haul driving mode.
It’s an all-electric side-by-side UTV that can replace your pickup truck out in the fields while simultaneously being so much fun it feels like it shouldn’t be legal. The new Ranger XP Kinetic is by no means the effort of a single company. It’s the particularly fruitful result of a collaboration begun in 2020 between Polaris and one of the fastest-rising forces in American electric motorbikes, Zero Motorcycles.
As we can now attest, these two parties joining forces can create some real fireworks. The Polaris R&D Proving Grounds, in a small town outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, served as a fitting playground. As you’d expect it to be. Just look at who owns this property. On the grass outside the vast facility’s main office building was a fleet of new Ranger XP Kinetics for us to play with. Before we set off, Polaris personnel spoke with the press on site about their eagerness to prove they could fulfill the needs of their native gasoline-powered loving clientele and people desiring an electric alternative.
As mentioned above, the heart and soul of the Kinetic XP is a Zero Motorcycles-derived battery-EV powertrain that shares a large degree of functionality with their proprietary brushless DC electric motorcycle powertrains. In short, it’s 15 years’ worth of experience in lightweight electric drivetrains pairing up with an industry leader in 4×4 UTVs and off-road vehicles. The results of their efforts are nothing short of profound.
Polaris comes out of the gate strong with a special drivetrain energy rating of 28.9 kWh on the battery specifically for the top-of-the-line Ranger UTV application. Models lower down in the model lineup settle for a 14.9 kWh unit, both are lithium-ion batteries. The estimated battery range from full to zero for either package of 80 miles (128.75 km) with the Ultimate and 40 miles (64.3 km) with lower trims beats many highway-approved passenger EVs from only a handful of years ago.
Charge times to full vary depending on your choice of level one or two charging systems, and choice of 120 or 240-volt power outlets. Times range between 3.5 and 20 hours depending on these factors. The performance figures are nothing at all to sneeze at, either. With 110 horsepower on offer alongside 140 lb-ft (189 Nm) of instantly available torque in such a light body, road-legal subcompacts exist on the market in 2022 with far less power.
What does that translate to out in the dirt, sand, and gravel of the Minnesota forest? Well, if the fastest, meanest-looking thing you’ve ever driven is a crossover SUV, it both feels and looks like the fastest and most badass-looking thing you’ve ever driven in your life. It’s immediately obvious within the first few seconds of looking at the Kinetic KPs front fascia that it’s an electric vehicle. With smooth, sculpted plastic taking the place of grille slits for the engine’s radiator makes for an exterior that fits into the family tree quite well. All while remaining unique and special looking with its little, subtle changes. As it turns out, those little things add up fast.
Climbing inside this electric UTV reveals a remarkably more automotive-looking interior than anyone who’s only ever driven a car could have ever guessed. Sitting inside the cabin of the Kinetic XP could be a mind-blowing experience if you were expecting something more spartan. Plush foam bench seats are accented in a supple but durable vinyl material that almost tricks the brain into thinking you’re in a normal car.
On hand that afternoon were two of Polaris’ finest contemporary side-by-sides. One was the all-new, all-electric Ranger XP Kinetic, and the other was the ICE-powered Ranger XP 1000 Texas Edition. An in-depth review of the Ranger XP Kinetic is coming very soon. But for now, I’d like to simply focus on one thing. On first impressions, the average non-off-roading enthusiast would probably think the difference between ICE and EVs in something as trivial as a side-by-side wouldn’t be all that important.
Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong. The differences between the XP Kinetic and the XP-1000 are like the differences between night and day, summer and winter, or yin and yang. One clearly has more potential in the long run than the other, and you might not necessarily agree with my opinion. Even so, I urge you to listen if you’re like me and never got within ten feet of a side-by-side before but still might want to buy one.
On a strictly automotive level, most people’s opinions about choosing between ICE or EVs are largely already set in stone. There are simply some people who will never, and we mean ever, so much as sit behind the wheel of an EV, let alone buy one. But you have to consider something, in this case, it’s that these two machines aren’t cars. As Polaris personnel were all too eager to tell me, so many people who thought this way got behind the wheel of the Ranger XP Kinetic at the testing grounds, and all but a few exited wanting to buy one.
From a strictly aesthetic perspective, there’s not much between the XP Kinetic and the XP 1000. But those subtle differences sure do add up fast. Of course, a lack of a radiator up front means the front clip in the XP Kinetic looks slightly different from the XP 1000. This was an intentional design choice, but the differences only intensified on closer inspection. That may sound like the biggest “duh” statement in history but trust us. The differences come in ways you may not expect.
For one thing, the Ranger XP Kinetic is actually considerably more powerful than its ICE-powered cousin. 110 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque compared to the XP-1000’s 82 horsepower and 61 lb-ft of torque. Better still, all that glorious torque is available instantaneously. The end result is simple, one of these two side-by-sides trounces the others in straight line acceleration. We’ll let you folks be the judges of who you think that is. Here’s a hint, it’s not the ICE version.
Further still, most Rivian and Tesla haters will point to the fact EVs hardly make any noise as their main gripe with the things. In their minds, the life-like snarls and burbles native to internal combustion engines are more important to the driving experience than any other factor, end of discussion. Well, we’re happy to say that the Ranger XP Kinetic does not sound like a food blender.
It may not be an exact apples-to-apples comparison, but the rhythmic hum from the electric motor combined with a unique tire noise makes for a sound that mimics that of internal combustion without being at all overwhelming. Granted, I never got to drive the XP Kinetic with a passenger in the seat next to me. But after trying to converse with a Polaris personnel member while driving the XP-1000 via screaming, I have to imagine it’d be much easier in the Ranger EV.
Keep in mind that the Ranger line is marketed as a true-to-form utility vehicle. Though it surely works beautifully as an off-road toy, as was plainly demonstrated to me that day, its buyers will likely be using it for hauling stuff around on their farm properties or work sites. In this role, a side-by-side that doesn’t burn nearly as much, if any, fuel at idle ensures these people can stay out working for longer and get the job done faster. Allowing you to be able to go do some hooning when the work is all done.