Polaris Ranger vs Honda Pioneer (Side-by-Side Comparison)

The Polaris Ranger and Honda Pioneer are tough UTVs that get the job done. They’re both solid machines that can function well in warm or cold weather and take a lot of damage. So what are the differences between the Polaris Ranger and Honda Pioneer?

The main differences between the two are comfort and reliability. The Polaris Ranger boasts of high-tech add-ons, while the Honda Pioneer of unparalleled dependability. While both are purpose-built vehicles, the better of the two depends on personal preference.

This guide is a UTV comparison of the Polaris Ranger and Honda Pioneer. It covers specs, features, and pros and cons. It also provides tips on what to consider before making a choice.

Polaris Ranger vs Honda Pioneer

Polaris Ranger vs Honda Pioneer: Specs

Let’s take a look at what Honda and Polaris offer for their 1000-class vehicle:

Engine

Both UTVs are liquid-cooled and fuel-injected. Noticeable differences are with the bore-stroke ratio, compression, engine fuel, and displacement. The Polaris Ranger is Tier 4-compliant for its diesel-type engines. The same goes for the gasoline-fed Honda Pioneer, but only for models released in California and Canada.

CONFIGURATION2016 Polaris Ranger 10002016 Honda Pioneer 1000
Base MSRP$13,799.00$13,999.00
Engine CoolingLiquidLiquid
Engine FuelDieselUnleaded Gasoline
Engine Brand NameKohlerUnicam
Engine Type4-Stroke Twin Cylinder DOHCDual-cylinder; Parallel twin
Carburetion TypeElectronic Fuel InjectionProgrammed Fuel Injection (PGM FI)
Horsepower80 hp72 hp
Bore x Stroke Ratio75mm x 77.6mm92mm x 75.15mm
Compression Ratio22.8:110:01
Displacement1,028 c³ / 62.7 in³999 c³ / 60.9 in³
Travel Speed – Max56 mph65 mph

Drivetrain

Most consumers would gravitate towards either vehicle, depending on whether they prefer belt-driven over real gears or vice-versa.

TRANSMISSION / DRIVELINE2016 Polaris Ranger 10002016 Honda Pioneer 1000
Transmission TypeAutomatic PVT H/L/N/R/PTwo multiplate, manual-automatic wet clutch (six-speed)
Primary Drive (Front Wheel) ShaftShaft
Primary Drive (Engine/Transmission) BeltN/A
ReverseYesYes
High/Low RangeYesYes
Driveline TypeSelectable 2WD/4WDSelectable 2WD/4WD
Rear Unlocking DifferentialStandardStandard
Rear Solid AxleNoneNone
Limited Slip Differential LocationFrontFront
Differential Lock LocationRearFront/Rear

Ignition

Both UTVs have an electric start system. The main difference is in the battery. The Ranger has a 12V, 400-CCA (Cold Crank Amp) battery with an assembled dimension of 6.56 x 5 x 6.88 inches (L x W x H), not including wire harness and mounting accessories. On the other hand, the Pioneer has a 12V, 200-CCA (Cold Crank Amp) battery with an assembled dimension of 5.94 x 3.43 x 5.79 inches (L x W x H).

Tires & Brakes

Front and rear tires and hydraulic disc brakes are almost similar for both of these quads.

TIRES & BRAKES 2016 Polaris Ranger 10002016 Honda Pioneer 1000
Wheels CompositionAluminumSteel
Front TireCarlisle 25 x 10 – 1227 x 9 – 12
Rear TireCarlisle 25 x 11 – 1227 x 11 – 12
Tread Type All-Terrain All-Terrain
Front Brake TypeFoot-activated, 4-wheel hydraulic disc210-mm Dual Hydraulic Disc
Rear Brake TypeFoot-activated, 4-wheel hydraulic disc210-mm Dual Hydraulic Disc
Engine Braking Standard Standard

Suspension

The Honda side by side front suspension provides more inches of travel compared to the Polaris. Other than that, everything else about the suspension is almost similar between the two.

 SUSPENSION2016 Polaris Ranger 10002016 Honda Pioneer 1000
Front Suspension TypeDual A-Arm (10 in travel)Independent Double Wishbone (10.5 in travel)
Front Adjustable Fork Pre-loadNoNo
Rear Suspension TypeDual A-Arm, IRS (10 in travel)Independent Double Wishbone (10 in travel)
Rear Adjustable Shock/Spring Pre-loadNoYes
Number Rear Shock Absorbers22
Adjustment Type Shock Mounted Adjustment Shock Mounted Adjustment
Air AdjustableNoNo

Dimensions

Differences between the two versions are negligible, except for the turning radius and dry weight (highly dependent on which trim you will purchase for each UTV). The Polaris Ranger 1000 is slightly lighter than the Honda Pioneer 1000 due to its aluminum wheels.

 DIMENSION2016 Polaris Ranger 10002016 Honda Pioneer 1000
Length116 in116.8 in
Width60 in62.9 in
Height76 in81 in
Ground Clearance12 in1,513.4 lbs
Turning Radius161 in165.6 in
Wheelbase81 in80.2 in
Curb Weight1,513.4 lbs1,519 lbs

Capacities & Storage

For this side by side UTV comparison, the most apparent difference is the fuel tank capacity. The Ranger requires more gallons of diesel compared to the gasoline-fed Pioneer. Furthermore, the Honda payload and cargo box capacity vary depending on where it is released. Honda Pioneers sold in California and Canada have less load capacity than those sold in other states.

CAPACITIES & STORAGE 2016 Polaris Ranger 10002016 Honda Pioneer 1000
Fuel Tank10 gal7.9 gal
Payload Capacity1,275 lbs1,248 lbs to 1,649 lbs
Towing Capacity2,000 lbs2,000 lbs
Cargo Box Bed Load Capacity1,000 lbs600 lbs to 1,000 lbs
Cargo Box Length36.5 in36 in
Cargo Box Width54 in55 in
Cargo Box Height11.5 in11 in (tailgate); 14 in (sticker)
Number of Cupholders22
Number of Seats33
Seat BeltsStandardStandard

Exterior

The Polaris Ranger and Honda Pioneer are both made up of a steel frame and plastic body material with their respective graphics. They also have similar wattage for their lighting system. Both UTVs come standard with trip odometers, temperature and fuel level warning gauges, power outlets, and glove boxes.

Polaris Ranger vs Honda Pioneer Pros and Cons

Pros – Polaris Ranger 1000

Polaris Ranger 1000 UTV

The Polaris Ranger 1000 is considered the hardest working and smoothest riding UTV. In terms of power output, it gives out 80 hp, which is 11% more power compared to Honda Pioneer’s 72 hp. Polaris owners attest to their vehicle’s CVT being more efficient in bringing power to the rear wheels. The Ranger is also said to accelerate to 40 mph 22% faster than its Honda counterpart. Its Pro-LockTM True On-Demand All-Wheel Drive automatically brings power to front wheels in cases where forward traction is needed.

It is above the competition in terms of smooth riding – thanks to its (industry-exclusive) 3-Mode Throttle Control. Depending on work, standard, or performance mode, the Ranger offers snappy throttle responsiveness and precise maneuverability. The Ranger’s Lock & Ride ProFit cab system effectively seals out water and dust and operates separately from the dump system. Hence, an unpleasant odor is not sealed in the passenger unit.

The Polaris Ranger Crew trim can seat up to six people (including the driver), and its adjustable seat slider allows the vehicle to accommodate taller drivers. Also, rear passengers enjoy 3.5 inches or 17% more legroom, as the rear seats are not positioned right above the rear shocks. This rear-shock set up does not take away the Ranger’s hauling capacity even if its passenger load is maxed out.

Cons – Polaris Ranger 1000

Despite the technology that the Ranger features, the chief complaint of many about the vehicle is its CVT belt. The drive belt is not durable and can break within the first five weeks of use. Some owners claim that their SxS gets serviced every 500 miles, even if the vehicle is not abused. They feel that the horsepower advantage over the Honda Pioneer is useless due to the drive belt’s fragility. If it is not the drive belt that has an issue, it is the rack and pinion steering completely falling apart.

The Ranger’s Pro-LockTM True On-Demand All-Wheel Drive does not send power to the front wheels when slowing down, so the rear wheels drag on slippery surfaces. The experience is similar to driving a rear-wheel-drive car, and you downshift too much – it can be pretty scary. Because of this, Polaris has a higher tendency to slide off trails or flip over in icy conditions. Power steering likewise seems a little jerky. And over time, the chassis makes a screeching sound.

Other areas for improvement that the Polaris has are its life expectancy, battery location, and tendency to overheat (when you attach a loaded utility trailer to it). In rare situations, the Ranger even catches fire due to the shorting of the winch’s power block. Generally, consumers feel that the all-rounder features of the UTV mask the lack of reliability of the Ranger.

Pros – Honda Pioneer 1000

Honda Pioneer UTV

For Honda, reliability is king, and Honda fanatics couldn’t agree with this more. The same is true for the Pioneer. Owners claim they have not had a single issue since purchasing the bulletproof tank. The vehicle exhibits good torque and power, with or without trailers attached, and its power steering feels like driving a truck. Consumers also like that the Honda Pioneer’s battery is located under the hood and away from debris. They love Honda for making their 4x4s simple and to the point.

The Honda Pioneer 1000 compensates for its less horsepower with lower drivetrain loss than belt-driven machines, including Polaris. This proves that the shaft drive is far superior to the CVT belt, assures its users of no smoked belts or breaking engine, and no grinding or auto noise. The Honda’s real gears make for a smoother ride, especially when going downhill on uneven terrain. The UTV also has a better turning radius and fuel consumption.

Cons – Honda Pioneer 1000

Unfortunately, the Honda Pioneer’s comfort and smooth riding do not reflect its strength in mechanical and driveline components. For one, sensitivity with the gas pedal and acceleration is not as suave as the Polaris. Shocks are rough partly because of their placement, and the roll cage is too high for toy haulers. Heat under the front seat gets pretty bad and becomes quite uncomfortable, especially if you live in areas with scorching summers like Mississippi.

Drivers complain that the doors get stuck halfway sometimes, leaving them little to no room to get out of the cabin. If they do not slam the door shut hard enough, it rattles. Honda UTVs have a two-step latch system where you need to listen for those two clicks, no need to slam the doors shut – but it doesn’t always work. Moreover, there are not many aftermarket accessory options for the Pioneer, unlike Polaris Ranger parts. 

The Honda Pioneer is also geared way too high in reverse, which may be problematic for beginner riders or those coming from belt-driven UTVs. Plus, the Honda battery is much smaller compared to the Polaris. If you add more electrical accessories, you may need to add a second battery to your Pioneer as the stock battery won’t be sufficient to power all those add-ons. This side-by-side is also heavier than the competition.

Honda Pioneer 1000 vs Polaris Ranger 1000: When to Use

Being familiar with each of the vehicles’ specifications and knowing the advantages and disadvantages of owning one are only part of your decision-making process. Here are some more considerations you have to make before deciding to purchase either of the two UTVs:

  • Location. Consider where you would use the four-wheeler. Both of these utility vehicles have their shortcomings that may not be suitable for specific locations. For instance, if you drive on many uphill and downhill slopes, then the Polaris Ranger may not be the right choice. Likewise, if you often ride on uneven terrain and are looking for a plush suspension to mask the trail’s ruggedness, then the Honda Pioneer may not be to your liking.
  • Reliability. No UTV owner wants to purchase a brand-new SxS to take it to the dealer after a few miles. The process is tedious and expensive. If you are after top-notch reliability, then Honda is the way to go. But if you don’t mind a few side trips to your local mechanic for minor repairs, then you can opt for the Polaris.
  • Comfort. UTVs are primarily built for tough jobs. But there are still consumers who, despite knowing this fact, expect their SxS to deliver creature comforts that a caddy offers. If you prefer a smooth ride to go with engine efficiency, then the Ranger may appeal to you more. But if your priority revolves around getting things done, you are likely to go for a Honda Pioneer.
  • Customizability. As utility vehicles become more and more popular, the scope of their use also widens. Nowadays, people buy UTVs for heavy hauling or farm work and as a snowplow or daily driving. As such, consumers want to add accessories to their vehicles according to their changing purpose. Polaris Rangers give owners the ability to customize the vehicle through numerous add-ons. In contrast, Honda Pioneers may be limited in this area due to its more simplistic and straightforward design.
  • Fuel Economy. Although the Honda Pioneer 1000 and Polaris Ranger 1000 have great towing capacities, can withstand rough use, and are purpose-built vehicles, they do not consume fuel in the same quantities. If you don’t mind the higher prices of gasoline, go for the Ranger. Otherwise, the Honda UTV will work best for fuel consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most reliable UTV on the market?  The Honda Talon and Honda Pioneer are the most reliable UTVs on the market.
  • What size trailer do I need for a Polaris Ranger?  You will need a trailer with the assembled dimensions of 116.5 x 60 x 76 inches (296 x 152 x 193 centimeters). Take note that if you previously owned a Polaris and are switching to a Honda, you will need to get a different-sized trailer to fit your UTV.
  • How much is a Polaris Ranger? The 2016 Polaris Ranger 1000 model cost $13,799. The 2021 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 Trail Boss trim costs $18,999.
  • Should I buy a Honda Pioneer 700 or 1000? The Honda Pioneer 700 rides like an ATV due to its full-time locking differential. The Pioneer 1000 can unlock the rear wheels and enable turf mode, which makes turning easier. Other things to consider are payload capacity and budget.

Conclusion – Polaris Ranger vs Honda Pioneer

Reliability and comfort distinguish the Honda Pioneer and the Polaris Ranger from one another. The Polaris Ranger may require more visits to the dealer, with its embedded high-tech advancements and engine configuration. The Honda Pioneer may lack the luxury and technology that the Polaris Ranger has, but is a decent trade-off for what you gain in power and reliability. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what you will use the vehicle for.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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