Avenue Motors NJ Used
 Sales 973-319-8566
Service 973-313-5256
1453 Lawrence St Rahway, NJ 07065
Today 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Open Today !
Sales: 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
All Hours

CanAm Defender vs Honda Pioneer

Comparison between Can Am Defender and Honda Pioneer

1. Introduction

The Can-Am Defender and Honda Pioneer are both innovative utility vehicles and hunting machines that one may assume the comparisons would match. The fact is that these two UTVs are built for completely different purposes in many cases though; while they are excellent platforms that share a lot of versatile potential. It is not apples to apples. The Can-Am Defender is designed for hard work and hard play. The Honda Pioneer is more of a single track machine that is more graspable for trail use, its better than average suspension travel gives it capability to tackle serious terrain out of the box. These two machines both have great potential to be adapted into serious trail rigs but stock for stock the Pioneer is still the more aggressive single-track focused machine and the Pioneer has a base price tag that starts $1000 less than the Can-Am in most cases. Although that gap closes significantly when comparing the top of the line Pioneer 1000 model to the top of the line Defender XT. (BYRNE)

1.1 Overview of Can Am Defender

The Can-Am Defender is a utility focused UTV built on an SST frame with high strength, low alloy steels to put the Defender's toughness to good use. Front and rear torsional control arm suspension designed to offer more controlled wheel travel and reduce scrub. It also offers more suspension travel than the typical UTV with 10". It also offers 4 preload adjustability for the 500 lb capacity cargo box. This makes the Defender the first UTV to offer the convenience of hauling materials and have the ability to fine-tune the ride depending on load. This also carries over to the passenger area with adjustable driver and passenger seats. All the while you looking classy in typical Can-Am style. A 1000cc Rotax V-twin engine was purpose-built for the Defender with 61hp and 55 lb ft of torque coming online. It may not be the fastest UTV, but it is a workhorse with its capacity. This engine sends power to the wheels with extra low L gear mode and dual-mode traction control. This combined with the UTV specific CVT trans and 4-mode traction system is more torque tuning than any other UTV on the market today. This model fits a very specific niche with none of its competitors crossing over to farming or actual utility work like the Defender. It's an interesting and fairly bold move by Can-Am coming into a market that is not saturated. But if there is one company that can pull people from established market leaders it's probably Can-Am.

1.2 Overview of Honda Pioneer

The Honda Pioneer is a brand known not only for its ATVs but for its utility vehicles as well. Honda was the ones to create the first ever UTV otherwise known as Utility Terrain Vehicles. This was a huge step forward and created a totally new style of vehicle which many of their competitors then tried to reproduce. Nowadays the UTV market is massive and probably equally as popular as the ATV market. With the vast range of UTV's available these days it is hard to choose the best one for your needs. The Honda Pioneer series currently consists of three models: a 2-seater model and two 4-seater models. Picking the right UTV is mainly down to what you are going to be using it for and how many people you need to transport. Once this has been decided, you can then think about the features of the UTV. The more important features to think about are the engine power, fuel capacity, weight, dimensions, cargo capacity, towing capacity, and pricing. The most recent Pioneer models are the Honda Pioneer 700, Honda Pioneer 700-4, and the Honda Pioneer 1000. These models were introduced between 2014 and 2017. All of these models are at a much lower price than the equivalent Can-am Defenders, which is certainly a big selling point if what you want is a cheap utility vehicle. However, the cheaper price tag comes with smaller engines ranging from 675-999 CC, which in turn results in less power. (Lovins2020)

2. Performance and Power

Where the Can Am really begins to pull away from the competition is in terms of overall off-road capability. This is due in large part to many features and technologies carried over from the Can Am ATVs, which are widely known as the best off-road machines in the industry today. The Defender's high-performing Visco-Lok technology is a progressively front-locking differential system. It is a far cry from the Honda, which features no true locking diff and uses a more basic limited-slip system. Locked diffs add unparalleled traction and give the driver the ability to get through tougher conditions without having to stop and back up to build momentum. This tech alone is a good reason for anyone serious about off-roading to choose the Can Am. The Defender's performance is further enhanced by a dual-phase traction control, which is another feature not found on any competitor SXS. This system provides optimal power to the ground in any condition by providing active force and equalization to both front and rear tires. Optimal power is provided without any wheel spin, and the system will engage only when necessary and then disengage for regular driving and turning. The overall result is a smoother driving experience and less to no wait time for 4WD engagement. Honda simply made a basic switchable 2WD to 4WD system with no added features to improve suspension travel or rough terrain capabilities. These features combined give the Defender some of the best hill climbing and mudding capabilities in the industry today. The Honda fails to match the Defender's capabilities in any type of rough terrain.

In regards to towing and payload capacity, both units offer a 2000lb towing capacity. Again, the Defender offers two different towing modes: work and standard, which can be chosen based on conditions. This is a feature not found on many SXS vehicles. Honda claims the Pioneer can carry up to 1000lbs, which is quite a bit for a unit of this nature. The Can Am, however, offers payload ratings ranging from 1200-1800lbs depending on the model and more interior cabin storage space compared to the Pioneer. Both manufacturers' units will be more than capable of getting a day's work done around the farm or cottage and should satisfy most consumers in this particular category.

Both Honda and Can Am claim that their units will provide ample power. To a certain extent, this is true for both. The Honda base Pioneer puts out 36 horsepower and 28 ft/lbs of torque. It is powered by a 675cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke engine. The Can Am Defender base DPS unit comes with the same horsepower but puts out 10 more ft/lbs of torque. This is the most you will see out of a Honda. However, the Defender offers their higher XT and Limited models which put out an industry-leading 82 horsepower and 59 ft/lbs of torque. Now, the power increase does come with a $3000 difference between models. If sheer power is what you are after, the Defender is the way to go.

2.1 Engine Specifications

The engine is the heart of any vehicle. It pumps the blood and keeps it moving. Both of these vehicles are equipped with a powerful engine to fulfill the demand it will receive. The Can Am Defender comes with either an 800 cc V-twin Rotax engine, a 976 cc V-twin Rotax engine, or a 976 cc three-cylinder Rotax engine. The Honda Pioneer is equipped with a 700 cc engine that is more powerful than it has been in the past. The choice of engine for the Can Am Defenders depends on your desires and the type of climate you will be using your vehicle in. The 800 cc V-twin Rotax engine is a 46 horsepower engine that is more for leisure riders. The three-cylinder Rotax engine is located on the Can Am Defender Max models. This is their more recreational vehicle and is Can Am's most powerful side-by-side engine. The Honda Pioneer engine is a 675 cc, 28.7 horsepower engine. This is a large improvement from their first Pioneer engine, but the Honda is meant more for light-duty chores on the farm than extreme riding. With the engines in mind, the Can Am Defender has a more powerful and useful engine for all purposes.

2.2 Towing and Payload Capacity

Can-Am Defender has a 2000 lbs hitch towing rating. But the total power can also be utilized with a large capacity cargo box. The cargo box is a low loading height of less than 1 foot and a 1000 lbs capacity. The tailgate is also a dumping cargo with an open assist so it can easily handle larger loads. Defender's top payload total can be maximized to 1750 lbs. That's due to the heavy-duty rear springs that can also sustain the payload. On the other hand, the Defender also has a platform that can have endless accessories. Some of them are Bimini Roof with sun visor, full cab enclosure, and a winch. These accessories can increase the value of the vehicle and make it more costly. The Honda Pioneer 1000 has an impressive 2000 lbs towing capacity. But when it comes to payload, the total amount might differ. The Pioneer can sustain 1000 lbs worth of payload. This may be chosen by Pioneer owners if they think they do not need a major payload. The Pioneer also has a robust steel net draw bar that is also compatible with Honda's accessory ball mount.

2.3 Off-Road Capability

Can-Am and Honda have been top of minds when it comes to off-road vehicles. The Can-Am Defender really shines in the off-road category mainly due to its ground clearance. There is no stated ground clearance by Can-Am, however, it is higher than the Honda 1k at 10.5 inches. With the higher ground clearance, it allows the Defender to accommodate larger tires and a smoother ride compared to the Honda 1k. An aspect of the Can-Am Defender that isn't quantifiable but goes a long way is the durability. The Defender is known for its ability to withstand tougher terrain and not give out in the process. Given that most off-roading consists of varying terrain, it's likely that the Defender will be less strained in off-road situations compared to the Honda 1k. Honda's first attempt at the side-by-side market didn't come until the past few years. The Pioneer 1k was a great move for Honda in terms of something new and innovative. Honda seems to be targeting its own customers that were used to the old UTVs. Honda wanted to do something a little different, so they released a side-by-side that had a transmission similar to an automatic car. The Dual-Clutch Transmission offers the ease of automatic shifting or the option to manually shift using paddle shifters. While this is innovative and convenient, the DCT transmission loses some torque due to the shift of gears. The Pioneer 1k has an impressive 10-inch ground clearance for a UTV that isn't considered a sport model. This allows the Honda to be practical for more utilitarian users requiring ground clearance for jobs in off-road situations. Additionally, Honda's reputation for reliability and resale value make the Pioneer 1k a practical choice for someone looking to invest in a side-by-side that may only be used for light off-roading and have a possibly sell it and lose minimal value.

3. Features and Technology

The two vehicles differ in terms of performance and features. Starting with the Defender XT, its 82 horsepower Rotax HD10 V-twin engine provides strong torque at lower RPMs and its heavy-duty built tires and trail-friendly features provide enough agility to maneuver around. The HDS is considered high-end since it has additional features such as its mud guards and premium bench seats but still contains the same specifications as the Defender XT. Next, we have the Pioneer 1000, coming in the standard and deluxe package worth $3000 in price difference. Both units contain a 999cc twin-cylinder engine, but one major difference is the 31" tire sizing in which the deluxe package has 27" and 14". Additionally, the standard Pioneer 1000 is able to hold up to 1000 pounds and tow up to 2000 pounds, whereas the deluxe package is able to hold 600 pounds and tow up to 1500 pounds. Given its powerful 999cc, twin-cylinder engine, and a heavy-duty 6-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission, the Pioneer 1000 is considered an improvement from previous models. The deluxe package contains a paddle shift and hill start assist automatic mode which the standard package does not have. Comparing the two in a performance aspect, Defender and the Pioneer 1000 have very different features that can suit a wide range of customers based on their specific needs. The Defender seems to perform better in heavy-duty labor and agility, hence side by side with an ATV hard trailing path. On the other hand, the Pioneer 1000 improvements such as the multiple transmission types, increase in cargo capacity, and automobile-style seats that can hold five adults indicate that it's more focused on a diverse-ranging multi-use and larger seating capacity in mind.

3.1 Comfort and Convenience

The Defender has high-quality seats and an ergonomic bench for a solid entry and exit, along with hip restraints. It also features tilt steering, seating for three adults, a fold-down armrest, and plentiful storage. It is evident that Can-Am is taking the necessary strides to ensure the seating position is comfortable and roomy for three adults. As for suspension, all HD8 and HD10 Defenders receive arched A-Arm front suspension (10 in). See the specs section for tire/suspension differences in the base HD8 model. The rear is the same 10-in arched arm with the exception of the X MR going to a TTX and dual-rate springs. For an impressively smooth ride, the Defender has an integrated armrest, superior door sealing, and a more robust seating system with added suspension. With the seat and suspension upgrades, the Defender now claims it offers the most comfortable ride in the industry. There are a few other comfort features, including an auto transmission with EBS, air-controlled space with dual ventilation, and various adaptable accessories. On the Honda Pioneer, the seating arrangement works well with a relatively soft suspension. Honda has done well in improving entry and exit space and seat comfort compared to prior models but still not quite as comfortable as the Defender. The Honda has excellent provision for the operator with a new fully adjustable seat (front to back) and an optional tilt function on the steering wheel. The rider has the option of conveying one or two passengers in a stadium-style rear bench. Horsepower on this machine and a heavy load may lead to a bit of rear ride height adjustment. The rider has the option of conveying one or two passengers in a stadium-style rear bench. An accessory bed extender is available for those who wish to maximize comfort by sacrificing rear bed space.

3.2 Safety Features

Both of the UTVs in comparison are very close in the safety features. They both have similar frame/construction safety features that make them very close in comparison. With the Can-Am Defender having a ROPS approved roll cage that sits over the seats of the vehicle. On the Honda Pioneer, it also has a roll cage but it is hard to find out if it is actually ROPS approved. The roll cage doesn't sit like a traditional roll cage that most vehicles have. Instead, it is an A-frame cage that is connected at the top of the front of the vehicle and connected in the back to the two truck bed poles. The idea of the roll cage is very similar on both vehicles and will provide around the same safety. If you are the type that takes UTV safety very seriously, then you will be looking for a vehicle with proper seatbelts and doors. Both the Can Am Defender and Honda Pioneer have options for a vehicle with seats and doors, and they both provide proper restraint systems. There are many different types of seat belt systems to choose from. They both offer a standard 3-point seat belt system and 4/5-point harness for added situations when the driving is a little rougher. The addition of doors to any UTV is better for any type of terrain you're looking to drive. They both have doors as an added accessory. When it comes to safety, there is no easier way to ensure that than adding helmets for drivers and passengers. Both vehicle setups will have enough clearance for a helmet to be worn, and both vehicles are open cockpit so a helmet can be worn at all times. This may be necessary for a younger driver as the recommended age for most UTVs will be 16+, so an added helmet can provide some added protection.

3.3 Infotainment and Connectivity

On the other hand, the Can-Am Defender XT HD10 has a very useful infotainment system as well. With the 6-speaker heavy-duty sound system, you are able to listen to your favorite music or audio while out on the trail. The Defender is equipped with both Bluetooth capability and an AUX input. You may also install a SiriusXM satellite radio kit. All of these features allow you to listen to virtually any type of audio through the sound system. This infotainment system is second to none in the side-by-side industry and would be a huge plus for anyone who enjoys some good tunes while out on a ride.

The infotainment and connectivity systems found in the Can-Am Defender and Honda Pioneer are yet another example of the differences between the two machines. The Honda Pioneer 1000 does come with the option of an infotainment center with navigation feature. We were not able to test this feature out, but it sounds like it could be quite useful for some. The Pioneer is also equipped with Bluetooth capability. With this feature, you can link a smartphone to the machine and listen to music through the speakers. This is another feature that could be quite useful for some.

3.4 Utility and Storage Options

An often overlooked storage aspect for side by sides are cabin storage. The Defender has slightly more cabin storage, and options for specialty storage are also available. The same can be said for the Pioneer, but the extra cabin storage can be useful in securing smaller and often needed accessories for quick retrieval while working. While both are even in terms of cargo security options, there are simply more options for enclosure of smaller personal items, and protection of larger theft prone items such as tools and generators in the Defender. These specialty storage options are essential in preventing damage, loss, and theft of crucial work tools or equipment. Often times with plenty of can and recreation, both side by side will have trailer in tow duty. Can Am addresses this with specialty offering enclosed cargo trailers that match the Defender to keep everything dry and secure. Step one in providing insurance on not having to buy new tools, or whatever recreational equipment being towed. These enclosed cargo trailers are also dual purpose to the recreation rider. There are options for both 7 and 4 pin electrical hookups, making it simple to bring more lighting and or provide power to your camping location. All around the Defender surpasses Pioneer in specialty storage options due to their large number, and ability to purchase many of these after the initial buying of the side-by-side.

The Defender, considered a workhorse side-by-side, has most of the main features found in the Pioneer. Both have large payload and towing capacities, and a versatile manual tilting cargo box. The Pioneer has a slightly larger payload capacity of 1000 lbs versus the Defender at 600 lbs. While both cargo boxes vary in size due to model of wheel base, the Defender has dual storage levels, underscoring more storage capacity. What really sets apart the Defender is the number of accessories and specialty storage options available. Examples are full hard box and cooler, bed wall extensions, and console mounted gun boots. Essentially, the Can Am Defender is designed to be more customizable to your specific needs, where the Pioneer is more focused on pure payload capacity.

4. Pricing and Value

When we look at the warranty and maintenance cycles for the machines, there is a significant difference to be noted. All Defender models come with a 1-year warranty, which, compared to any Pioneer model, is half the duration of warranty coverage. Honda's projected maintenance schedule claims an oil and filter change (as well as other general service) should be performed every 3 months or after every 100 miles driven. This service is recommended to be performed by a Honda technician using only Honda parts, but this is not mandatory for warranty coverage. Now, this is not to say that the Pioneer is a low-quality machine and Can-Am is better. The maintenance cycle for the Can-Am Defender is every six months or after every 50 hours of driving. This speaks more towards the Honda brand requiring scheduled maintenance to prevent any unreliability issues with their machines. Can-Am is actually acknowledging that their machine can withstand longer periods of hard use without breaking down or malfunctioning. This is a fantastic thing for people who rely on a side-by-side as a means of tough off-road work. The longer duration of a Defender without service is saving you not only money for maintenance but also time and potential hassle that comes with taking a machine to the shop to have work done to it.

Can-Am offers three different engine sizes in the Defender line. The first is a three-cylinder engine that boasts a brand new high torque workhorse system. The other two engine sizes are both V-twin motors. On the other hand, the Honda Pioneer only comes with a 700cc single-cylinder engine. The price of these two UTVs varies depending on the dealership and location, but for the most part, the price of the base model Pioneers will generally be slightly cheaper than a base model Defender. Now, looking at nothing but the engine size and power, as well as the impressive towing potential, a price difference of just a few hundred dollars does not reflect the value you are getting.

4.1 Price Comparison

Assuming the base model Defender HD5, the Defender line is the far cheaper one. It is the Pioneer 500's closest comparison. And on the other hand, if working off the base model Defender HD8, the Defender clearly offers far more quality for the price. At a mere $500 price difference, the Defender HD8 brings a 50% increase in horsepower from 28 on the HD5 and 46 on the HD8 vs the 32 on the Pioneer 500. The extra $500 for the HD8 is unquestionably a no brainer. In the economy of the working world, less is more. And to further this point, assuming one were to buy a similarly priced top model version of either UTV at around $14,000, the Defender MAX XT Cab or the Pioneer 1000-5 Deluxe, the base models are actually a sufficient display of the real value of either UTV. The Defender at 1000cc still trumps the 1000cc Pioneer in horsepower at 100 vs 80. This shows there is still more to be had for the Honda for the same amount of money. While the Pioneer is a quality UTV, it doesn't have as much go put in as the actor it's trying to keep up with. The Defender offers more bang for the buck, flat out. When comparing prices on similar models of either UTV, there is simply more to gain from purchasing a Defender. This comes without properly comparing features and specs on drastically different priced models between the two UTVs, proving that the Defender is the far more economic choice of the two. While some may still prefer the higher priced Honda despite the value gain with Can-Am, there is no argument that Can-Am is putting a force on Honda's market with UTVs that are as good or better quality offered at a lower price.

4.2 Warranty and Maintenance

An example from personal past experience- my Ranger and a friend's XMR Outlander broke through a beaver dam in a deep pond and went underwater. The Ranger was completely submerged and stuck underwater until the whole thing was winched out of the water about 20 minutes later. The XMR sat in the water only halfway and was never stuck, only the snorkels were submerged. Fast forward 24 hours and the engine on the XMR locked up. I drained the water from the engine on my Ranger and it still ran fine with no problems. This is because the air intake and belt intake on the Defender is in a bad spot, right under the dump box in a deep area which is very susceptible to water and dust. The Pioneer has its intakes in safer places and the belt housing is sealed tighter. Can-Am/BRP knows the placement of the intakes was a bad idea and this is proven by the 2019 and newer Defenders moving the air intakes and belt intake to a higher spot. I have read many stories and talked to people with Defenders and have heard complaints about the belt getting wet and causing slippage or it getting water in the engine. A friend who was thinking of buying a Defender asked his local mechanic about these issues and he was told- do not buy a Defender, I make a lot of money repairing them. Honda has always been known for the reliability of their products compared to many other manufacturers and because of this, the Pioneer is the more wiser choice of the two vehicles. This is a side by side that you can purchase with the confidence that it will last for a very long time. You will be able to go through a decade or longer of work and trail riding without any major issues occurring as long as you properly maintain the vehicle. With the Defender, even if you do properly maintain it, things are still bound to happen that will need repairs. This is also something to consider on the fact that in 10 years from now, will newer Defender models from that time still have the availability of parts for repairs on the current 2017-2019 models. With the Pioneer, the availability of parts for newer models and even the current models will still be there for a long time because it is a vehicle that is going to be around for awhile.

What is not considered much when people buying utility vehicles is the warranty and how it is going to be getting maintenance on the vehicle. Warranties from the factory are an incredibly important thing to consider when buying any vehicle. The warranty offered by Can-Am/BRP on the Defender is a six-month warranty. It was hard to find this information on the Can-Am website but after digging a lot, the six-month warranty was found. This is not a very long warranty at all and to me shows that Can-Am/BRP does not exactly stand behind the work their products. Honda offers a full one-year warranty on Pioneer. This is twice as long as the warranty offered by Can-Am on the Defender. This already says a lot about how confident Honda is in the longevity of their vehicle. In addition to the warranty offered on the Pioneer, when considering the replacement or repairs of something, parts are going to be available for the Pioneer at an incredibly easier rate than parts for the Defender. If there will be a repair on something in the future, there will need to be downtime on the vehicle, and parts for the Defender will be harder to find therefore taking more time to find the part needed and actually doing the repair. More time spent on repairs and maintenance means more money from your wallet and more time not being able to use the vehicle.

4.3 Resale Value

A Honda Pioneer also has a very good resale value. Although Honda has put their prices up over the years, it is still considered as a cheaper option to other machines and with an extensive life expectancy, provided you are not breaking/swapping out parts very regularly, you have a machine which is very sellable. Often the machines have been known to hold a high percentage off of what was originally paid for them and it is, in fact, hard to find a Honda side by side that has been abused.

Resale value is often something that plays a huge role in the purchasing decision of a side by side. The Can-Am Defender has an excellent resale value. The reasoning behind this is that Can-Am is a side by side of high quality and because of this, they are able to maintain resale value. Can-Am is a known name and a name of great quality in the motoring industry and therefore is able to keep a good resale value for all of their vehicles.


BYRNE, L., . Homer school playgrounds are under construction. beta.creativecirclecdn.com. creativecirclecdn.com

Lovins, A.B., 2020. Reframing automotive fuel efficiency. SAE International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, Energy, Environment, & Policy, 1(13-01-01-0004), pp.59-84. [HTML]

CanAm Defender vs Honda Pioneer

Are you curious about how the CanAm Defender compares to the Honda Pioneer? Below, you'll find useful links to help you make an informed decision:

Each link provides comprehensive comparisons, insights, and specifications to help you understand the unique features and capabilities of these utility vehicles.