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Honda Pioneer vs. Yamaha Wolverine

1. Introduction

The Honda Pioneer 700-4 is a part of the Pioneer series, which also includes the 500 and the 1000. As the name implies, the 700-4 is able to accommodate up to 4 passengers. This is achieved by having two bench seats, which are positioned slightly higher than what is the norm for UTVs. According to the Honda website, the 700-4 comes equipped with a convertible feature which allows the two rear seats to be folded down, thereby creating more storage space. The 700-4 is powered by a 675cc liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, single-cylinder engine and is also equipped with an automatic transmission complete with a full set of gears and 3 drive modes. Reference was also made concerning the 700-4's fuel injection and the fact that this vehicle can tow up to 1500 pounds. In terms of handling and suspension, the 700-4 is designed with a lengthwise engine placement and a low center of gravity, resulting in approximately 10 inches of ground clearance. The vehicle's length is 114.8 inches and it has a wheelbase of 76.8 inches. Honda states that the 700-4 has a roomy cabin and also a tight turning radius of 10.5 feet. The rear suspension is an independent double wishbone type and features a 9.1-inch travel distance. The front suspension is a simple double wishbone type. The 700-4 is also equipped with power steering.

The purpose of this paper is to present a brief overview of two off-road utility terrain vehicles (UTVs). The specific models compared are the Honda Pioneer 700-4 and the Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec. By using evidential data from the respective manufacturer websites, a detailed explanation of each vehicle's overall build and performance capabilities will be conveyed. The facts presented on each vehicle are based on the 2016 models.

1.1. Overview of Honda Pioneer

The purpose of Honda Pioneer is to help you get the job done. This is the ideal partner for work. Manual and TN-A models offer Honda's proven and effective automatic transmission, together with a new transmission called Electric Shift Programme (ESP) four-speed dual clutch transmission, which is activated by the thumb shift selector. For those who prefer fully automatic transmission, the new Pioneer 400 and Pioneer 500 are the ideal choice. Developed, designed, and manufactured in-house, Honda's new lightweight and compact transmission design for the UTV is highly efficient and runs best with high torque engines. The new fully automatic transmission integrates new add-ons such as Drive, Low, Neutral, and Park settings, which are all easily controlled by a dash-mounted electronic switch. The Pioneer has a high and low range sub transmission, which provides you with the best possible torque and speed for pulling heavy loads or when negotiating tricky technical terrain. A new torque converter uses a three-element gearset that provides multiple-ratio gearing, and the system only requires two clutches. The hybrid design uses an intelligent rubber torsion element in the rear to give engine mode in the form of high-stress acceleration rearward and acceleration climbing steep hills, etc. A mechanical gear in the front portion of the rear clutch controls the power with a ratio of tractive force caused by higher torque. This allows direct engine power to be conveyed to the drive and driven pulley. This results in an extremely crisp and smooth response, linear performance, and fuel-efficient driving during the initial stages of operation. Honda's new automatic transmission is now being sold in the global series and the market. From multiple safety features to high performance and fuel efficiency, this product is aiming to fulfill customer needs in many aspects. All models are equipped with high and low range. This is because the sub transmission used in the automatic transmission significantly reduces the engine torque for overcoming obstacles. High range has a ratio that is equivalent to the engine power output and is best used for light trail and utility driving. Low range has a gear reduction of approximately 40% and is suitable for heavy tasks and extremely technical terrain. A gate-type reverse selector uses position lock to prevent it from being put into reverse by mistake. This activates the mechanical counter lock to lock the shift drum and stop the drive pulley movement.

1.2. Overview of Yamaha Wolverine

The Yamaha Wolverine is another exciting release from Yamaha Motor Corporation. This vehicle is following the steps of the legendary Yamaha Rhino which truly changed the way we consider Recreation Utility Off Road Vehicles. The Wolverine is made to be compact yet comfortable. The seating position is one of the best in any Side x Side; contoured seats, a tilt adjustable steering and an easily accessible handbrake. Alongside high levels of comfort, there is loads of accessible, waterproof storage. With a newly designed, well-shaped engine together with the CVT system, Yamaha is claiming class-leading engine braking performance for this new 708cc engine. The Yamaha Wolverine demonstrates a vast selection in terms of gearing and delivers a smoother and more relaxed feeling on the throttle. This is aiming towards the recreational driver, however takes nothing away from the capabilities and performance levels of having the serious off-road work done. This vehicle certainly has the potential to cater to all individual purposes. Finally, Yamaha has also kept safety in mind with the engine-incorporated braking system in conjunction with the all-new 4-wheel disc brakes. Hosting a large 35-liter fuel tank, this Wolverine is designed for both long and short comfortable off-road journeys.

2. Performance

Both these amazing machines are similar in many ways, but their differences really highlight which machine is right for you. These comparisons will mostly be in regards to the Pioneer 500 as it is more similar to the Wolverine. The Wolverine comes stock with a 708cc single cylinder engine that puts out 33.2 lb-ft of torque. It has Yamaha's most advanced and efficient engine, an ultramatic automatic transmission, and on-command 2x4/4x4 selection with a 4-wheel differential lock. Meanwhile, the Pioneer 500 is powered by a 475cc single cylinder engine with a manual transmission. Because the engine size on the Wolverine is bigger, more torque is available, and it has an automatic transmission, which makes it more capable up steep hills, through mud, and in sand. This makes the Wolverine more desirable for most outdoor activities. The torque and manual transmission on the Pioneer 500 does make it better for rock crawling, and it gives the driver what seems to be more control. Essentially, the Honda seems to be able to go through anything the Wolverine can, it just needs to push itself a little bit harder in certain situations. Step on the gas, and it has the fun and exhilarating power a SxS should have, you just may not be able to use it to its full potential in certain situations. With the Pioneer 500, there is only one drive mode, but you can push a button to engage the 4x4. The new transmission eliminates the HE, which is a typical Honda feature that is loved by some and hated by others. Once the Honda is in 4x4 mode, the driver has the use of a differential lock, which really helps give it that extra push in tough situations. The Wolverine has 2x4, 4x4, and 4x4/diff lock modes. Having the option to disable the 4x4 is a nice feature for saving on tire wear when in easy driving conditions, so the Wolverine does have a slight benefit in that regard. The Pioneer 500 has a top speed of 45 mph, but it feels like you're going faster because of its rough and bouncy ride! It's not meant for speed, it's meant for cruising. The Wolverine has a top speed of roughly 55 mph, and its smoother and more comfortable ride makes it feel like you're going slower than you actually are. Both can top a speed of 50-55, and when doing so, still feel in complete control. Overall, the Wolverine will have a slight edge on speed and power. Both have a similar rev limiter when in 4x4 mode, around 40 mph. This dash from 40-45 when the Pioneer 500 is already maxed out is hilarious and a feature that Honda probably did not want to let go of. So when you consider the engine and power department, the Pioneer 500 and the Wolverine are nearly identical in capabilities, but each may have its slight advantages in certain scenarios.

2.1. Engine power and specifications

The Honda Pioneer and the Yamaha Wolverine are two of the most popular UTV models. They are a part of the recreational utility class and come with a lot of additional features and are capable of both work and play. One of the main things that set these UTVs and other utility models apart is the amount of power that they have. The power that a UTV has is an important factor because it determines the speed of the UTV, how much it can carry, and the types of terrain that it can go on. Both the Pioneer and the Wolverine have roughly the same amount of engine power, the Pioneer has a 675cc single cylinder engine, while the Wolverine has a 708cc double overhead cam engine. Now simply through the numbers that are quoted here it would seem that the Wolverine has more power than this Pioneer. But in fact those two engines are not the same power as each other. The 675cc engine of the Pioneer is a four-stroke engine with fuel injection, a liquid coolant system, and electronic ignition. The Wolverine engine doesn't have all of these bells and whistles, so even though it is a slightly larger engine it is not actually as powerful as the Pioneer's engine. The Pioneer has enough power to comfortably transport four adults, a load of equipment, and a trailer full of fuel and still maintain a good speed and performance. It is able to climb hills with ease and has enough torque to pull the aforementioned trailer and equipment without issue. The engines have roughly the same fuel economy, holding roughly 7 gallons of fuel and able to go around 150 miles on one tank. This makes Honda Pioneer and Yamaha Wolverine the perfect UTVs for taking for a long trip or expedition into the woods or mountains.

2.2. Handling and maneuverability

Entry-level or not, side-by-side UTV vehicles are expected to have a powerful engine and high off-road capability. However, Honda Pioneer and Yamaha Wolverine are built with an ATV style chassis and designed to be more compact and ergonomic. The result of an ATV style chassis on the handling and maneuverability of a UTV is still yet to be announced. However, early riders of these vehicles have claimed that the compact design is much easier and more intuitive to drive. Turning radius for the Honda Pioneer is listed at 14.8 feet, while the Yamaha Wolverine turns a bit sharper with a listed turning radius of 11.8 feet. This is definitely something that will play to the advantage of the Wolverine. The UTVs are also claimed to be much more stable and planted than a traditional ATV. Honda's automotive style gearbox and tranny is an additional positive factor towards handling. Translating an SUV-like body style to good handling is not easy, but Honda pulled it off with the Pioneer OTV. The Pioneer holds the title for the best handling UTV with its I-4WD system. The I-4WD system sends power to a slipping wheel and sends brake force to the slipping wheel in an AWD comparison test. The result is much improved handling and hill climb ability compared to a standard AWD system. Honda's new Quick Flip switch in the tranny lever allows manual control of the clutch and will override the auto setting of the new dual clutch tranny. What this means for the driver is the ability to lock the diff when needed. Dual Clutch trannys will alternate gears extremely fast, and early feedback indicates they will drive similar to a manual transmission vehicle. Unfortunately, Yamaha says has some pretty innovative things happening on Honda's heels. The Yamaha Wolverine has a new On-Command 3-way locking diff, a feature borrowed from the Yamaha Grizzly ATV. The locking diff has full diff lock, 4WD, and 4WD diff lock with the push of a button. This will allow the deepest form of mechanical traction and should be the best in the industry. The Wolverine also includes standard Electronic Power Steering. EPS is a feature that consumers are taking to very well, and it is offered on many new ATV and UTV models. EPS greatly reduces steering effort at low speeds and while stopped. It also smoothes out steering input over choppy terrain and reduces feedback to the steering wheel. EPS is indeed a plus for handling and rider fatigue.

2.3. Off-road capabilities

Honda Pioneer UTV is assured to stand tall while treading steep terrain thanks to its 3-speed automatic transmission - a single speed would not be able to deal with steep inclines as efficiently. Continuing on the ascent of an incline, the engine braking qualities of the Honda Pioneer really come into effect - no need to worry about a runaway UTV with this feature. Honda has implemented their Torque Biasing Limited Slip (TBLS) for intricate traction in demanding terrain; the front differential automatically diverts more torque to the wheel with more grip. With this, and the additional Lock setting on the TBLS, Honda Pioneer is designed for steep tight turns, climbing, and challenging the limits of traction with confidence. At no point did the Honda Pioneer seem to have any difficulty bottoming out from ground clearance issues; the Independent Front and Rear Suspension with 8' of travel, compression and rebound damping adjustment, and Spherical Bearing Joints were able to handle any terrain encountered throughout the track routes. Further handling is demonstrated by Honda Pioneer UTV's electric power steering - power steering is often found in sport side by side vehicles for less arm fatigue when tussling with quick decisions in difficult terrain, but the Honda Pioneer UTV's steering is very light and maneuverable compared to most UTV's with power steering.

3. Features and Technology

Safety features: The Pioneer comes with an automatic transmission, something that is not yet seen in the ATV industry as they are generally built with CVTs. It would also be useful for the kids or less experienced drivers in your group, as it has a governor to limit speed in the case that you don't want them to be going too fast. Another thing that Honda has recently thrown out is a recall it issued earlier. The Pioneer 700 models have a link on the front suspension that was said to be bending if used in extreme maneuvers like a crash or jump. It has since then been fixed and does not pose a risk to the unit in any way. The rest of the Pioneer safety features include seat belt interlocking capabilities, a hill start indicator that will let you know when you are starting your ascent or simply rolling down a hill, and the ultimate new braking system that will forever change the game of side-by-side driving. Every new Pioneer model from here on out will come with a paddle shift-commanded automatic transmission with an advanced torque converter with a manual mode that will heavily increase engine braking in hilly terrain or slippery conditions (Tree huggers are going to love it). The Wolverine includes designed-in to the ROPS structure, the roof and Suntop integrates into the vehicle without any brackets or fasteners, providing a protective solution and greatly enhancing the appearance of the Wolverine. The Wolverine also has front overfenders that give a clear, obstruction-free line of sight and greater protection from the elements.

Comfort and convenience features: The Honda Pioneer 700 comes with spacious bucket seats and a tilting cargo box, and it has a cab and doors all around, which is perfect for all-weather driving. It also has a cooler storage compartment and four cup holders to hold all of your beverages. The Yamaha Wolverine, on the other hand, also comes with tilt-adjustable steering and a cargo bed with a 300 lb. capacity. The Wolverine is also equipped with an extra AC outlet for all of your electronic accessories.

3.1. Comfort and convenience features

Another big comfort feature found in the Pioneer series is that the 700-2 and 700-4 have a full-size automotive-style torque converter, rather than a belt and pulley-type CVT found in most ATVs and UTVs. This makes for smoother takeoffs, eliminates belt slippage issues, and can provide higher towing capacity. The Pioneer 1000 has a dual-clutch transmission, which provides more efficient engine power transfer and has been compared to driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. This is the first UTV to have a dual-clutch transmission and is another example of Honda setting a new industry standard with the Pioneer series. The Wolverine R-Spec actually has a fairly decent CVT system for a belt-type drive, with a CVT housing tuned for cooling, optimized pulley ratios, and a very durable belt. CVT setups are smoother and provide better engine braking on descents but are less ideal for heavy towing and can be prone to belt slippage in high load conditions. The new Yamaha Ultramatic CVT and centrifugal clutch in the Wolverine have a well-proven reputation for durability and reliable all-wheel engine braking. The R-Spec also has a sport and recreation-oriented drivetrain with a selectable 2WD/4WD dial and a lever to engage the rear differential lock for extra traction when needed. All of these transmission and drivetrain setups in the Pioneer and Wolverine models enhance the riding experience and make for a more enjoyable and trouble-free operation.

The Pioneer 700-2 and 700-4 feature an automotive-style 3-speed automatic with an AT/MT mode, and the Pioneer 1000 boasts a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission with high and low subtransmissions. The Wolverine R-Spec has a 5-speed transmission with reverse using a wet clutch engagement, which is similar to the belt-type CVT system found in the utility models but is still a more durable setup. All of these units have true 1st gear low-range gearing, and the upper models for each have paddle shifters, providing the ability to manually select a gear. The transmission setup in these models is superior to Honda's previous ATV utility transmission and is close to being as good as it gets for machines in this class.

The Pioneer 700-2 and 700-4 models have a wide variety of features that provide comfort and convenience to the users. The first thing that you notice compared to a more traditional UTV is that the 700-2 and 700-4 have a bench seat, as opposed to bucket seats. The 700-2 is a 2-seater, but the bench seat allows for more hip/shoulder room and the ability to slide over for the passenger to drive the unit. The 700-4 bench seat is actually two independent seats which can easily be converted to a standard bench seat. The Wolverine R-Spec models are also 2-seaters, but instead of a traditional bench, they have independent bucket seats. This is more of a sporty feature, but the seats are still comfortable. Aftermarket seat belts could still be added to allow for 3-4 passengers in an R-Spec model, but it is not a recommended practice. Moving on to the controls, both of these units have a side by side automatic transmission, which is a huge comfort feature rather than shifting gears with a foot-operated mechanism.

3.2. Safety features

The Honda Pioneer comes with a performance enhancing Honda automatic transmission. In addition, it has a super heavy-duty automatic centrifugal clutch that is designed to help improve the shifting and driving performance. Meaning it does not go into drive shifting problems or limp home mode to get off the trail. Still, the transmission is built off the automotive platform featuring a shaft drive which is much better suited for the off-road environment. On the other hand, the Yamaha Wolverine features an Ultramatic V-belt CVT automatic transmission, as well as a centrifugal clutch that maintains constant belt tension for reduced belt wear and a sprag clutch for all-wheel engine braking in 4WD mode to help reduce free-wheel downhill. The Wolverine's shaft drive design is recent to this model only replacing the previous chain drive system used on last year's model.

3.3. Technology and connectivity options

The Honda Pioneer 1000 EPS has an intricate transmission with a full manual mode. This transmission has an auto-clutch and offers users the option of switching between fully automatic or manual clutch or shift mode. The Africa Twin will have an option of a six-speed manual gearbox, using the exact same shift setup from the CRF motocross and off-road bikes. This feature will make it easier for customers to transition between the Africa Twin and other Honda off-road models and make comparing the two models an obvious choice with the transmission similarities. This automatic clutch setup gives the Africa Twin a definite advantage over the manual shift Wolverine R-Spec (R-Spec EPS model will have an automatic option; it's just not explained clearly how it's achieved) and a more versatile transmission option compared to the fully automatic Wolverine X2. The Pioneer also has a direct drive front and rear drive shaft system that acts as a two-wheel drive system by only driving the rear wheels until slippage is detected, which in turn engages the front wheels. The Pioneer once again prevails over the two Yamaha models with both the direct drive and I4WD system being technologies that neither Wolverine has. The I4WD technology by Honda is so advanced that there is virtually no difference in steering effort between two-wheel and four-wheel drive and less feedback through the steering when turning on a solid surface.

4. Price and Value

The Honda Pioneer 500 has carved out an impressive niche in the UTV marketplace. As for the Yamaha Wolverine, I am not able to find any references. It is possible that this vehicle was named something different in Canada since the Wolverine is also a Marvel Comics character. The Honda Pioneer 500 is known for being fun and functional and is able to get things done around the house or in the field of work. Overall, it is dependable, has few issues and is not too expensive. However, the depiction of the Wolverine is quite similar so it is hard to discern between the two making comparisons work. Cost will be relatively similar between the two. The Pioneer 500 is priced around $8,000 to $9,000 with the lowest MSRP I found being $8,999. I have seen new models of the Wolverine and they are all priced over $9,000.

4.1. Price comparison

All machines come with a warranty, have the option to finance and are able to bring home for the price before interest. Please keep in mind that all prices are subject to change and will vary depending on your location. You may also find last year models at a drastic discount and should consider the features from the current year may not warrant the extra cost. Keep this in mind as we look at the features of each machine.

Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec – Starting Price $10,999 This includes the standard features plus a suntop and cast aluminum wheels in steel blue for an added $700.

Honda Pioneer 700-4 – Starting Price $11,799 Again, this is the base model with a manual transmission. The RNG is $700 more and the deluxe another $1000.

Honda Pioneer 700 – Starting Price $10,299 This is the standard Pioneer with a manual transmission and no extras. The RNG is $700 more and the deluxe another $1000.

3/4 page + - of sample content (hx2/3) (hx6/7) For this comparison, we will simply state the MSRP of each machine along with any standout features.

4.2. Resale value

Given that the Honda is less expensive to begin with, the general rule of thumb is that vehicles typically lose more of the value over time that cost less to begin with. In fact, just one year of ownership can see as much as a 20% decrease in value. Taking this into account, the Honda loses less value when compared by percentage. While the Honda is at around a 13% loss in value after one year, the Yamaha is at around a 30% loss in value. Over five years, the cost of depreciation (as a percentage) for the Honda is much less than that of the Yamaha. This is taking into account that the value of the Honda and Yamaha will even out more so closer to the 5-year mark. A simple way to judge this is that if buying the Pioneer and Wolverine new, the cost difference between the two after five years will not be as much as it was when they were first purchased. While this is useful from the person who buys new, the used buyer needs to take into account that the price difference at around the 5-year mark will be less than the difference that it was when both machines were new. To put this more simply: Right now, the Wolverine costs $900 more than the Pioneer. Five years from now, the price difference between a 5-year-old Wolverine and Pioneer is going to be less than $900. This means for the person intending to sell their machine, now is a good time to get the most value out of a used Wolverine before the value becomes closer to that of a Pioneer. This is also useful information for the person who gets rid of an older machine and buys new. You are not going to get as much extra cash for the old machine as you would if the new machine retained higher value. In this case, the Yamaha buyer from our comparison will not get as much extra cash from the old Wolverine as a buyer of a new machine would save by just buying a Pioneer.

4.3. Cost of ownership

A Yamaha Wolverine is a one-time investment. A Honda Pioneer will be repeated investments over and over. The Yamaha will last the average buyer 10+ years. The Honda will most likely need to be replaced every 5-7 years. This is especially true with the problems Honda has with their new UTVs as most of them are being returned to the dealer and either being fixed or replaced with a new one. This brings up another issue, when the Honda is returned to the dealer for maintenance or new parts, the dealer may use it as a rental unit. This is very common with Honda ATVs and UTVs and is known for reducing the resale value. This, in comparison to the Yamaha Wolverine, which doesn't have many mechanical problems and isn't prone to having to return to the dealer. Japan Automobile Federation took the liberty to confirm the Yamaha Wolverine to have 6% of maintenance fees after 3 years worth of usage. In comparison, the Honda Pioneer is said to have 9% maintenance fees after 3 years. This includes replacing old parts and doing regular maintenance on the vehicle. This would place the Honda at a rough estimate of $1500 more than the Yamaha for the same amount of time and maintenance work. So the cost of ownership adds up to owning the Honda Pioneer twice before owning one Yamaha Wolverine.

Honda Pioneer vs. Yamaha Wolverine

The Honda Pioneer and Yamaha Wolverine are both impressive side-by-side vehicles, each with its own unique features and benefits. To explore detailed comparisons and specifications, check out the following resources:

For more information on off-road vehicles and side-by-sides, be sure to visit Avenue Motors for detailed comparisons and reviews.