For a, relatively, new breed of vehicle, the UTV has come on in leaps and bounds since its first appearance, in 2004. The range of vehicles are so young and still emerging that even the name of it is not consistent. They are known as Utility Task Vehicle (UTV), Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV), Recreational Utility Vehicle (RUV), Side-by-Side (SXS).
Over the years, more manufacturers have joined this field of powersport vehicles and specifications have improved considerably. Polaris and Con-Am, Kawasaki and Yamaha are some of the industry leaders. Even Arctic Cat and John Deere have moved into the sector too. But there is another brand which only joined the UTV race in the last couple of years and have become one of the market leaders – Honda.
Using their strong experience with two and four wheel vehicles, they stepped into the breach with their Honda Talon, in 2018. It didn’t take long before this UTV was widely sought after by recreational and professional owners alike.
In this review we will take a closer look at what the latest edition of the Honda Talon has to offer and how it performs in the dirt and on the trail.
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How Did We Get Here?
The UTV has developed into a balance of sport, utility and recreational use. Its spiritual ancestor goes all the way back to the original off-road vehicle – the Jeep. The introduction of this World War II utilitarian vehicle would pave the way to all future iterations of this automotive segment.
Into the ’50s, recreational demands became more audible and the craze of stripping small production automobiles down and setting them up for off road use – specially beaches and dunes – which prompted their designation as Beach or Dune Buggies. By the 1960’s, more specific fiberglass models were produced and would end up being raced during that period.
The same decade would also see the first emergence of the ATV although this one could be used on land or in the water. The Amphibious ATV became very popular as a utility and recreational vehicle. These six-eight wheel vehicles would see their popularity quickly fade out and very few are still manufactured today.
The direct predecessor of the UTV is the tried and trusted ATV. The very first ATV would enter the world stage in 1970 with the arrival of the Honda ATC90, albeit with three wheels. These bikes used oversized balloon wheels to absorb the uneven terrain though, ten years later, Honda would upgrade this with the ATC200E, Big Red. This would be the first ATV to use proper suspension to counteract the off-road conditions.
The first four-wheeler ATV to come out was the 1982 Suzuki Quadrunner LT125. Quickly other manufactures followed suit and they became so popular that the three wheelers would be phased out (also because of their poor safety levels). Today, sold alongside UTVs, they are produced in sport or utility editions.
The very first UTV that appeared was in 1988. Produced by Kawasaki and called MULE (Multi Use Light Equipment) quickly became the mechanical workhorse for many outdoor industries. Other brands quickly offered their own version of these utilitarian vehicles and became a mainstay worldwide.
By 2004, Yamaha would turn the industry on its head by introducing the Rhino, the very first recreational UTV. Initially, it was thought to be just another utility vehicle but, when it was tested, it soon became apparent how enjoyable it was. Sales went through the roof and helped to push consumer sales above commercial sales for the first time. Not long after that Polaris entered the stage with its RZR and the motoring segment never looked back.
Honda Talon 1000
Honda’s initial rendition of the Talon were two varieties of a two-seater UTV – 1000X & 1000R. Both powered by a 999cc engine that gives out 104 bhp and can propel the UTV to 80 mph, during driving reviews, with the assistance of its Dual Clutch Transmission.
The one-piece frame is fitted with 2.0-inch body Fox Podium Quick Switch 3 shocks (QS3) that have 5/8-inch shafts and combine with the double-wishbone front-suspension design and 3 Link rear system to offer suspension travel of 14.6 and 15.1 inches, front and rear. The setup ensures a controlled and confident ride, even on the most challenging surfaces and gradients. With a width of 64 inches, it is very maneuverable and precise.
The performance-tuned four-valve ‘Unicam’ parallel-twin engine works with Honda’s high-tech, geared Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), which offers two automatic modes (Normal and Sport), plus Manual with steering-column-mounted paddle shifters. Honda’s I-4WD, the powersports industry’s first and only brake traction control system, manages the amount of slip between the front wheels in four-wheel drive. Electronic brakeforce distribution strategically optimizes brakeforce to the most effective wheels during braking in two-wheel drive. Hill-start assist temporarily holds the vehicle in place when stopped on an ascent, making the process of resuming motion much easier.
The Honda Talon 1000 R has been designed for more racier usage, when high-speed tracking and bump absorption are key. While most of the Honda Talon specs are similar to both formats, the Honda Talon 1000R differs in size and suspension. Its width is 4.4 inches wider than the Honda Talon 1000X and a further 5 inches longer. The Talon 1000R has a double-wishbone front-suspension layout and a 4+ Link rear configuration, while the shocks are 2.5-inch body Fox Podium QS3 units that have 17.7 and 20.1 inches of front and rear suspension travel, respectively, which is 3.1 and 5 inches more than the 1000X.
This gives this version of the Honda Talon UTV an impressive performance in high-speed and rough conditions.
2020 saw Honda introduce two new versions of the Talon – 1000X-4 & 1000X-4 Fox Live Valve. While the only difference for the X-4 was the installation of 2 rear seats, positioned slightly higher than the front to enhance the experience for all concerned, the model with the Fox Live Valve offered more.
The key introduction is the semi-active electronic suspension which was developed in collaboration between Honda, Fox and Bosch. The system, which features Normal and Sport suspension modes, crunches data from a multitude of sensors and adjusts all four shocks 16 times per second, result in an incredible ride and unmatched handling, with minimal body roll and stellar high-speed tracking in rough terrain. Front and rear travel are 14.4 and 15.0 inches, respectively, and all four shocks have 2.5-inch bodies. Added to this is an electronic Launch Mode for lightning-quick, full-throttle acceleration off the line.
Talon Goes Turbo
The latest iteration to the line was the Honda Talon 1000R Turbo, that was released in 2021. This special edition of the 1000R is a two-seater fitted with the Live Valve electronically adjustable suspension as well as the Jackson Racing turbo kit. Honda states that the Garrett turbocharger can deliver 60% more horsepower than the base engine. A real game-changer in performance and power.
Driving reviews gave this a big thumbs up as whether the Honda Talon was racing in a straight line or tearing through twisting dirt trails, it was blisteringly quick and a thrill to drive. For this kind of driving, it was found to be best kept in Sport mode to allow the DCT to work its magic and maintain the full use of the rev meter.
Honda Talon Problems Overcome
When the UTV first came out, Honda Talon problems that were perceived was the unforgiving ride. Set up similar to a go-kart with very limited body-roll, this led to some uncomfortable rides. But the introduction of the new electronic adaptable softens some of these hard knocks and makes for a smoother ride.
Talon Special Editions
Also coming out in 2012, were Special Editions of the Honda Talon which included the 1000r SE and the 1000X-4 SE. Honda paid attention to what their buyers were doing with their new Talons and how they customized them with add-ons.
With this in mind, the two-seater and four-seater models now have these Honda Talon accessories included in the price. Items and trim available are a front bumper, winch kit, vented windscreen, light assembly, rear-view mirror and door lowers,
Off To The Races
It wasn’t long before a formulated version of racing for the UTV came into being. Now with many races around North America and the rest of the world are regularly scheduled. Even the most famous off track race of all – The Dakar Rally – allows UTVs to race over the sand dunes.
One of the race season’s highlights is the Baja 1000 which, similar to Dakar, offers a whole range of racing categories. For the last two years, Honda Talon Factory Racing have won the Pro UTV Normally Aspirated event. Elias Hanna along with co-driving support from Erick Kozin and Bobby Smith, and navigational support from Drew Stanton and Isaac Chapluk would complete the epic race in 29 hours, 18 minutes, 38 seconds.
Great Honda Talon Price For A Great Ride
The Honda Talon price is just as exciting as the vehicle itself. If you’re after the two seaters, the basic Honda Talon 1000X is just US$19,999 while the 1000R is $20,999. The 1000X Fox Live Valve comes in at $22,099 and 1000R Fox Live Valve at $23,099. The larger and more powerful four seater models of the 1000X-4 and 1000X-4 Fox Live Valve cost $21,999 and $23,999 respectively while the Special Editions are slightly more pricey at $26,099 for the 2 seater and $26,999 for the 4 seater.
Such great value for a small but powerful UTV that will guarantee fun and thrills every time you get behind the wheel.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does Honda Talon cost?
The Honda Talon price is quite reasonable considering the capability you get with the package Honda has put together. For the two seaters, the 1000X is $19,999 and the 1000R is $20,999. The 1000X Fox Live Valve comes in at $22,099 and 1000R Fox Live Valve at $23,099.
If you want the larger and more powerful four seaters, the 1000X-4 it’s $21,999 and the 1000X-4 Fox Live Valve is $23,999. Special editions slightly more pricey at $26,099 for the 2 seater and $26,999 for the 4 seater.
How fast does a Honda Talon go?
The Honda Talon can go up to a top speed of 80mph. This is limited by the Honda Talon’s ECU as it limits the RPM in which the motor can rev up to. This can be overcome by tuning the Honda Talon, one popular tuning company that has been able to successfully do this is Hess Powersports.
They also can add an exciting launch control functionality to your Honda Talon as well. You can of course, take this even further by adding on performance parts such as intakes and high flow exhausts and if you’re chasing big power there’s even turbo kit upgrades.