Today, the word “intelligent” is used to convey and describe electronic innovations that simplify and improve the functionality of a device—specifically, its ability to remove or reduce the user’s involvement (decision making) or its ability to reduce the number of actions the user must make consciously. In 2017, Honda introduces its own “intelligent” devices: the Pioneer 1000 LE (three-passenger) and 1000-5 LE (five-passenger). They bring the total number of Pioneer 1000 models to six, and as Limited Edition units they deliver cutting-edge innovation in the form of Honda’s new I-4WD (Intelligent Four-Wheel-Drive brake-traction-control system) to take the off-road driving experience to a new level.
I-4WD reduces the need for the operator to make decisions or corrections when operating the units under the demanding conditions required when four-wheel-drive is engaged. When selected, I-4WD conveniently combines four-wheel-drive and a diff-lock-type function into a single mode. The ECU’s computer chip monitors the speed of each front wheel and, when slippage is detected at either wheel, brake force is automatically and instantaneously applied to the wheel that is slipping. The result is increased drive force delivered (also instantaneously) to the front wheel where traction is being experienced. The end result is the same as if a locked front differential were engaged; on the LE models there is no front differential locker. The improved operating behaviors the driver experiences are manifold: lighter steering, tighter turning radius and reduced kickback through the steering wheel. But of paramount importance is that the driver is not required to stop and lock a differential—there is none. Bottom line: The operator experiences a more relaxed, less fatiguing and more fun-filled driving experience over the course of a long day.
Equally important, I-4WD features Honda’s Hill Start Assist. This function keeps the Pioneer LE stationary when stopped on a steep incline, during that window of time it takes the driver to move his right foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal. The benefits of this are huge, for it alleviates roll-forward or roll-back when the driver transitions from a standstill (on an incline) to once again motoring. Assist is activated by a large, dash-mounted toggle; thereafter, the driver is provided with several seconds to move his foot from the brake to the accelerator without the brakes being released or the unit rolling. When the operator applies pressure to the accelerator, the brakes slowly release. Hill Start Assist works equally well in forward or reverse. Those who have experienced the adrenaline rush that goes along with getting a side-by-side moving after being stopped on a steep incline will find this function to be a sweet addition to the operating experience.
Another cutting-edge function available on these new Limited Edition models is what Honda calls Electronic Brake Force Distribution. When coming to a stop, I-4WD automatically proportions the braking force between front and rear wheels, regardless whether the vehicle is loaded or unloaded. Again, this function is transparent to the operator.
The drivetrain on either unit is the same one introduced on the Pioneer line in 2016. A 999cc, Unicam twin-cylinder engine is married to an automotive-style DCT automatic transmission with six speeds plus reverse. DCT means dual clutch; one clutch serves gears 1, 3 and 5, the second serves 2, 4 and 6. Four drive modes include 2WD, 4WD, Turf and Differential lock. A paddle shifter mounted behind the steering wheel aids operation. Following the use of reverse gear, a transmission-mode memory function returns the unit to the Automatic, Sport or Manual mode previously selected.
Other enhancements include state-of-the-art Fox QS-3 shocks. With the unit stopped, the operator simply turns a dial at each shock to change suspension characteristics to accommodate terrain and driver preference. A beefed-up bumper protects the grill. Aluminum A-arm guards and skid plates protect against obstacles. The 1000-5 LE hosts two individual rear QuickFlip convertible seats that fold out of the way when the bed is needed for cargo, or flip up to accommodate rear passengers.
Cockpit enhancements include illuminated dash switches. There is also a pre-wired winch harness. The cabin has new storage compartments, and the doors have cup holders. The seat foam is thicker and now more robust. The bodywork, doors and bed are painted matte gray metallic. The springs and A-arms are painted red, providing a bold visual contrast to 14-inch aluminum wheels and 27-inch radial tires. Cargo-carrying capacity in the bed is 1,000 pounds (600 in California). Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds. The LE models feature EPS and a tilt steering wheel.
The Pioneer 1000-5 LE carries an MSRP of $21,599. The MSRP of the 1000 LE is $19,999. A host of Honda accessories permit sportsmen to tailor the units to accommodate specific needs, including: windshields; a hard roof; side mirrors and rearview mirror; a winch; cab-frame cargo bag; LED auxiliary lights; LED light bar; bed liner; and a rear bumper.