Honda Launches Talon 1000R/X Sport UTVs

Honda Talon 1000

The Talon 1000R and 1000X are Honda’s entry into the sport UTV segment.

Honda Talon 1000X

The Honda Talon 1000X is designed for tighter and rockier trails.

Honda Talon 1000R

The Honda Talon 1000R is for dunes and more wide open riding.

Honda Launches Talon Sport UTVs

Honda recently introduced the Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R UTVs. They are Honda’s long awaited entry into the sport UTV market. The Talon 1000X targets tighter wooded trails and rockier environments while the Talon 1000R aims for more wide-open dune riding. The models should be available in early 2019. I’ve seen sources mention January while others mentioned March. The first date might be production and the second could be arrival at the dealerships. In any case, the following specs are common to both versions.

  • 104-hp, 999cc, twin-cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC engine
  • Six-speed dual clutch transmission
  • Power steering
  • Hill Start Assist
  • Hydraulic brakes with two 250mm discs;
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) system
  • LED High/Low Headlights
  • About 1,500 lbs in weight
  • Tire sizes:  28x9x15; 28x11x15
  • Bolstered seats with harness pass throughs
  • Roof is standard

See the Talon in action:  Official Honda Talon 1000 video

Talon Model Differences

The two models have different widths, wheelbases, slightly different suspension systems with different suspension travel. a slight difference in suspension travel and different color options. The following specs are some of the key differences between the vehicles.

Talon 1000x Key Specs

  • Double-wishbone front suspension, Fox Podium 2.0 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • 3 Link rear suspension with high-clearance trailing arm, Fox Podium 2.0 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • Front/Rear suspension travel:  14.5″/15″
  • Red/Gray with red suspension accents
  • Gray/Blue with silver suspension accents
  • Width:  64.0
  • Wheelbase:  87.6

Talon 1000R Key Specs

  • Double-wishbone front suspension, Fox Podium 2.5 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • 4+ Link trailing-arm rear suspension with toe link, Fox Podium 2.5 shocks with Quick Switch 3
  • Front/Rear suspension travel:  17.7″/20.1″
  • Red with red suspension accents
  • Green/Silver with silver suspension accents
  • Width:  68.4
  • Wheelbase:  92.7

Initial Reviews

The following are some initial reviews and analysis of the Talon from around the industry.

UTVonDemand

First Look Review (video). Provides fairly in-depth analysis of the engine and drive train and highlights many of the key features that the reviewer likes.

  • 999cc twin cylinder SOHC engine should provide good low-end torque
  • 270 degree firing order makes it run like a single cylinder
  • Based on Pioneer engine but bigger throttle bodies, bigger injectors, different heads and more flow
  • Claiming 104 hp but may have higher torque than other UTVs with more hp
  • Rubber mounted engine to dampen vibration
  • 3 Driving Modes:  Sport, Normal and Manual with paddle shifters
  • Hill Assist – Push dash button and it holds the vehicle from rolling back for 3 seconds
  • “Big deal” for this vehicle is the transmission has a dual high and low range so you can  go rock crawling without changing the gear set out
  • Claim extra strong driveshaft and axles
  • i-4WD system with electronic braking control to transfer power up front from a spinning wheel to the wheel with traction
  • 68.4 1000R  Front/rear wheel travel 17.7/20.1
  • 64″ 1000X Front/rear wheel travel 14.6/15.1- this may be a little short compared to competitors
  • Can use 30″ tires – 28″ are standard and custom designed by Maxxis
  • 15″ rims for bigger brakes
  • 1000X has 3 link system podium 2.0
  • 1000R has a 4 link for added strength and Podium 2.5;
  • More suspension tuning with 3 mode QS3 compression on both models
  • Power steering sport tuned for feedback and speed sensitive
  • Standard roof is designed with rain gutters and air vents for trailering backwards
  • Good seat sliders
  • Holders in doors and t-bar has nice latching system
  • Seats have pass throughs for harnesses
  • Pedals laid out for two or one foot driving and passenger has different places to place feet at speed or more relaxed driving
  • Cupholders with rubber for holding in drinks
  • Good cargo capacity and design
  • 1 yr warranty

Hondaprokevin

Provides specs in a nice layout and plenty of pictures

UTV Action

General overview of key specs and some commentary.

  • Probably will competitively priced around $20,000
  • Trail riders anywhere will like it but sand riders may wait for turbo option

UTV Driver

They provide a top ten feature list for the vehicles

  • Bolstered seats with harness pass throughs and harness bar
  • 15″ rims for larger brakes and 30″ tires
  • Sizable cargo bed with tie-downs
  • Dual Clutch six-speed transmission
  • Paddle shifting
  • FOX shocks
  • Hill Start Assist
  • 4-link trailing arm system on 1000R
  • Engine
  • Strong, durable build

SVR’s Take

Honda’s entry into the sport market has long been rumored so this isn’t much of a surprise. People may not have expected  two different models, but targeting the main sport sub-segments makes sense. The initial reactions are very positive and Honda’s reputation for quality and performance have riders expecting a good vehicle.

Increased Competition

Not surprisingly, Honda’s entry makes the sport end of the market now quite crowded. As a result, the competitive landscape raises the question of how Kawasaki will respond. They have been focusing more on the utility side of the market with their recent model introductions and have not made any really big changes with their more recreationally oriented Teryx product line. I would suspect they might come out with a new high-end sport vehicle in the next year and probably as a separate product line.

Lithium Battery Powered Golf Cars on the Rise

Trojan Trillium lithium battery

A lithium battery from Trojan’s new Trillium product line.

Trillium Lithium Battery Line from Trojan

Trojan Battery, a major player in the golf car and small task-oriented vehicle market, recently introduced their new Trillium line of Trojan Intelligent Lithium batteries. The line is targeting the aftermarket segment and is designed to be a replacement for existing lead acid batteries. According to Trojan the switch can be made “without the need for expertise in Li-ion technology or system integration.” Likewise OEMs can use the new battery line “…without significant investments in custom pack design and development.”

Sign of More Market Penetration

Trojan’s new product line is another indication of the growing use of lithium batteries in the golf car market. For a number of years there has been a lithium battery aftermarket that has largely consisted of smaller companies packaging together the various components. They either sell directly to golf car owners and/or through dealers who can install the components. However, this has been a niche market. In 2015 LiV Golf Cars tried to sell a lithium powered fleet golf car but were undercut by the big players too many times and retreated from that market. There are also smaller volume OEMs like GEM and luxury golf car maker Garia that offer lithium powered vehicles.

E-Z-GO Entry a Gamechanger

The most significant move towards lithium batteries came in 2017 when E-Z-GO, one of the major golf car manufacturers, launched their ELiTE line of lithium powered fleet golf cars. They also offer the option on some of their personal transportation vehicles. Financial reports show that E-Z-GO sold over 20,000 ELiTE vehicles in 2017. Samsung SDI is the lithium battery supplier for E-Z-GO. Rival golf car manufacturer Club Car has been linked to battery manufacturer LG Chem but has not yet introduced any lithium powered vehicles.

What Lies Ahead

The entry of a brand name such as Trojan should boost the aftermarket segment. Customers will likely have more trust in a Trojan backed product. In addition, if it is as easy to use as advertised, then this niche market should expand. The E-Z-GO product appears to have launched fairly successfully. Continued success will likely force Club Car and Yamaha to introduce their own lithium powered vehicles. Perhaps as soon as the upcoming PGA Show early in 2019. Once that happens, the move towards lithium batteries could accelerate quickly.

Marc Cesare, SVR

Polaris 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 Reviews

Polaris 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS

The 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS in Sunset Red Metallic from Polaris.

2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 Overview

The six-passenger  2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 from Polaris features a number of improvements compared to the 2018 version including more power, ground clearance, towing capacity and larger tires. The Sage Green base model starts at $16,299 and there are four models in the lineup including a Premium model with automotive paint, a 20th Anniversary Limited Edition with special paint scheme and stitched seats, the Northstar Edition with a full HVAC cab and a High Lifter Edition for mud riding. Some of the key features and specs of the 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 include:

  • 82 hp engine
  • High Performance On-Demand True AWD/2WD/VersaTrac Turf Mode
  • Engine braking system
  • Electronic power steering
  • 27″ Maxxis tires on aluminum Black Xcelerator 2.0 wheels
  • 11″ of front and rear suspension travel
  • 13″ of ground clearance
  • 1,000 lbs capacity cargo bed
  • 2,500 lbs towing capacity
  • 4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc with Dual-Bore Front Calipers
  • Under seat storage and pass through for longer items
  • New front fascia design

Reviews Summary

These reviews focus on the base and Premium model with some owner added options as noted. In general, the reviews are very positive. Owners like the power, ride and storage of this model. The only common issue is that the response of the vehicle on initial take-off can be “jerky”. The first two videos discuss some of the key features of the vehicles and are from dealers. Actual owners with time on the machines made the latter two and are more informative.

Vehicle Walk Arounds

Video walk around of the 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 by Family PowerSports in Lubbock, TX provides a nice overview of key changes from 2018 model. These changes include:

  • New front fascia
  • Increase ground clearance from 11″ to 13″
  • 26″ stock tires to 27″ 6-ply tires
  • Increased horsepower from 80 to 82
  • Increase towing capacity from 2,000 lbs to 2,500 lbs
  • Widened front and rear entries for easier ingress and egress
  • 25% thicker seats for more comfort
  • Cleaner dash design
  • Added storage under passenger seat

Video walk around of the 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 by Leone Polaris in Peru, IL. This video provides more footage of vehicle specifics but is also a little harder sell. The presenter noted similar changes over the 2018 model as in the video above and added the following:

  • Best crew model on the market
  • 25% tighter turning radius
  • Highest grade tires and wheels
  • Tailgate quality similar to a good pickup truck

Owner Reviews

Video review from owner with the 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 EPS Premium

  • First-time UTV owner reviewing after about 800 miles and 75 hours using the vehicle
  • Use the UTV when camping and added front full glass windshield, rear plexiglass window and roof from Polaris and a bluetooth audio system from a third party provider
  • Owner is from South Dakota and used vehicle on gravel roads and farmland
  • Compared to base model this one has different gauge and dashboard along with automotive paint
  • Would have bought full glass rear window instead of plexiglass which probably won’t last that long
  • Love the ride:  “Drives like a Cadillac” and seats are “top notch”
  • Takes bumps and river bottoms really well in front and rear seats
  • Love the look of the front which looks like a pickup truck
  • Crew size is good for family with three boys
  • Lot of room for storage
  • Like the power. Have easily towed trailer with pavers.
  • Don’t like the dust in the cabin even with half windshield we tried from neighbor; Better without windshield but our area has a lot of bugs
  • No grab handle for the driver seat which makes it difficult for older person to enter the vehicle
  • Accessories are extremely expensive e.g. doors would cost $5,000 more
  • Machine is long. You will need a 14 ft. trailer.
  • Commenters responding to the video talked about having a “jerky” initial takeoff. Others suggested this lessened with breaking in of the belt and using lower gear at start.
  • Another commenter noted the “amazing power” of this model

First impression video review by a new owner of the 2019 Ranger Crew XP 1000 in Sage Green which is the base model. The owner drove the vehicle around a duck hunting camp in Alabama checking and pulling game cameras.

  • First time UTV and Polaris owner with a couple of hours of use on the vehicle
  • Added front and rear glass. The Plexiglas option when scratched can be difficult to see through in low light.
  • Sage Model doesn’t have adjustable driver seat and just a digital gauge instead of additional analog gauges.
  • Like the large amount of storage
  • Might put in 1/4 doors up front in contrast to the standard side nets
  • Reached 52 mph top speed
  • Driving in work mode seems to have a smoother throttle response in contrast to the other modes
  • 2″ higher ground clearance is good for use in the water
  • Very happy with it

 

Can-Am Defender XT Reviews

2019 Can Am Defender XT UTV

The 2019 Can Am Defender XT in hyper Silver

Defender XT Overview

The 2019 Can-Am Defender XT is a three-seat utility vehicle priced at $15,799. You can choose to power this model with the 50 hp HD8 or the 72 hp HD10 engine option. In either case, the Defender XT features a PRO-TORQ transmission with Quick Response System and a drive train with a lockable rear differential and Visco-Lok QE auto-locking front differential. This model also has electronic hill descent control, three driving modes and dynamic power steering. The Defender Xt is designed for work primarily and therefore can haul up to 1,000 lbs in the cargo box and tow up to 2,500 lbs. Other features include:

  • Twin Tube Gas Charged Shocks
  • 10″ of front and rear suspension travel
  • 11″ of ground clearance
  • 27″ Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires
  • 220mm hydraulic disc brakes
  • 650 W Magneto
  • Winch
  • XT Front Bumper
  • Full HMW Skid Plate
  • Full Hard Roof
  • Adjustable Tilt Steering
  • Multifunction digital/Analog Gauge
  • Available in Hyper Silver, Intense Red or Mossy Oak break-Up country Camo

Reviews

The 2019 models have not been out that long so there aren’t too many reviews available and they aren’t any based on long term usage of the vehicle. However, the reviews are pretty positive. The amount of interior storage the ability to remove some of the storage bins impressed the reviewers. The reviews are complimentary as one focuses more on the drivability of the Defender XT and the other comments more on the interior and usability of the vehicle.

UTVDriver.com -Trail riding with the Defender XT in the Black Hills of South Dakota

  • Vehicle had the more powerful HD10 option
  • Smooth, linear power delivery with no noticeable power loss at 6,500 ft.
  • Normal driving mode is most responsive
  • Comfortable seating for larger driver even after many miles
  • Glove box that doubles as removable tool box and other removable storage is a positive
  • Handled a variety of terrain well including uphill, downhill and fallen trees
  • Feels solid

Fisher’s ATV World – Video review of a Defender DPS HD10 which is basically the same as the Defender XT but without a few extras

  • Quiet ride
  • Do not feel heat from the engine
  • Easy in/Easy out
  • Really like the small turning radius
  • Plenty of storage
  • Can haul and tow a lot

ODES Industries Launches 2019 UTV Lineup

ODES Industries 2019 Dominator X2 LT Zeus

The ODES Industries 2019 Dominator X2 LT Zeus features a touchscreen and LED lighting.

ODES Industries, self-described as a value UTV brand, recently announced their 2019 UTV lineup as they push for even more growth. According to company statements ODEs Industries has been growing for the last several years including a doubling of sales from 2016 to 2017. The 2019 lineup includes 10 models including the new XForce 2 and XForce 4 models which feature an enclosed cab. Probably, these models are aimed at heavy duty work applications in challenging weather environments. Prices range across the lineup from $9,795 up to $23,495.

ODES Industries Dominator Models

The Dominator line includes the following models:

  • The entry level Dominator X2 ST Model V1 – MSRP $9,795
  • The Dominator X2 ST Model V2 – MSRP $9,995 (Adds Doors, OTR Tires and Matte Black Wheels)
  • The premium level Dominator X2 LT Model V1 – MSRP $13,095
  • The top level Dominator X2 LT Zeus Model V1 – MSRP $14,795 (Adds 7″ Full Touchscreen LCD, Heated Seats)
ODES Industries 2019 Dominator X2 ST

The 2019 Dominator X2 ST

The Dominator X2 ST versions have the following features:

  • 800cc Engine
  • Digital Dash Display
  • Full Roof
  • Heavy Duty Front Bumper
  • Full LED Lighting
  • Electronic Dump Bed
  • Rearview Mirrors
  • Door Nets
  • Front 3,500 lbs Winch
  • Towing Hitch
  • 14″ Wheels
  • 26″ Tires
  • Lockable Storage Boxes

The Dominator X2 LT models have the following features:

  • 800cc Engine with 1000cc option for Zeus model
  • Long Travel – Vi-LOCK Suspension
  •  Digital Dash Display
  •  Full Windshield
  •  Full Roof
  •  32″ LED Light Bar
  •  Heavy Duty Front Bumper
  •  Heavy Duty Rear Bumper
  •  Full LED Lighting
  •  Electronic Dump Bed
  •  Rearview Mirrors
  •  Metal Frame Doors
  •  Front 3,500 lbs Winch
  •  Rear 3,500 lbs Winch
  •  Towing Hitch
  •  15″ Wheels
  •  29″ Tires
  •  Lockable Storage Boxes
  •  Radiator Guards
  •  A-Arm Guards
  •  Electronic Power Steering
Also, there are three Dominator X4 models which seat six as a result of stadium style seating. These versions are similar to the two-passenger lineup with a Dominator X4 ST V1($11,295), Dominator X4 LT Zeus V1 ($16,495) and Dominator X4 LT V1 ($14,795).

Sport Model

ODES Industries Ravager LT Zeus

A 1000cc engine powers the sporty Ravager LT Zeus from ODES Industries.

The two-passenger Ravager LT Zeus gives ODES Industries a pure sport model in the lineup. A 1000cc engine powers the Ravager which features a Two Brothers Racing Exhaust, 3M graphics kit, Two Brothers/Dyna Jet Juicebox kit, front winch, 29″ OTR Dirt Master tires and 15″ OTR Matte Black wheels. The company revamped the model for 2019. Ravager LT Zeus features include:

  • 7″ Touchscreen LCD Display
  •  Long Travel – Vi-LOCK Suspension
  •  Full Windshield / Roof
  •  32″ LED Light Bar
  •  Two Brothers Racing Exhaus
  •  Passenger Grab Bar
  •  Cargo Bed
  •  Rearview Mirrors
  •  Metal Frame Doors
  •  Front 3500lbs Winch
  •  Rear Towing Hitch
  •  15″ OTR Matte Black Wheels
  •  OTR Dirt Master 29″ Tires
  •  Radiator Guards
  •  A-Arm Guards
  •  Electronic Power Steering
  •  Heavy Duty Front Bumper
  •  3M Graphics Kit
  •  Powder Coated Bars – Yellow or Blue
  •  Two Brothers / Dyna Jet Juicebox Kit

New XForce Models Feature Cabs

ODEs Industries XForce 4

ODES Industries added a cab to their latest offering, the Force 4, which seats six.

Finally, rounding out the lineup are the two newest models from ODES Industries, the XForce 2 priced at $20,995  and the XForce 4 priced at $23,495. The X2 can seat up to three and the X4 up to six. Both feature AC/Heating systems, heated front seats, 10.6″ LCD touch screen and a 1000cc engine. Standard features include new mapping, GoPro integration, front and rear camera options, temperature controls, digital displays, Bluetooth connection for phone and text display and direct screen audio control. The latter feature makes it easier to just ride rather than play with electronics.

  • Integrated Media w/ Bluetooth and USB
  • Onboard GPS Nav with Trail Tracking
  • Front and Rear 640×480 Cameras
  • In Screen Go Pro Integration
  • ODES Ultra LCD Integrated Software
  • Aluminum RollcageAC and Heat System w/ Fan Control
  • Onboard Generator for Power Support
  • Front Glass Window w/ Wiper System
  • Front Window Adjustment, 3 Settings
  • Glass Door Windows w/ Electric up/down
  • Single Row LED Directional Light Bar
  • Full Enclosure System
  • Interior Lighting
  • 3 Captains Chair Seating
  • Heated Driver and Passenger Seats
  • Fold Down Center Seat for Console Storage
  • Folding Aluminum Dump Bed
  • 800LBS Capacity Electric Dump Bed
  • Exterior Rear Working Light
  • Oversized Side Mirrors
  • Aluminum A-Arm Guards
  • 16 Gallon Gas Tank
  • 4500LBS Wireless Winch w/ Nylon Rope
  • Reversible Front to Rear Winch Hitch w/ 2″ Ball
  • Winch wire quick disconnects
  • Snorkeled CVT Air Intake System
  • Exterior Panel Light and Bed Controls
  • LED Front and Rear Lights
  • OTR Dirt Master Tires 28×10-14
  • OTR Steel Wheels
  • Interstate Battery
  • Royal Purple Ice Coolant
  • Stage 4 Made in USA Kevlar CVT Belt
  • Double Wishbone Independent Suspension
  • Ground Clearance of 327mm
  • Aluminum Box 1076x1561x260

Learn more:  Odesindustries.com

SVR’s Take:

ODES Industries is another value brand that appears to be having success offering solid features at a reasonable price. These brands typically have a starting price point in the $9,000 to $10,000 range for their entry level UTV, although some start even lower with fewer features. According to ODES Industries website, they source parts from around the world and partially assemble vehicles in Asia. The remaining assembly appears to be in the US. The company moved assembly from California to Dallas, TX in 2016.

Polaris Reveals 2019 Model Year Side-by-Sides

Polaris Industries revealed their 2019 model year side-by-side lineup last week with improvements across a host models. In the Ranger product line Ride Command technology will now be available for select Ranger XP 1000 models as a factory-installed package. The Range XP 1000 and Ranger Crew XP 1000 models now include a 20th anniversary edition and the new High Lifter Edition.

2019 model year RZRs feature aggressive styling and performance upgrades across the product lineup. Ride Command will be available in all RZR XP 1000 colors and the RZR XP 1000 Dynamix vehicles. The trail-ready RZR S4 1000 is now powered by a 100 hp engine.

The General lineup has been updated with performance and technology upgrades, as well as new colors and graphics. The following are more specific features for select models.

2019 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition

The 2019 model year Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition with redesigned half doors and improved driveline strength.

2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition – $19,999 MSRP                                    2019 RANGER CREW XP 1000 EPS High Lifter Edition – 21,499 MSRP

  • Redesigned factory-installed half doors with new one-inch water drains
  • 82 hp engine
  • 11″ of suspension travel
  • 20% increase in overall driveline strength
  • New geared reverse transmission
  • 28″ Outlaw tires
  • 13.5″ of ground clearance
  • Crew version has 6-passenger capacity

2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS RIDE COMMAND – $17,999 MSRP                                    2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS NorthStar Edition RIDE COMMAND – $25,999 MSRP

  • Ride Command technology is now available as a factory-installed package
  • Seven-inch glove-touch display features built-in navigation and front and rear cameras.
  • System provides vehicle diagnostics, allows smartphone connectivity and factory-installed in-dash speakers.
  • Topographical map allows consumers to better navigate trail overlays and drop waypoints to remember key locations
  • Interactive interface gives every type of rider the freedom to stay connected while hunting, working on their ranch, or trail riding.

2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS and Ranger XP 1000 EPS NorthStar Edition models

  • Available in four new color options including Steel Blue, Pearl White, Magnetic Gray and Polaris Pursuit® Camo.
Polaris 2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS 20th anniversary

The 2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS 20th Anniversary edition with two-tone maroon and tan colors and embroidered seats.

2019 Ranger XP1000 EPS 20th Anniversary Limited Edition – $16,799 MSRP            2019 Ranger CREW XP 1000 EPS 20th Anniversary Limited Edition – $17,799

  • Two-tone maroon and tan color option
  • Custom embroidered seats
  • Limited production quantities
Polaris 2019 RZR S4 1000 EPS

The 2019 model year RZR S4 1000 EPS now features 100 hp.

Polaris 2019 RZR XP 1000

The 2019 RZR XP 1000 has new styling and LED lighting.

2019 RZR Xtreme Performance Lineup – Starting at $17,999 MSRP

  • Styling features a more aggressive cut with a chiseled muscular stance
  • LED accent lights
  • Brand-new LED headlights
  • Premium digital instrumentation
  • More storage
  • DYNAMIX active suspension and Ride Command technology now available on RZR XP 1000 models
  • Horsepower boost to 100 hp for the 2019 RZR S4 1000

2019 General – Starting at $16,299 MSRP

  • New colors and graphics
  • Factory-installed bronze wheels on the Ride Command edition

Learn more:  Polaris.com

Does Future Mobility Include LSVs?

GEM has been the market leader in LSVs for many years.

The falling cost of batteries and rise of autonomous driving technology has launched a new stage in the development of mobility technologies. These advances may be bad news for LSVs. For decades small-task oriented vehicles, and in particular by golf cars, have dominated the EV market in terms of production volume. Long before Tesla, golf car manufacturers produced hundreds of thousands of electric golf cars annually. Primarily for these vehicles were for golf courses, but for personal transportation as well. In addition, the large volume of used electric golf cars coming off of golf courses each year were finding their way into the personal transportation and utility markets. In smaller volumes they produced electric powered burden carriers and general utility vehicles for use in enclosed spaces such as factories and warehouses.

Speed and pricing hurt LSV adoption

Federal regulations in the late nineties lead to the development of Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs), originally referred to as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). The LSV classification created the opportunity to move small EVs out of gated and golf communities and relatively confined driving environments and onto public roads in large numbers. Unfortunately, for LSV manufacturers, the widespread adoption of LSVs for personal transportation has never occurred. In theory, LSVs would be a good choice as a second vehicle. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and operate and suitable for the short trips typical of many drivers. In practice, they are relatively expensive for their limited functionality, and to many they look like a glorified golf car.

With a 25 mph top speed, LSVs are too slow for real life driving where speeds are often 30-45 mph. Federal authorities, already concerned about LSV safety, are unwilling to compromise on safety requirements for higher speed Medium Speed Vehicles. The additional safety requirements for MSVs would make these vehicles relatively expensive compared to fully highway capable vehicles.

Pricing has always been an issue with LSVs, which typically cost around $10,000 on the low end. They find themselves competing against new, used and refurbished golf cars that can cost thousands of dollars less or comparably priced, but heavily customized golf cars. On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest priced highway capable vehicles available do not cost that much more and offer far greater functionality. As a result, the LSV market has never “taken off”. SVR’s research has shown that LSVs for personal use have only gained traction where local laws restrict the use of golf cars on public roads. The trend has been for local governments to allow more golf cars, modified golf cars and even UTVs on local roads.

Where LSV have found some success is on college and corporate campuses. In these environments the LSV safety features are worth the additional expense in the context of insurance and liability. The slower speed is another plus where administrators do not want employees speeding across pedestrian filled campus grounds. The utility LSV has proven to provide plenty of functionality and mobility in these confined environments at a reduced cost compared to pick-up trucks which they often replace. In addition, electric LSVs fit well into sustainability and green initiatives on these campuses.

Electric bikes and scooters offer an alternative

New battery and autonomous driving technologies are unlikely to change the fate of LSVs, and likely will make it worse. Batteries are becoming small enough, powerful enough and cheap enough to create new competitors to LSVs. Namely, a rash of electric bicycles and electric scooters have been entering the market. While costing thousands of dollars, electric bicycles have the potential to chip away at some of the LSV market. Have a short commute on local roads and don’t need to carry much with you. Why not use an electric bike? Need a quick way around urban areas and don’t want to worry about parking? How about an electric scooter.

There are electric bike and scooter sharing programs either already operating or in pilot programs in major cities. These options aren’t ideal in bad weather or for multiple passengers, but they can potentially reduce LSV usage. In fact, they may even provide competition to golf cars and Personal Transportation Vehicles (PTVs) within gated communities.

Autonomous vehicles take a new direction

May Mobility self-driving GEM

GEM configured by May Mobility for self-driving.

Similarly autonomous driving technology may very well reduce the potential footprint for LSVs. Google has used some LSVs for the testing of their autonomous driving technology.  You could argue from a standpoint of safety that the more controlled environment of gated communities could be a good entry point for the technology. But it appears the major players are starting with highway capable vehicles. There have been some instances of LSVs with the technology being tested for limited use scenarios such as shuttle runs. Currently, the relative expense of the autonomous driving technology compared to the cost of an LSV is likely too high. The economics favor installation on premium vehicles or rental/sharing fleets with the flexibility for high volume usage.

Nuro autonomous vehicle

This Fall Kroger will be using passengerless autonomous vehicles from startup Nuro to deliver groceries to customers.

Starship Technologies Delivery Robot

Starship Technologies is rolling out a robotic delivery service on college and corporate campuses this year.

Even in the commercial use of LSVs or their slightly faster cousins in Europe for tasks like urban delivery, autonomous driving technology may undercut the application of these vehicles. There are a number of startups developing autonomous delivery vehicles for operation on streets. However, they are passenger less or even smaller and slower for use on sidewalks. The last vestige for the LSV may remain the college or corporate campus, but even the autonomous shuttle could cut into some of that usage. We may be witnessing the highpoint for the use of LSVs right now.

Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

 

 

Textron Launches Prowler Pro UTVs

2019 Textron Off road Prowler Pro

The new 2019 Prowler Pro from Textron Off Road with a 50 hp gas engine.

Textron Off Road recently announced the addition of the Prowler Pro and Prowler Pro XT to their UTV lineup. Targeted at farmers and hunters the Prowler Pro is powered by a 50 hp, 812cc EFI gas engine. Designed to be a “whisper-quiet”, the engine is paired with vibration reducing mounts and a muffler with rubber isolator. The vehicle features a drive-by-wire throttle and CVT drive system that is programmed to compensate for unintended “foot bounce” on rough terrain. Additional key features include:

  • 3 passenger capacity
  • 2/4WD with selectable locking rear differential
  • Double A-arm suspension with gas charged twin tube shocks
  • 10″/9.5″ of front/rear suspension travel
  • 10.75″ of ground clearance
  • 26″ Pro terrain tires
  • Dual piston front calipers and single piston rear calipers
  • 1,000 lb. cargo dump box
  • 2,000 lb. towing capacity
  • Tilt steering
  • Customizable speed control
  • Removable passenger seats
  • Behind-seat storage
  • Dual high/low beam halogen headlights and LED taillights
  • Digital gauge
  • ROPS

The Prowler Pro comes standard rack-and-pinion steering and 12-inch steel wheels in Marsh Green for $11,399. The Prowler Pro XT comes in Dynamic Charcoal or Fire Red and includes electronic power steering and 14-inch machined aluminum wheels for $12,999. All vehicles are sold with a 12-month warranty and will be available in dealerships in May.

Learn more:  Textronoffroad.com

SVR’s Take:  After purchasing Arctic Cat Textron first consolidated and pared down their lineup of vehicles across a number of brands and product lineups and put them under the Textron Off Road macro brand. Since then they have launched a number of new models and are building out their vehicle offerings across a number of segments including performance, sport, crossover and work utility. Textron looks like it could become a major competitor to the traditional powersports companies in the market. The company has significant financial and manufacturing resources as well as engineering expertise to draw upon from its other high tech businesses. One of the keys to success will be building out a dealer network to have the geographical reach and proper distribution channels to reach all the customer segments they are targeting.  Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com

Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXR Reviews

Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXR

New for 2018 is the Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXR shown here in Atomic Silver.

One of the key additions to Kawasaki’s 2018 utility vehicle lineup is the new Mule Pro-FXR. The Pro-FXR builds on their successful Pro-FX and Pro-FXT models with new styling highlights and recreational features. In the styling department the Mule Pro-FXR features a “truck like appearance” with painted bodywork, low-profile LED inner and halogen outer headlights, front and rear bumpers and contoured two-tone seats. For recreational riding the FXR is shorter than the other Pro Mules (about 12″ shorter than the FX) and sports a shorter turning radius (14.0 ft. compared to 16.0 ft. for the FX) and higher ground clearance (about 0.5″). Pricing for the Mule Pro-FXR starts at $14,999. Other key features of the 2018 Mule Pro-FXR include:

  • 812cc, DOHC, 3-cylinder engine with EFI
  • 2WD/4WD/4WD with rear differential lock
  • Engine braking
  • EPS
  • 10.8″ of ground clearance
  • 1,000 lb. steel cargo bed
  • 2,000 lb. towing capacity

Below are highlights from reviews of the Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXR by trade publications and enthusiasts.

The reviews are generally positive for the Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXR.   This isn’t a high performance trail riding UTV, but a solid performer with a good sized engine, smooth riding suspension, smaller size and tighter turning radius than the Mule Pro-FX and a comfortable cabin. Some of the common comments from across the reviews include:

  • Quiet
  • Smooth ride
  • Handles tougher trail conditions well

ATV.com – Kawasaki sponsored test drive event at Hearst Ranch in California. Rugged and rocky terrain.

  • More of a trail machine without sacrificing too much of the work capabilities
  • Hybrid of the Mule Pro-FX and Teryx
  • Foot shorter than Pro-FX but with same passenger, cargo and towing capacity
  • Wheelbase is more than a foot shorter producing a tighter turning radius
  • Quieter than other Mules. Can hold a conversation on the trail.
  • Shocks smoothed out the bumps on rougher trail sections
  • Not peppy or as responsive as a Teryx but plenty of power delivered smoothly
  • Good stability down hills
  • Good choice for trail riders looking more for comfort and features over performance

Totallandscapecare.com – Kawasaki sponsored test drive event at Hearst Ranch in California.

  • Noticeable truck-like and upscale styling
  • Comfortable cabin and driving experience with contoured seating, padded steering, spacious cabin and speed sensitive power steering
  • Smooth ride
  • Vehicle handles steep drops smoothly thanks to the CVT transmission and engine braking
  • Rubber mounted engine is quiet

NLGhostWolf – Consumer review – Trail riding in Newfoundland, Canada

  • Quiet
  • Very smooth suspension
  • Loves the persimmon red color
  • Very impressed with the vehicle

Consumer Review – Riding on Ozark Mountain logging roads with some snow on the ground

  • Tougher and rides better than a Polaris Ranger
  • No wheel slippage up the hill
  • “Very happy with this Mule”
  • Had a Mule 4010 but a rougher ride

Dealer Walkaround and Review – Mainland Cycle Center of Texas

  • Shorter wheelbase
  • Cargo bed a little shorter
  • Smaller size but many of the same features we like on the Mule Pro-FX
  • 46 mph top speed
  • Fully independent suspension
  • New 27” Duro Power Grip tires
  • Same 812 cc motor that we really like; really smooth
  • Quiet in the cabin
  • New front facia and bumper with aluminum inserts
  • Better feedback from suspension than Mule Pro-FX, less floaty
  • Easy opening doors rather than nets
  • Contoured bench seats are more comfortable
  • Steel bottom 1,000 lb. cargo bed
  • Easy assisted bed dump
  • Stainless steel exhaust
  • Rear differential is overbuilt
  • 3 yr warranty
  • New glove box door is easier to open
  • Plenty of cabin storage
  • Hard top is standard
  • Built-in under driver seat storage
  • Nice tight turning radius
  • Good ground clearance
  • Sporty machine for both work and trail riding

 

2018 Honda Pioneer 500 Reviews

2018 Honda Pioneer 500 utility vehicle

The 2018 Honda Pioneer 500 is Honda’s entry level utility vehicle.

The 2018 Honda Pioneer 500 is the same as the 2017 version which was updated from the previous model. Priced at $8,999, this entry level Honda utility vehicle is powered by a 475cc liquid cooled, single cylinder four-stroke engine with electronic fuel injection. This two-seater is only 50″ wide, making many trails accessible, and fits in a full-sized pickup’s bed. The Pioneer 500 features selectable 2WD/4WD and a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode with paddle shifters and the automatic mode. Switching between modes can be done on the fly. Other key specifications include:

  • Front and rear independent double-wishbone suspensions
  • 5.9″ of front and rear suspension travel
  • 8.5″ of ground clearance
  • 24″ tires
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 1,000 lbs towing capacity
  • 450 lbs rear rack capacity
  • Low doors with safety nets

The Honda Pioneer is available in Red or Olive, or for in Honda Phantom Camo for an additional $600.

The following are highlights from several different reviews of the 2018 Honda Pioneer 500. The reviews are fairly consistent with the general view that the Honda Pioneer 500 is a nicely priced small UTV that is good for the trail and doing smaller size chores around the farm, ranch or work site. The ability to switch between manual and automatic transmission modes and the performance of the transmission are the favorite feature. The engine size is appropriate and peppy enough. The clever door latch system and handling are other well-liked features. The main negative is that the ride can be harsh and the vehicle could use slightly more suspension travel or better shocks.

World-of-ATVs.com Honda Pioneer 500 Review

  • Manual transmission mode gives the vehicle an edge
  • Good for trails and chores around the farm or ranch
  • “Pioneer 500 represents the best bang for the buck…” in its class
  • Requires less maintenance than most machines
  • Sporty feel for recreation and capabilities for utility use
  • Reports by some owners:  Too noisy, harsh ride and lacks a fully locking front differential

Dirtywheelsmag.com – Tested mostly on trails made for quads. Tested 2017 version which is the same as the 2018.

  • Peppy engine
  • Clever door latch system opens doors and folds back safety nets at the same time
  • Nimble handling and crisp steering
  • Increased suspension travel could improve ride
  • “Trail pace that will out-pace the suspension”
  • Comfortable cabin

MrTruck.com

  • Like the door and net latch system
  • Power steering and fulling locking front differential would have been nice
  • Like the paddle shifters and the versatility of the automatic and manual modes
  • Better down hill control with the manual shifting
  • Gas and brake pedals are far enough apart unlike other UTVs
  • Like the lack of center console that can get in the way of your legs
  • 50″ width provides more trail access
  • Not as much wheel travel as my ATVs
  • Great emergency brake
  • Like roll cage for when carrying kids
  • Simple design with crankshafts going directly to drive shafts