2019 Honda Talon 1000R & 1000X Driving Impressions

Honda’s First Sport Side x Side

The 2019 Honda Talon 1000R version has received a lot of the hype due to the wider stance and longer travel suspension. Both are nice looking vehicles.
The 2019 Honda Talon 1000R version has received a lot of the hype due to the wider stance and longer travel suspension. Both are nice looking vehicles.

We have our 2019 Honda Talon 1000R and 1000X driving impressions for you but, first, a quick history lesson. While the 2019 Honda Talon is Honda’s first sport Side x Side vehicle, they manufactured single-seat sport recreational vehicles called the Odyssey from 1977 to 1984. That 250cc two stroke had front suspension only with a solid axle providing a pretty rough ride in the rear. I was lucky enough to have one of these when I was around 10 years old, and my younger brother and I drove it endlessly during trips to the desert. Honda followed that up with the FL350R in 1985, which included a far more capable engine and suspension, and that became the starting point for a class of race vehicles at the old Mickey Thompson Stadium Off-Road racing series. In fact, seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmy Johnson got his four-wheel-racing start in those fun little machines. Finally, Honda released the 400cc two-stroke Pilot in 1989. It was still a single-seater, and, like, the previous two generation Odysseys, it was only rear-wheel drive. Honda’s first UTV or Side x Side vehicle was the 2009 Big Red, and those were followed by the Honda Pioneer models in 2014. The 2016 Pioneer 1000 introduced the twin-cylinder engine that was the basis for the new Talon 1000R and 1000X Sport S x S models.

The 2019 Honda Talon 1000R eats up whoops. The longer-travel suspension makes a big difference if this is the type of terrain you like to tackle.
The 2019 Honda Talon 1000R eats up whoops. The longer-travel suspension makes a big difference if this is the type of terrain you like to tackle.
Honda Talon Versus the Competition

So now that you know a bit of Honda’s four-wheel recreational and Utility Vehicle history, we will get into the details on the new 2019 Honda Talon 1000R and Talon 1000X models. If you are looking for a performance-focused two-seat UTV, the Talon is going to be compared to the industry-leading Polaris RZR, Can-Am Maverick and Yamaha YXZ1000R. Each of these vehicles offer two-seat options that have a similar engine displacement, width, wheelbase and suspension travel. Polaris and Can-Am offer turbo options that up the horsepower, which may tip the scales in that direction for those enthusiast looking for power. The Polaris and Can-Am models use CVT belt-drive systems, while the Yamaha uses a manual five-speed transmission. And the new Talon models use a six-speed automatic transmission with optional manual paddle-shift option. This system is called DCT, and it is one of the biggest differentiating elements of the Honda Talon.

2019 Honda Talon 1000X Specs and Driving Impression

The Talon 1000X has a 999cc liquid-cooled Unicam, parallel-twin four-stroke engine with four valves per cylinder. It is fuel-injected with 46mm throttle bodies. The Talon has a claimed 105 horsepower, which is not far off from the non-turbo options available from the other manufacturers. The X uses a double wishbone front-suspension system with 14.6 inches of wheel travel, while the rear suspension uses a 3 Link Trailing Arm system with 15.1 inches of travel. Fox Podium 2.0 shocks are used in the front and rear. The overall width is 64 inches and the wheelbase is 87.6 inches. This puts it in the same range as the competitive Polaris, Can-Am and Yamaha models.

The Talon 1000R and 1000X are very capable rock crawlers.
The Talon 1000R and 1000X are very capable rock crawlers.

We got to spend a day at the Sand Hollow Off Highway Recreation area near St George, Utah, to get our first impression on the new Honda Talons. The stock seats are decent, with the driver’s side having the ability to move back and forth, while the passenger seat is in a fixed position. The passenger does have an adjustable grab handle. The standard three-point seatbelts are also okay, but we would likely opt for more secure four-point harnesses right away. The Talon also comes standard with window nets on both the driver and passenger side. These are to keep your arms inside the vehicle, but most of us driving the vehicles felt that they are a little bit overkill and decreased visibility.

The Honda Talon Interior is nice and logical. All of the controls and dash are easy to reach for both the driver and passenger.
The Honda Talon Interior is nice and logical. All of the controls and dash are easy to reach for both the driver and passenger.

The Honda Talon 1000X is smooth and agile. The DCT Transmission has two options that can be changed on the fly. The standard mode shifts seamlessly and provides smooth power delivery. The Sport option allows the motor to rev a little more before shifts. If you prefer to shift yourself, you can choose the manual option and use the paddle shifters right in front of the steering wheel. The auto options shift very precisely and you can override them with the paddle shifter, so it seems pointless to use the manual option. You can also switch between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive on the fly via the dash-mounted switch. There is also a low- and high-range option on the shifter, with the low option being great for slow speeds and rock crawling. One last driver aid is a Hill Start Assist button. Pushing that button gives you three seconds to take your foot off the brake and take off without rolling backward. Some may find this useful, but if you drive with your left foot on the brake, it is not necessary.

The stock Honda Talon seats are pretty good. They come ready to add a four-point harness but come standard with a three-point harness. The passenger grab handle is nice and is easy to adjust.
The stock Honda Talon seats are pretty good. They come ready to add a four-point harness but come standard with a three-point harness. The passenger grab handle is nice and is easy to adjust.

The Sand Hollow Recreation area provides really diverse conditions with sand sections and slick, rock-crawling sections. The Talon X suspension worked really well in both the rocky and wet-sand sections that we got the test the vehicle in. The shocks also include three external adjusters, but, with the limited time we had, we did not get the opportunity to see how much difference those made.

The Talon 1000R model comes standard with Fox Podium 2.5 shocks and 17.7 inches of front-wheel travel and 20.1 inches of rear-wheel travel. The X model has different suspension and comes with Fox Podium 2.0 shocks. Both perform well for their intended terrain.
The Talon 1000R model comes standard with Fox Podium 2.5 shocks and 17.7 inches of front-wheel travel and 20.1 inches of rear-wheel travel. The X model has different suspension and comes with Fox Podium 2.0 shocks. Both perform well for their intended terrain.
2019 Honda Talon 1000R Specs and Driving Impression

The Talon 1000R chassis, engine and drivetrain are exactly the same as the Talon 1000X. The only difference is the suspension and shocks. The Talon 1000R uses wider front A-Arms and a Four Link rear suspension system that gives it a 68.4-inch width. It also uses larger Fox Podium 2.5 shocks front and rear. The different suspension configuration ups the travel to 17.7 inches in the front and 20.1 inches in the rear. The wheelbase is also increased from 87.6 inches to 92.7 inches.

We had a blast driving both the Talon 1000R and 1000X models. The Talon is a worthy option to the Polaris RZR, Can-Am Maverick X3 and Yamaha YXZ1000R models.
We had a blast driving both the Talon 1000R and 1000X models. The Talon is a worthy option to the Polaris RZR, Can-Am Maverick X3 and Yamaha YXZ1000R models.

The additional width, wheelbase and travel are very welcome in high-speed whoops. After a lot of talk from the Honda staff about taking it easy and being safe, we were surprised when our ride leader hit the first whoop section wide open, and we all followed right through with no problems. We were all immediately impressed, and this is right on par with any of the performance Side x Sides currently on the market.

Despite less suspension travel and a narrower width versus the Talon R, the Talon X model has a similar width to the Polaris RZR, Can-Am Maverick X3 and Yamaha YXZ1000R. It is more responsive in tight conditions.
Despite less suspension travel and a narrower width versus the Talon R, the Talon X model has a similar width to the Polaris RZR, Can-Am Maverick X3 and Yamaha YXZ1000R. It is more responsive in tight conditions.
Comparing the Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R

Before driving both the X and R models, I thought there would be no reason to choose the X option. But the two vehicles perform very different and both have their strong points. If you prefer open terrain and blasting through the rough stuff, the Talon 1000R will be your choice. But we came away really impressed with the Talon 1000X model’s ability to carve a tighter line and squeeze through smaller spaces due to that narrow track. So if you prefer rock crawling or driving in tighter trails, you will likely prefer the Talon 1000X.

The 2019 Honda Talon 1000X has a 64-inch width and 87.6-inch wheelbase. If you prefer tight trails over high speed, the X is the version you will want.
The 2019 Honda Talon 1000X has a 64-inch width and 87.6-inch wheelbase. If you prefer tight trails over high speed, the X is the version you will want.
Conclusion

The new Honda Talon 1000X and Talon 1000R are viable options for anybody looking for a sport Side x Side. The chassis, suspension and drivetrain perform really well. The DCT Drivetrain is arguably the best system currently available. It shifts almost perfectly, allows you to override it with the paddle shifters and should prove to be more durable than a belt drive system. If you are focused on power, then the Polaris and Can-Am turbo models will likely be difficult to ignore, but the Honda will be right there with the other normally aspirated options.

Honda Talon 1000R Honda Talon 1000X Polaris RZR XP 1000 Can-Am Maverick X3 Yamaha YXZ1000R
Width 68.4 in. 64 in. 64 in. 64 in. 64 in.
Wheel Base 92.7 in. 87.6 in. 90 in. 102 in. 90.5 in.
Front Suspension Travel 17.7 in. 14.6 in. 16 in. 20 in. 16.2 in.
Rear Suspension Travel 20.1 in. 15.1 in. 18 in. 20 in. 17 in.
Drivetrain 6-Speed Automatic DCT with Manual Option 6-Speed Automatic DCT with Manual Option CVT Belt Drive CVT Belt Drive 5-Speed Manual with Foot Clutch
Engine 999cc Twin Cylinder 999cc Twin Cylinder 999cc Twin Cylinder 900cc Three Cylinder Turbo 998cc Three Cylinder
Claimed Horsepower 105 105 110 120 NA
MSRP $20,999 $19,999 $18,599 $19,999 $18,999

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American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is the sole distributor of Honda motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and Side-by-Sides in the U.S. Founded in 1948 in Hamamatsu, Japan, Honda opened its first U.S. storefront in Los Angeles, CA, in 1959. Honda has the longest sustained U.S. manufacturing presence of any international automaker.

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