Polaris Ranger 500 VS Honda Pioneer 500
When it comes to utility side-by-sides, there are 2 models on the market that are really catching consumers attention. These models are the Polaris Ranger and the Honda Pioneer. First introduced in 1999, the Ranger has always been the stalwart of the segment, generally being the first UTV on its class to make previously optional gear standard equipment.
Because of this and several other factors, the Ranger has always been one of the top-selling utility vehicles among both enthusiasts and farmers alike. But it is facing some stiff competition, namely in the form of the Honda Pioneer. Recently introduced a few years ago, the Pioneer’s combination of rugged and reliable components, charismatic 475cc liquid-cooled engine, and double wishbone suspension at the front and back is definitely stealing some of the Ranger’s customers away.
And so to really know which is the better choice, I decided to test both of them at different terrains and situations, including some really hardcore trails and more casual environments such as my backyards. And what I have found that they both have their pros and cons and the choice will depend a lot on what you are looking to do with the UTV. Below I talk a little bit more about those pros and cons, and which ride is best for you.
The Polaris Feels Faster On A Straight Line
When it comes to straight line performance, the Polaris is the undisputed winner here. While both UTVs on this comparison are primarily made with utility in mind, consumers have really demanded better and better acceleration rates from them and so their engines have gotten bigger and more powerful. Polaris in particular has been upping the power every few years because of the competition on the segment, culminating with a 500cc Pro-Star engine, rumored to have significantly more ponies than the official figure of 32 HP.
I had the opportunity to drag race both of these models, and the Polaris slightly outperformed the Pioneer, which is no wonder given that the Honda only has 29 HP. The Honda wasn’t exactly a slouch either though, and it stayed close to the Polaris tail right until the end of the race.
Most people buying these models don’t even buy them because of the straight line performance, so this might not even be a consideration if you are comparing the two. it’s just something to keep in mind if fast acceleration is important to you.
The Polaris Has More Aftermarket Support
Those riders that are going to be modding the suspension or installing LED lights will prefer the Ranger over the Pioneer. The Ranger is the more popular UTV after all, this means that aftermarket parts are going to be everywhere. There are some mods available for the Ranger that are not available for the Pioneer, like some special waterproof sound system and suspension shocks, among other things.
Since the Honda is less popular, getting aftermarket mods is going to be a little bit harder, and they are going to be more expensive too. If you are going to add new wheels to your UTV or install a new roll cage, then the Ranger might be the better choice. but if you are going to be leaving your machine stock, then stick to the Honda.
The Polaris Feels More Premium And Polished
This is pretty typical of Polaris Products: they feel super high-quality and premium. the first time that I jumped into a Polaris UTV, it felt much more expensive than what the price suggested, and the same thing happens with the Ranger. While this is a work UTV and you are going to find hard plastics on the dash, the contoured seats, the steering wheel and the pedals all denote high quality. The seats are comfortable and well bolstered, and in general the Ranger feels much more expensive than what the price suggests.
The Honda isn’t sloppy, but the fit and finish isn’t up to the Ranger’s levels. There are some panels with fitment issues, and it rattles a little bit more than the Ranger at high speeds. It isn’t anything dramatic, but just something to keep in mind.
The Polaris Feels More Modern
This can be a pro or a con depending on which type of buyer you are. The Ranger is the more technologically advanced machine, with a myriad of features such as adjustable tilt steering, turf mode, and a dump box that the Honda doesn’t have. however, the technological advancement might be a pro or a con depending on which type of buyer you are. More technology means that there are more things that can break, that might be a dealbreaker for some.
Honda tends to use tried and true technology that might be a little old but gets the job done. The Pioneer is no exception to this, and the lack of innovation means that reliability is going to be stronger over the long term. Again, this is going to be a pro or a con depending on what the buyer wants.
The Polaris Holds Twice As Much Gas
If you are going to be riding long hours deep on the woods or far away from a gas station, then let me tell you that the Ranger holds about twice the fuel as the Pioneer. Many people aren’t really going to care that much about this, but there is a bunch of people who need to work on more remote conditions with no gas stations nearby. carrying extra fuel might not be a possibility, and so a big fuel tank might be warranted.
The Ranger’s fuel tank has a capacity of 9 gallons, which is a lot when you compared to the Pioneer’s 4 gallon fuel tank. The Pioneer’s small tank has always been criticized by enthusiasts and farmers alike. It is honestly super small, which means you always need to have extra fuel with you at all times.
The Honda Is More Reliable
When it comes to reliability, the Pioneer is the better choice. Everybody knows that Honda makes the most reliable machines (Click the link to know why) and the Pioneer is no exception. This reputation comes from the automotive world, where Honda products have always been known as tanks, and Honda did a good job of making sure their UTVs and ATVs are as reliable as their cars.
While the Ranger isn’t going to give you many issues down the road, it’s still an inferior product when it comes to reliability and ruggedness. The upkeep costs are going to be a little bit higher and in general its more likely to break than the Pioneer, especially if it’s older than a few years. Owning a Ranger is going to cost significantly more if you plan on owning it long term, making the Honda the better choice for cost-conscious buyers.
As you probably figured out, reliability or lack of thereof affects resale values, which brings me to my next point.
The Honda Has Better Resale Value
You probably knew this already, but the Pioneer is going to retain its value significantly better than the Ranger, and this is because of several reasons. The first one is what I mentioned on the point above. The Pioneer is going to last much longer than the Ranger and that will ensure that resale prices stay high and steady.
Also, another factor is the fact that Rangers are much more common than Pioneers. More availability means that prices are going to stay lower than the Pioneer.
But don’t get me wrong. The Ranger’s resale values aren’t bad, especially when compared to some of the Chinese UTVs being introduced to the market, but if you plan on selling your UTV on the future, then the Pioneer might be the smarter buy.
The Polaris Is A Bit Bigger And Roomier
If you are a bigger guy like me, then a roomy cabin and plentiful legroom will probably be important. and this is one of the things where the Polaris shines. it is a little bit bigger than the Honda, both on the outside but especially on the cabin. the legroom is also superior to the Pioneer, so if you are very tall, then the Polaris might be the better choice.
The Ranger might have the roomier cabin, but those looking for a more compact frame will prefer the Pioneer by far. They are both similar is dimensions (The Ranger measures 110 x 58 x 73 Inches, and the Pioneer measures 103 x 50 x 71 Inches) but the Pioneer is a little bit smaller, perfect if you do not have much storage space, or just prefer a superior turning radius.
The Honda Is Better For Offroading
Both the Pioneer and the Ranger feature 10 inches of ground clearance as standard, but when it comes to offroading, the Pioneer reigns supreme. this is because it uses a double wishbone suspension instead of the MacPherson strut on the Ranger.
The double wishbone on the Honda handles bumps significantly better, perfect for people that are also going to use the machine for trail riding. But if the UTV is going to ride on turf or grass, then it doesn’t really make that much difference.