If you’ve been looking for an affordable and capable side-by-side UTV that can handle both recreational trail riding and utility work, the Honda Pioneer 500 should be on your radar.
In this detailed Pioneer 500 review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Honda’s entry-level two-seater UTV, including:
- Overview of the key features, specs and capabilities
- Top speed and acceleration tested
- Engine, transmission, towing capacity and more
- Accessories available to enhance functionality
- MSRP pricing and value compared to competitors
- Real user reviews and feedback
- Common problems and fixes for the Pioneer 500
After reading this extensive 2024 Honda Pioneer 500 review, you’ll be an expert on this nimble and affordable side-by-side UTV.
Table of Contents
Overview Of The Honda Pioneer 500
The Honda Pioneer 500 is the smallest and most affordable model in Honda’s Pioneer side-by-side line-up. Introduced in 2015, the Pioneer 500 is aimed at recreational riders and utility users looking for an entry-level UTV with good capabilities at a budget-friendly price point.
Some of the key highlights and specs of the Pioneer 500:
- Compact size: At just 123” long and 73” wide, the Pioneer 500 is nimble and easy to maneuver on trails. Ground clearance is a decent 10 inches.
- 475cc single-cylinder engine: Puts out a modest 32 horsepower. Provides adequate power for recreational use.
- Automatic DCT transmission: The twin-clutch automatic transmission makes driving easy with no manual clutch to operate. It also has a manual transmission mode that gives the vehicle an edge and a sporty feel for recreation and capabilities for utility use.
- 2-seater capacity: Roomy bench seating comfortably fits two adults side-by-side.
- 1,000 lb tow rating: Strong enough to pull a small trailer or utility load.
- On-Command 4WD: Traction when you need it with 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD with Diff Lock modes.
- Rear storage space with a utility rack: The Honda Pioneer 500 does not feature a rear cargo bed. It only offers a rear storage space with a utility rack.
While it lacks the size, power, and luxury features of pricier Pioneer models, the 500 provides impressive capabilities considering its price tag of $8,999 for 2023. The Pioneer 500 hits a sweet spot for budget-minded trail riders and farmers/ranchers needing an affordable workhorse UTV.
Honda Pioneer 500 Top Speed And Acceleration
One of the most common questions from prospective Pioneer 500 buyers is “how fast does it go?”
Well, according to Honda’s specs and multiple Pioneer 500 owner reports, the top speed is:
- 40 mph – This top speed makes the Pioneer 500 plenty quick for enjoyable recreational trail riding, while providing good speed for utility chores and short-distance transportation on the ranch or hunt camp.
Of course the Pioneer 500’s acceleration and speed capability depends on conditions like:
- Terrain – dirt vs pavement
- Hills – slower climbing steep grades
- Payload weight – hauling cargo or towing
- Altitude – power decreases at high elevation
But the general consensus among Pioneer 500 owners is that it delivers enough acceleration and top speed to keep things exciting on the trails, while remaining very manageable for drivers of all experience levels.
One owner said:
“I was skeptical the 500 would be underpowered, but it has plenty of speed for fun trail riding. I hit 40 mph on a dirt road without even going full throttle. Hard to imagine needing to go much faster in a UTV.”
So while it’s not going to win any drag races against high-powered sport UTVs, the Pioneer 500’s speed capability fits well with its intended use as an easy-handling recreational and utility vehicle.
Honda Pioneer 500 Engine And Transmission Specs
Let’s look under the hood and break down the engine and transmission specs that give the Pioneer 500 its performance:
- 475cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder
- Four stroke OHV design
- Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)
- 32 horsepower
- 45.6 Nm (33.6 lb-ft) torque
This modest displacement single-cylinder engine provides adequate power while helping keep costs down versus a larger twin-cylinder. Fuel injection allows easy cold starting and efficient power delivery.
The engine’s overall performance works well for the Pioneer 500’s intended recreational and utility use. Although it’s down on power compared to some larger 700cc+ side-by-side competitors.
- Automatic Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT)
- Reverse / Neutral / Drive
- On-Command 4WD with modes: 2WD / 4WD / 4WD with Diff Lock
The automatic DCT transmission makes operation easy and smooth with no manual clutch pedal to deal with. Simply select gear and go. The On-Command 4WD system engages all-wheel-drive traction only when needed.
Overall, the pairing of a proven 475cc single-cylinder engine with Honda’s advanced automatic DCT transmission provides a versatile powertrain well-suited to the capabilities of the Pioneer 500.
Honda Pioneer 500 Towing Capacity And Load Capabilities
In addition to carrying two occupants, the Pioneer 500 provides ample utility for hauling cargo and towing thanks to:
- 1,000 pound tow rating – The Pioneer 500 can tow up to 1,000 pounds on a standard trailer hitch. This allows you to pull a small trailer loaded with camping gear, hunting equipment, or work tools. Just remember to account for cargo/passenger weight when calculating total towing capacity used.
- Rear storage space with a utility rack – The Honda Pioneer 500 does not feature a rear cargo bed. It only offers a rear storage space with a utility rack.
- 200 pound rack capacity – The front steel cargo rack can carry up to 200 pounds, perfect for strapping on coolers, tools or other items. Just be mindful of blocking headlights or driver visibility when loading the front rack.
- 1200 pound maximum payload – Between the bed capacity and seating, the Pioneer 500 can carry up to 1200 pounds total counting passengers and cargo. This gives you lots of flexibility for recreational or utility use.
The Pioneer 500’s ample cargo and towing abilities make it super handy for doing chore runs around the property, going hunting or camping, or tackling DIY projects. It allows you to take along plenty of supplies without being overloaded.
Honda Pioneer 500 Accessories to Enhance Functionality
One great benefit of the Pioneer 500 is the wide range of dealer-installed and aftermarket accessories available to expand its capabilities. Here are some of the most popular Honda accessories owners outfit their Pioneers with:
- Windshield – A must-have for cold weather use or protection from trail debris. bolt-on windshields from Honda or aftermarket companies keep wind and precipitation at bay.
- Roof – Rugged roofs from Honda or aftermarket providers offer shade from the sun and shelter from rain/snow. They allow year-round comfort.
- Winch – A front-mounted winch provides self-recovery and utility pulling power in tough terrain. Winches in the 3,000 to 5,000 lb range are ideal for the Pioneer 500.
- Tires – More aggressive aftermarket tires improve off-road traction in mud, snow or rocky conditions. Just ensure proper load range for cargo/towing needs.
- Audio – Bluetooth sound bars and speakers from Honda or aftermarket companies let you crank the tunes on your adventures.
- Lighting – LED light bars and cube lights expand night riding visibility and look cool.
- Seats – Aftermarket seats with improved bolstering and comfort are a popular upgrade for all-day driving.
Between Honda’s lineup of accessories and the huge aftermarket support for Pioneer UTVs, you can outfit a Pioneer 500 for specialized hunting, farming, camping or other uses. The accessories allow you to tailor it to your needs.
Honda Pioneer 500 Prices, Packages and Value
The Honda Pioneer 500 carries an MSRP starting price of $7,999 for the base model as of 2023. That positions it as one of the most affordable recreational side-by-sides from a major brand.
In addition to the standard model, Honda offers several packages and limited editions that add value:
- Deluxe Model – Starting at $8,999 MSRP, this upgrades to painted body, aluminum wheels, roof, tilt bed, and other features.
- Camo Editions – Special camo graphic packages are available periodically for hunters, starting around $9,499 MSRP.
- Work Series – For 2023 Honda introduced the new Pioneer 500 Work Series starting at $8,699 with upgraded wheels, tires and warn winch designed for farm, ranch and hunting utility use.
Given its capabilities and quality construction, the Pioneer 500 provides excellent value for a two-seat recreational/utility side-by-side. When equipped with a few key accessories like a windshield and roof, it makes for a very affordable and handy utility vehicle for property owners.
And since Pioneers hold their resale value well, you get peace of mind knowing it’s an investment that retains value for years to come.
What Owners Are Saying in Honda Pioneer 500 Reviews?
With over seven years of owners putting the Pioneer 500 through its paces, there are plenty of real world reviews that provide insights into the pros and cons.
Here’s a sampling of Pioneer 500 owner feedback from forums and videos:
“For the price you cannot beat the value of the pioneer 500. It has proven very capable for my farm work and weekend trail riding. Super easy to learn and drive.”
“Love this little side-by-side! It has plenty of power for me as a smaller person and is so easy to whip around the trails. The auto transmission is fantastic.”
“It’s the perfect size for most recreational uses. Still compact but with good power and capacity to handle trails plus hauling gear for camping or hunting. A great all-around UTV.”
“The 500 is a great machine but underpowered if you need to haul heavy loads up hills or power through deep mud. I upgraded to a 700 and like the extra torque.”
“Reliability and ease of maintenance has been excellent. Far better than my previous UTV. Honda quality really shows.”
Overall, owners praise the combination of affordability, quality, and versatility of the 500. The compact size, automatic transmission, ample cargo capacity, and smooth power delivery make it popular for recreational riding and utility chores.
Some limitations mentioned are modest power for very heavy loads, lack of EPS power steering, and no rear passenger handholds. But that’s expected for an entry-level machine.
Common Honda Pioneer 500 Problems and How to Fix Them?
Although the Pioneer 500 has proven to be a very reliable machine, no vehicle is problem-free. Here are a few of the most common Pioneer 500 issues reported by owners along with potential solutions:
- CVT belt failures – Some owners experienced premature failure of the Pioneer 500’s rubber CVT belt that transfers power to the wheels. Replacing with an upgraded performance CVT belt often solves this issue.
- Electrical gremlins – Faulty connectors, relays or switches can cause annoying electrical issues. Carefully inspecting wiring and connectors and adding dielectric grease often resolves problems.
- Leaking/cracked radiator – The plastic OEM radiators are prone to developing leaks. An improved all-aluminum radiator replacement solves overheating issues.
- Excessive drivetrain noise – Some Pioneer 500s exhibit annoying whining noises from the transmission/differentials, especially in 4WD or towing heavy loads. Upgrading the gear oil to a fuller synthetic 75W-90 or 80W-140 in the diffs and transmission quiets this down.
- Failed fuel pump – A small percentage of Pioneer 500s have seen the internal fuel pump fail causing hard starting or stalling issues. Replacing it with an improved aftermarket fuel pump is the fix.
Overall though, the Pioneer 500 has proven to be a reliable UTV when properly maintained and not abused. And the wide availability of aftermarket upgrades and accessories means there’s a fix for any issue that may arise.
Key Facts and Stats Summary for the 2023 Honda Pioneer 500
|475cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four stroke
|Automatic six-speed dual-clutch
|On-Command 2WD / 4WD / 4WD Diff Lock
|Length / Width:
|123 inches / 71.7 inches
Honda Pioneer 500 vs. Polaris RZR 570: How Do They Compare?
The Polaris RZR 570 is another popular entry-level side-by-side often cross-shopped with the Honda Pioneer 500. Here’s how they stack up:
- The RZR 570 makes 10 horsepower more at 44 hp. But the Pioneer 500 weighs 126 lbs less at 1,203 lbs. So their power-to-weight ratios are similar.
- The RZR 570 is faster with a 10+ mph higher top speed of 50+ mph. But the Pioneer 500 is regarded as more nimble handling.
- Towing capacity is close: 1,500 lbs for the RZR 570 vs. 1,000 lbs for Pioneer 500.
- The RZR 570 seats 3 with a small rear jump seat. The Pioneer 500 only seats 2.
- The RZR has more suspension travel and ground clearance best suited for intense trails. The Pioneer is better optimized for utility use.
- The RZR 570 has EPS electronic power steering. The Pioneer 500 steering is unassisted.
- Starting MSRP is similar – RZR 570 at $8,299 vs. Pioneer 500 at $7,999.
So in summary, the RZR 570 edges out the Pioneer 500 in power, speed, and trail handling. But the Honda Pioneer 500 offers a more utility-focused package and compact dimensions. It comes down to your priorities.
Honda Pioneer 500 Review Conclusion: Is It Right for You?
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully you now have a complete understanding of the 2023 Honda Pioneer 500’s capabilities, price, pros and cons.
To recap, here are the key reasons to consider a Pioneer 500:
- Outstanding value – Tremendous capability per dollar thanks to Honda’s reputation for quality, reliability and resale value retention. It’s the most affordable way into a Honda side-by-side.
- Compact size – The Pioneer 500 maneuvers trails easily and fits in the bed of a pickup truck.
- All-day comfort – Bench seating for two adults offers good comfort for long days on the trails or working.
- Easy operation – The dual-clutch automatic transmission and power steering remove any difficulty.
- Strong utility abilities – 1,000 lb tow rating and 400lb bed capacity allow you to haul gear, tools or supplies nearly anywhere.
But it may not be the ideal UTV choice if:
- You need to regularly climb steep hills or haul extremely heavy loads better suited to a high torque 700cc+ model.
- You want high-speed dune running or technical rock crawling capabilities.
- You need seating for 4 people instead of 2.
- You dislike the lack of assisted power steering.
Taking its affordable pricing into consideration though, the Pioneer 500 hits the sweet spot for many recreational riders and property owners needing an inexpensive, compact, and comfortable utility side-by-side.
If the Pioneer 500 sounds like a good match for your needs after reading this review, visit your local Honda Powersports dealer to take one for a test drive. Getting behind the wheel will likely confirm why this nimble two-seater UTV is so beloved for its versatility and value.