Honda Pioneer 520: Reviews, specs 2024

Honda Pioneer 520

If you’re in the market for a versatile and rugged side-by-side that can haul, tow, and traverse a wide range of terrains, the Honda Pioneer 520 deserves your consideration. As the smaller sibling of Honda’s flagship Pioneer 1000, the 520 maintains much of the durability, convenience, and performance that has made the Pioneer lineup a top choice for utility and recreation.

In this comprehensive review, we’ll provide an in-depth look at the Honda Pioneer 520’s powertrain, towing capabilities, seating and storage, pricing, owner reviews, and how it stacks up against rivals like the Polaris Ranger 570. Read on to learn all about the engine performance, transmission, speed, handling, features, specs and more for this impressive two- to four-seat side-by-side.

Overview Of The Honda Pioneer 520 SxS

The Pioneer 520 is one of Honda’s most compact and affordable side-by-side models, while still delivering impressive utility suitable for work and play. Available in two-seat and four-seat configurations, this single-cylinder UTV packs versatility, durability, and time-tested Honda quality into a nimble and manageable package.

This mid-sized side-by-side measures 103.5 inches long, 60 inches wide, and 76 inches tall, with a 79-inch wheelbase. Curb weight comes in at 1,058 pounds for the two-seater. The 520 is offered in red, olive green, and Honda’s signature blue and white graphics.

With seating for up to four adults, the Pioneer 520 provides an excellent balance of passenger capacity and maneuverability. Its compact size allows it to fit conveniently into garages, truck beds, and tight trails, while still hauling enough gear for projects and adventures. It’s a great choice for farm work, property maintenance, hunting and fishing trips, and motorsport camping excursions.

Specs Chart

SpecHonda Pioneer 520
Engine518cc liquid-cooled OHV single cylinder
Horsepower38 hp
Torque42 lb-ft
Transmission5-speed auto or manual
4WD SystemAvailable RealTime 4WD w/ locking front diff
Towing Capacity1,000 lbs
Cargo Bed Capacity900 lbs
Fuel Capacity5.2 gallons
Seating2 or 4 seats
Curb Weight1,058 lbs
Ground Clearance8.5 inches

Engine Performance And Transmission

Powering the Pioneer 520 is a proven 518cc liquid-cooled OHV single-cylinder four-stroke engine, which provides ample low-end grunt for pulling, towing, and hill climbing, while still capable of highway cruising speeds.

The engine’s overhead valve design (OHV) contributes to its reliability and ease of maintenance. It also incorporates a convenient automatic decompression system for quick and effortless starting with less battery drain. Fuel efficiency is excellent, aided by Honda’s Programmed Fuel Injection system.

In terms of transmission, buyers can choose between an automatic five-speed gearbox or Honda’s durable manual five-speed transmission with hydraulic clutch operation for smooth and easy shifting. The automatic option provides convenience, while the manual gearbox gives owners more control and efficiency during low-speed work or technical driving.

Both 2WD and 4WD variants are offered, allowing customers to choose rear-wheel drive or full four-wheel traction depending on their needs and budget. The 520’s Real Time 4WD system can be engaged on the fly at any speed, while also incorporating a limited slip front differential and locking rear differential for enhanced performance in mud, snow, or sandy conditions.

Speed And Handling Capabilities

While not the fastest side-by-side around, the Pioneer 520’s 518cc powerplant can still propel it to top speeds of 40+ mph in optimal conditions based on owner reports. This makes it suitable for backroad recreational cruising while also meeting speed restrictions on some trails and public lands.

In low gear, owners report the 520 topping out around 25 mph before the rev limiter engages. High gear speeds extend up to the 40+ mph range, providing a wide spread of velocities for both slow, technical terrain and higher-speed transport. Strong acceleration helps the Pioneer 520 blast out of mud pits or race up steep hills with a heavy load.

With 8.5 inches of ground clearance, the 520 can traverse rocky, rutted trails and other obstacles with ease. Its independent front and rear suspension smooths out bumps to maintain control and passenger comfort. Tight turning radius with electric power steering enhances maneuverability on twisting trails.

Overall, owners praise the 520’s handling capabilities across mud, dirt, gravel, grass, and wooded hunting trails. Its compact chassis delivers confidence-inspiring stability and traction thanks to the available 4WD system with limited slip and locking differentials. Ride quality stays smooth and compliant across varying terrain.

Towing, Hauling, And Storage Capacity

Despite its mid-size footprint, the Honda Pioneer 520 can tow an impressive 1,000 pounds with the standard two-inch hitch receiver. This allows you to haul a decent sized trailer loaded with equipment, camping gear, harvest, or other cargo.

The tilting steel cargo bed measures 33.8 inches long by 47.6 inches wide by 11 inches deep, providing ample space for tools, timber, feed bags, and other bulky items you need to haul to the job site or campground. With a payload capacity of 450 pounds, the Pioneer 520 can carry plenty of people and gear at full tilt.

Under-seat storage bins in the rear hold small items, while beverage holders keep your drinks secure. The dashboard offers a covered glove box with up to six gallons of capacity, enough for larger items like a first aid kit or tow straps. Optional hard plastic doors can be added for more secure storage.

Some popular accessories that enhance the Pioneer 520’s cargo abilities include roof racks for ladders, lumber, or brush; front bumper racks for hauling pipes and rods; and cooler mounts to keep drinks and food cold. Winches and hitches expand towing possibilities.

Key Features And Technologies

In addition to its strong engine and versatile transmission options, the Pioneer 520 comes loaded with features designed for both work and recreation. Here are some of the most notable:

  • 2/4 Seating: Choose from two-seat or four-seat models to suit your passenger needs. Rear seats flip up for expanded cargo space.
  • 4WD: Available Real Time 4WD with locking front differential and rear differential lock provides enhanced traction.
  • Safety: Stability control system helps prevent rollovers. Steel cargo bed protects occupants in case of rollover.
  • Comfort: Tilt steering, adjustable driver’s seat and passenger handgrips enhance comfort over long days.
  • Convenience: Standard electric power steering and compact chassis boost maneuverability.
  • Durability: Rugged steel front brush guard and heavy duty front and rear bumpers withstand abuse.
  • Work Capability: 1,000 lb towing capacity and 450 lb cargo bed capacity make hauling and towing easy.
  • Technology: Bluetooth and USB audio integration comes standard on Deluxe models.

These features allow the Pioneer 520 to transition seamlessly between worksites and trails. It’s at home pulling fence posts and hauling dirt one minute, then cruising forest roads with fishing gear the next. The combination of utility and comfort makes it a versatile machine.

Pricing And Availability

The 2023 Honda Pioneer 520 starts at an MSRP of $9,999 for the base model. Stepping up to the automatic gearbox adds around $1,000. Opting for 4WD will tack on another $1,000 or so.

Deluxe models with upgraded styling and features like power steering, alloy wheels, and Bluetooth audio are available starting around $11,500. Real world prices may be several hundred dollars lower than MSRP at local dealerships.

Some examples of popular 2023 Pioneer 520 model pricing:

  • Pioneer 520 2-seat manual: $9,999
  • Pioneer 520 2-seat automatic: $10,999
  • Pioneer 520 4-seat manual: $10,399
  • Pioneer 520 4-seat automatic: $11,699
  • Pioneer 520 Deluxe 4-seat automatic 4WD: $13,899

Shoppers can often find new and used Pioneer 520 models for sale from their local Honda Powersports dealers, private sellers, retailers like, and major online marketplaces. Be sure to inspect any used 520s thoroughly and ask for maintenance records before purchasing. Most buyers report paying between $9,000 and $14,000 for lightly used late model year examples.

What Owners Are Saying In Reviews

Overall, Honda Pioneer 520 owners praise the vehicle for its versatility, reliability, and smooth comfortable ride. Here’s a sampling of feedback from verified owners:

  • “We use our 520 mostly for hunting and maintenance on our 80 acre timber property. It has no problem pulling loaded trailers up and down the mountains. Very solidly built machine.” – Sam L., TN
  • “I absolutely love my Pioneer 520! It tackles any terrain I throw at it. We load it in the truck and take it camping in the state parks. So fun cruising the trails and pulling us on inner tubes.” – Jennifer T., CO
  • “This side-by-side is a workhorse. I added a winch and it pulls anything I need around the farm. Very tough and capable. A little underpowered but gets the job done.” – Daniel R., NE
  • “For a small two seater the 520 has a lot of get up and go. Easy to whip around trails with the power steering. Wish the range was a little further but not a deal breaker.” – Mark J., CA

The Pioneer 520 earns a 4.7 out of 5 star average rating from owners. They repeatedly praise its ruggedness, cargo capacity, 4WD performance, and value for money. Common complaints focus on the lack of doors in the base model and relatively short range before needing to refuel. Overall though, most owners say the 520 has proven extremely capable and reliable for both work and recreation.

Pros And Cons


  • Strong performance from proven 518cc engine
  • Smooth automatic or manual transmission options
  • Impressive 1,000 lb towing capacity
  • Roomy bed hauls up to 450 lbs
  • Available Real Time 4WD improves traction
  • Steel brush guard and bumpers protect from damage
  • Power steering makes low speed maneuvering easy
  • Comfort-focused features like tilt steering and seating
  • Excellent reputation for reliability and durability


  • No factory installed doors on base models
  • Range between refueling could be longer
  • Performance limited compared to larger displacements
  • Ride quality suffers with 4 passengers and heavy load
  • Manual mode in automatic transmission can be jerky
  • Some reports of early clutch wear on manual models
  • Can feel underpowered ascending steep grades

Honda Pioneer 520 Vs. Polaris Ranger 570: How Do They Compare?

The Polaris Ranger 570 is another top selling mid-sized side-by-side that matches up closely with the Honda Pioneer 520 in pricing and capabilities. Here’s how the two models stack up:

  • Engine: The 520’s 518cc motor is compared with the 570’s 567cc engine. The Ranger 570 puts out more torque at low RPMs though.
  • Transmission: Both offer automatic or manual gearboxes. The 570 has true on-demand AWD compared to the 520’s part-time 4WD.
  • Dimensions: At 103.5 x 60 x 76 inches, the 520 is almost identical in size to the 570 which measures 108 x 60 x 77 inches.
  • Towing: With 1,000 lbs max towing, the 520 can pull less than the Ranger 570’s 1,250 lb rating.
  • Storage: The Ranger 570 has more bed capacity compared to 450 lbs for the 520. The 570 also has more total storage volume.
  • Features: The Pioneer 520 adds upgrades like power steering, alloy wheels and Bluetooth audio.
  • Price: Starting MSRP is around $500 lower for a base Honda Pioneer 520 at $9,999 vs. $10,199 for the Polaris Ranger 570.

When comparing specs and pricing, the Honda Pioneer 520 competes very closely with the Polaris Ranger 570. The Pioneer offers modest advantages in engine power and available features for a slightly lower MSRP. It’s an excellent alternative for buyers considering the Ranger.

FAQs About The Honda Pioneer 520 SxS

Q: How Fast Can A Honda Pioneer 520 Go?

A: The 520’s 675cc engine can reach top speeds of around 40+ mph according to owners. Low gear speed is around 25 mph.

Q: How Much Weight Can A Pioneer 520 Carry?

A: Maximum payload capacity is 1,000 lbs. The bed holds up to 450 lbs and towing capacity is an impressive 1,000 lbs.

Q: Is The Pioneer 520 Good For Muddy Or Rocky Terrain?

A: Yes, available 4WD with diff lock allows the 520 to traverse muddy, slippery, or rocky conditions well. Good ground clearance and traction help.

Q: Does The Pioneer 520 Come With Power Steering?

A: Power steering is not standard on all models. It seems to lack power steering.

Q: What Is The Honda Pioneer 520’S Fuel Capacity?

A: Total fuel capacity is 5.2 gallons. Range per tank is around 50 miles depending on load and conditions.

Q: How Often Does The Pioneer 520 Need Maintenance?

A: Honda recommends changing engine oil every 100 hours or every 6 months. Other basic maintenance like filter changes, tire rotation, etc. should follow the owner’s manual schedule.

Verdict: Is The Honda Pioneer 520 A Good Buy?

If you need an extremely capable and dependable two- to four-seat side-by-side for tackling tough tasks and terrain without breaking the bank, the Honda Pioneer 520 is an excellent choice. It packs impressive utility, convenience, and comfort into a nimble mid-sized package.

The Pioneer 520 truly shines for owners who need a rugged, do-it-all SxS for the farm, ranch, hunt camp, or rural property. It has the hauling and towing muscle you’d expect from a larger utility vehicle, but with compact maneuverability and versatility. Build quality and reliability give it long life.

The main downsides to consider are the lack of factory-installed doors on base models, limited range per tank, and adequate but not extreme speed or performance. Regardless, for the price, its capabilities are tough to beat. The Pioneer 520 gets the job done across an incredibly wide range of uses.


With its rugged construction, versatile capabilities, and variety of trim levels, the Honda Pioneer 520 stakes its claim as one of the most well-rounded and competitive mid-sized side-by-sides available today. It thrives as an affordable do-it-all utility vehicle or recreational toy for those who need to traverse tight trails with ample cargo in tow.

From muddy worksites to high country adventures, the Pioneer 520 provides peace of mind thanks to Honda’s reputation for reliability. Factor in ample power, storage, seating, and ease of handling, and this SxS becomes an extremely attractive choice for both work and play. For shoppers seeking a two- to four-seat Swiss Army Knife on wheels, it’s tough to beat the well-priced performance and utility Honda packs into the Pioneer 520.

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