Honda Pioneer 500 Review: A Look at This Compact SxS

Discovering a balance between recreation and utility in a side-by-side can be challenging, but the Honda Pioneer 500 stands out as a model that attempts to deliver on both fronts. With its compact frame and efficient design, the Pioneer 500 is engineered to navigate narrow trails and yet, remains robust enough to handle a variety of tasks. Its simplicity is a testament to Honda’s focus on creating a side-by-side that’s accessible and reliable for off-road enthusiasts. Catering to outdoor adventurers and workers alike, this UTV’s versatility has garnered attention in the powersports community.

On the trail, the Pioneer 500’s performance speaks to Honda’s commitment to producing capable and fun recreational vehicles. Its modest footprint doesn’t compromise function, offering a full-coverage safety cage, and a comfortable cabin ensuring a confident ride through diverse terrain. Practical features including an automatic transmission with the option for manual shifting via paddle shifters, enhances control and engagement for drivers. Meanwhile, utility is not an afterthought; the towing capacity and optional features such as a dump bed in the upgraded Pioneer 520 model extend its usefulness beyond leisure.

Key Takeaways

Overview of the Honda Pioneer 500

The Honda Pioneer 500 is a compact UTV that offers you exceptional versatility and value. Its design is tailored for efficiency and capability, especially on narrow trails where larger side-by-sides won’t fit.

Key Features

  • Compact Design: With a 50-inch width, the Pioneer 500 can easily navigate through tight trails and can be transported in the back of a full-size truck.
  • Utility: This UTV is equipped with a durable dump bed or the option to install rear rack accessories, making it practical for both work and recreation.

Design and Dimensions

  • Dimensions: The Honda Pioneer 500 typically maintains a height of around 71 inches and a turning radius of approximately 13 feet, balancing maneuverability with stability.
  • Build: The vehicle’s construction focuses on simplicity and reliability, which Honda is known for in the off-road market.

Engine and Performance

  • Engine: It is powered by a 475cc four-stroke engine inherited from Honda’s Foreman 4×4, providing solid performance and dependability in various conditions.
  • Transmission: Honda pairs this engine with an automatic transmission, allowing for smooth power delivery when you’re on the move.

Performance on the Trail

When you hit the trails with the Honda Pioneer 500, your experience is shaped by its nimble handling, effective suspension system, and its capacity to tackle diverse off-road conditions.

Handling and Steering

The Honda Pioneer 500 offers precise steering that responds well to your input, especially when navigating through tight trails where maneuverability is key. Its dimensions allow you to weave through obstacles with ease. Power steering isn’t available for this model, but due to its lighter weight, steering doesn’t require much effort.

Suspension and Ride Comfort

Your ride comfort in the Pioneer 500 is supported by a suspension that’s designed to handle the bumps and jolts of off-road terrain. Although there’s no mention of dual-rate suspension springs or specific suspension travel numbers in the provided data, it’s designed to provide a balance between a smooth ride and maintaining stability on uneven trails.

  • Front Suspension: Independent dual A-arm
  • Rear Suspension: Independent dual A-arm
  • Travel: Provides adequate travel for typical trail riding scenarios

Tackling Off-Road Terrain

The Pioneer 500’s 475cc engine may not be the most powerful on the market, but it provides enough oomph to scale moderate hills and navigate rough terrain. This side-by-side also features engine braking, which helps in controlling your descent on steeper inclines, making it a reliable partner when the trail gets challenging. Whether you’re crossing shallow streams or climbing rocky paths, the Pioneer 500 manages to maintain traction and rider confidence.

Utility and Functionality

A Honda Pioneer 500 parked in a rugged outdoor setting, with its sturdy build and functional features on display

In your search for a reliable side-by-side, the Honda Pioneer 500’s robust utility features stand out. This vehicle is engineered to handle your work and play needs with a solid towing capacity and versatile storage solutions.

Towing and Payload Capacity

Towing Capacity:
The Pioneer 500 shows its strength with an impressive towing capability. You can tow up to 1,000 pounds, which rivals many small sedans, making it a considerable pick for your hauling needs.

Payload Capacity:

  • Rear Rack: The rear rack is ready to support up to 450 pounds, highlighting its substantial payload options.
  • Cargo Bed: While it is not a full-size dump bed, the cargo area provides ample space to carry tools, supplies, or game from your hunts.

Storage Solutions

Onboard Storage:
Your gear is important, and the Pioneer 500 offers storage compartments that are strategically placed for easy access and secure transport.

  • Bullet list:
    • Glove box
    • Under-seat compartments

Storage Capacity:
The well-designed spaces ensure that you can carry both your essentials and extras without compromising on comfort and drivability.

Work-Ready Features

When you’ve got a job to do, the Pioneer 500 is equipped with practical features:

Durable Construction:
Its construction is sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of work-related use, whether you’re on the farm or navigating through tough terrain.

Versatile Rear Rack:
The rear rack’s design is compatible with various Honda accessories, further enhancing the UTV’s capability as a workhorse. With its adaptability, you can transform the Pioneer 500’s rear rack to suit the task at hand.

Convenience Features

In a compact side-by-side like the Honda Pioneer 500, convenience is key. From a maintenance-friendly design to the variances in drivetrain options, your comfort and ease of use have been carefully considered.

Transmission and Drivetrain

Transmission: Your Honda Pioneer 500 comes equipped with a dual-clutch automatic transmission, which means you get the efficiency and simplicity of an automatic with the control of a manual when you want it. Shifting is made easy with paddle shifters, giving you the option for manual control without needing a traditional clutch.

  • 2WD/4WD: You have the flexibility to switch between 2WD and 4WD modes, allowing you to navigate various terrains and conditions with ease. This adaptability ensures that you’re prepared for both the smooth paths and the rough trails.

Accessibility and Comfort

When you climb into your Pioneer 500, you’ll notice the nets on the sides that offer an airy feel while keeping you secure inside the vehicle. Your seat is designed for support during long rides, ensuring comfort throughout your adventures. A thoughtful touch is the inclusion of a reverse gear, which greatly assists in maneuvering in tight spaces.

  • Fuel Capacity: With a fuel tank holding approximately 4.1 gallons, your trips are less interrupted by the need to refuel. This capacity supports longer excursions away from the gas pump.

Maintenance and Reliability

Ease of maintenance is something you’ll appreciate about the Honda Pioneer 500. The design allows for straightforward access to components, making it simpler for you to perform routine checks and service.

  • Reliability: Honda’s reputation for reliability extends to the Pioneer 500. You can expect consistent performance and durability that stands the test of time.

The drivetrain, comprising of a robust transmission system and versatile 2WD/4WD options, complements the vehicle’s reliability, making maintenance concerns less daunting for you.


A Honda Pioneer 500 parked in a rugged outdoor setting, surrounded by dirt trails and rocky terrain. The vehicle is shown from a three-quarter angle, with its sturdy build and compact size emphasized

In this section, you’ll find detailed specifications of the Honda Pioneer 500 so you can get a clear picture of its engine prowess, size, and various capacities.

Engine Specifications

The heart of the Honda Pioneer 500 is a 475cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine. This powerplant provides the efficiency and reliability you’d expect from Honda. It’s equipped with a fuel-injected fuel system, ensuring smooth operation and better fuel efficiency.

Dimensions and Weight

Your Honda Pioneer 500 is designed to navigate narrow, width-restricted trails thanks to its compact dimensions. With a wheelbase that strikes a balance between stability and maneuverability, it also boasts a respectable turning radius of 12.8 feet. The curb weight of the Pioneer 500 is about 1025 pounds which contributes to its agility and ease of handling.

  • Height: 71.3 in.
  • Ground Clearance: A sufficient distance between the vehicle and the ground for off-road activities.


When planning your rides, it’s crucial to know the capacities of your UTV. Your Pioneer 500 comes with a fuel capacity of 4.1 gallons, including a 1.1-gallon reserve, so you can explore without constant worry about the next fuel stop.

  • Fuel Tank Size: 4.1 gal
  • Curb Weight: 1025 lbs

With these specifications in mind, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what the Honda Pioneer 500 has to offer.

Additional Features

The Honda Pioneer 500 is parked in a rugged outdoor setting, surrounded by rocky terrain and dense foliage. The vehicle's sleek design and powerful features are highlighted in the natural environment

When exploring the Honda Pioneer 500, the additional features worth noting enhance comfort, safety, and aesthetic appeal. Each detail, from space utilization to accessory options, is designed to tailor your experience.

Comfort and Safety

Your comfort and safety in the Honda Pioneer 500 are paramount. Despite its compact size, there is adequate space for you to sit comfortably without feeling cramped. Safety features include sturdy seat belts and a protective roll cage to keep you secure. The addition of a roof as an optional accessory provides extra protection from the elements and contributes to overall safety.

  • Seat belts: Standard across all models
  • Roll cage: Built-in for enhanced safety
  • Optional roof: Available for additional weather protection

Visual Appeal

The visual appeal of the Pioneer 500 extends beyond its rugged functionality. You can select from a variety of colors, including the popular Phantom Camo, which not only adds a stealthy look but also offers an adventurous aesthetic as you traverse various terrains. The body design is sleek yet tough, reflecting both style and durability in a compact form.

  • Color options:
    • Standard colors for a clean look
    • Phantom Camo for a stealthy appearance

Optional Accessories

You have the freedom to enhance your Pioneer 500 with a variety of accessories. Whether it’s for utility or pleasure, you can personalize your side-by-side to meet your specific needs. From additional storage solutions to protect your gear, to lighting options that extend your day into the night, the accessories complement the machine’s functionality.

  • Storage solutions: Customize your space management
  • Lighting upgrades: Improve visibility for any time adventuring

Customization allows you to make the Pioneer 500 truly yours, ensuring each ride is as enjoyable and efficient as possible.

Comparison to Other UTVs

The Honda Pioneer 500 stands out among other UTVs with its compact size and versatile capabilities. Its sturdy frame and reliable engine make it a top choice for off-road adventures

When looking at the Honda Pioneer 500, it’s important to consider where it stands in relation to other UTVs, including other models within the Honda lineup and competitors in the broader market. This comparison will give you insights on its size, capabilities, and value.

Honda Pioneer 500 vs Pioneer 700

Engine and Power:

  • The Pioneer 500 features a 475cc engine, while the Pioneer 700 comes with a more powerful 675cc engine.
  • If your adventures require more torque and pulling power, the Pioneer 700 might be more suited to your needs.

Seating Capacity:

  • The Pioneer 500: 2 seats
  • The Pioneer 700: up to 4 seats with the Pioneer 700-4 variant

Price Consideration:

  • The Pioneer 700 is generally more expensive due to its larger engine and additional seating.

Honda Pioneer 500 vs Pioneer 1000

Power and Performance Differences:

  • The Pioneer 500 is quite modest with a single-cylinder engine versus the Pioneer 1000’s twin-cylinder.
  • With its significantly larger 999cc engine, the Pioneer 1000 can handle tougher terrain and heavier payloads compared to the Pioneer 500.

Technological Upgrades:

  • While the Pioneer 500 is basic and user-friendly, the Pioneer 1000 offers more in terms of high-tech features and options.

Competitors in the Market

Pioneer 500 vs Polaris and Odes:

  • Polaris models like the RZR often cater to those seeking sportier rides, contrasting with the Pioneer 500’s balance of utility and recreation.
  • Odes UTVs, on the other hand, offer a variety of UTVs that match various needs but may not beat the reliability credential of Honda.

Market Positioning and Value:

  • The Pioneer 500’s siblings, such as the Pioneer 520, provide a slight upgrade with a dump bed and higher horsepower for a small increase in price, showing the gradational benefits within the same brand.
  • Overall, the Honda Pioneer 500 stands out for its simplicity, reliability, and value in the market, particularly against the competitive pricing and features of other brands.

Pricing and Value

When considering a side-by-side like the Honda Pioneer 500, you’re looking at one of the more affordable options in the market. Honda has positioned the Pioneer 500 as a value-driven choice, especially noticeable in both its purchase price and the costs associated with ownership.

Cost of Ownership

The Honda Pioneer 500’s purchase price starts at around $8,599 for the base model. This price point makes it a competitive and economical option within the side-by-side segment. Ownership costs entail maintenance, fuel, and any potential repairs. Due to its simple design and Honda’s reputation for reliability, you can anticipate lower than average maintenance costs compared to more complex, high-performance vehicles.

Resale Value

Your Honda Pioneer 500 is also known for holding its value quite well. With an initial affordable purchase price, you’re starting off with a sound investment. As used Pioneer 500s are sought after in the pre-owned market, you can expect to recapture a substantial portion of your initial outlay should you decide to sell it in the future, especially if it’s well-maintained. According to market insights, pre-owned Pioneer 500 models are frequently listed under $5,000, indicating strong value retention.

Pros and Cons

When considering the Honda Pioneer 500, you’re looking at a side-by-side that balances simple design with capable performance. Keep in mind its primary use for light work and recreation as we examine the strengths and limitations.


The Honda Pioneer 500 showcases several noteworthy strengths:

  • Quality & Performance: You can expect a durable build from the 475cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, which delivers reliable performance for your tasks or trails.
  • Utility & Recreation: Its size is conducive to maneuvering through narrower paths, making it a competent choice for both utility work like running fence lines and recreational use such as exploring trails.
  • Comfort: A comfortable ride is provided with features like dual rate springs in the shocks, especially noted in models from 2017 onwards.
  • Towing Capacity: For its size, the Pioneer 500 offers commendable towing abilities, allowing you to transport necessary gear or small trailers.


However, there are certain limitations to bear in mind:

  • Towing & Performance: While capable, its towing and overall performance might not match the demands of heavier-duty tasks that larger UTVs can handle.
  • Comfort & Utility: The comfort level can be less than larger models with less suspension travel, and the utility aspect might fall short for those requiring significant cargo space.
  • Speed: With a top speed of 40 mph, it may not satisfy users looking for high-speed thrills.
  • Price: Though considered an entry-level UTV, the price point may still be a consideration, as newer models hover around the $9,000 to $10,000 mark.

Final Thoughts

Your interest in the Honda Pioneer 500 is a nod to its practicality and Honda’s reputation for reliable engines. At a glance, your budget aligns well with the Pioneer 500, with a 2023 starting price of $8,999. The 520 variant, slightly more advanced, stands at $9,999.

  • Handling and Stability: You’ll find the handling on the Pioneer 500 to be stable and reassuring, especially with its 9.6-inches of ground clearance that’s beneficial for off-road trails.
  • Performance: The 475cc engine from Honda’s Foreman 4×4 retooled for the Pioneer 500 should give you sufficient power with a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 4-stroke to navigate most terrains.

While the machine has a comfortable and straightforward design, the limited trim options mean less customization straight from the factory. However, the used market is vibrant, and a pre-owned Pioneer 500 could be a cost-effective choice.

Here’s a quick snapshot:

EngineLiquid-cooled, single-cylinder 4-stroke
Fuel Capacity4.1 gal
Ground Clearance9.6 inches

The Pioneer 500’s lower center of gravity contributes to a deceptive appearance, offering better ground clearance without compromising on stability. Yours to decide, this vehicle’s simplicity and Honda’s engineering could be the practical workhorse you’re looking for.

Frequently Asked Questions

When considering a Honda Pioneer 500, you’re likely to have questions about its performance, reliability, and value. This section aims to provide clear answers to some of the most common inquiries.

What are common issues with the Honda Pioneer 500?

The Honda Pioneer 500 is generally reliable, but some users have reported gear-shifting issues. A warm-up period before use and ensuring the use of correct transmission oil can help mitigate this.

How does the Honda Pioneer 500 perform in off-road conditions?

Designed for off-road use, the Honda Pioneer 500 offers a solid performance with its 4-wheel drive and compact size, capable of navigating diverse terrains and tight trails.

What are the updates in the newer Honda Pioneer 500 models?

The newer models of Honda Pioneer 500 have maintained their compact design and simplicity. For 2023 and 2024, they are offered in a single trim, with updates primarily in pricing and sometimes in features like improved suspension or added comfort.

Is the Honda Pioneer 500 a good value for its price?

Priced at $8,999 for the 2023 model, the Honda Pioneer 500 is considered a good value for those looking for a simple, compact UTV known for durability and Honda’s reputation for reliability.

How does the Honda Pioneer 500 compare to the Honda Pioneer 520?

The Honda Pioneer 500 is slightly less expensive than the Pioneer 520. The 520 typically costs about a thousand dollars more and may have additional features or improvements that justify the increased price.

How fuel-efficient is the Honda Pioneer 500 in real-world conditions?

The Honda Pioneer 500, given its size and engine, is known to be reasonably fuel-efficient for a UTV. Exact fuel efficiency can vary based on load, terrain, and driving conditions.


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