Tips, Tricks & Trends

Honda Pioneer vs. Yamaha Wolverine

A UTV, or Utility Task Vehicle, is one of the most desired outdoor recreation vehicles around. Not only can they go virtually anywhere, but they can fit two people side by side––hence the name side-by-side. Additionally, a UTV has a little cargo space and some towing capacity. Two popular UTVs are the Honda Pioneer and the Yamaha Wolverine. Each side-by-side UTV is highly capable.

They are ideal for you and a passenger to explore rocky creek beds, romp around in the dunes, or blast down a wooded trail. You’ll want one for hunting, camping, ranching, playing, and everything in between. They are ridiculously fun but between the Pioneer UTV and the Wolverine UTV, which one is truly the ultimate utility paired with ultimate fun?

The Honda engine is a beast

First things first. The Honda pioneer side-by-side UTV uses the same engine developed for the Enduro-inspired Africa Twin. The Honda Pioneer 1000 LE employs the Honda bike’s 999cc Twin-cylinder Unicam motor. And we like it. It’s not necessarily the most powerful engine in the class, but it may be the most effective. The power delivery is more than adequate from this fully fuel injected system.

a red Honda UTV Pioneer 1000 LE climbing rocky terrain
Honda Pioneer 1000 LE | Honda Powersports

Rather than your average automatic CVT, the power from the motor moves through a dual clutch system. There are three different modes for the transmission as well. And the power translates through each mode extremely well, according to ATV.com.

When you’re in Automatic mode, the gears will shift for you. In Sport mode, the gears still shift automatically, but you get some exciting engine revs in between each shift. But when the Honda Pioneer side-by-side UTV is in Manual mode, that’s when the fun really starts. The engine braking is phenomenal. While in manual and dropped into low range, this Honda UTV is an absolute billy goat.

Honda Pioneer side-by-side UTV against a white backdrop
Honda Pioneer 1000 LE | Honda Powersports

RELATED: Recall Alert: Polaris Ranger, General, and Phoenix Utility Vehicles

The Wolverine X2 engine shouldn’t be underestimated

It’s a little smaller, but not by much. The Yamaha Wolverine X2 R-SPEC SE is equipped with an 847cc parallel twin. The Wolverine X2 delivers impressive power despite the lower displacement. The Yamaha UTV’s performance doesn’t really reflect the 152cc difference in the Pioneer’s favor. Similar to the Honda UTV, the Wolverine’s engine is also fuel injected.

a blue Yamaha Wolverine press photo against a white backdrop
Yamaha Wolverine X2 R-Spec SE | Yamaha Motorsports

ATV.com’s Derek Sigler writes of the Wolverine “the Ultimate V-belt CVT transmission is a work of art.” And that statement rings true. Yamaha’s 10-year belt warranty probably isn’t often needed because the operation of this machine protects them from overuse.

a Yamaha Wolverine splashing through a creek bed
Yamaha Wolverine X2 R-Spec SE | Yamaha Motorsports

One of the biggest differences between the Honda Pioneer and the Yamaha Wolverine is that the Pioneer shines when you are in control and working the gears. Conversely, the Wolverine’s all-but-flawless transmission can essentially take over for you. It even handles the engine braking for crawl capability.

Which one should you buy?

The Honda Pioneer 1000 LE starts for $20,499, according to ATV.com. The Yamaha Wolverine X2 R-Spec SE pricing starts at $15,299. Each of these side-by-sides is equipped with extremely comparable designated off-road suspension packages. Between the two, the price is definitely one fo the more obvious differences. Each will go nearly to the ends of the earth and back. The Yamaha UTV will, however, will get you there $5,000 cheaper.