Honda debuts two new four-seater side-by-side UTVs, one with semi-active suspension
Less than a year after sliding into the market, Honda has extended its Talon range of high-performance side-by-side UTVs with a pair of four-seater go-anywhere adventure machines you can take the whole (small) family rock hopping in.
If you're lucky enough to live in the sort of place where you can actually use one of these things, your list in UTV choices just got a bit longer. As a category, they're absolutely hysterical fun to drive, with truly incredible go-anywhere capabilities that turn just about any terrain into a playground. But since there's very few places where they're road-legal, side-by-sides are very much niche machines for racers, desert dwellers, big land owners and folks with the patience and towing capability to move them around.
No matter, we're of the opinion that everyone should get to experience these mad vehicles, with their long-travel suspension, go-anywhere tires and stripped-back sideways driving experience. And these two new Hondas make it easy to squeeze two more passengers in the back for a carful of hootin' and hollerin'.
The Talon 1000X-4 comes in two flavors: plain and Fox Live Valve. In essence, both are extended versions of the Talon 1000X, which is more focused on tight, gnarly work than the higher-speed 1000R. The extended frame allows a pair of stadium-style rear seats, which lift the passengers in the back up higher for better visibility.
Both four-seaters appear to share the same inline twin 999cc engine and dual-clutch paddle-shift auto transmission as the two-seaters, putting them at around 104 hp if nothing's changed. The drive train is AWD, naturally, and there's a high/low ratio subtransmission so you can drop the gearing way down and lug them over nasty rock formations or up super-steep climbs. Electronic brake force distribution helps keep individual wheels from slipping on tricky downhills, and there's hill start assist and i-4WD "traction aiding technology" to keep things in line when you're not enjoying getting super loose.
The vanilla model gets Fox Podium Quick Switch 3 shocks, with 14.6 in (370 mm) of front wheel travel and 15 (380 mm) at the rear. These let you jump out and quickly switch the damping into three different modes to suit what you're up to that day.
But the far saucier Fox Live Valve version offers self-tuning semi-active suspension that as you go reads the terrain, your speed, driver inputs and a ton of information from a five-axis IMU, to constantly tune and refine your suspension settings for the best possible control, comfort and grip. There are two modes you can use to give the suspension a general idea of what you need – Normal and Sport – but otherwise, you'll just sit back and let the shocks tweak themselves 16 times per second and enjoy the ride. This model also gets launch control, but since you're unlikely to be racing a four-seater, that seems to be mainly for giggle factor.
Both of these four-seaters will hit the showrooms sometime in the US Fall of 2019, and you'll be able to tell 'em apart visually by looking for the orange/black paint job that designates the Live Valve version. No prices are available as yet.
Check out a promo video below that shows how much of a laugh these things would be.
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