Honda Talon 1000X-4 Off-Road Review: Dedicated Ride for Rocky Terrain
I’ve been very fortunate to attend eight driving schools. This one was definitely the slowest, but the fun factor was unquestionably among the highest. I was driving a four-passenger Honda Talon 1000X-4; a fantastic machine for the miles of trails present in the northwestern region of Maui. Yes, that Maui.
Featuring stadium seating for the rear passengers, Honda Talons are quite accommodating. Utilizing a 116.4-inch wheelbase (think Dodge Challenger), they are powered by a 999 cc parallel twin-cylinder engine. The acceleration was very good, even with the throttle rarely pinned to the floor. When was the last time you said that about a rental car – or off-roader?
(Full disclosure: The author drove the Talon as part of a corporate, guided expedition. He paid for the expedition out of his pocket.)
Combined with the six-speed, dual-clutch transmission, acceleration was more than adequate with two adults aboard and the four-occupant Talons had no problem keeping up. Motor Trend reported the engine as producing 104 horsepower. Checking the specifications, the Talon also meets CARB and EPA emissions requirements. The two-cylinder engine did get buzzy at higher speeds, as we found out early during the drive.
The front suspension is a double-wishbone design with 14.4 inches of suspension travel. That is 1.4 inches more than a Ford F-150 Raptor. The rear suspension is a three-link trailing arm type that offers 15 inches of travel, also besting the Raptor by 1.1 inches. Considering the terrain we were driving on, the ride was busy and bumpy but not nearly as bad as one would think.
Weighing under 1,740 lbs with all fluids and a full tank of gas (7.7 gallons), the Talon is obviously very light. It felt nimble and tossable on every segment of the trails. The thought of getting air is something you look forward to.
The wheelbase is actually longer than that of many cars, yet the turning radius of 21.3 feet is a third less than what’s on offer from most passenger cars and made blind U-turns easy to handle. The quick steering also meant the countersteer corrections necessary in the slippery sections were immediate.
I was driving the Talons as part of an off-road adventure/expedition, and when I queried our hosts about the reliability of the Hondas, the reply was that they are essentially bullet-proof. Neither the harsh environs or the abuse heaped upon them by tourists seems to do much damage. There were some complaints about the availability of replacement parts, but it’s unclear if that’s a Honda issue or a location issue. It’s never easy to get parts to an island, ya know.
We drove either 2019 or 2020 models, but for those interested in pricing one out, the 2021 models start at an MSRP of $19,999 and go up to $23,099 for two-seat models. The four-seat 1000X-4 model we drove had an MSRP of $21,999, with a max price of $23,999. The only difference besides the number of seats is the addition of Fox suspension components.
A corporate outfitter led us in a caravan of six vehicles. We moved at a pace that was brisk, but not alarming, over trails consisting primarily of dirt and rocks, with lots of tight turns, bumps, hills, and dips. In addition, there were sections of mud and of red clay dust.
We passed through forests and fields, cliffsides above and below, muddy bogs, branches that slapped the vehicle, and a surprising amount of tall grass along the center of the trail. We did slow, cautious speeds at tight, blind turns. The very narrow trail, rocks, and bumps contributed to the sensation of speed, which, by the way, rarely nosed over 40 mph. Still, at least one driver caught air. Didn’t we mention that we’d have loved to have caught some air?
The seating position in these Hondas is only adjustable fore and aft, and if you’re over six feet tall you may feel a little cramped in the legs. Driving was done in high gear and automatic mode. If this kind of adventure tickles your fancy, keep in mind that throttle response in Sport mode was too jerky for this type of off-roading. On the other hand, occasionally I would pull on the right paddle to upshift just to quiet the engine a bit. Even then, I still had plenty of torque to keep up.
You don’t have to go to Maui to experience this sort of off-roading. And given the recent spikes in Covid cases, you may not want to set foot on/in a commercial aircraft, anyway. But should you live within shouting distance of the kinds of trails a Honda Talon is meant to tackle, 20 large will buy you a nice little toy that makes quick work of tough trails.
[Images © 2020 Rob Eckaus/TTAC, Honda]
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
- ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
- Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
- Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
- Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.