The 2023 Honda Talon 1000R-4 expands on Big Red’s existing successful four-seat side-by-side chassis with a broader stance, longer wheelbase, more suspension travel, and much more. However, it lacks the turbocharger that side-by-side lovers have been asking for.
Honda entered the sport side-by-side market with the Talon 1000R and 1000X for the 2019 model year. The two-seat side-by-side UTVs were powered by Honda’s 999cc parallel-twin engine and provided driving sensations adapted to various terrain types.
The Talon 1000X’s narrower dimensions made it more suited for maneuvering on tight terrain, whereas the Talon 1000R’s wider stance, extended wheelbase, and longer-travel suspension preferred faster romps through the desert.
The two were outfitted with Honda’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission (no belts on these side-by-sides), i-4WD intelligent traction control, and a quartet of Fox 2.0 Podium shocks.
With the release of the Talon 1000X-4 in 2020, the Talon lineup got a four-seater; that same year, Honda also provided the option for Fox Live Valve shocks. Honda’s sport UTV flock extends further with the go-faster and play-harder four-seat Talon 1000R-4, which also features Fox Live Valve shocks.
Engine And Transmission
The 2023 Talon 1000R-4, like all Talon models before, is powered by Honda’s 999cc parallel-twin engine with a 270-degree firing order and a top output of 104 horsepower.
This mill may be known to power sports enthusiasts based on the engine found in the Africa Twin adventure motorbike, the Pioneer 1000 UTV, and the Rebel 1100.
We never wished for the extra oomph that a turbocharger may bring during our journey in the Talon 1000-R4. Instead, we found the Talon powerful enough for the twisting, wooded trails and eroded hill climbs we threw at it.
On the other hand, those seeking to keep up with the fastest machines on the wide-open desert dragstrips may require a bit more horsepower.
Honda’s dual-clutch gearbox (DCT) distinguishes the Talon range from other side-by-sides by being gear-driven and without belts.
Those who have only driven CVT-equipped bikes will notice that the Talon 1000R-4’s pedal response is much sharper on acceleration, with a direct and connected sensation between operator and powertrain.
Downshifting into a bend or descent is accompanied by reassuring engine braking, which helps keep your foot off the brake pedal and the car under control. The Talon 1000R-4 shifts smoothly through its six forward gears, and drivers may take manual control with paddle shifters.
Sport mode, a new feature for the 2023 Talon 1000R-4, holds gears longer, fires off faster downshifts, and can now be employed when the Talon is in either high- or low-range gearing.
We found that twisting through the trails in Automatic mode was more than enough fun, and Sport mode only added to the excitement when the terrain opened up, and we wanted to stay in the powerband a little longer.
Sport mode came in handy when faced with steep and technical climbing parts of the route that required low-range gearing but didn’t want to be hampered by an earlier-than-expected gear transfer.
Four-Wheel Drive And Suspension
Rather than smearing unfettered power across the terrain, the Talon 1000R-4’s automotive-based i-4WD technology monitors throttle and brake inputs, sending power to the tire with the best traction. When one tire is spinning in mud or lifted off the ground, this is supposed to provide similar benefits to a front-locking differential.
There is some comfort in manually locking the front end when crossing tough terrain rather than waiting for the braking system and LSD to grab and produce traction. I-4WD, on the other hand, operates automatically, eliminating the risk of leaving a locking differential engaged and consequently binding the drivetrain.
The i-4WD technology additionally adjusts the braking force at each wheel based on the perceived traction of each tire.
While Fox Live Valve suspension is not a novel concept for the Talon, its use in the 1000R-4 is far from standard. Each corner has been precisely tuned for the Talon, and suspension travel increases to 17.7 inches up front and 20.1 inches out rear.
Choosing the Talon 1000X-4 increases suspension travel to 14.4 inches in the front and 15 inches in the back. Rather than manually regulating valves with a clicker, the Live Valve shocks monitor the car’s movements and change valves in real time to prevent bottom-outs, decrease body roll, and maintain a smooth ride. In just 20 milliseconds, the shocks may instantaneously swap across their entire adjustment range.
Several stylistic and user interface changes have been made to the new Talon 1000R-4. Chassis tubing is color-matched to the paint job of each automobile from the outside. The doors no longer have spaces for dirt and water to enter and are instead entire panels with more effective weather sealing.
Stepping inside the front seats, you’ll see the supportive seating that Honda is known for and an updated and relocated gauge cluster ahead of the wheel.
This display has not only been adjusted for easier viewing in direct sunlight. Still, it is also located in a logical location that does not necessitate a sideways glance to check the vehicle’s vitals.
Oversized paddle shifters make it easy to shift into the next gear no matter how fast the wheel is turned, but they almost totally conceal the rocker switches for the car’s lights and automatic/Sport suspension modes. The center stack was designed with plenty of room for aftermarket switches to control lights and other extras.
There is also an additional ground location upfront, eliminating the requirement for wiring for aftermarket accessories routed to the vehicle’s rear.
Passengers in the front benefit from an adjustable grab handle, and everyone gets molded cupholders and mesh gear organizers in the door. Rear passengers appreciate stadium seating that allows everyone to see the trail ahead.
The Talon 1000R-4 rides on new 28-inch Kenda eight-ply tires with stronger sidewalls than the previous Maxxis rubbers. We maintained all tires intact while thrashing through MidAmerica Outdoors’ roots, rocks, and ruts.
We did wish for a little more ground clearance from the tire department, possibly from a 30-inch factory tire (which would look fantastic in the Talon’s wheel apertures).
If you want bigger meats, we’ve heard unofficial rumors that the improved steering hardware should be able to handle the rigors of 30-inch and larger tires.
Until then, you must rely entirely on the existing skid plates to protect the undercarriage, which received no additional beef under the engine.