Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

We Drive the Talon 1000R with the Jackson Racing Turbo Kit. Check out our Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review. 

Story: Casey Cordeiro / / Photos: Courtesy of Honda Motor Corporation

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

To say that Honda has been on the gas with their new selection of side-by-side vehicles would be an understatement – Big Red is full throttle ahead!

In the past year, Honda has unleashed both a 2-seat and 4-seat sport side-by-side, with multiple variations of each. The Talon 1000R and 1000X launched into the 2-seat sport side-by-side, naturally aspirated segment earlier this year, and those models have helped propel Honda into the #2 in sales spot in the N/A class so far. Not bad for only 6+ months on the market! Then, June 2019 arrived and Honda invited us out to Texas, where they would ultimately reveal not one, but two new vehicles – the 4-seat versions of the Talon, appropriately named the 1000X-4 and 1000X-4 Fox Livevalve edition. Also at that introduction, Honda cut the ribbons on their much anticipated Turbo kit for the entire lineup of Talon models. As if they were trying to catch up or something, Honda just about ripped the market apart and have been gassing their way to the top. Have you seen the prominent advertisements on your TV? Yeah, that’s ad dollars being spent right there…

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

The all-new Turbo kit is the thing that we are going to focus on today, and it is made by the people over at Jackson Racing. Like you, my first question to the Honda folks was, “is this a factory kit or a factory-authorized kit that was co-developed by both Honda and Jackson Racing but only built by the folks at Jackson?” The latter would be the case – Honda co-developed this Turbo kit with Jackson Racing, and Big Red’s engineers have been an integral part of the testing process from nearly the start of the development on the Talon. However, the sales will be handled by Jackson Racing, and they will also be responsible for all of the installation training, sales, and whatnot.

At the end of the day, possibly the best part about this kit is that you can include it in the financing that you apply for when purchasing a Talon from your dealer. So, if you are approved, you can literally take home a Talon Turbo from the dealer with no miles on it. If financing isn’t your jam, then a check for the whole enchilada works well, too…

Back to the stuff that matters… like the power! But, first, let’s go over the basics.

Jackson Racing designed this Turbo kit to be a completely bolt-on solution, meaning you don’t need to worry about taking the engine apart. No upgrades are needed to the engine internals, axles or CV’s, and the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) is also ready to rock with the added power. Again, since this system was in development right from the start, the Honda engineers made sure that the increase in power was able to be routed through all of the stock components. If you’re not going to install a Turbo, then you should also rest easy knowing that the stock components are tough enough for over 60% increase in power.

Yes, the entire Turbo system is going to produce an increase of about 60% in horsepower at a mere 8 psi of boost pressure. For those calculating it out in your heads, I’ll spare you the math and tell you that 104 stock horsepower turns into about 166 Turbo’d horsepower. Basically what that says is, let her breathe!

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

When you look at this kit, you’ll first notice the quality components that it includes. It all starts with the Garrett turbocharger, which is hooked up to a CAD-designed intercooler with cast aluminum end tanks with a high flow SPAL fan for maximum cooling. There is also a CAD-designed cast aluminum intake manifold that ensures accurate throttle response is maintained along with even runner distribution. The manifold is a TIG-welded 304 stainless steel unit with a strong, heavy wall design for reliability. If you’re like me and like your vehicles to be total sleepers when you pull up to the start line, then you’ll appreciate how this whole system hooks into the stock exhaust. If you’re a “loud and proud” type of person, well, then you’ll have plenty of aftermarket exhausts to choose from in the future. To finish off the Turbo system, a factory ECU reflash is provided with the Jackson Racing ECU tuning tool. This new tune optimizes all engine and transmission calibrations for proper performance dynamics on 91-octane fuel. The DCT mapping schedule is redone for optimized feel and performance with the Turbo, too.

Again, it is entirely worth mentioning that the Jackson Turbo kit requires no drilling, welding, or internal engine modifications to install. The entire system takes less than 8 hours to install, and the Honda engineers say that installation will take around 2-3 hours after installers get their experience up. In addition to the 2-seat Talons working with this turbo kit, the 4-seater will also be able to accept this bolt-on Turbo kit as well. So, if you love the open desert or the dunes, and you want more power, this is the solution. CARB-certification is expected, too, for those of you who live in California. The whole kit retails for $5799, and it will be available at the end of Fall 2019.

So, the fluff is great, but we, again, want to know how it drives!!

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

Our test session involved one Talon 1000R 2-seater that was equipped with the Jackson Turbo kit on the beautifully groomed track of TexPlex park, which is located in Midloathian, Texas. This should immediately tell you a couple things. First, we only got about 2 laps in this Turbo-equipped 1000R, so our findings are a bit limited at this point. However, even with this limited seat time paired with the fact that we were on a closed course at low elevation, we still got a great feel for this vehicle because the track offered up so much diverse terrain.

Right off the crack of the throttle, I noticed that the stock exhaust truly does suppress any additional noise that this vehicle might put out. It’s quiet, and I like that. Again, total sleeper! When you start opening up the throttle a bit, that’s when you notice that this machine isn’t a regular Talon – it’s got steroids ready to be unleashed!

One of the best parts about the altered powerband was the low RPM that all of the power comes on. I loved that the additional power built all the way from the low RPMs. Plus, where the Talon engine normally signs off up in the top RPMs, the Turbo-equipped engine just keeps pulling all the way to redline. The R&D teams did a phenomenal job putting together a kit that delivered at all RPMs, and I truly believe you’ll love the increase in power all throughout the RPM range if you put this kit on a Talon.

In addition to the power enhancements, you’ll notice the slight whisper of the Turbo blow off valve being used when you let off of a hard throttle. That noise is addicting, and you’ll find yourself trying to make the engine do this so you hear it more and more.

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

When I was paying attention to how the power was transferred to the ground, I noticed a couple things. First, the DCT transmission still puts off lightning-fast shifts. Just like the N/A Talon, I still like to use manual shifting more than letting it sing in automatic, sport mode. I’m really not sure I would change anything on the DCT, it is just a really solid unit. And, I really like how the takeoffs are still smooth from idle. For those of you who are going to use a Talon in the rocks, you’ll appreciate how the Turbo-equipped engine doesn’t suffer in the driveability department. Low range is still low (thanks to that dedicated transfer case!), and you’re going to be able to crawl with this car easily at about 3 mph. Second, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the stock Honda Talon components are more than capable of handling this additional horsepower. The Turbo-equipped UTV still feels right at home with the extra horsepower, and that is a wonderful thing. I wasn’t worried about spitting axles/CV’s out the back, even on the double jumps that we were flying over on this track.

So, lots of good driving dynamics are apparent with this high horsepower Talon, and it handles just like the stock model to boot. Driving dynamics are mostly positive here. The Talon turns well with it’s point-and-shoot handling dynamics. It has precise steering with well weighted EPS calibrating, and it doesn’t do anything “funny” to make you feel like you’re out of control, even when throwing it into corners completely sideways, which is now easy to do with all of this additional horsepower. Frankly, the horsepower difference between stocker and the Turbo unit is so noticeable that I didn’t want to go back to the stock unit after driving this Turbo car. It truly just makes the Talon better in every way, and I appreciate the excellent tuning that everyone put into this kit. If you get one, you’ll truly love it, too.

One thing that the Turbo-model does bring to light is that the stock springs are still way too stiff for this stock vehicle. We found “the buck” in the back of this car to be even more prevalent because I had more power to go through the obstacles compared to the N/A vehicle. A bit of shock tuning would be very helpful on this vehicle, and it would be the first thing I would change.

Another thing that really puzzles us journalists is how Honda put these specific tires on the Talon lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I like the tread design as it relates to the vehicle, but the design doesn’t lend itself well to actual performance. If you like to spin your tires, do donuts, or lack forward grip, these tires are for you. If you’re like most of us, we’ll be switching out the stock meats right away to get some better handling characteristics, including better forward bite, more precise steering when the terrain gets loose, and more sidewall to give the tire carcass a bit more give overall. You can still feel every bump in this machine, even through the well bolstered and padded stock seats.

Granted, those two negatives can be easily fixed, and they don’t directly relate to the Jackson Racing Turbo kit. As a whole, I figured you should know that a couple changes made to the Talon would greatly improve your experience with it, though.

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

Honda Talon 1000R Turbo UTV Review

So, at the end of our test drive, would we buy this kit for ourselves? The answer to that question is unapologetically, YES! It’s worth every penny! And, the best part about the Jackson Racing Turbo kit is that it makes an already capable and great all-around UTV even better. The Talon is a true winner in the N/A sport category, and we can’t wait to get more seat time in a Turbo-equipped model.

Keep asking your dealer when they’ll be getting a Jackson Racing Turbo kit in stock. We look forward to seeing them on many of your rides!

Until next time, be safe on the trail, and we’ll see you out there!


Also, see our UTV Review of the Yamaha YXZ1000R SS SE with a GYTR Turbo Kit installed.

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