2021 Honda Talon 1000X Review
Words: Cody Hooper // Photos: Drew Ruiz
For UTV Offroaders in the Western states, it’s hard for anyone to justify a Talon X over an R. Technically, it is the deal of the century: you get a full factory-engineered long travel suspension option for an extra $1,000. So why buy the narrower X model, you ask? When the trails get skinny, the X really sets itself apart. Here’s our 2021 Honda Talon 1000X Review.
- Excellent Transmission
- Eager Powerplant
- Agile Chassis
- Comfortable Ergonomics
- Factory window nets
Honda’s Talon siblings both use the same engine and driveline. A 999cc parallel twin engine looks like two high-performance motorcycle engines joined at the crank. It features Honda’s Unicam head design, wherein the camshaft opens the intake valves directly via a cam-on-bucket design, while the exhaust lobes of the camshaft operate forked rocker arms to open the exhaust valves. The engine is buttery-smooth and loves to rev.
Honda calls the Talon’s 4WD system i4WD, named so because of all the intricate sensor integration Honda has packed into this system. The i4WD system uses individual wheel speed sensors and a very smart computer to control traction at all four wheels. The differentials are essentially open most of the time, and when the computer senses wheel slip, it will apply braking pressure to that wheel. This restricts movement, causing the differential to multiply the torque back to the wheel that has traction.
Honda’s extremely high-tech 6-speed dual clutch transmission is the most technologically advanced on the market and is one of the biggest reasons to buy a Talon. It makes the engine come to life, allowing it to wind out to redline and crack off shifts with incredible speed. A selectable high and low sub-transmission allows even lower ratios for crawling. With 6 forward ratios on tap, the Honda never has trouble finding the right gear.
The transmission in the Talon has selectable automatic shift modes (Normal and Sport), as well as full-manual paddle shifting capability. Honda’s engineers did great work with the shifting algorithms, as the Talon is adept at predicting the right gear to be in even in fast-paced driving. When you stab the brakes, it grabs a downshift.
Here is the main (only) area where the Talon X and R differ. While the R that we reviewed recently featured Honda’s 4+ link rear suspension, the X uses a more traditional 3 link setup. It is 4.4” narrower than the Talon 1000R but does give up 5 inches of suspension travel out back. It still manages an impressive 15.1 inches of rear wheel travel, more than enough to slam through some big bumps at speed and keep landings soft.
Up front, the X and R both use double A-arm suspension, with the X only giving up 3.1 inches of travel to the R. The X’s wheelbase is the biggest change, as it’s a full 5.1 inches shorter than the R’s. This can be felt more than any of the other dimensional changes, as the X turns in sharper and rotates a little easier. If you were to boil the X and the R down to a black and white comparison, it would go like this: if you need a skinnier car because you ride on narrower trails, get the X. You will love it. If trail width isn’t as much of an issue, slap down the extra stack for the R.
The Talon 1000X comes equipped with Fox Podium 2.0 shocks featuring QS3 quick adjusters. While die-hard suspension enthusiasts will likely prefer a more tunable shock, the QS3 adjusters do a great job of keeping things simple enough for most drivers. The three settings are easily distinguishable from the cab and offer a dynamically adjustable ride quality that can really stiffen up if you want to put the hammer down.
As with the Talon R, the X gets Maxxis MU9H rubber. This tire is based on the Coronado but tuned for Honda’s own specifications. The tire turns in well but feels loose on hardpack and doesn’t give a lot of forward bite. A good set of beadlock wheels will add a level of durability, but the stock wheels hang onto the tire sidewall extremely well, even at lower pressures.
Interior & Exterior:
The Talon 1000X comes in two exterior color choices: Pearl Red/Metallic Gray and Metallic Gray/Metallic Blue. Sadly, the blue scheme has far more gray in it than blue, but both hues shine in the sunlight and look equally great on the car. Honda’s graphics package is neat, and we would recommend purchasing the $209 Honda lower door panels while you are at the dealership.
The interior of the Talon is a nice place to be, with good ergonomics and a fairly upright seating position. It’s a very different feel from an X3 or a YXZ but is plenty comfortable. The R and X share the same interior, with some color-matched bits depending on the color scheme you choose. One of the coolest aftermarket parts we have seen recently is a dash relocation kit for the Talon, which relocates the digital multifunction gauge to behind the steering wheel, instead of in the center of the dash.
Honda’s Talon is a fantastic machine everywhere we drive it. The engine and transmission combination is a great mixture of hardcore and overly-refined. The Talon sounds far more intimidating than it drives, which is a great thing. On narrow trails, the X model’s shorter wheelbase makes it easier to tuck into a rut and hold a line, especially when you need to pivot the car around an obstacle. It feels a little lighter than the R as well, likely due to the tighter suspension tuning keeping the car’s vertical motion controlled.
The Talon offers a vastly different driving experience than that of any other UTV brand on the market. It is the only manually shifted sport UTV that also features a fully automatic shifting mode. When you get in the Talon, you can choose to either drive it like a rally car or just like the truck you towed it down the highway in. It leaves you fresh after a long day in the driver’s seat, not buzzing you into fatigue like a CVT-equipped UTV. Suspension compliance and ride quality are good, but not quite as refined as some others yet. Honda is still new to the sport UTV game, and they’ve already hit a home run with their first offerings.
Honda’s ability to blend performance, comfort, and incredible amounts of technology into an easy-to-use package are sure to push the UTV segment forward. Drivers lucky enough to get behind the wheel of a Talon won’t want to go back to the dark ages of technology, and we expect to see more manufacturers start to adopt more automotive technology in this segment.
2021 Honda Talon 1000X Review Specifications:
ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN
- Type: 999cc liquid-cooled Unicam® OHC longitudinally mounted parallel-twin four-stroke; four valves per cylinder
- Cooling: Liquid
- Fuel Delivery System: Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 46mm throttle body
- Drive System Type: Six-speed automatic Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) with high/low subtransmission. Two drive modes with 2WD and i-4WD. Three shift modes (standard, sport, manual w/ paddle shifters).
- Power Steering: Electronic Power Steering (EPS)
- Front Suspension: Independent double-wishbone, 14.6 inches of travel
- Front Shocks: Fox Podium 2.0 QS3
- Rear Suspension: 3 Link trailing arm, 15.1 inches of travel
- Rear Shocks: Fox Podium 2.0 QS3
- Front Brakes: Dual 250mm hydraulic discs
- Rear Brakes: Dual 250mm hydraulic discs
TIRES / WHEELS
- Front Tires: 28×9-15 Maxxis MU9H
- Rear Tires: 28×11-15 Maxxis MU9H
- Wheels: Cast Aluminum
- Overall Vehicle Size (L x W x H): 9” x 64.0” x 75.3”
- Wheelbase: 6”
- Ground Clearance: 7”
- Curb Weight (pounds/kg): 1490 lbs (1492 lbs for CA models)
- Cargo Box Capacity: 299 lbs
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- Fuel Capacity: 3 gallons, including 1.1 gallon reserve
- Instrumentation: Digital Speedometer/Trip Meter with Multi-Function Gauge
- Lighting: LED
- Steering Wheel: Tilt adjustable
- Other Standard Features: Launch Control, Sport Mode, Selectable i4WD
- Factory: One Year Transferable limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan