With the rise in popularity of off-road vehicle recreation, it is great to see purpose-built venues and off-road resorts being created. Perhaps there is no other venue quite like MidAmerica Outdoors (MAO). We got to experience this venue during a recent Honda Talon 1000R-4 test drive event.
MidAmerica Outdoors is a massive property with over 1600 acres and dozens of trails to explore, so having a very sporty UTV like the Talon 1000R-4 was just about the ideal set of wheels one could ask for. Off Road Xtreme recently published a vehicle showcase on the Honda Talon that highlighted all of the vehicle specifications and more. And we promised to share what our driving impressions were from our Talon 1000R-4 test drive experience, so here we are to deliver.
Arriving For The Talon 1000R-4 UTV Test Drive
From the time of my arrival to the time of my departure, we were on a schedule. The Honda staff and support team are all business and hyper-focused. That meant they were set up to accept the guest, direct everyone to their lodging, and provide catered meals that ended with an informative presentation on our subject vehicle; the Talon 1000R-4.
This included touching on the scheduled rides, and of course, a safety briefing.
Immediately following dinner and the presentation, we prepared to venture onto a large portion of the MidAmerica Outdoors trail system for a swift and delightful evening run. Honda had a fleet of brand-new Talon 1000R-4 UTVs that had been decked out with many of the more than 60 available factory accessories.
MAO is a premiere off-road destination with many features and accommodating infrastructure. The terrain is primarily wooded, with some graded roads. The trail system is most easily accessed and enjoyed in narrow vehicles like UTVs, but all off-road vehicles are welcome to the park and can enjoy the trails.
Trails vary in difficulty from easily passable dirt roads to wooded trails with hills to climb and more difficult trails. Our first ride for the Honda Media Drive Event was to do a high-speed lead-follow drive through MAO’s North Place and The 88 section.
Talon 1000R-4 UTV First Impressions
Before taking off for the ride, I wanted to give the vehicles a close look over. My first impressions of the new Talon 1000R-4 UTV machines were somewhat drizzled with a mild approval of satisfaction. All Talon 1000R-4 machines only come in two color variations. You can choose from a red and white nose with a red ROPS (Roll Over Protection System) chassis with black graphics, or a blue and black nose with a blue ROPS chassis with black graphics.
I really liked the Honda red version and thought it was the most popping of the only two options, so I found an open unit and stashed my gear. Scoping out the vehicle up close and in person revealed a precision-constructed vehicle with premium fit and finish. I thought the painted plastics looked great and were a nice upgrade to some other competitor units.
The first thing I did was fit my 6-foot-5-inch tall frame into the driver’s seat to see how that was going to work out for my lengthy body. I found the seat adjustment and tilt steering wheel allowed just enough room for my liking.
Satisfied I would be able to drive comfortably, I tried out the back seat, and then the passenger seat as well and found them just as comfortable. The fitment was all with my helmet on so there were no surprises. So far, I was liking what I could see and feel.
Talon 1000R-4 UTV Evaluation Continued
The next thing I wanted to check off my list was to experiment with the seat belts, window nets, and full-containment door functions. Since these are items we touch every time we get in and out of a vehicle, I wanted to test if they were up to snuff. It is also important to verify a viable level of containment as a standard safety precaution.
Continuing to dig into the vehicle like a two-year-old toddler, I opened and shut every other drawer, compartment, hood, airbox, and anything else that was meant to open. I fingered any switch, toggle, mirror, light, or latch, and basically, if it was not welded on, I was manhandling the component. I found the Honda Talon to be well-assembled and sound.
One last thing I will mention is that there was an impressive amount of storage. There were numerous cup holders, one for each door, and another two between the front seats. There were additional door nets and storage underneath the seat cushions. From my experience, I can foresee the nets becoming stretched out over time from being over-stuffed. If you need more storage than that, Honda offers dozens of premium constructed direct-fit soft storage bags that could be fitted around the vehicle.
Now super satisfied, we strapped in, fired up the performance-tuned 999cc four-valve Unicam parallel-twin engine, flipped on the accessory LED lighting, synched up the Garmin Tread navigation system, and fell in line with our fellow UTV enthusiasts.
As a lifelong off-road enthusiast, thankfully I have been in very few off-road accidents. Each accident was without injury, and I credit that mostly to the safety products and the gear being worn, as well as the high standards of vehicle construction. Even still, in my efforts to always work on self-improvement, I just recently learned about the RideSafe Foundation and its mission to inform riders about safety, education, and certification.
I know this is something that Honda Powersports advocates as well, which was communicated multiple times ahead of the trip, again during the safety briefing, and once again in the driver’s meetings. Honda mandated that we wear helmets, eye protection, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long pants, and long sleeves.
Off Road Xtreme Gear Highlight
My personal gear selection included a Fox RacingV3 RS Slait Helmet with the MIPS Brain Protection System, Fox Racing Defend Wind Off Road Gloves, Pit Viper TerreMoto BrapStrap Goggles, some lightweight 5.11 Tactical Apex Pants, and a pair of Kuru Footwear Quest Hiking Boots. Honda provided us with a slick long sleeve event t-shirt.
I was also excited to try out the Cardo Systems Packtalk Edge which provides wireless Bluetooth hands-free communication between myself and my colleague. It was mainly for the tunes though, so we were able to rock out while we were riding.
The First Trail Ride: MidAmerica Outdoors – The North Place
Honda had us set up to run MAO’s North Place property trail system which consists of rolling hills, pastures, and some valleys too. This section is separated from MidAmerica proper by Oklahoma State Highway 127 which, in this area, is a very quiet two-lane road that we had to cross. Honda had already secured Oklahoma’s Temporary Street Legal Tags for each vehicle, so we were all free and clear with zero potential violations.
As the sun set, we were officially on the trail system. We had wide-open views with good straightaways, so we amped up the speeds. This felt like an ideal time to experience the Sport Mode High, which fosters aggressive riding and high speeds. To make it even more sporty, we used the Manual Shifting mode via the paddle shifters.
Hauling ass through the bumpy trails was hardly noticeable. The Honda Talon 1000R-4 features the Fox Live Valve proprietary control system. To summarize, this advanced technology delivers exceptional ride quality by analyzing shock movement and modulating adjustments 200 times per second. It maximizes versatility by determining the best compression-damping setting for each shock based on conditions and behavior.
We were chasing a car in the lead-follow format and had great visibility with the accessory LED light bars. For another layer of safety, each vehicle was equipped with the very brightly illuminated LED Buggy Whip. Rocking out to some music and zipping around the trails, the Honda Talon 1000R-4 made quick work of The North Place.
Pitch Dark Creeks And Hill Climbs: MidAmerica Outdoors – 88 Trail
We were led down and out to another trail called The 88, which featured several creeks and river beds with steep surrounding hillsides. The forest foliage was thick and obscured in darkness, but the Hondas were cutting through the night with the bright lights.
Our Trail Leader sent us down the middle of the waterway and then out to climb up a long steep hill. This was really the first challenging feature that we could test the Talon’s i-4wd system. Without hesitation, the car picked its way through a precarious rocky trail. The combination of brake-traction control and torque-biasing, limited-slip front differential sent wheel-moving power to any corner that needed it. This same system also helps high-speed tracking and tighter turning radius.
Overall, this evening ride was a relaxed driving experience and a nice way to begin our Honda Talon 1000R-4 test drive.
Exploring MidAmerica Outdoors Prominent Features
The next morning, I got up early for a light breakfast and proceeded to explore the MAO grounds a little. I had a little time to kill before our next rider’s briefing. The open-air clubhouse next to the pool area was kind of our main hub of activities and was centrally located to the MAO property.
Moving on, I observed the impressive pool area which would rival any resort on either side of the Mississippi River. Multiple pools, a thundering waterfall, and a lengthy lazy river that winds around a sizeable splash pad are the main features. There are multiple cabanas and a mass of shaded seating that skirts the edges of the pool area. The outdoor bar keeps everyone hydrated and cool with the thatch roof.
I made my way down the hill and noted a fun little off-road RC car track, and just beyond was MidAmerica Outdoors’ expansive short course off-road track. This race course just went through a serious upgrade when Travis Pastrana and Terry Madden came to town to help prepare for the Visions Off-Road event and the arrival of the Nitro Rallycross series.
The recent modification resulted in a very huge track that utilizes much of the natural terrain, elevation changes, and sweeping hillsides. MidAmerica Outdoors’ short course off-road track is the jewel of the property and gives this venue a prominent status as a world-class off-road racing destination. Keep reading to hear more about the short course track.
MidAmerica Outdoors Property Highlights
- Premiere riding and racing park.
- 1,600 acres of trails and tracks.
- Fleet of Powersport UTV rentals.
- Professionally designed and groomed short-course off-road track.
- Hosts numerous off-road race series:
– Champ Off-Road
– National Rock Racing Association
– Nitro Rallycross
- Other entertainment hosted:
– American SxS Takeover
– Lifted Truck Nationals
– TK Pro Rodeo and Bull Riding
– Live Concerts
- Premiere amenities:
– Family-friendly atmosphere
– Dry camping
– RV Hookup Sites
– Resort-style pool
– Open-air concessions
– Game areas
– Multiple stages for live music
– Heated power wash bays
– Laundry and washrooms.
– Sports Shop
– Legends Steakhouse
– Forever Friends Coffee Bar
Honda Talon 1000R-4 UTV Test Drive #2
The day’s planned trail ride would have us exploring much more of MidAmerica Outdoors’ wilderness. This time we would be riding through the area called The Prairie and its sprawling acres of open grasslands and thickly wooded trails. The fleet of Honda Talon 1000R-4 UTVs had plenty of go-power to zip around, up, and down the steep hillsides.
Honda Talon 1000R-4 UTV Test Drive: Launch Control
About halfway through the morning ride, we took a short break for some hydration and some media interviews. Afterward, we got back in the cars and staged so each group could experience the Honda Talon’s Launch Control feature. This is activated through a very simple series of controls via a dash-mounted switch and a simple sequence of shift-paddle and accelerator-pedal movements.
The Launch Control enables wide-open-throttle starts from a dead stop, significantly reducing acceleration time and minimizing work for the driver since the automatic transmission manages upshifts. In my opinion, this feature worked so very well. The massive acceleration left me grinning ear-to-ear and pretty much shocked at the impressively rapid pace.
The quick pace moved us to the next section which put us back on The 88 trails. We were again down in the creek beds traversing through knee-deep water in some areas. At this point, I was riding as the front passenger and noted just a little water in the foot compartment. My feet were still dry thanks to my Kuru Quest boots, but my colleague, Sean Kepler who was driving, complained that he had water up to his ankles.
We continued chasing the trails down and around, up this way and back that way, until we were directed back to MOA’s center hub. At this point, it was time to break for lunch and a cool treat after that. And by cool treat, I am talking about high-speed rips around the short course track.
Honda Talon 1000R-4 UTV Short Course Thrill Ride
As part of the Honda Talon 1000R-4 UTV Test Drive experience, two different Honda-affiliated professional off-road racing programs were on-site. One team was the Honda Factory Off-Road program which races the Ridgeline truck and Talon 1000R in various endurance desert racing events.
The other program was RaceCo-USA, a Honda-supported effort fielding the Talon 1000R in the Champ short course series. RaceCo also offers a line of high-performance aftermarket parts and accessories specifically for the Honda Talon.
Dave Mason Jr. was our professional short-course racer who piloted us around the track in one of the stock Talons of the press fleet. Mason is the primary driver for the RaceCo program competing in the Championship Off-Road Series Pro Stock SxS class.
He is an accomplished off-road racer earning the 2021 Great American Short Course Pro 2 Championship and has posted endurance-racing wins in a variety of Best in the Desert, SCORE, and NORRA classes. So needless to say, we got the full treatment on the short course thrill ride and Mason was not shy about showing us what it was like to fly around the track at speed.
Off Road Xtreme got to also experience the high-speed thrill ride sitting shotgun in the Honda Factory Off-Road Talon driven by Ethan Ebert, one of the team drivers. Both of these experiences were so absolutely thrilling that they deserve their own features. We will follow up with more content focused on that.
Honda Talon 1000R-4 UTV Test Drive Overall Vehicle Impressions
My overall impression of the Honda Talon 1000R-4 is that this is a very solid and sporty UTV. It is well made and holds up to the reputable Honda quality manufacturing. This vehicle has a lot of awesome features that come standard you cannot find on its competitor units. I will admit that the vehicle may perhaps be behind the curveball when compared to a Pro R and perhaps even the Maverick X-3. But honestly, for the price point of $25,799, it cannot be beaten.
Besides being able to comfortably fit four full-size dudes, my favorite features were the good useable power, and Launch Control. Perhaps the unsung hero of the Talon 1000R-4 is the Fox Live Valve system. I would advocate that this car could use a taller set of tires to get more ground clearance. We did bottom out in the rocky creek beds several times, but the Talon is loaded up with skid plates from front to back.
The bottom line is that the Honda Talon 1000R-4 is a lot of fun to drive and has great potential. It is awesome to see Honda continue to develop their sport UTVs. I just hope they are working on another option that will rise to the level of the other makes flagship UTVs. In my opinion, Honda fans would favor and pay the extra money for big power, big suspension, and big tire machines.