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2009 Honda Big Red Review (video)


by Pascal Bastien ,

The side-by-side utility vehicle segment is rapidly expanding in Canada, with 8 active manufacturers and nearly 50 different models to choose from. Thanks to automotive-based technology and design, not to mention innovative solutions and Honda's legendary quality, the 2009 Big Red stands out from the pack.

This new machine incidentally becomes the first-ever side-by-side utility vehicle of the same Japanese manufacturer that invented ATVs some 30 years ago.

Unlike the sportier Polaris RZR and Yamaha Rhino, "Big Red" is primarily a workhorse designed for consumers who demand a big, reliable, comfortable and user-friendly utility vehicle. It is the first-ever side-by-side utility vehicle from Honda, who originally invented the ATV some 30 years ago.

Unique transmission
For Big Red, Honda relied on the same OHV single-cylinder engine as the Rincon 680, the 675-cc, liquid-cooled four-stroke single, lubricated by a semi-dry sump system, a unique feature that considerably lowers the engine/transmission combo, as well as the machine's overall center of gravity. While the throttle is tricky to modulate on takeoff, the engine provides gobs of user-friendly low speed torque -- a must for delicate manoeuvring as well as hard work.

Torque is transmitted through an automotive-style automatic gearbox, featuring a hydraulic torque converter, and using an Electronic Control Module (ECM) to select one of three forward and one reverse gear. It also comes with three driver-selectable drive modes: 2WD with open rear differential, 4WD with rear differential locked, and 4WD with all differentials locked.

Low-end grunt combined with the added traction of the lockable 4WD system allows Big Red to overcome obstacles without breaking a sweat. Moreover, it can tow heavy loads in tough conditions (sand, mud and natural hurdles like rocks and roots) with disconcerting ease given the size of the vehicle.

Power is distributed by an automotive-style automatic transmission featuring a hydraulic torque converter.
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