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2013 Honda TRX420PG Review


by Pascal Bastien ,

The TRX family now offers an impressive mix of features and attributes. Whether for work or recreation, summer or winter, short rides around the cottage or long adventures on the open trail, there's a Honda ATV for anyone and any budget.

The 2013 Honda TRX420PG is a prime example: Riders can either let the fully automatic transmission do its thing or use the Electric Shift Program (ESP) to shift gears manually. Elsewhere, the solid rear axle with swingarm and shock can be replaced with an independent double-wishbone setup that increases ground clearance and provides superior comfort.

Wait, there's more: The 2013 Honda TRX420PG is equipped with a new Electric Power Steering (EPS) that requires less effort and acts as a steering damper to greatly reduce undesirable kickback through the handlebars when riding over bumps and other obstacles. Plus, like most competitors, the TRX420PG offers 4WD/2WD capability including a torque-sensing front differential that favours the wheel with the most grip.

2013 Honda TRX420PG
Photo: Honda

ATV on a diet
As is always the case at Honda, weight is the No. 1 enemy -- and rightfully so. A lighter ATV means stronger acceleration, easier braking, and sharper cornering. The 2013 Honda TRX420PG also proves more stable and sure-footed on rough terrain, thereby reducing stress on the rider.

The machine does gain some weight (from 275 to 291 kg) when you opt for the independent rear suspension instead of the solid axle. However, it's still nearly 50 kg lighter than the majority of its American rivals.

Smooth, torquey engine
For motivation, the 2013 Honda TRX420PG uses a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder OHV engine that is longitudinally mounted (crankshaft is aligned with the final drive shafts). In addition to limiting the number of moving parts (and therefore the overall weight), this lightweight configuration allows the engine to sit closer to the ground for a lower centre of gravity and improved balance. Weight distribution is almost perfect as well, which enhances handling and tire grip. Moreover, the engine benefits from a wet-sump lubrication system for more durability.

The 2013 Honda TRX420PG is remarkably responsive both at work and in the middle of the woods. It delivers plenty of low- and midrange torque, and never seems to run out of steam. I would have liked a bit more presence at higher revs, but that's not the preferred playground for this hardworking, family-friendly ATV.

The transmission is a model of efficiency and smoothness. In fully automatic mode, it operates seamlessly, just like a car's autobox. For extra punch when attacking climbs and coming out of corners, just push the ''-'' (minus) button on the left switch to downshift manually. It's that simple!

Alternatively, in semi-automatic mode, the transmission will hold the gears for as long as you don't request an upshift -- until the rev limiter steps in. The engine brake does a good job no matter what gear or mode you ride in.

Neutral handling, superb comfort
When it comes to decelerating, the 2013 Honda TRX420PG relies on dual discs up front and a single disc in the back -- all hydraulically controlled. The brake pads feature tiny scrapers that clean the discs and help minimize wear from dust and sand.

Aided by the EPS, the suspension performs commendably on a variety of surfaces (even rocks) and the handlebar barely jerks. In high-speed corners, the 2013 Honda TRX420PG sticks to the ground and feels very neutral, with little body roll or nose dive. That's quite a feat for a utility ATV riding on an independent suspension.

On slippery terrain, the torque-sensing front differential amazes with its ability to provide sufficient traction most of the time. It may not be a fully locking differential, but you will never feel the steering stiffen up, which is wonderful.

Easy choice
Those looking for a workhorse will naturally go with the solid axle. Everybody else will gladly pay a premium to enjoy the fully automatic transmission and independent rear suspension.

All in all, the 2013 Honda TRX420PG has a lot going for it: comfort, safety and friendliness mixed with a lively spirit and just enough power. It's a highly versatile four-wheeler that can suit just about any riding style.

Flawless build quality
Generous low-end power
Safe, confidence-inspiring handling
Superior comfort with the IRS
Smooth, efficient transmission

Needs a bit more juice at higher revs
No fully locking differential