I thought I had lost this video clip. Ah…found it. I took this short video review of the new Honda Rancher 420 back in November 2006 when I was invited to take a test ride at Honda’s facility in South Carolina. I also was part of a tour through their manufacturing and assembly line plant. It was very impressive the way Honda was so efficient at their facility. At the plant they have the assembly line for the new Rancher and also the Rincon 700. I was happy to see some of the improvements that Honda made on the new Rancher. Below I have posted a short video clip which goes around the machine and showcases some of the features. I have also included a short review that was published in the June/July 2007 issue of Hunting Illustrated Magazine.
Honda Fourtrax Rancher 420 ES
It’s hard to improve something that doesn’t need improvement. That was Honda’s basic struggle as they released the new and improved Rancher 420 ES for 2007. There is no question that Honda had a good thing going with the Rancher 350; it provided years of tremendous sales and popularity. With 500,000 units sold since 1996, one would question if messing with a good thing would be bad. However, Honda timed it just right with appropriate and needed upgrades to continue to make the Rancher ATV one of the best-selling ATVs on the market today.
Honda beefed up the motor department and increased it from a 329cc air-cooled engine to a 420cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine. The increase in ponies also brought about an increase in suspension travel, going from 5.3 inches to 6.3 inches front and back. Honda also improved the braking and added dual hydraulic disc brakes in the front. Like most new ATVs that you find today, electronic fuel injection (EFI) was also added to the new Rancher providing better throttle response, improved cold weather starts, and eliminated jetting problems for high altitude riding. Honda, however, elected to stay with the solid rear axle and not provide a rear independent suspension. Their thinking on this was to keep the ATV mechanically sound with a trouble-free, solid rear axle, less weight, good stability, and to keep costs to a minimum. These considerations sum up the mission of Honda – keep things maintenance-free and for a good price. There is no question that Honda has the reputation of building the most reliable ATVs on the market. The Rancher is proof of this and also proof that many people just want an ATV that works and that they can afford. This is where the new Rancher 420 ES really shines. With an MSRP of $5,499 and the added features, the Rancher will continue to be a great seller for Honda.
The improvements on the Rancher 420 ES carry over to the overall ride and experience on the trail. The bigger motor gives a good increase in power that was much needed to stay competitive and the increased suspension is noticeable. It’s hard not to like the new Rancher 420. It has all of the basics plus a few nice additions like EFI and front disc brakes. This ATV will not blow your socks off and, when pushed hard, can easily go beyond its capabilities. However, the market for the Rancher is the everyday person who wants a good-performing ATV that comes with some nice features, isn’t going to break down, and has a fair price. The Rancher 420 has good low-end torque and Honda’s ES (electric shift) transmission allows you to control the powerband for hill climbing to trail riding or pulling a trailer around the farm. The ATV handles very predictably and the suspension soaks up the basic stuff allowing for an enjoyable ride.
Honda may have been worried about what response they would get by changing one of their most popular ATVs in history. But they don’t need to worry much as everything new on the Rancher 420 is an improvement on an already winning formula.