2009 Honda FourTrax Rancher AT

Automatic Transmission, Fuel Injected, IRS, and Power Steering

Oct. 16, 2008 By Ricky Sosebee

Rancher is described by Webster’s dictionary as "one who owns or works on a ranch." Honda has tweaked the new 2009 Rancher 420AT to own and work on the ranch where is used. The newly designed features that you will find on the new Rancher AT will make your days of work come easier and bring forth a smile.

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Automatic Transmission

Honda has always brought great engineering and design to the table when it relates to the next big thing. This year we see the "AT” at the end of the Rancher name and this stands for the new Automatic Transmission. The auto transmission has a design like no others in that the ride is smooth and linear with just a slight hint that the unit is changing gears.

Now you can still power shift this worker if you just want to play but if a smooth gradual increase in speed is your desire then you’ll never no the transmission is working hard beneath you. The down-shifts can be felt a bit more as you release the throttle though. This is due to the downshift and the engine braking working simultaneously together.

The transmission has five speeds and a reverse gear. There are also dual clutches working to smooth up the changes in ratios. This is a first in ATV technology and will soon become a favorite in the working class atv owner’s list of things to get.

The transmission and engine are both bathed in the same oil, which makes the Rancher easier to maintain and also less expensive to do so. The clutch packs are designed to last the rigors of daily activity with long maintenance intervals and this keeps you busy in your business and not in the garage. Its been said that with regular oil changes one may never have to replace parts inside the cases.

With the automatic transmission comes a separate option for the gear heads in the family. If you desire shifting the gears yourself and having that kind of control it is still there on the 2009 Rancher 420AT. The ESP mode is just a flip of a switch away and you're doing all the gear-changing yourself.

This can be good on steep inclines and while hauling heavy loads, for those who just have to learn to trust the automatic side of things yet. Change is inevitable but the more you use Honda's new AT, the less you’ll feel like doing all the work yourself.

Longitudily-Mounted Engine

The engine of the Honda Rancher 420AT is a single cylinder that is longitudinally mounted in the frame. This gets the power out to the driveline without the loss of any valuable ponies in the process. The new head design is equipped with four valves and boasts higher compression with the new and larger intake and exhaust valving. The longitudily mounted engine also narrows up the rider’s area to provide a more comfortable saddle.

Fuel Injection

The fuel is delivered by Honda’s PGM-FI or commonly know as fuel injection. The throttle body on the new Honda Rancher is 34mm and has many several electronic devices such as the Idle Air control valve to help provide a crisp performing atv at any temp or elevation. The fuel spray is shot into the engine through a twelve hole Denso injector. The air is brought into the engine via the large 7.2 liter air box. The air filter on the new rancher is a foam washable unit that also helps save money by not having to be replaced each time it gets dirty. Just wash that puppy out, re-oil it and stuff it back into service. I like the way Honda thinks.

High-Capacity Oil System

Having the new Honda labeled as a comfortable worker is their goal and in order to maintain the cool-headedness of the new Rancher AT the guys back at Hondas engineering dept decided to add a new high capacity oil system that has a two rotor pump to provide better lubricity and more oil for the pressurized transmission clutches. This, combined with a large fan-cooled radiator, takes the heat out of the engine and adds life to the Rancher AT.

Independent Rear Suspension

We have discussed the power behind the working class hero and now lets get to the features that take the power and make a day in the field more enjoyable. The new Honda Rancher 420 AT has a redesigned rear suspension and this is going to make the ride and confidence in the handling explode for 2009 Honda Rancher owners. The Rancher 420 AT is a fully-loaded and equipped ATV in that it now comes with Independent rear suspension. This is only offered currently on the AT model but I’m sure that it will trickle down through the years to the other models in the Rancher line.

Independent rear suspension is important because it not only gives the rider better articulation over rough terrain but it also adds better trail hugging handling and increased ground clearance. This inspires confidence and ease of mind for the rider and his/her cargo. With 9.1 inches of ground clearance the front suspension travels through 6.3 inches of flexibility. The rear independent suspension gives up the same travel at 6.3 as well.

Stopping the Rancher isn’t an issue either due to the dual front disc brakes and the huge single driveline mounted disc in the rear. The brakes on this new Rancher work effortlessly to help the rider maintain control of their ride.

Electronic Power Steering

Lets go over the total package here and see what we’ve missed. The engine is phenomenal, the auto transmission is smooth as silk and the suspension rides like its on rails. What could be left? Let's not forget one of the most important features of all. The engineers have labored hard and came up with an electronically-controlled power steering for the new Rancher 420AT. Now you will not only feel a great, smooth running engine and rugged tuned suspension but with electronic power steering the heavy loads and off camber hills or paths will become a breeze as well.

The EPS system has several monitors that tell it how fast you are going and the given input to turn the ATV by the driver. This determines how much assistance you get from the EPS unit. The worm gear incorporates rubber dampener’s at each end, which makes the steering free play minimal and cushions the Kickback effect when you meet immovable objects in the trail. With a torsion bar inside the steering stem that reads rider input, the ECM can tell precisely what it needs to do to make the riders driving experience as comfortable as possible.

Ride Impression

We were well pleased with the results of many developmental hours in the Honda camp. The mountain ranges and elevation changes had no visible effects on the Rancher 420AT. The new Honda Rancher started with no trouble. It climbed over some really knarly terrain and to tell the truth, I was ready to go another 200 miles even after a full day of tight, rocky and treacherous mountain climbing.

The ride says it all for sure - as always, we encourage you to get out and try the new Rancher 420AT for yourself. You deserve it for all the hard work you do.


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Specifications- 2009 Honda FourTrax Rancher AT/ Rancher AT with Electric Power Steering

Model: TRX420FA9/TRX420FPA9 (with EPS)

Engine Type: 420cc liquid-cooled OHV semi-dry-sump longitudinally mounted single-cylinder four-stroke

Bore and Stroke: 86.5mm x 71.5mm

Induction: Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 34mm throttle body

Ignition: Full-transistorized type with electronic advance

Starter: Electric with optional auxiliary recoil

Transmission: Automatic/ESP five-speed with Reverse

Driveline: Direct front and rear driveshafts


Front: Independent double-wishbone; 6.3 inches travel

Rear: Independent double-wishbone; 6.3 inches travel


Front: Dual hydraulic disc’s

Rear: Single hydraulic disc


Front: 24x8-12

Rear: 24x10-11

Length: 80.9 inches

Width: 46.1 inches

Height: 45.8 inches

Seat Height: 32.4 inches

Ground Clearance: 9.1 inches

Wheelbase: 49.4 inches

Turning Radius: 10.5 feet

Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gallons (including 1.0 gallon reserve)

Colors: Black, Red, Olive, Natural Gear Camouflage

Curb Weight*: 623/642 pounds

* Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and a full tank of fuel—ready to ride. Recommended for riders 16 years of age and older.

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