HomeArticlesShould I Buy An ATV or UTV?

Should I Buy An ATV or UTV?


ATV = All Terrain Vehicles. Also referred to as quads or four wheelers. These vehicles are designed for one rider, although some do have room to carry one passenger.

UTV = Utility Task Vehicle. Also called side by side or SxS. These vehicles are designed to carry two – six passengers in a side by side configuration; some models also have a back seat.

Within the UTV category are sport UTVs and utility (work) UTVs. The main difference between these two types of UTVs is that the utility UTV typically seats only two people and has a small cargo bed in the back.

When it comes to choosing between an ATV or a UTV, there is no right or wrong choice, it all comes down to how you’re going to use it and what you need.

Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What type of trails do I want to ride?
  • Will I want to ride with friends who don’t have ATVs?
  • Do I like the added safety of the roll bars?
  • How am I transporting my vehicle?
  • What is my budget?
  • Do I need to haul a lot of weight?
  • Am I going to use my vehicle for work?
  • Do I have a bad back?
  • What is more important – comfort or excitement?


Pros & Cons: ATV vs UTV

ATV Pros

Excitement – ATVs are definitely a clear winner in the excitement category – tight turns, whipping around corners and adrenaline. This is hard to quantify, but it’s like if you test drive two cars at 70 MPH – one a high end sports car, the other a mini van.

Even in exactly the same conditions, the sports car will just be a better ride.

Maneuverability – ATVs have a shorter turn radius making them easier to negotiate tight corners and narrow trails.

More Trails to Ride – ATVs have a shorter wheel base allowing them to travel on more trails. There are some trails that only allow vehicles 50 inches or less in width. (Although there are some UTVs that are 50 inches wide, a lot are larger)

Transporting – There is “no clear winner” in the transporting category. A single ATV is lighter and narrower than most UTV making it easier to transport, but several ATVs will require about the same size trailer as a UTV.

However, if you’re a single rider, an ATV is definitely a clear winner; some ATVs can even fit in a pick up truck, so that is definitely easier.

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Price – There’s no doubt that ATVs are less expensive than UTVs, but I’d also put pricing in the “no clear winner” category.

If you’re buying it strictly for yourself, then an ATV is definitely cheaper, but if you’re buying for a couple or a family, then a UTV could actually end up being less expensive.

ATV Cons  

Limited Riders – Most ATVs can only carry one or two riders

Uncomfortable – ATVs are a lot more physically demanding to ride. If you have a bad back or achy joints, an ATV could prove to be a punishing ride.

Multitasking – ATVs simply don’t have the work horse capabilities of UTVs. Although there are trailers, plows and work attachments for ATVs, there are a lot more for UTVs.   

ATV = Excitement + Trails + Price

UTV Pros

Comfort – UTVs are the clear winner in the comfort category. Sitting down with back support vs no back support grasping handlebars – no contest.

Another attractive feature of the UTV is the option of a roof topper to keep the sun out. There are even cab kits that allow you to enclose the cockpit making it warm and cosy on cold rainy days.

Confidence – Not everyone wants to fly down the trails at breakneck speed taking turns on two wheels. For some riders, it’s enough to get out in nature and enjoy the company and the sights.

UTVs are stable and drive like a car making them accessible to almost everyone.

Easy To Drive – UTVs drive like a car with a steering wheel and a traditional gas and break pedal. This is a lot easier and more comfortable than steering with the ATVs handlebars while using a throttle with hand and foot breaks.

Usage – For people that want to combine fun + work. UTVs can carry/tow a lot more weight than an ATV, which makes them a great work vehicle for farms, ranches, cabins, hunting and large homesteads.

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There are a lot of attachments designed for UTV such as mowers, tillers, graders, spreaders, etc.

Safety – UTVs have roll bars, seat belts and optional windscreens making them a lot safer in a roll over accident.

Great for Families – For families with young children, UTVs offer an excellent fun to safety ratio. Kids will love it while parents will appreciate the safety and peace of mind.


UTV Cons

Trail Access – Some trails are limited to vehicles with a width of 50 inches or less, so larger UTVs will not be able to access all trails.

Maneuverability – With a larger profile and shorter turn radius, UTVs aren’t as nimble as ATVs

Transporting – I’d put transporting in the “no clear winner” category. Yes, UTVs are larger and heavier, but if you’re transporting 2 – 4 ATVs for a group then it’s about the same. If you’re a single rider, then yes, a UTV is definitely more difficult to transport than an ATV.

Price – “No clear winner”. This comes down to whether we’re talking about a single rider or a couple or family. UTVs are almost twice the cost of an ATV, but one sport UTV is still far cheaper than 4 ATVs for a family.

Excitement – Don’t get me wrong, UTVs are plenty fun – they just don’t have the same Wow factor of ATVs. This is especially true for the passengers: being in control of your own ATV is a lot more exciting than riding as a passenger in a UTV.

UTV = Comfort + Family & Friends + Work

ATV vs UTV: MSRP, Payload and Towing

Just to give you a quick overview of ATVs vs UTVs here is a comparison chart of a few different models to help you better decide whether you should buy an ATV or UTV.

ATV Average Capacity

80 – 120 lbs front rack
175 – 240 lbs rear rack
Total Payload – 500 – 600 lbs
1200 – 1500 lbs towing

MakeModelMSRPFront RackRear RackPayload CapacityTowing
PolarisSportsman 570$6,899270 total4851,500
KawasakiBrute Force 750 4x4i EPS$10,00088176N/A1,250

UTV  Average Capacity

500 – 1000 lbs in the bed
1000 – 1800 lbs towing

MakeModelTypePriceRear Cargo Towing
PolarisRanger 5702 Seat With Bed / Utility$10,499800 lb bed1,500 lb Tow and Payload
YamahaYXZ1000R2 Seat / Sport$18,999300 lb
Cargo Rack
PolarisRanger4 Seat / Utility$11,399500 lb bed1,250 Payload

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