ATVs vs UTVs – what are the differences?
In the offroading world, there are several different types of machines available. dune buggies, dirtbikes, SUVs, and of course ATVs and Side by Sides. And even though ATVs have always been the most popular offroader, it seems that those days are over. Side by Sides are fast becoming the best sellers when it comes to OHVs. Now, I have some people that tell me that they do not know what are the differences between them and I have had people ask me which of both should they buy as their first purchase. and that is obviously going to depend a lot on what are they going to be using the machine for.
The difference between ATVs (All Terrain Vehicle) and UTVs (Utility Task Vehicle) can be noticed in the name. ATVs are mostly made for recreation or sports use. they generally have a stiffer suspension that increases performance and makes the quad maneuver much better in a trail. they feature reduced weights that increase acceleration rates. and they usually have a powerful 4 or 2 stroke gas engine tuned for performance. UTVs Are generally bigger and heavier. they are more spacious which allow you to load things and even multiple people on it. some UTV features diesel engines for plowing, towing and for better fuel economy. their suspension setups are typically softer.
Now, just because they have certain characteristics doesn’t mean that they are useless in everything else. like I said, I have seen people using their ATV to plow snow and other utility work and I have seen UTVs be used to ride fast in a sandy dune. modern ATVs and UTVs are pretty uniform in their characteristics and very well made with affords some versatility to them. So you really can’t go wrong with a UTV or an ATV. there are other things to keep in mind if you are deciding between a UTV and ATV, like:
Do you offroad exclusively for fun?
This is the first question that you must answer so that you get the best quad. what are you gonna do with it? do you want to go fast in a straight line? do you enjoy feeling the wind in your face? if all that applies to you, then getting an ATV is the best choice.
Other perks of getting an ATV is the nimbleness of them. there are some modern light quads that are very go karty and zippy. this is something that most UTVs can’t really offer because they are just too fat. if you are looking to race or like riding in a motocross bike then ATVs will be your roll.
Will you use your quad for gentler rides?
Some ATVs, depending on the size, might not have the most comfortable suspension. and you will feel that everywhere that you go, no matter the speed. if you are on a farm or somewhere similar and you want to enjoy the scenery, then you are gonna have to be prepared to feel a lot of bumps too. another thing is when you want to ride with another person. this is really fun especially when you are trying to offroad, but it might be hard to get 2 people in an ATV and be comfortable because they are quite small.
Fitting 2 full-size adults is not plausible for most normal ATVs. this is where the UTV come to play because they are very spacious and very comfortable. you can easily get your wife or your kids to ride with you without any problem. so if you are thinking of getting something that can be used by the whole family, then the answer is the UTV.
What is your budget?
Some of the other reasons people pick one over the other are the pricing. it’s no secret that these little machines are really expensive, especially in the US, where they experience a price markup over other countries across the world. it’s sad but there’s not much that we can do about it. so as people try to save as many dollars as possible on these rides, they also start buying the cheapest ones when possible.
And the cheaper of the 2 is the ATV. this is because ATVs are simpler to make and they cost the manufacturer less to make. and it makes sense. in a car brand, the most expensive models are usually the bigger, heavier ones, and in the Quad industry, it’s no different. also, something to consider is that since UTVs have always been one of the preferred tools for farmers, their price increases just for these reasons. UTVs will always be more rugged and versatile than ATVs, and that reflects in pricing. they cost more, and they depreciate less. so if you are looking for something more affordable, get an ATV.
UTVs are more secure than ATVs
If you are buying this for someone else, and you are a little bit worried about their safety, then go with a UTV. UTVs generally have more plastic in the footwell and in the wheel fenders, which means that its harder to stick a body part there by mistake. it’s also harder to roll over in a UTV. this is not only because of its weight but because of its balance distribution and because most UTVs are 4WD, which can make it safer for you and your family.
However, I’m not saying that you should not take safety precautions. no matter if I’m riding a UTV or an ATV, I would still install some safety gear like nerf bars and buy safety equipment. the minimum I would get is boots, helmets and chest protector.
ATVs break more often than UTVs
Yes, you heard that right. I know a lot of people in real life and in forums and the consensus seems to be that ATVs simply will break down much faster than UTVs. maybe this is because they are subject to lower quality control since they are less expensive. so if you are looking for something that is gonna last you a long time, it might be wise to get a UTV.
But maybe its simply that ATVs take more of a beating. ATVs generally live a hard life, toiling around in a trail, with the suspension most roughed up. so maybe that might be the reason and not that ATVs have inferior build quality.
There are less UTV brands available when compared to ATVs
There’s much less of a selection when it comes to UTVs to ATVs. the typical Utility brands available include Kymco, Arctic Cat, Can-Am, John Deere, Honda, Suzuki, Polaris, and a few other smaller ones. and that compares to a much bigger selection of ATV brands.
So if you are looking for originality, then going for an ATV might be a better idea, since you can find an exotic brand much easier.