Mar 7, 2020

What’s the Real Difference Between ATVs and UTVs?

Rusty G

ATVs and UTVs are off-road vehicle siblings, not twins.

With so many unique parts of the country to explore, and so few vehicles that can genuinely conquer the great outdoors, your adventures may seem limited. That is, unless you’re riding an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). These babies excel in areas that other off-road vehicles like your truck or dual-sport motorcycle wouldn’t dream of tackling.

But what if you’re looking for something more versatile? Something you can take off-road and use to complete work-related tasks? Enter the Utility Task Vehicle (UTV). Much like its ATV counterpart, UTVs can take on the rough and tumble without skipping a beat and haul heavy loads you wouldn’t dare move on your own.

Still, what is the actual difference between ATVs and UTVs? Let’s have a look-see, shall we?

What’s an ATV, and what does it excel at?

ATVs (commonly called “quads”) are four-wheeled off-road vehicles, though some have only three wheels. They’re used primarily for recreational activities like trail riding and hunting, and you can also compete in races with them.

What's an ATV

In terms of design, ATVs are compact vehicles that can accommodate no more than two people at a time: one rider and one passenger. Steering is operated by a set of handlebars, and riders straddle a seat much like a motorcyclist would.

Quick and nimble, ATVs are designed to handle pretty much any obstacle, including deep ruts, large rocks, steep inclines and declines, streams, snow, and virtually any other natural elements. These machines can handle turns and sudden changes in direction with ease thanks to systems like electronic power-steering (EPS) and 4X4 powertrains.

All in all, ATVs are a popular choice amongst the more adventurous. If you prefer exploring uncharted territory solo, go with an ATV, and make sure you find the right ATV for you—otherwise, you won’t feel confident riding it!

What’s a UTV, and what are its strengths?

UTVs, or side-by-sides (SxS), qualify as quads as well, though some can have up to six wheels for more specialized tasks. Unlike ATVs, however, UTVs are operated by a steering wheel and can accommodate up to four people: one rider and three passengers. Generally, they are faster and more powerful than ATVs, but not as nimble.

What's a UTV

Traditionally, UTVs serve more of a utility purpose, but they can also be used recreationally. They’re great for farmers and other laborers who own a large amount of land and have to transport heavy materials like animal feed, hay, and other bulky supplies.

In addition to offering riders tons of storage opportunities, these vehicles also come with safety features including a cabin, windshield, roll bars, and “occupant restraints” (seatbelts), which are considered standard on all UTVs. So, depending on where you travel and how treacherous the terrain is, UTVs might be the preferred off-road choice simply for the safety measures they employ. Like ATVs, they also feature 4X4 capabilities, but they do not come with standard EPS.

Source: UTV Driver YouTube

Finally, UTVs tend to be more expensive than ATVs, but their versatility makes them a prime investment.

And there you have it! Regardless of the powersport vehicle you choose, you have the option of customizing either vehicle to fit your exact riding needs. Either way, you’re in for the ride of a lifetime with one of these babies in tow.