What is a UTV vs ATV? Your Guide to Choosing a Vehicle

what is a utv vs atv

Are you looking to purchase an offroad vehicle? Are you confused about which would be best for riding trails, or perhaps which would be best for work? If so, then you need to know the difference between UTVs and ATVs. 

Both of these popular machines have advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you want to do with them. Below, we answer the question “What is a UTV vs ATV?” in our must-know guide. 

What Is a UTV vs ATV?

Both ATVs and UTVs are known as off-road vehicles. This means they have been specially designed to work in conditions standard road vehicles could not. They have added height, suspension, maneuverability, and protection that can see them function in the harshest of terrain. 

An ATV is generally referred to as a quad, due to its four wheels. It looks somewhat like a standard motorcycle and is steered with handlebars. It generally only has room for a single rider, though larger models may be able to accommodate two people, one sat behind the other. 

A UTV much more resembles a car. It has four wheels and is steered using a wheel. UTV vehicles also have two seats that sit next to each other, earning them the secondary name of a side by side

ATV Pros

Both ATVs and UTVS have a number of advantages over each other. The first is that ATVs are much smaller, making them more agile and maneuverable. If you are taking them out on trails, you will find you have a tighter turning circle and can take corners quicker on an ATV.

In addition, ATVs come in a variety of models and designs, specifically designs built for work, and ones built for sport. If you want some high thrills, competitive action, the power and handling of a sport ATV may be better suited to you. 

ATVs are also much smaller. If you want the vehicle for recreation, and you may be transporting it on a trailer long distances, an ATV may be the way to go. It will also take up less storage space in your garage or outbuildings. 

ATV Cons

Riding an ATV takes a degree of physicality, that you will not find when you ride a UTV. Your core strength needs to be good, particularly in your legs and stomach. This is because you will need to turn into corners and twist with the machine. 

Riding an ATV is also less safe than a UTV. It does not have a protective roll cage, so if you tip the vehicle, you are more exposed. Protective equipment from an ATV tends to come from the clothing you wear, such as helmets, guards, and gloves. 

An ATV generally also comes with less space than a UTV. Whereas a UTV will have some trunk space, an extra passenger seat, and the ability to tow, an ATV only has the latter. For work-related purposes, you may be better with the UTV. 

UTV Pros

A UTV can accommodate a lot more people than an ATV. While smaller models may have an extra passenger seat, some others can hold three or more people. This makes them a much more social choice. 

This bigger design also comes with added safety. Rollcages and side webbing all make the UTV a much safer option. Some are so safe they can also be classified as roadworthy, though you may need aftermarket products to achieve this certification on some models.

A UTV is also a more attractive proposition if you are using it for work that requires the moval of tools or goods. They have cargo bays, beds, covers, racks, and boxes to store items. You can also choose optional towing devices for even more ways to work. 

UTV Cons

The main downfall of a UTV is the price tag. Even second-hand models will cost a lot more than the average ATV. You can expect to pay upward of $10,000 for a new one. 

The bigger vehicle also means less agility. While the UTV may be able to pull more loads, if your work involves getting into remote, densely forested areas, then a UTV may be too big and not have the sharpest turning circle. The lighter body of the ATV will also make it more able to cross soft terrains, such as bog, marshes, and snowy areas. 

Which Is Best for Recreation?

You are sure to have a great time in either vehicle when out on the trails. However, depending on how you spend your recreation time will determine which is best. 

If you want to go out with friends and family, take the UTV. It will allow you to sit together and bond as you take on some offroad driving. If you want more of a thrill and want to go alone, then opt for an ATV with its speed and agility.

Which Is Best for Work?

For outdoor work that simply requires quick access to remote areas, then an ATV is the best option. They are also better suited to adverse conditions, particularly if you add a track kit for snowy weather. They will also hold up better in densely forested areas. 

If you need to transport people, tools, and pull loads, then it may be more beneficial to go for a UTV. You have the added storage, and you can still reach many of the places you would get to in an ATV though often a little less quickly. 

Try Before You Buy

When you can answer the question “What is a UTV vs ATV?” you need to try them out. There are lots of rentals that will let you loan various makes and models, so you can decide which you prefer and which will be best for you. 

When looking for makes and models, UTV Ride should be your first stop. We have a host of reviews and helpful hints for everything all terrain. Click here to read our all-terrain news and reviews, so we can help you find your ideal off-road vehicle!