ATV vs UTV: 21 Pros and Cons for Choosing the Best Vehicle for You

ATV versus UTV
difference between ATV and UTV
ATV and side by side
ATV vs. Side by side

If you are considering purchasing a four-wheeler or side-by-side and are unsure of which is best for you: an ATV or UTV, you have come to the right place. I have researched this topic and have found 21 pros and cons to help you choose.

21 Pros and Cons for Choosing an ATV vs. UTV:

As promised, I will be listing the pros and cons of each vehicle to help you make your decision. However, first, it is important to know the difference between the two vehicles.

ATV stands for “All Terrain Vehicle.” This vehicle is smaller and often only has one seat. An ATV is typically seen racing around in rough terrain. This vehicle is uncovered.

In contrast, a UTV or “Utility Task Vehicle” is covered. This vehicle often sits 2-6 people. The UTV has a back carrying capacity.

These two vehicles are separate, yet they are often confused with each other. An ATV and UTV are both great buys, yet used for different reasons.

The 21 Pros and Cons for Choosing the Best Off-Road Vehicle:

X= Pro Blank=Con

Racing X
Trailer SizeX
Towing CapacityX
Your LocationXX
Showing OffXX
The feelingX

Check out our Off-Road Vehicle Page to Learn More!

1. ATV vs. UTV Prices

The winner: ATVs

ATV versus UTV
difference between ATV and UTV
ATV and side by side
ATV vs. Side by side

It is common that UTVs will be several thousand dollars more than ATVs. In this day and age, we have made a lot of progress. Both vehicles are very high tech and advanced.

However, UTVs tend to cost more for these advancements. There are more features to enjoy with the price.

Yet, in the end, we all want something within our price range. A few thousand dollars isn’t easy to give up.

The prices for ATVs and UTVs vary depending on the brand. However, the general rule is that UTVs will be more expensive.

Some UTVs will be a cheaper price. This is likely because the vehicle is lacking is some form of its capacity. However, the highest qualities for the ATVs and UTVs are very distant.

Just for comparison of prices within the same brand, I will compare Polaris and Cam-Am ATVs and UTVs.

Polaris and Cam-Am are both top tier brands that make high-quality and well-liked vehicles for both ATV and UTVs.

Polaris $7,000 -13,000$10,500- 31,000
Cam-Am$2,000 -15,000$10,000 – 30,000

As you can see, there is some overlap between the two. The highest and lowest quality vehicles match up.

There is a huge difference between the lowest and highest price. Budgeting to save up for one of these vehicles would take significantly longer for a UTV.

2. ATV vs. UTV Size

The winner: depends on your purpose

The ATV is much smaller than a UTV. This is good for when you need to go through tight spaces or make quick turns.

Although ATVs are smaller, they still use up a lot of physical energy to ride.

UTVs are larger than ATVs. This can be a pro for the concern of safety. This general size will help protect you while you are driving better than an ATV could.

The sizes for UTVs and ATVs vary even within the vehicle itself.

For UTVs, there are some labeled as sports or rec-utility. The sizes will vary based on the indication of which UTV you want.

Also, within these categories, there is still a variance of the number of seats. Obviously, the more seats there are, the larger the vehicle will be.

UTV Sizing

ATV versus UTV
difference between ATV and UTV
ATV and side by side
ATV vs. Side by side
Length (in)Width (in)
Sport117- 12364
60″ Sport106-11960
Rec- Utility116-11858-63
4 Seat Sport134-14964

The ATVs are quite smaller than the smallest of the UTVs. The smallest UTV here is the 60″ sports.

However, a common ATV sizing would be around 40- 60″ by 30-45″. This is quite dramatically smaller than the UTV. Notice, that the length and widths are closer together in almost a square.

Whereas, the UTV is very distinctively a triangle. These sizings give the UTV and ATV completely different styles and look.

3. ATV vs. UTV Weight

The winner: ATVs

The ATV is much lighter than a UTV. Because the vehicle is smaller, it is, therefore, less heavy. This is beneficial for your turf.

Depending in your turf, you may not want to be to extreme of an impact. Because the ATV is lighter, it will have less impact on your turf.

The UTV being larger and therefore heavier has more of an impact. This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you’re riding somewhere with strong turf.

For me growing up, we would ride our UTV on our lawn. My mother was very particular about the lawn looking good. So, we would have to be extra careful to not tear it up.

The weights between an ATV and UTV, just like the sizing vary dramatically.

UTV weights

Dry Weight (lbs)
Sport1,300- 1,510
60″ Sport1,074- 1,297
Rec-Utility1,287- 1,544
4 Seat Sport1,300- 1,600

ATV weights

Dry Weight (lbs)
50CC210- 225
400CC372- 645
700CC400- 809

With ATVs, the higher the CC count is, the more powerful and large the vehicle will be. As you can see, the heaviest of the ATVs is still lighter than the lightest of the UTVs.

Now, this does not seem like it would be that big of a deal seeing how you don’t need to lift the vehicle. However, the weight will impact the damage done below the vehicle.

4. ATV vs. UTV Racing

The winner: ATVs

ATV versus UTV
difference between ATV and UTV
ATV and side by side
ATV vs. Side by side

The design of the ATV is suitable for racing. Because of its lightweight frame, the ATV can easily race.

This can be taken in another way a racing to complete a day’s worth of tasks. The ATV is also quick for this too.

This is not to say that you cannot use a UTV for the purpose of racing. However, you would probably want your component to be another UTV rider to escape the unfair advantage.

5. ATV vs. UTV Hauling

The winner: UTVs

The very biggest pro that the UTV has is hauling. This is one thing that the ATV is not even close to beating.

The whole purpose of a UTV is to be able to haul around things. Its capacity to haul heavy and many things are much greater than the ATV.

However, an ATV can haul around things with a trailer attached. The ATV is not designed for this purpose, so it may not work as great, but it is effective.

From experience, hauling with a trailer attached to an ATV, you will want a good connection. Any time I went over a bump, I ran the risk of my trailer detaching. Make sure your attachment and trailer are high-quality if you are going this route.

Behind your UTV, there is what looks like a truck’s bed. This is also referred to as the cargo bed for your UTV.

In general, your cargo bed should be able to carry from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds. This is quite a large number for most any task. Basically, your cargo bed will be able to do almost any hauling job you need.

An ATV, on the other hand, will not be able to carry as much weight. At its highest capacity, the ATV trailer will not be able to haul as much weight as the lowest capacity of a UTV cargo bed.

When you buy an ATV trailer, it should specify its weight capacity. Make sure you do not go over its carrying capacity.

6. ATV vs. UTV Lifestyle

The winner: depends on your purpose

The number of seats that your vehicle holds may affect your decision. The ATV is common to have one seat. So, if you are interested in the riding solo, this is the vehicle for you.

However, if you more of an outgoing person, that wants to be surrounded by people, a UTV would suit you better. This way, you can ride with friends.

There are guidelines to riding around your UTV or ATV. So, make sure you choose the right one for you from the start. You wouldn’t want to be fined for riding a one-person ATV with two people on it.

7. ATV vs. UTV Trailer Size

The winner: ATVs

A common experience that you will have as an ATV or UTV owner is toting around the vehicle to its destination.

The ATV will not require as large of trailer size to be toted around. A 4′ by 8′ trailer will do the trick. However, a larger trailer size would be needed for a UTV.

If you do not think this is something you will need to do, then do not let this affect your decision. But, if you will be using a trailer to tote around your vehicle, know its size.

8. ATV vs. UTV Seating

The winner: UTVs

ATV versus UTV
difference between ATV and UTV
ATV and side by side
ATV vs. Side by side

The two types of seating for an ATV and UTV are completely different. Not only are there is a different number of seats, but different seating types.

With an ATV, you will be seated like a saddle, while on a UTV, you will be seated like a bench.

This is a pro for the UTV simply because it is easier. It is also more inclusive towards those who may have bodily problems with saddle seating.

Personally, I like to use saddle seating more. I feel more in charge. But, overall bench seating is better fitted for everyone.

9. ATV vs. UTV Steering

The winner: UTVs

Although there are some outliers within this concept, almost all ATVs use a handlebar system to steer.

Meanwhile, UTVs use a steering wheel that is similar to a car or truck.

I named the UTV as the owner of this pro because this steering system is more known are easy to use. The handlebar system is harder to control.

“I like being able to “ride” not “drive.” And the ATV being able to move your body around and control your weight distribution is awesome around corners as opposed to relying on throttle control for fun around corners.”

ATV user from Washington

In my experience, the handlebar system can be difficult to manage. For instance, my sister in law, who is very petite has a hard time bringing an ATV to a full turn.

When you turn with an ATV handlebar system, you really use your entire body. The experience can be similar to pulling weights at the gym.

After a long time of riding with an ATV, you will feel it in your arm muscles. It is certainly easy to learn how to use though. The idea itself is quite simple, however, executing it can be very difficult.

On the other hand, the UTV with its steering wheel is very simple to use. The turning is simple and you do not need a stronger person to operate the machine.

10. ATV vs. UTV Terrain

The winner: ATVs

Of course, the ATV is better for the terrain. After all, it is named an “All Terrain vehicle.”

The ATV is more suitable for any terrain. It can handle tougher and seemingly unsuitable terrain.

Meanwhile, the UTV is not meant to go through as rough of terrain. It is a better fit for easier terrain.

Some terrain that people ride an ATV on can be very extreme. People will go riding through what looks like just giant piles of rocks.

This is possible with an ATV. However, with a UTV, you will have extra baggage that does not work so well for the terrain. A UTV is more clunky in these scenarios.

11. ATV vs. UTV Maneuverability

The winner: ATVs

ATV versus UTV
difference between ATV and UTV
ATV and side by side
ATV vs. Side by side

Just as with any vehicle, the smaller the vehicle is, the easier it is to maneuver. This applies to ATVs being easier to maneuver.

The ATVs have an easy time going through tight spaces they can also turn easier, and alter speeds better.

This does not count as much as a con for the UTV. The UTV can still maneuver well. But, it is clunkier than the ease of an ATV.

12. ATV vs. UTV Hunting

The winner: depends on your purpose

It is no secret that an ATV or UTV is a great vehicle to have to go hunting with.

However, both can make a great hunting companion. The UTV is better if you need to carry lots of hunting gear and have other people.

Yet, the ATV is a great option to go through the terrain. In the end, you know what you need for your personal hunting situation.

A major reason that people will use an ATV or UTV to go hunting will be to bring back what they get. If you are after large animals, then the UTV is the way to go.

However, if the terrain you are going through to get to your hunting spot is rough, your UTV may not be able to go through.

“If you hunt with a buddy there’s nothing better than the UTV. Being able to toss game in the dump box and sit side by side is a much nicer way to travel around.

UTV user from new york

13. ATV vs. UTV Towing Capacity

The winner: ATVs

The ATV is a surprising winner for this pro. The ATV actually has a great towing capacity, despite its size.

The placement of the tow is an important factor in its towing ability. The ATVs tow is placed in the perfect spot to tow with full power.

Meanwhile, the UTVs tow is useful. Yet, it is placed farther away from all the tires. This makes it less powerful.

14. ATV vs. UTV Storage

The winner: UTVs

Often times while you are riding your ATV or UTV, it will be for a specific activity. This will most likely require storage.

A UTV has far more storage than an ATV. The UTV can have cab and bed storage, in which you can place large items.

Meanwhile, some ATVs only have a tiny storage space that fits a few phones and nothing more.

My favorite use of the UTVs storage has been packing a fun picnic and going in the middle of the woods to eat it.

15. ATV vs. UTV Safety

The winner: UTVs

The general frame of the UTV is designed to be safer. Rather than being opened, it is more closed and safe.

UTVs most often have safety features such as a roll-cage, seat belts, and windscreen. You can also add on options to make your UTV safer.

The ATV is more open and susceptible to danger. Although you will be wearing a helmet and goggles, etc, you may want more safety.

It is your decision towards if you want to factor in safety or cost more because the safety features cost money.

16. ATV vs. UTV Accessories

The winner: UTVs

There are simply more accessories available for a UTV. I think that the layout of the UTV has a lot to do with the ability to add things.

This is a good thing if you’re wanting to show off, or simply want to have a better riding experience.

There are still some accessories available for ATVs, however, they are limited.

Some of the most common accessories that are often bought with a UTV are a windshield, winch, dry box, and rearview mirrors.

A winch is a great accessory to have because it allows you to connect things like a snow plow. IT also allows you to tow other people and be towed out of a spot you are stuck in.

Windshields are great to buy in order to resist the surrounding weather. They are also another great safety measure. The windshields can be full or half, covering different areas.

Dry boxes are also a great accessory for both an ATV or UTV. They allow you to have all the things you need in a box to keep protected during the ride.

There are many more accessories that can be bought. But, accessories are just great to add on to a fantastic riding experience.

17. ATV vs. UTV Footprint

The winner: ATVs

The impact on the environment may be more or less important, depending on what matters most to you.

Yet, if this is an important factor for you, then it is good to know that the ATV has a smaller footprint.

A con of UTVs is that they have a larger footprint. This footprint is not as bad as other vehicles. Yet, there is still a larger footprint.

Hopefully, the environmental footprint does not completely scare you away from buying. Both ATVs and UTVs are worth it for the experience.

18. Your Location

The winner: depends on your location

You have likely already noticed this. However, the town or city you are from has a favorite between ATVs and UTVs.

It is beneficial to have other people around you with the same type of vehicle because they make become good friends and help you out.

For my town, ATVs were much more common. UTVs were hardly ever seen around town.

Whatever it is in your town may affect your decision towards what is best for you. In this case, it is beneficial to go with the crowd.

Unfortunately, I do not know what it is like in your town specifically. But, my guess is that if you look closely, you will know which vehicle your town leans towards.

19. Showing Off

The winner: depends on your purpose

Let’s all just admit it, we will never get over showing off our new toy. There’s a reason people talk about their ATVs and UTVs so often.

With their accessories, UTVs are more visibly easy to show off. You can show off the gadgets and accessories you have on your UTV.

However, when you are riding around, the ATV is very visually pleasing. It looks very “cool” and rides fast.

20. The Feeling

The winner: ATVs

ATV versus UTV
difference between ATV and UTV
ATV and side by side
ATV vs. Side by side

As you are riding an ATV or a UTV, you will experience a completely different feeling.

With an ATV, you will feel the air on your skin. The openness of the vehicle makes you feel very connected to nature.

Yet, with the UTV, the best way I can explain it is as a safari experience. You see many great things, but you’re not completely in it.

For me, I think that the ATV wins this pro because you can ride it with the feeling you would expect. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the feeling you get from riding a UTV.

If you want to experience the feeling for yourself, it is a good idea to go to your local shop and test drive each of these vehicles.

“Riding an ATV is the closest experience you can have on a vehicle to being in nature. You feel every bump, the air, and each tree limb that falls on you.”

Nicole Cervantes

21. Your Opinion

The winner: What do you think?

In the end, my opinion does not mean much. The importance of each of these pros and cons will be different for each person.

Whatever is a significant factor to your choice making, keep that with you while choosing if an ATV or UTV is better for you.

Everyone rides their ATV or UTV for different reasons. Figure out which one works best for what you want to do.

Ask yourself:

  • What will I be doing with this vehicle?
  • Do I need lots of storage space?
  • Where will I be riding this vehicle?
  • Who will be riding this vehicle with me, if anyone?
  • Why do I want this vehicle?

Great video showing these pros and cons.

My Personal Choice:

If you are wondering what my personal choice between ATV and UTV is, the answer is ATV. I have had experience with both vehicles and loved them both.

However, for my needs, I have been better off with an ATV. An ATV is a good size to go through the smaller trails that I like. And, mine has a larger seat to be able to fit two people, which is a nice perk.

Overall, I don’t think that you can go wrong with either choice of UTV or ATV. This is as long as you are not getting the vehicle for a specific purpose. If there is a certain reason you need the vehicle, then make sure the details of the vehicle match your purpose.

For me, I do such small tasks with the ATV that I did not need a very sturdy carrying capacity. Buying an ATV and a trailer was cheaper and I was still able to haul things around. The price of the vehicle has a significant impact on my choices.

So, seeing how both vehicles are still great buys, I choose the ATV. However, I had major hauling needs or I need multiple people in one vehicle, I would get an ATV.

Comparing these two vehicles is like comparing a regular car and a truck. They are both great and are used similarly. However, they have different functions.

Best ATV Brands on the Market

Once you decide whether an ATV or UTV (side by side) best fits your needs and wants, you’re going to have to look into what are the top brands to buy. As a result of personal experience and hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 ATV manufacturers. They are as follows…

  • Polaris
  • Can-Am
  • Yamaha
  • Kawasaki
  • Honda

Polaris ATVs

Originating in the U.S. in 1954 is Polaris. Polaris embarked on its path with snowmobiles before branching into a diverse range of ATVs.

Polaris boasts an extensive selection of ATVs that cater to various needs and preferences. These encompass youth models, special editions, sport-focused vehicles, touring models, and recreational and utility ATVs.

Across all these categories, Polaris guarantees formidable engines, exceptional handling, impressive speed, and efficiency, all bundled with a reasonable price point to cater to a broad spectrum of ATV enthusiasts.

Can-Am ATVs

While Bombardier Recreational Products acquired the original Can-Am brand in the late 1980s, the spirit of Can-Am continues to thrive under the Can-Am Off-Road brand. They specialize in crafting robust side-by-sides and ATVs.

Their ATV lineup includes the DS, Renegade, Outlander, and the Outlander 450/570, each starting at an attractive price of under $10,000. So, what sets Can-Am ATVs apart?

Can-Am ATVs are a testament to off-road excellence, driven by potent V-twin engines, remarkable torque, and the reliability of the Tortional Trailing Arm independent rear suspension. Some models even boast an impressive towing capacity of up to 1,650 pounds, making them a compelling choice for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Yamaha ATVs

Yamaha Motor Company, established in Japan in 1955, is a renowned brand with a rich heritage, initially gaining recognition in the world of motorcycles and expanding its production to encompass snowmobiles, side-by-sides, and ATVs.

Yamaha specializes in both sport and utility ATVs. Among their latest sport ATVs, you can find models such as the Raptor 700R SE, the YFZ50, the Raptor 700R, and the Raptor 700, all offered at an affordable price point below $10,000.

Yamaha’s sports ATVs stand out due to their performance-focused attributes, including a five-speed transmission, a fuel-injected engine, a lightweight frame, a five-valve cylinder head, and the convenience of an assist-and-slipper clutch.

Kawasaki ATVs

Any discussion of the top ATV brands would be incomplete without a mention of Kawasaki. This brand manufactures various vehicles, from personal watercraft, jet skis, and SxS to ATVs and motorcycles.

Kawasaki’s ATVs are especially noteworthy, with models like the Teryx KRX 4 1000 SE, Teryx KRX 4 1000 eS, and Teryx KRX 4 1000 eS Special Edition. These ATVs have a robust four-stroke, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine, electronic advance ignition, automatic CVT transmission, dual hydraulic disc brakes, and spacious seating for four individuals, ensuring a remarkable riding experience.

Honda ATVs

Honda is renowned for its diverse range of products, including automobiles, motorcycles, and equipment. However, their ATVs are equally impressive, offering options for both sport and recreational/utility purposes.

In the sport ATV category, you’ll find the TRX90X and the TRX250X, both available at a competitive base price of under $6,000. These sport ATVs have features like an air-cooled OHV engine, electric start, Honda SportClutch, a five-speed transmission, and a direct rear drive shaft driveline, ensuring a seamless and efficient riding experience.

For those in search of recreational and utility ATVs, Honda presents a lineup comprising the Fourtrax Rincon, Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4, Fourtrax Foreman 4×4, Fourtrax Rancher, and Fourtrax Recon. Remarkably, these high-quality ATVs remain affordable, with a base MSRP of under $10,000.

These models have outstanding performance features, including a semi-dry-sump engine, electronic fuel injection induction, electric starter with auxiliary recoil, and full transistor ignition, making them a reliable choice for all your ATV adventures.

Best UTV Brands on the Market

Now that we’ve covered the top ATV brands on the market today let’s look at some of the best UTV Brands. You’ll notice many of the same names.

  • Arctic Cat
  • Honda
  • Kawasaki
  • Polaris 
  • Can-Am

Arctic Cat UTV

Arctic Cat is an established company with a history of producing UTVs and ATVs. These Side-by-Sides offer numerous appealing features, including independent rear suspensions, powerful engines, and the convenience of power steering. Notably, Arctic Cat UTVs are designed with a focus on low weight and stable suspension, making them particularly well-suited for novice riders.

Furthermore, Arctic Cat’s reputation for delivering exceptional performance is exemplified by the Wildcat model. With their extensive experience in the industry, Arctic Cat has continually proven to be a top choice for many enthusiasts. 

Honda UTV

Since we’ve already talked about Honda, let’s now focus more on one of my favorite Honda UTVs. 

The Honda Pioneer 500 is a remarkable compact vehicle. It offers a versatile alternative to pickup trucks. Honda Motors, renowned for their precision and expertise in the motor industry spanning over seven decades, has once again showcased their engineering prowess in the Honda Pioneer.

This UTV is well-suited for various applications, including construction projects, hunting adventures, family outings on the trails, and even mining operations. Its compact design allows easy maneuverability in tight spaces, and it conveniently fits into a full-sized truck bed or a small shed, making it an ideal choice for hunters.

Notable features of this UTV include steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a spacious rear carrier with a 450 lb. capacity. While it may not be suitable for heavy-duty tasks like logging or mining, it excels in agility and portability.

Kawasaki UTV

My top pick for a Kawasaki UTV would be the Mule SX XC. It is an exceptional machine that strikes a perfect balance between the virtues of a low-maintenance, cost-effective UTV and the high-performance qualities found in the finest UTVs. The value of this versatile utility vehicle hinges on two crucial aspects.

First and foremost, its handling is simply superb, offering responsive steering and smooth transmission operation without being overly abrupt. Equipped with a 2-speed automatic transmission, I find it to be one of the simplest yet most effective transmissions available.

Secondly, the 4-stroke, 1-cylinder, OHV engine nestled within this machine generates a maximum torque of 21.7 lbs. per foot. To put that into perspective, this level of torque enables it to tow nearly 1,100 lbs. of equipment. 

Polaris UTV

The Polaris Ranger 500 is nimble and robust with very few downsides.

Highly regarded by hunters and farmers, the Polaris Ranger 500 distinguishes itself by its trail-friendly hush, gliding along the path with a near-silent purr. The heart of this marvel is its 32 horsepower, 498cc, 4-stroke engine, which is nothing short of impressive.

Regarding comfort, this UTV stands as one of the coziest on the market. It features a soft two-person bench, generous legroom, and comfortable seat belts that won’t dig into your shoulders. 

Can-Am UTV

If you’re searching for a robust side-by-side and are willing to trade some speed for sheer strength, the Can-Am Defender HD5 is the perfect tool. This side-by-side is a rugged, hefty machine, purpose-built for transporting substantial loads and facilitating large-scale projects.

Powered by a heavy-duty 38-horsepower, single-cylinder engine, this vehicle is a workfield powerhouse, boasting an impressive 2,500-lbs (1,134 kg) towing capacity. The engine’s performance is exceptional, striking the right balance between speed and raw power.

This UTV is a farmer’s fantasy. If your priority is a dependable workhorse rather than a recreational vehicle, the CAN-AM Defender HD8 represents the optimal choice for you.

To see more of our Top UTVs, click here!

Related Questions:

What is an ATV and what is a UTV? ATV is an abbreviation for “All-terrain vehicle.” This is commonly known as a four-wheeler. The ATV is often smaller with only one seat. UTV is an abbreviation for “Utility Task Vehicle,” commonly known as a side-by-side. This vehicle is larger with more hauling capacity and often 2-6 seats.

How much can a UTV tow?A UTV cargo bed can hold up to 1,000 pounds. The towing capacity can also go up to 2,000 pounds. This is also variable on the UTV itself. Some UTVs will have more or less towing capacity. An ATV can also tow smaller weights with a trailer attached.

What’s the difference between an ATV and a 4 wheeler?An ATV and a 4 wheeler are the same vehicle. ATV stands for an “All Terrain Vehicle.” 4 Wheeler is just a common term used to talk about the ATV, like a nickname. However, if you are going to purchase a 4 wheeler, you will likely want to search for ATVs.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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