What is a UTV? A Beginner’s Guide with Pictures.

What is a UTV
Off road UTV

My family owns a UTV and it has become a very useful tool that we use in our day-to-day lives. Many people don’t know too much about what UTVs are so I did some research to make this UTV beginner’s guide.

What is a UTV? Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs) are small, four-wheel drive, off-road vehicles that hold 2-6 people. They are equipped with seat belts and a rollover cage and are driven by using a steering wheel with pedals for the break and gas.

UTVs are only getting more and more popular. They are extremely versatile and can be a fun joy ride for the whole family. Continue reading this beginner’s guide to learn more about UTVs and their features to see what makes them so special.

What are UTVs Used for?

As mentioned previously, UTVs are extremely versatile. They are made to endure just about every type of terrain which allows them to thrive just about anywhere that they go.

People from all over use them for help on the job site, while others prefer using their UTV for the fun. Many use their UTVs for both!

UTVs for Farming and Heavy Duty tasks

Many farmers find UTVs to be a great resource and help to their day-to-day lives. UTVs are extremely convenient for transporting heavy duty loads of items. Due to its engine that is similar to that of a car, the UTV never fails to impress with how much it can carry.

Farmers often use them for transporting things around the farm whether it be crops or food for their animals.

My grandpa owns a ranch and has used his ATV to haul many different types of things around for years. Large amounts of wood, paint, and heavy boxes, the UTV he has can handle it all without a problem.

Related Reading: Best UTV, Side by Side, for the Farm

UTVs for Snow Removal

UTVs can easily be equipt with plows during the winter time. With this attachment, they can move snow around with ease. It’s so simple that anyone can do to and so efficient that going back to shoveling by yourself seems crazy!

My grandpa’s UTV has been proven time and time again to be extremely useful with snow. He lives in the Rocky Mountains where the winters get harsh.

In the mornings he simply attaches a plow onto his UTV and in no time he is able to clear his whole driveway (keep in mind that he is 85 years old!). Due to the cover on the top and sides, he is safe, sound, and able to keep warm inside his UTV despite how bad the weather is around him.

Related Reading: Snow Plows for UTVs

Side by Sides for Hunting

With the large carrying capacity provided by a UTV, these vehicles have become widely popular amongst hunters. Their thick tires and off-roading capability makes it easy to get to wherever they need to go and haul back the meat from a successful day of hunting.

Thinking about this now we never used my grandpa’s UTV for hunting purposes, but I really wish we would have! It can totally erase the need to walk miles with the meat of your kill in your backpack. UTVs make hunting much more convenient and less painstaking.

Side by Sides for Golf Courses

UTVs are often seen on golf courses. They aren’t golf carts, however, but both vehicles do look pretty similar. UTVs are much larger.

Not only do they have more space to put things like bags and clubs, but their large engine allows them to have a much bigger carry weight as well. Many people prefer a UTV over a golf cart because of its turn signals, headlights, and seat belts.

UTVs for Fun and Racing

If you thought that UTVs are only for work, think again! I can remember going through the mountains with my grandpa just for fun! They are great for off-roading and can handle tough terrains.

Some types of UTVs are small and perfect for going down trails and through forests. Due to the UTV’s roll cage, the rides like these are much safer unlike those of ATVs.

Believe it or not, UTV racing is becoming quite popular. MotoSport carries parts for UTVs that enables them to race! Some are built to be super fast and cut corners easily.

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

Why UTVs Are Different Than ATVs

what is a UTV

If you don’t know why UTVs are so much different than ATVs, don’t worry! I was really confused about that at first when I heard about the two as well. Both are very similar and serve for similar purposes, but there are some big things that differentiate the two of them.

Related Reading: ATV vs. UTV: 21 Pros and Cons of Both

Structure of UTVs

The general structure of both vehicles differs quite a bit. UTVs have a side-by-side seating arrangement and are equipped with a steering wheel and pedals like a car to break and gas. They also have seat belts and a cover over the top that provides rollover protection.

ATVs, on the other hand, are steered by handlebars and they are gassed by a throttle. They are not even close to being as safe as UTVs are due to the lack of a cover for rollover protection and no seatbelts.

UTV Rider Limits

UTVs resemble cars in the sense that they carry two people in the front and usually two-three more in the back. Some are even made to carry more people than that. This can be nice for larger families or even for people who just need the extra back-seat space. ATVs are typically only made to carry one to two people.

Carrying Capacity of UTVs

UTVs are longer and wider than ATVs are. While most ATVs only carry between 125-400 lbs worth of weight, a UTV’s payload runs anywhere between 800-1350 lbs.

Stability on a UTV is increased when carrying these heavy payloads because most of the weight is positioned below the fenders while ATVs carry weight above them.

Some UTVs are even designed to tow. There are a few models that have the capacity to tow up to 2,000 lbs worth of weight. Generally, ATVs can usually only pull about 1,000 lbs.

UTV’s Superior Safety

In terms of safety, UTVs win by a landslide. The rollover cage and seat belts make them much safer than ATVs. Many UTVs also have hard tops, windshields, and even cab enclosures. All of these things together ensure that if an accident does happen to occur, the rider will be protected.

ATVs are known to be pretty dangerous. Similar to sitting on top of a motorcycle, those who ride ATVs don’t have anything around them that is part of the vehicle to offer any protection. While going up hills it is common for ATVs to roll backward and crush the rider if he/she doesn’t have much experience with controlling the vehicle.

Years ago my aunt got into a horrible accident with an ATV that wouldn’t have even occurred if she was in a UTV. She was in the mountains scaling a hill when the ATV rolled back on top of her and broke her back. There was no rollover cage to protect her from something like that.

Why UTVs Are the Better Choice For Many?

My grandpa owns a few ATVs and has actually had them longer than he has had his UTV. Ever since he purchased his UTV he has hardly had any need for his ATVs.

I feel like I am safer and have way more control and power when I am in his UTV. Over the years, however, I have had lots of fun driving around his ATVs with my cousins through the mountains.

My intention of this section of the guide was not to point out all of the pros to UTVs while only touching on the cons of ATVs. It really does appear that someone took the concept behind the ATV and improved it in every way and wound up with UTVs.

In terms of safety, carrying capacity, and rider limits I highly recommend the UTV, especially for a beginner. However, both vehicles are versatile, helpful, and fun. I just find the UTV to be better than the ATV in every way.

Best UTVs on the Market

There are tons of great companies that make phenomenal UTVs. The plethora of choices may even seem overwhelming to a beginner! Don’t worry, I have some details and reviews on some the best UTVs that are out there.

In my opinion, the best all-around UTV for a beginner that is on the market is the Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail. This vehicle has been one of the best there is for years now. It is priced at about $13,000 new which is really good compared to other makes and models.

It is equipped with a 700cc which gives it all the power that you’re likely looking for. It is narrow and measures in at 50″ wide which makes it perfect for riding through trails and tight areas.

Here is a quick video of a review of the Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail UTV.

Looking for some more options? Below is a table of some of the best UTVs that specialize in different types of tasks that would be great picks depending on your situation:

NameSpecializationPrice (new)
Arctic Cat Wildcat TrailAll-around $13,000
Honda Pioneer 1000-5Heavy Duty Work$16,500
Kawasaki Mule Pro FXTFamily-sized$13,000
Yamaha WolverineTrail runner$11,000
Yamaha YXZ100RSpeed and Performance$20,000
Kawasaki SX XCThe Budget Option$8,400

The Heavy Duty UTV

If you’re looking for something strong that can haul as much as you can give it, the Honda Pioneer 1000-5 is what you’re looking for. This UTV is priced at about $16,500, but don’t let that scare you because this vehicle has a towing capacity of 2,000 lbs. It can carry more than four passengers and is powered by a 999cc engine!

The power behind this vehicle is just incredible. I can guarantee that it would never fail to impress you. For any farmer, worker, or someone looking for straight power I’d recommend that you put this UTV high on your list.

The Family Friendly UTV

Bigger families or people who love to UTV around in groups love the Kawasaki Mule Pro FXT because it is made to fit up to six people! It has a ton of torque making it an excellent mule for work. It is priced at about $13,000 and this UTV even comes with a 3-year warranty which is pretty much unheard of in the UTV industry.

Basically, if you want space, this is your vehicle. Whether you use that space for more people or to put haul more things at once, this is the way to go.

The UTV for the Trails

The Yamaha Wolverine is priced at a cheaper $11,000 new and is perfect for hitting the trails. With its 708 four-stroke engine and CVT transmission, this vehicle is not only reliable but has excellent handling for blasting through the trails and forests.

It is quick, agile, and reliable. What more do you need for trail running?

Speed and Performance

The best UTV there is in regards to speed and performance on the market is the Yamaha YXZ100R. For $20,000 one can buy this UTV that has a 1,000cc triple cylinder engine, 5-speed sequential manual transmission, and a long travel suspension with Fox Podium RC2 shocks. This UTV is also fantastic for cruising through sand dunes.

Once you see this you will fall in love with it. It is a beautifully made vehicle that will go as fast as you want.

The Budget Option

Looking to spend less on a UTV that is still good to get you by? The Kawasaki SX XC is a much cheaper but still reliable option. Buying this UTV new costs about $8,400.

It is simple but still reliable and great for chores around the job site, farm, or ranch. This UTV is also good with trails. It has a 401cc engine with plenty of torque. It may not be the fastest, but it’ll keep chugging along! Its 3-year warranty is very nice as well.

By going this route you will sacrifice a lot of power, speed, and quality, but then again you will be saving thousands of dollars!

Purchasing a UTV

what is a UTV

For a beginner in UTVs, I can imagine that the thought of purchasing a UTV can be a bit intimidating. It is a lot of money and the thought of getting the wrong one could be scary.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of amazing options out there and UTVs, in general, are extremely versatile and can serve for many different purposes. If you invested in any UTV I’m sure you would love it, finding it to be very helpful and fun.

Be sure to do your research on every make, model, and company. Some are more reliable than others. Some even come with 3-year warranties which will make you feel much more comfortable with your decision.

If you put in the time in doing your research you are sure to find a UTV that fits your needs and be happy with your decision.

Buying a New or Used UTV

There are pros and cons, like for any other vehicle, to buying a UTV new or used.

For a beginner, I would recommend purchasing your first UTV used. This way you will save lots of money and learn more about UTVs. Later, when you are more comfortable with them, you can think about upgrading.

If you have the money and are looking for a vehicle that will be reliable and last years then go ahead and get one that’s new. The newer versions of UTVs are simply incredible and reliable. If you bought one new you can be confident in the fact that you’ll keep it for years.

Related Questions:

Are UTVs Street Legal? In most states, you can make your UTV street legal. There are a few things that need to be added onto a UTV to legalize it, however. For example, a legalized UTV needs to have mirrors and a horn like cars have.

Are Side-by-sides UTVs? UTVs have a few different names. They are commonly referred to as side-by-sides depending on the situation. It is just another name for the same type of vehicle. If you refer to them as either of these names people will understand what you are talking about.

what is a UTV

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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