Why Do Side-by-Sides Cost So Much?

It’s been your dream to own a side-by-side or UTV for years now. You’re finally beginning the research phase so you can start shopping and you’re very surprised by the cost of one of these vehicles. You can’t help but wonder, why are side-by-sides so pricy?

Side-by-sides cost so much since they’re specialty vehicles made by big-name manufacturers. They also have much better horsepower than early models did. On top of all that, the consumer demand is consistent, so UTV manufacturers can sell side-by-sides for more money.

In this article, we’ll explain in more detail why side-by-sides are as high-cost as they are. We’ll also talk about ways to save money when shopping for a UTV, so make sure you keep reading! If you’re on a budget, this article is for you!  

What Is the Average Cost of a Side-by-Side?

Side-by-sides or UTVs are moderately-sized vehicles that are up to 160 inches long for a four-seat model. With open sides, fronts, and backs, there’s not a lot to a side-by-side, yet the average price for one is still between $8,000 and $30,000. 

Yes, that’s quite expensive! For comparison’s sake, you can buy a used car from 2009, 2010, and even 2011 for under $8,000. At $15,000, which is about the average price of a side-by-side, you could purchase a brand-new car.

The 2021 Kia Rio, 2021 Hyundai Accent, 2021 Nissan Versa, 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage, and the 2021 Chevrolet Spark are each $15k or under. 

For $30,000 or less, you can get your hands on an RV such as the 2021 Keystone RV Springdale Mini, the 2021 Palomino Puma XLE Lite, the 2021 Keystone RV Bullet Crossfire, or the 2021 Forest River Cherokee Wolf Pup Black Label.

Why Do Side-by-Sides Cost So Much? Here Are 4 Reasons 

You had your heart set on a side-by-side, but now you’re thinking twice about the purchase. They’re so much more expensive than you had realized, and you’re still not totally sure why. Allow this section to enlighten you. 

They’re Specialty Vehicles

While we won’t say that the cars, trucks, and SUVs on the market today are cheap, they’re more affordably priced because people need a dependable set of wheels in their regular lives. What you don’t need per se is a UTV.

Well, some people do, such as farmers, who rely on side-by-sides regularly. The general public though does not. Just as when anything becomes specialty enough, the price is going to be higher. 

Brand Recognition

Although side-by-sides are a well-kept secret for many, most of the biggest vehicle manufacturers have gotten in on the UTV trend. Here are some of the brand names that produce side-by-sides:

  • Yamaha
  • Toro
  • Suzuki
  • Polaris
  • New Holland
  • Kubota
  • Kioti
  • Kawasaki
  • John Deere
  • Husqvarna
  • Honda
  • Caterpillar Inc.
  • Case IH
  • Bobcat
  • Arctic Cat

You know and love a lot of those brands, right? While some smaller UTV brands exist too, the market is largely dominated by major names in vehicular excellence. Like when buying anything from cereal to clothes, brand names cost more. 

Vast Improvements Compared to Older Models

UTVs have been on the market since the 1960s, but they only caught on around 2009. Although that was more than 10 years ago, the advancements in side-by-sides in that time have been tremendous.

Manufacturers have continually striven to improve the suspension travel, horsepower, and speed of these vehicles so they outpace older models. You can rest assured then that a side-by-side from this year or last year will seriously outperform one from five years ago. Even a five-year-old UTV is legions better than its predecessors.

With side-by-sides getting better year after year, it makes sense to see an uptick in pricing as well. 

High Consumer Demand 

Although we mentioned before that a niche audience uses UTVs, the consumer demand for them is consistent. So far, consumers have proven that as side-by-side manufacturers raise the prices of their vehicles, they’re still willing to pay. This could encourage a continual increase in cost, especially in connection with the above-mentioned advancements in UTV technology. 

The 4 Lowest-Cost Side-by-Sides

Is there any way to get your hands on a new side-by-side without paying close to $10,000 for one? Most certainly! 

Not all UTVs have jacked-up prices. Here are several models that are more affordable for those on a budget.

Cub Cadet Challenger 400LX – $6,599

Cub Cadet is the maker of UTVs, commercial equipment, yard equipment, snowblowers, electric mowers, and lawnmowers. The Challenger 400LX is one of their most appealing side-by-sides, and not only because of its price alone.

The Challenger 400LX features bed divider slots, D-ring tie-downs, and a cargo bed that can hold 350 pounds without denting or buckling. The vehicle is 50 inches wide so you can stow it in most pickup truck beds. 

Its Subaru OHV 404cc engine makes the Challenger 400LX great for farm work, and this side-by-side can tow an impressive 500 pounds. The vehicle’s off-road tires, aluminum alloy wheels, hard roof, and front windshield make this one durable UTV.

Kawasaki Mule SX – $6,799

The 2021 Kawasaki Mule SX is only a smidge more expensive than the Cub Cadet Challenger 400LX, and this side-by-side has the brand recognition to boot. 

The overall length of this UTV is 106.7 inches, its overall width is 52.6 inches, and its overall height is 70.1 inches. The Mule SX has a curb weight of 967.6 pounds. 

Its included instruments are a parking brake light, an oil temperature light, an hour meter, and a fuel gauge.

With a MacPherson Strut front suspension and Unit Swingarm rear suspension, the Mule SX is a powerhouse. It also boasts a 10.8-foot turning radius and a sizable cargo bed that’s 35.6 inches long by 40.9 inches wide and 9.6 inches tall. The cargo bed can hold up to 400 pounds and the overall load capacity is 926 pounds.

What powers the Mule SX is a four-stroke, OHV, single-cylinder, air-cooled Kawasaki engine with 401 ccs of displacement. With all these great features, it’s a wonder this UTV is so affordable!  

Honda Pioneer 500 – $8,499

The 2021 Honda Pioneer 500 is about $2,000 more than the Kawasaki Mule SX, but it’s still well under $10k. This side-by-side measures 102.6 inches long, 50 inches wide, and 71.3 inches tall with a wheelbase that’s 73 inches. The Pioneer 500 has a curb weight of 1,025 pounds with all the standard equipment.

Capable of towing 1,000 pounds and with a turning radius of 12.8 feet, the Pioneer 500 is built for getting more done. Its liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder Honda engine has 475 ccs of displacement.

Honda included a lot of safety features in the Pioneer 500, which might explain its slightly higher price. Those features are a single-function door, the Occupant Protection Structure with tubing and handholds, and rollover protection.

The other great features of this UTV are independent rear suspension for riding over uneven terrain, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, and automatic transmission. 

John Deere Gator XUV560E – $8,999

Coming in at just under $9k, the John Deere Gator XUV560E is a great side-by-side. It can tow up to 1,500 pounds at a clip and comes equipped with dual A-arm front suspension and lower A-arm rear suspension. Its 16-HP engine is nothing to sneeze at either.

With four-wheel suspension, you can navigate corners and uneven terrain with aplomb. The single-piece cargo box is designed bigger to store more. Top speeds of 28 miles per hour will take you far in this UTV. The drive system is also made for all sorts of tough activities, including climbing hills, towing, and hauling. 

Those are just a few of many side-by-sides that are lower-priced. Check out this post on our blog to see plenty more great options! 

Visit Our UTV Page For More Great Content!

How to Buy a UTV for Less

For those who aren’t looking to spend a fortune just for the fun of it, finding the most cost-effective route is usually the goal. Whether you’re hunting for grocery coupons or exploring thrift shops for stylish clothing, consumers always seek a good deal.

When it comes to purchasing a side-by-side, the principle is no different. With a wide array of makes, models, and price tags, it can be challenging to distinguish a great deal from a low-quality side-by-side at an apparent bargain.

Simply heading to the nearest side-by-side or power sports dealership and splurging on the flashiest UTV with all the trimmings is neither cheap nor a wise financial decision.

To acquire the side-by-side of your dreams, complete with your desired features and in excellent working condition, all within your budget, requires time, thoughtful consideration, thorough research, and a bit of knowledge.

Here are 7 Tips for Buying Used UTVs:

  1. Set a Budget and Be Prepared with Cash
  2. Explore Multiple Options
  3. Hone Your Negotiation Skills
  4. Be Wary of Contracts
  5. Consider Off-Season Purchases
  6. Explore Private Sellers
  7. Seek Savings Wherever Possible

By following these tips, you can secure the UTV you desire without breaking the bank.

To read more on how to purchase a side-by-side on the cheap, click here!

Final Thoughts 

Side-by-sides or UTVs are some of the most expensive vehicles on the market, as the average price starts at $8,000 and can be as high as $15,000 or even $30,000. The reason for such a high cost is that side-by-sides are specialty vehicles from big-name manufacturers and feature many advancements in engine power and speed.

Still, some less expensive UTVs are out there, and no, these aren’t used models from 10 years ago either. Big names like Kawasaki and John Deere produce lower-priced side-by-sides that will be right up your alley. We hope this article has helped in your quest for the perfect side-by-side at a good price! 

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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