ATVs and UTVs share similar names, similar applications, and similar manufacturers, but these rugged tools of farmers, ranchers, and outdoor enthusiasts are actually quite different. ATVs or All-Terrain Vehicles are the smaller, less expensive, and less powerful of the two, while UTVs or Utility Terrain Vehicles have larger towing capacities, small cargo beds, and seats for multiple passengers.
The All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
ATVs have been in production for over four decades, and each year they grow more advanced, more powerful, and more ready to tackle the challenges of the trail. They typically have room for one passenger. Cargo capacity is confined to front and rear decks or cargo bags. However, these decks are only included on larger ATVs, such as the 800-1000 cc versions.
In terms of engine size, ATVs can have only as small as a 50 cc engine or as large as a 1000 cc engine. Models sporting 50 cc engine may cost as little as $500 new, while 1000 cc variations may be priced as high as $12,000. Due to their high centers of gravity, ATVs are known for their ability to tip over easily; therefore, the faster an ATV goes, the more likely it is to roll.
Since 1000 cc ATVs can accelerate to speeds comparable with some cars, they are made for only the most skilled riders—people who have the training or experience necessary to keep the machine under control.
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The Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV)
Utility terrain vehicles or side-by-sides actually come in three styles: sport, recreation, and utility. Sport UTVs resemble dune buggies in many ways. They have a wider footprint, smaller cabs, and much more suspension travel than the other two variations of UTVs.
On the other hand, recreational UTVs have less of the dune-buggy appearance, but still maintain the performance that sport UTVs provide. Recreational UTVs also include a pickup-style cargo bed and a hitch receiver for pulling trailers.
In contrast, utility UTVs are made for work alone. Often produced by major tractor manufacturers or lawn tool providers, these UTVs have more carrying capacity, but less focus on the play side of the UTV.
Regardless of style, all UTVs share three characteristics: a seating arrangement wide enough for two people to sit in parallel, an engine with at least 600 cc, and a partially enclosed cab. With their large cabs and high price, UTVs are the most comfortable of all motorized off-road vehicles; however, they can also come with a higher price tag.
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So Which Should I Buy?
If you are looking to purchase an ATV or a UTV, consider the following facts. Both ATVs and UTVs are designed with the adventurous soul in mind. However, ATVs are made for speed and ease of transport, while UTVs are made for ruggedness and versatility. If you are a hunter and want to bring along a vehicle that can fit in a small boat, you should consider an ATV.
But if you are looking for a vehicle to assist you on your farm or private retreat, the UTV is a better choice. UTVs are better for groups, and ATVs, for sole explorers. So whether you are tackling deep mud or mountain snow, dragging firewood from the forest to your cabin, or going to check the progress of trench digging on your farm, ATVs and UTVs will be there for you every mile of the journey.