Should I Buy an ATV or UTV?

ATV vs UTV offroad vehicles

How to Choose Which Off-Road Vehicle is Right for You

You're in the market for a new vehicle, and you know you want something with more than two wheels for sport, recreation, work, or all of the above. Should you choose an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) or a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV)? What's the difference? Why choose one over the other? It all depends on what you're looking for and how you're going to use it. If you're combing the web to help you decide whether an ATV or a UTV is right for you, this is a great place to start! 

ATV vs UTV pros and cons


ATVs have several advantages over UTVs. First off, they're generally a lot more affordable than UTVs. If you're shopping for a four-wheel bad boy on a budget, an ATV might be the best way to go. ATVs are lighter than UTVs, so they have more speed and agility on the trails. They're also generally smaller than UTVs, so they maneuver better and take up less space in the garage. If you're more of a "solo artist" at heart who prefers riding without passengers, the ATV is perfect for you, as it's designed mainly for single-rider use. 



A drawback on some ATVs is that you drive while straddling the motor. If riding with passengers is your preference, then a UTV is much better suited for your needs. All Terrain Vehicles also lack the roll cage the Utility Terrain Vehicle provides, so they don't have that built-in safety, which contributes to the higher price tag that comes with a UTV. If pulling power and cargo/storage space has any influence on your purchasing decision, the ATV might fall short of your expectations when compared to the UTV. 



UTVs have side-by-side passenger seating in the front for 2-3 passengers, and some also have a second row of seats to accommodate more. This makes the UTV a great option if you want to trail around with the family or friends. UTVs come standard with roll cages, automotive-style seats with seat belts, and side webbing. A Utility Terrain Vehicle can be used like a sub-compact tractor that plows, pushes, shovels, mows, and hauls heavy-duty loads. Most UTVs come with optional beds in the back for loading cargo. These beds can be accessorized with covers, racks and boxes to give you more hauling versatility. 



The first thing you'll notice about the UTV is the much larger sticker price. Be prepared to spend an amount close to or upwards of $10,000 for a UTV, versus more than a few thousand dollars less for an ATV. With the bigger price you get a bigger vehicle, which means a bigger turning radius. This affects the maneuverability of the UTV negatively, when compared to the better handling ability of the ATV, which isn't as weighed down. Don't expect to take any sharp turns in one of these machines as easily (or as safely) as you would with an ATV. 

ATV vs UTV: Pro or Con? 

While the ATV is designed more for sport and fun than for labor, there are ways to get around its shortcomings in labor capabilities. For example, an ATV does have adequate towing capacities, for which you could consider attaching a trailer. Aftermarket accessories like an ATV dry material spreader also make it easy to use your ATV for practical purposes, like spreading seed, fertilizer or snow salt. As for having less cargo space than a UTV, this could be considered a positive or a negative, depending on what you intend to use the ATV for. Accessories for ATV cargo, such as a heavy duty or flatbed dump trailer, are available to make the hauling of supplies, game, and other cargo possible.       

ATV dump trailer


Added cubic-feet for gear storage could be considered a con on a UTV if the purpose of getting one is for trail speed and agility. On the other hand, lack of accommodation space on an ATV could be considered a con if its main purpose is for hauling. However, this shortcoming is easy to compensate for with aftermarket accessories like ATV front bagsrear cargo boxesfender bags or a duffle bag and some tie-down straps. As for passenger preferences, if you feel the single-rider platform of an ATV is a con because you want a +1 to enjoy the same ride, you can add an aftermarket two-up ATV seat, such as a rear lounger.

ATV or UTV for Hunting and Trail Riding

ATV for hunting

You've got several things to consider when it comes to choosing between an ATV or a UTV for trail riding over to your favorite deer stand or duck blind. As we already mentioned, ATVs have lower cargo capacities than UTVs. So if you're going after bigger game, you need to think about how you're going to haul it out. While some ATVs have adequate towing capacities with something like a trailer attached, keep in mind that you're going to diminish the handling capability and agility of your machine considerably.


A UTV opens up more possibilities out on the trail. Side-by-side seating is more comfortable for longer rides, and the added cargo capacity means you can carry plenty of supplies for an overnight hunting trip. You can also haul a big trophy back from the woods without a hitch. The one catch is that UTVs are bulkier, so maneuvering tight spots out on the trail can present a problem.

ATV or UTV for Farming

If you work a farm or own land, your machine might change from a toy to a tool. And again, price is always a consideration. But it's also important to know about the versatility that a UTV offers out on the land. A UTV in many ways can be used like a sub-compact tractor. Depending on the machine, you can customize it with plows, scrapers, loaders, mowers, and other tools not necessarily suitable for an ATV. However, if you're dealing with tougher terrain and navigation is the main objective, then an ATV is the better choice, as its maneuvering capabilities are superior to those of the larger UTV.

So Which One is Right for You? 

If you're going for an off-road vehicle that is safer but still a lot of fun; is better suited to handle labor; and is more accommodating to both people and cargo, then the UTV is definitely your best option. If what you need is a more affordable machine with superior maneuvering capabilities; is better suited for solo ride adrenaline rushes; and can handle limited work duties and cargo, go with the ATV! 



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