UTV, sometimes known as recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) or side-by-side (SxS), is an offroad vehicle that has revolutionized Powersports in recent years.
UTVs are completely badass. Whether you’re looking to rally the desert sand of Baja California or utilize your UTV to transport the fresh kill from the hunt, this all-terrain vehicle provides insanely unbeatable fun when safely operated.
What exactly is a UTV? In this UTVtrader blog, we cover:
->What is a UTV
->Why buy a UTV?
->The differences between UTVs and other vehicles
Keep reading to find out what side-by-sides are all about and why you should buy one!
Some people say UTV stands for Utility Terrain Vehicle and others suggest that it stands for Utility Task Vehicle. Whatever your opinion is on the matter, it doesn’t matter in the end when you consider that owning a UTV is a lot of fun and also helps complete difficult tasks easier.
So what makes a UTV unique? Here are some key differences between UTVs and ATVs/Dirtbikes:
One significant detail that sets UTVs apart from ATVs is seatbelts.
One of the great parts about owning a UTV is the cargo area. Whether it’s farming or fun, it’s nice to be able to securely load items into a UTV for transport.
Most UTVs have a roll cage that prevents serious injury, however, most UTV experts will say you’ll need an aftermarket roll cage for aggressive driving.
One of the great parts about UTVs is that it’s like riding in a car—just more social! Many UTv owners like to pack the whole family in for the ride, a quality that transcends owning four-wheelers or motorcycles.
CVT transmissions are unique to ATVs and UTVs and they use a belt-driven pulley system to give the vehicle maximum power at all times.
The winch is an electronic pulley motor that allows the user to extend a hooked cable onto an object and reel it in.
Many side-by-sides have winches, and they are extremely useful for pulling other vehicles out of the mud, pulling themselves out of trouble, and you can even use a winch to seal the tire bead on a flat tire in emergency situations.
Some UTVs have windshields while other users utilize goggles to keep the dirt out of their eyes while operating.
Most UTVs are equipped with roll bars, but owners should always evaluate their strength. Many roll bars aren’t well-suited for a severe crash.
Here are the most trusted UTVs on the market:
Polaris is one of the most popular choices, and that’s because the Polaris RZR and Ranger are two of the most reliable UTVs out there. You might also want to opt for the Polaris General rec utility if you’re looking for the best in performance and offroad use.
Can-Am UTVs has some seriously badass UTV models that you should definitely take a look at if you haven’t already.
For example, the 2022 Defender is a 3-axle machine that leads the industry in towing (it can pull up to 3,000 pounds). Other Can-Am models include the Commander, Maverick X3, Maverick Sport, and Maverick Trail.
Yamaha provides UTV enthusiasts with a wide range of models, including the YXZ for pure sport, Wolverine for recreation, and the Viking for utility.
Between those three models of UTV, there are ~20+ different options to choose from, so it’s your choice whether you want back row seating, more cargo space, beefier engine performance, or higher-end suspension and roll cage.
You might try out the Honda Pioneer or Talon for size when UTV shopping. There are about ~20 different specific sub-models to choose from between the two, so have fun mixing and matching your design features.
Kawasaki makes some mean machines, and we highly recommend keeping any sub-model of the Kawasaki Mule in your crosshairs when UTV shopping.
Arctic Cat makes the Prowler and the Wildcat in a few different shapes and sizes for your viewing and operating pleasure.
Every vehicle has its pros and cons, and the UTV is no different. Here are a few things to consider before making your next purchase:
The pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to owning a UTV. Here are a few:
Storage is a huge plus when it comes to owning a UTV. For example, hunters no longer have to tie their kill to the racks of the four-wheeler. Instead, they can easily hoist their meat into the storage section of the vehicle (if it has one).
UTVs bring a whole new element of fun offroading because they have the potential to carry up to 4+ passengers.
Seatbelts are a definite plus for keeping the driver and passengers safe while operating side-by-side.
As much as we love UTVs, we have to be objective by mentioning the cons of the situation. Here are a few not-so-positive examples:
One of the biggest cons of owning a UTV is risking an accident. UTVs can be less stable than four-wheelers in some cases, and they can also have uneven weight distribution due to passenger positioning.
Because UTVs are currently designed for more rural use and trail riding, there aren’t as many electric models on the market.
There are, however, some electric models on the market. If you perform a quick internet search, you’ll learn of electric UTVs like the Nikola, Hisun, and Textron that might go great in your garage.
Since there’s no need to straddle the seat of a UTV and hold onto the handlebars, many operators prefer a four-wheeler because it has the old-style feel of venturing into the unknown.
One of the best parts about owning a UTV is all of the upgrade options for suspension, stereo, etc.
Our advice is to do as much research as possible about all the different types of UTVs to figure out what exactly it is that you want out of your side-by-side.
Here are a few noteworthy options to keep in mind when looking for your perfect UTV:
UTV enthusiasts are always talking about how sturdy the roll cages are—that’s because UTVs are easily rolled. We recommend doing a bit of research on your specific UTV model’s safety and operating it accordingly.
Wives and daughters (heck, even the manly man) can appreciate climate control while offroading. There’s nothing better than cruising in the desert with A/C pumping into your face.
Be sure to check the maximum weight limit for your specific side-by-side, and we’re sure horsepower is in mind when buying heavy-duty offroad toys.
Which is our favorite? We’re going with anything made by Can-Am and Polaris. But hey, you decide!
Don’t forget to use safety gear (helmets, goggles, protective clothing) on your next adventure. Drive safe out there!