ATVs And UTVs: What Are The Main Differences?

If you are looking for an off-road vehicle, you may have come across ATVs and UTVs. These are both great off-road options that can handle a lot of tough terrain, but many people are unsure of the differences between the two. Often, people mix them up and think that they are two terms for the same thing, but that isn’t the case. This quick guide will tell you the main differences and the benefits of each, so you can make an informed decision. 

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Firstly, what do ATV and UTV stand for and what are the main differences? ATV stands for all-terrain vehicle while UTV stands for utility task vehicle. You probably recognize an ATV as a quad bike or 4-wheeler, and they are designed for a single rider. A UTV, on the other hand, is a larger vehicle with more of a body to it, and it has space for a passenger too. You may see it referred to as a side by side or an SXS. 


The difference in size between the two vehicles affects a few different factors and you need to consider it when making your choice. An ATV is smaller and more nimble on tight turns over rough ground. They are often used for racing for this reason. An ATV also tends to be more demanding to ride because you handle it like a bike instead of using a steering wheel from a seated position. 

A UTV is larger and gives you the opportunity to ride with a passenger. The bigger size means more room and a more comfortable ride, but it also means that it doesn’t handle quite as well. Having said that, a good-quality UTV is still well-equipped to deal with rough terrain. The increased size also means that there is more space for storage and they are often used for hauling. A UTV tends to be the go-to for people that are using it for work purposes rather than recreational driving. 


In terms of safety, a UTV comes out on top. You have an added roll cage and it’s a much larger vehicle. You’re also in a seated position and strapped in, so falling out is less of a possibility. An ATV is far more dangerous to ride, but as long as you are experienced and you follow safety precautions, you are fine. 


Due to the added safety features and overall larger size, UTVs tend to be more expensive. However, there are some great dealers like Switchback Motorsports that offer good prices on UTVs. There are also aftermarket upgrades available for both ATVs and UTVs. They vary in price but UTV upgrades are more expensive, in general. 


The differences between the two vehicles mean that they are best suited for different purposes. A UTV, for example, is better suited to taking an overland trip on rough terrain, and it’s often used for work purposes too. ATVs are great for recreational purposes and are often used for racing. However, they can be used for transport in a work setting like a farm, for example. 

Now that you have all of the information, you can make an informed decision about UTVs and ATVs and which is best for you.