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UTV vs. ATV: Which Is Right for You?

The end of winter can be a good time to pick up a used ATV or UTV. People are doing some spring cleaning, and realizing they don’t have space for all of this gear, and one easy way to free up the garage is to get rid of that four-wheeled monster that’s sat all summer. It’s a great time to pounce on a good deal.

But here’s the question: Do you need an ATV or a UTV?

First, let’s get our terminology straight: When we say ATV (all-terrain vehicles), we’re talking about “four wheelers” or “quad bikes” with handlebars and no roll cage. UTVs (utility vehicle) are often called “side-by-sides” and are more similar to a low-profile truck. They can carry four to six people.

Each has its advantages. Here are some simple guidelines to help you decide which vehicle is right for you:

Buy an ATV if:

  • You tend to travel alone and in more rugged areas. Simply put, an ATV will go places a UTV just can’t.
  • You have to tow your vehicle to your hunting or recreation spot. If you don’t have a large trailer, you need an ATV—they can fit into small trailers or even some truck beds.
  • Your load won’t be much larger than a deer or climbing stand. If you’re hauling game or gear that’s more than 250 pounds, an ATV is less than ideal. Large tree stands can also be very tough to haul on an ATV’s compact rack.
  • You’re on a tighter budget.

Buy a UTV if:

  • You hunt in a group. Bird hunters or deer hunting groups who coordinate travel on large properties will prefer a UTV to hold their crew and gear.
  • You either have a large trailer to haul your UTV, or you have a farm or large property where you’ll keep the vehicle.
  • You’re a joy rider. UTVs come with the safety of roll cages and harnesses, and comfort.
  • You have the budget, and you will use the UTV enough to justify the cost.

Just like buying a car, the most important thing is just finding what’s right for you. In addition to these tips, research manufacturers and read reviews of the particular model you’re considering purchasing.

Oh, and have fun!

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