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When you are in the market for an off-road vehicle for work, sports, or recreation (or all of them), you have to make a tough decision: should you get an ATV or a UTV? What is the difference between them? Which one meets your needs better? We have discussed UTVs many times before, but if you are here, it means you need more information about one of the hottest topics debated among off-road buffs: UTV vs ATV. Which one to get? Today, let’s learn more about these two types of vehicles, their differences, pros, cons, and uses!

UTV vs ATV: What’s In a Name?

ATV vs UTV definition


The first difference between ATVs and UTVs lies within their names and build.

  • The ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) also goes by the name of “quad” or “four-wheeler.” Its construction allows for a single person to drive it and up to one more passenger in the back.
  • The UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) goes by the name of “side-by-side” (SXS for short). It allows a minimum of two people to ride it side by side. More and more UTV manufacturers are building these machines to allow for family fun, as UTVs can carry up to six people.

As you can see, when it comes to the ATV vs UTV debate, the UTV wins in the “size does matter” department. We have plenty to explore ATVs and UTVs pros and cons, but if you wish to take other people trailing, hunting, fishing, exploring, farming, or adventuring where nobody has gone before, you will most likely need a UTV.

If we speak about names, we have to understand the differences in utility.

  • ATVs are the preferred off-road vehicles for casual sports, ATV racing, and recreation;
  • UTVs found their place in a handful of activities beyond sports, adventuring, and recreation. People use them for farming and agriculture, cargo transport, heavy loads towing, equipment hauling, passenger transportation across challenging terrains, and more.

In other words, the ATV is smaller and lighter than a UTV. It allows you to cross narrow woods and rock ledges with no problems. On the other hand, the UTV will take you wherever you want while having family, workers, or friends on board together with their luggage and tools.

Those searching for some of the best-performing SXS on the market, we suggest you to check this guide here, as we did most of the heavy lifting for you!

Size, Comfort, and Safety – Key Elements Differentiating ATVs from UTVs

UTV vs ATV pros and cons


We touched the size point above, but we have to emphasize that UTVs are larger by design, allowing multiple passengers and offering improved comfort levels. What vehicle do you think wins in the UTV vs ATV debate when comfort gets involved? Let’s look at some crucial elements!

  • If an ATV looks and works primarily like a motorbike, the UTV looks and function more like a car;
  • UTVs usually feature front bumpers, roll cages, hardtops, side net doors, steering wheel, pedals, gear shift, a cargo hold, passenger bench seating in the back, and much more;
  • Riding an ATV is a dream that came true for thrill-seekers. If you need to feel your adrenaline pumping up your veins, the ATV is the go-to choice for solo adventurers. You need to straddle the motor and maintain perfect balance at all times to keep control of the vehicle. On the other hand, nothing beats an ATV when it comes to squeezing through narrow, bumpy spaces and taking quick turns. The ATV does not feature a steering wheel so learning to drive one risk-free is a ride in itself.
  • Nonetheless, if comfort and safety are your priorities, the UTV wins the ATV vs UTV battle. The incorporated roll cage enclosure and the hard roof on some models offer you a cozy ride on all challenging terrains and weather conditions. If your new UTV does not feature a built-in seat harness or belts, you can always shop for them and tune your vehicle.

As you can see, the UTV is more comfortable, safer, and more versatile. As usability goes, UTVs found their way into the military and global relief organizations. When someone wants to transport food, supplies, medical equipment, etc., to remote areas, they usually use UTVs. In such parts of the world, tracks and paths are rough to travel or even nonexistent, so powerful & dependable side-by-sides are the preferred options to traverse unpredictable terrains effortlessly.

Price Does Matter

When it comes to drawing a conclusion on the UTV vs ATV debate, we cannot skip the price discussion. Buying a new ATV will set you back a couple of thousands of dollars. However, when you perform a simple search of the best affordable UTVs on the market, you will quickly understand that most prices revolve around $10,000 or more.

Another point to make is that you can upgrade both ATVs and UTVs with accessories, parts, mods, and so on. No matter what you decide to buy, make sure you list safety gear (helmets, drive belts, special lighting, etc.) on your budget plan.

And, since you will most likely have to transport your vehicle from your garage to the place you chose to explore, you will need anchoring gear to secure it on your trailer.

UTV vs ATV: Which One Should You Get?

what to buy ATV or UTV

Instead of presenting you with a bland list of ATV vs UTV pros and cons list, we think it is better to learn who should get what vehicle depending on what users need.

Who Should Get an ATV

  • People who want to ride solo on challenging terrains or play a part on the ATV racing stage;
  • Thrill-seekers who enjoy high speeds and quick maneuverability;
  • Those who want to have fun on off-road adventures without worrying about passengers, heavy loads, or trailing;
  • People on a medium budget that effortlessly includes the ATV, extra gear, upgrades, parts, repairs, etc.

Some argue that you can use an ATV for some work, like plowing, but few people use them for farm work. The ATVs’ primary purpose is to keep you entertained.

Who Should Get a UTV

  • People who perform specialized work in farming, agriculture, supply or people transportation in remote areas, etc.;
  • Those who want to enjoy an off-road adventure or hobbies (trailing, hunting, fishing, camping, etc.) alongside family and friends;
  • People who need to carry heavy cargo loads;
  • The ones who travel long miles to get to their destination and want to save their health. Since a UTV has seats, a UTV driver does not have to spend hours in that forward-leaning, back-killing position enforced by the ATV design;
  • People who have a generous budget to spend on the UTV, extra accessories and parts, safety gear, trailer tie-down systems, and more.

If you think that the crucial difference between ATVs and UTVs is that the former is for fun and the latter for labor, you are wrong. Honda perfectly coined the term “recutility” to describe its line of UTVs. As we said initially, UTVs are more versatile, as you can use them for both recreation and work.

UTV vs ATV: Conclusion

If you wondered whether to buy an ATV or a UTV, the answer we give you is the following: it depends on what you want your off-road vehicle to offer you. Question of dollars aside, there is no actual ATV vs UTV debate. Each fulfills a different purpose. Before you start shopping for the latest powerful UTV beasts on the market or the fastest and slickest ATVs, you can find, do your homework and understand your needs.

So what machine wins the UTV vs ATV war, in your opinion? Which one would you get?