ATV vs. UTV : An Overview of Similarities and Differences

The mention of the word ATV, the image etched on most minds, is that of a rugged four-wheeler surfing rough roads. A closer cousin of the ATV is the UTV, which is like a cross between the ATV and a buggy that is a bit beefier and spacious. They share several benefits while keeping their distinctions. 

Here in this article on ATV vs. UTV, you can develop in-depth knowledge of these vehicles by comparing their differences and commonness of features and benefits

ATV – For Off-road Fun and Adventure

what is a atv

The ATV is the most recognizable, 4-wheeled motorcycle. Typically, the ATV is a one-passenger 4–wheel rider, though some have an extended saddle to accommodate an extra passenger. The rider controls this vehicle by handlebars, explaining its close relation to motorbikes.

Besides being a 4-wheel vehicle, there exist several variations such as the 6-wheeler, mostly used by the military.

There are three-wheeled versions that most auto enthusiasts don’t consider ATVs, rather motorcycles. A standout feature about ATVs is their robust suspension. It is one element that makes it suitable for different road surfaces.

As for usages, ATVs have multiple uses you will find them in sporting events, hunting, and also used by security forces or surveillance. To declare its wide application, there are ATVs for firefighting and landscaping.

UTV- For Multi-passenger and Off-road Safety

what is a utv

The utility task vehicle is, also known as a side-by-side, vehicle that resembles a dune buggy. It shares most features with the ATV, such as powertrain and off-roading power.

To distinguish it from ATV, the UTV is larger than ATV and has space for up to six passengers. To add to the distinctive line, unlike the ATVs, the UTVs have a steering wheel instead of a handlebar.

UTVs have a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 4000-pounds, which is more than an ATV’s at around 1170 pounds. UTVs have multiple uses far outreaching its counterpart ATV mostly in the sporting scene, mostly for off-roading events.

They are also a preferred option for surveillance, farming, and transportation given their more load-hauling capacity and caged storage. Some auto enthusiasts consider golf carts to be UTVS, but it is a matter still under debate.

ATV vs. UTV Differences

As is made clear already, ATV and UTV differ in many factors with their striking similarities in terms of purposes, weight capacity, and space.   And you cannot distinguish them simply saying that an ATV is meant for a single rider while the UTV can carry several riders. There are far more considerations to go deeper into their features and benefits.


The first area to look at is the purpose of each vehicle. As the respective name suggests, the ATVs handle various terrains and are a go-to vehicle if you are bound for rugged terrain and still want to enjoy it with ease.

It comes with a robust suspension system to the tough roads that can give you the adrenaline pump fun.

On the other hand, the UTV is more like a large ATV, with more passenger space and enhanced safety features. It has a roll cage and well-secured seats with safety belts for the comfort of the passengers when traveling.

Others variations of UTVs may have extra cargo room to store your luggage when on the move.


So you have a hunting trip coming, which vehicle should you get for a successful outdoor this time? Looking at the ATV vs. UTV for hunting debate, you realize that there are several things to consider to get the preferable companion.

If you are going solo, an ATV will be an excellent fit. It has a small frame, meaning you can access even the most remote areas to monitor your potential kill.

on its top, it is cheaper to acquire, and you may find it fit with hunting gear. The lightweight feature of ATVs makes them easy to load and unload from a truck.

The downside is that it does not guarantee safety due to its open design. Also, it may be a letdown in case of harsh weather like extreme sun or rain.

What about the UTV for hunting? The UTV is a reliable pick for venturing into outdoor activities like hunting.   Big and spacious, the off-road vehicle offers increased passenger and cargo room. You can put your catch in the cargo space, or put your mechanic’s toolbox, should you need random repairs.

 It is also safe, supported by its enclosed design and safety belts to hold you in case of an accident. The disadvantage of going the UTV way is that it’s pretty bulky for loading and unloading from a truck and so portability is slimmer.

Moreover, it is pricier and the more spacious and luxurious versions you go for, ones having a steeper cost.


Getting rid of snow on your yard and roads can be pretty challenging, especially if you resort to using handheld equipment. The good news is that you can either use an ATV or UTV to clear up snow. Between ATV and UTV, which one handles snow plowing the best?

The UTV takes the top spot as it is heavier, creating more traction that you need to push away snow. ATVs also work well, but their lightness can be a hindrance as they might leave a sheet of snow behind. As such, you have to redo the task for satisfactory results.


If you have a farm or ranch, either all-terrain cars will be ideal additions. They help in surveillance and inspection or pulling equipment like a plow, fertilizer, and pesticide spreader. The UTV is perfect for such a job, as it drives smoothly and offers more seating and storage space.

The UTV is safe and easy to modify to add farming gear. The problem is that it is pretty expensive. On the contrary, the ATV is small, meaning it can move through the tiniest spaces on the farm. Its lightness is a plus, as you can effortlessly load and unload it from your truck.

However, it does not rank highly on safety.

On the ATV vs. UTV for farm discussion, it is a close tie between the two vehicles.

Trail Riding

Trail riding is one of the most fulfilling and refreshing pastime activities that you can partake in a healthy dose of adventure. You can use an ATV to go trail riding with your family. Its covered frame protects against weather elements that can interfere with your experience.

The ATV is the most preferred for outdoor riding, more so if you want an excellent serving of adrenaline. It is the go-to choice if you are a solo rider and the event is more of a competition.


The UTV is a better performer than the ATV, as it typically has a bigger engine that has more displacement and is powerful. It drives smooth, and operation is smooth, as you operate it with a steering wheel, as opposed to an ATV, which has handlebars.

It does not mean that the ATV is weak. This statement rings true if you have seen the ATV in action and how it handles rough roads gracefully. It receives a further boost on the road due to its light profile.


Safety is among UTV’s selling points, owing to its design. It is spacious and has a roof that shields the occupants from weather elements like sunshine and rain. The standard UTV has a roll cage that will protect the occupants should the car roll. Seat belts also work towards the safety of the passengers.

The ATV does not do as well as the UTV in safety ratings. Its open design makes it prone to serious injuries in an accident.


Both the UTV and ATV do well in outdoor games in their respective categories. They undergo some modifications to make them fit for the sporting events, mostly four-by-four off-roading games.

They do the job well and are at times placed in the same category. The suspension must be sturdy to take on the punishing terrain and spell victory for the driver and sponsor.


After looking at all the attributes of these off-road darlings, you finalize by focusing on price. The UTV is pricier than the ATV, most probably due to its excellent attributes such as spaciousness and safety.

Cheaper and affordable, one of the reasons many people go for it. However, ATV models with premium add-ons may cost more than the standard UTV.

Pros and Cons of ATV vs. UTV

A run-down of the pros and cons of ATV vs. UTV will aid you in understanding their strength and weak points. And you can take an expert decision when equipped with precise and crucial information.

Pros of ATV

An advantage of getting an ATV is that it is affordable to purchase and maintain. Spares are readily available, and with some basic repair knowledge, you can fix them in the garage. Additionally, it is lightweight, boosting its performance and making it easy to handle when loading or offloading it.

It also scores high on maneuverability, supported by its small stature. The ATV will pass through narrow spaces effortlessly. It is a versatile off-road vehicle with multiple applications to choose from. You can use it for sports, on the farm, and snowplowing.


You have to be keen on the ATV as it does not have a roof. In case of an accident, the effects may be serious as you may be catapulted from the seat or have it roll over you. The other disadvantage is that it has a limited seating capacity, only accommodating the rider.

Pros of UTV

The UTV’s major appeal is its safety element. It has an enclosed design, with a roof and roll cage, to protect occupants from rain or severe injuries in an accident. It drives smooth and controlling is hassle-free as it has a steering wheel.

Moreover, it has plenty of room, accommodating up to six passengers. It has great towing power, explaining its preference in farming and snow plowing.


UTV’s are pretty expensive, probably due to their many features like extra passenger accommodation and enhanced safety. The UTV is heavy and can present challenges when loading or offloading from a carrier truck. Its large profile is not perfect for smaller areas and may affect its maneuverability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which Is Better, UTV or ATV?

UTV and ATV are reliable all-terrain vehicles that you can opt for if you travel on rugged terrain. When deciding on which of the two is a viable choice, you look at their respective selling points. The ATV will be a good pick for off-road racing events and solo hunting trips.

The UTV is also ideal for off-road sports, more so if you want to have a passenger as you tackle the rough terrain. It is spacious and safe, with ample cargo space. You can go for it if you want a more contained session outdoors. In short, the better pick depends on your needs and preferences.

Q: What Is More Fun, ATV Or UTV?

When focusing on the fun factor, the ATV guarantees you an adrenaline-filled session outdoors. It is powerful and highly maneuverable, courtesy of its small frame. The UTV is also fun, especially if you want to bring an extra person on board.

UTV appears to be the best for gaming and sporting as it assures you of safety due to features like a sturdy roof and roll cage.

Q: Which Is Safer, ATV Or UTV?

Safety is an essential attribute to keep in mind when getting a special utility car. In the ATV vs. UTV safety subject, the latter comes on top, supported by add-ons like a roof, roll cage, and seatbelts for the passengers. If there is an accident, the injuries won’t be severe as the components shield the passengers.

Q: Which Is Faster, ATV Or UTV?

UTVs have powerful engines, which gives them a push of up to 85-mph, noticeable in the sports versions. It is way higher than ATVs, which average a top speed of 75-mph. If you want more speed with safety on check, go for a UTV.

Q: Is A Go-Kart Considered An ATV?

A go-kart is an open-wheel car, mostly for racing and similar auto showcases. It is closer to the SxS, as they share many features like having a steering wheel, with some having extra passenger space. It also has features of an ATV, such as an open design. However, it is a vehicle class of its own as it moves on the tarmac. It does not have the off-roading might of the UTV and ATV.

Q: Are UTVs Worth It?

Utility task vehicles are small four-wheelers designed to handle all terrains. It is a worthy acquisition that is very adaptable when looking at areas of use. Farming, check; general landscaping, check; surveillance, check, and many more.

A quick perusal of a UTV for sale will show you that it has a steep cost. This should not be discouraging, as the SxS gives you an excellent value on your spending. You benefit from its safety features and additional space for passengers and cargo.

Q: Do UTVs Have Seatbelts?

UTVs come out a clear winner considering the safety aspect and have several components to guarantee occupants a safe ride. The accessories are a roll cage, seatbelts on every seat, and barriers for the leg, hands, shoulders, and hips. The add-ons see that the passengers face no serious harm if there is an accident.

Q: How Many Miles Will A UTV Last?

If buying an SxS, be keen on the mileage. A value of 5000-miles is okay, and it can serve you well. A UTV’s lifeline depends on many factors like style of drive, model, and maintenance. If maintained correctly, this vehicle will serve you for ages, showing you no signs of degradation.

Q: Why Do Side-By-Sides Cost So Much?

A disadvantage of side by sides is their steep cost. There are several factors behind the price, including the structural improvements of new releases. These vehicles’ enhanced safety is another reason they are expensive. Plus, customers are willing to pay the asking price.


RZR is a chain of all-terrain vehicles under Polaris, an American company specializing in motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles. The RZR is a side-by-side vehicle with 2-seater and 4-seater versions.

It is perfect for off-road races and similar sporting events, supported by its rugged build, excellent safety components, and sturdy suspension system.

Q: Is A Four-Wheeler An ATV?

A 4-wheeler is any vehicle with four wheels. This definition seems bland, considering many cars are 4-wheelers. In the off-roading scene, it is a vehicle with all-terrain capabilities, boosted by a 4×4 drivetrain.  

If the 4-wheeler has an open design and is a one-seater, you can categorize it as an ATV. But, if enclosed, with a roof and seating space for other passengers, you classify it as a UTV.

Q: Is It Illegal To Ride A Four-Wheeler In A Neighborhood?

If you have plans of getting a four-wheeler, you need to know about laws on their usage. For instance, it is illegal to operate a 4-wheeler on public roads and highways.

However, you can use it on private lands, like a farm. In states like Georgia, driving an ATV on public streets, highways, and roadways is unlawful, including the shoulders.

Some neighborhoods may ban the use of 4-wheelers. Be keen on the laws of your jurisdiction to avoid penalties.

Q: Why Are Side-By-Sides Not Street Legal?

Side-by-sides are legal in some states, but they have tough laws governing their use in some states. UTV-friendly states include Arizona, Alabama, and Florida. In most states, there are restrictions on where you can use them.  

Some of the reasons UTVs are not street legal include emissions and safety standards. The good news is that you can make them street legal by performing some modifications. You can replace the muffler, get street-worthy wheels and add accessories like mirrors and reflectors.

A point to note is that the states have varying standards of modifications. Check with the laws and see what you have to do to your utility task vehicle to make it worthy for the road.

 Instead of Summary

The UTV and ATV appear to be close, but they have several differences, as we can see from this discussion. Notable contrasting points are size, design, and price. In addition, you will notice that they have varying degrees of maneuverability.

If you want to get an off-roader, use this article as a guide to give you the necessary information on ATV and UTV. Pick a befitting vehicle and have a fulfilling time while surfing rugged terrains.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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