ATVs and UTVs—what they are and who makes them?

Everything you need to know about ATVs and UTVs

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A Polaris RZR spits up dirt in the desert.

UTVs (Utility Terrain Vehicles) have four-to-six wheels and bench or bucket seating with seat belts for up to six passengers.

ATVs, UTVs, quads, side-by-sides—what’s the difference? And who makes these machines? Never fear! The answers are here:

What is an ATV?

An ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) is a four-wheeled off-road vehicle with straddle/motorcycle-style seating and handlebar steering. Also known as quads or four-wheelers, ATVs are generally smaller than UTVs, and more physically intensive to operate because you use more of your body to steer and otherwise control your four-wheeler.

  • A typical ATV accommodates a single rider, but some can seat two people
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  • ATVs drive on four low-pressure or non-pneumatic tires, depending on the model
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  • ATVs are generally easier to transport long-distance than UTVs because they fit in the beds of most full-size pickups and many standard utility trailers
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  • An ATV is the more maneuverable vehicle compared to a UTV
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  • The average ATV is less expensive than the average UTV

 

What is a UTV?

UTVs (Utility Terrain Vehicles) are generally built and used more for work than recreation. Also called a Side-by-Side (SxS), a UTV boasts four-to-six wheels and bench or bucket seating with seat belts for up to six passengers.

  • UTV drivers operate the machine by using a steering wheel and foot pedals
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  • The UTV cab comes shielded by a roll bar or a cage, with options to add front and rear windshields or even a completely enclosed cab for further protection
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  • UTVs have plenty of storage space
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  • UTVs are larger and more powerful than ATVs so they can haul heavier supplies and equipment
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  • UTVs use a standard wheelbase similar to what cars use
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  • Instead of a handlebar, UTVs feature a steering wheel
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  • UTVs are generally more expensive than ATVs

 

ATV and UTV manufacturers:

 

A red Polaris RZR on a trail in the woods.

The Polaris RZR is one of the most popular UTVs on the market.

Polaris

Most popular models:

  • RZR (UTV): The world leader off-road adrenalin in performance side-by-sides. 
  • Ranger (UTV): The #1 trusted UTV by farmers, hunters and homeowners for more than a decade. 
  • Sportsman (ATV): ATVs to provide the freedome and confidence to put you in command of the outdoors—for any task or on any trail. 

View the most current models on the Polaris website.

A blue Yamaha Raptor in a desert setting.

The Yamaha Raptor is an especially sought-after ATV among young riders.

 

Yamaha

Most popular models:

  • Raptor (ATV): The best‑selling Sport ATV of all time offers superior style, comfort and unmatched big‑bore performance.
  • Grizzly (ATV): With superior capability, all‑day comfort and legendary durability, the Grizzly is the best‑performing ATV in its class.
  • Wolverine (UTV): The tight trail‑conquering Wolverine proves its off‑road performance prowess with superior capability, comfort and confidence.

View the most current models on the Yamaha website.

 

An Arctic Cat Wildcat UTV glides across sand dunes.

Wildcat is one of Arctic Cat’s most iconic UTVs.

Arctic Cat

Most popular models:

  • Wildcat (UTV): Built to handle effortlessly, corner ruthlessly and dominate the most extreme terrain.
  • Prowler (UTV): The same class-leading, quiet engine, now with better-than-ever performance and suspension.
  • Alterra (ATV): Designed with more power, control, balance and comfort —giving you the freedom to chase bigger adventures than ever.

View the most current models on the Arctic Cat website.

A yellow and black Can-Am ATV.

Can-Am ATVs like the Outlander are often identifiable by their yellow and black colour scheme.

 

Can-Am

Most popular models:

  • Defender (UTV): Built extra tough to take you way beyond the daily grind, Defender is the most capable Can-Am side-by-side ever. 
  • Maverick (UTV): Explore, ride, and roar off-road in the purpose-built-for-anything high-performance vehicle. 
  • Outlander (ATV): Outlander puts power and stability on equal footing, for confident handling, the most horsepower, and the best hauling of its category. 

View the most current models on the Can-Am website.

A grey Kawasaki Brute Force ATV in the foreground with a farmer working on a fence in the background.

Many ATVs and UTVs, like the Kawasaki Brute Force ATV, are necessary for farm work.

 

Kawasaki

Most popular models:

  • Brute Force (ATV): The Brute Force can get you around your property quickly and easily, whether you’re tackling chores or moving equipment.
  • Mule (UTV): With excellent performance for both work and play, it's the perfect work companion with all-day comfort and strong, dependable performance.
  • Teryx (UTV): The game-changing Teryx inspires confidence with a terrain-taming combination of power, performance and capability. 

View the most current models on the Kawasaki website.

 

Honda

Most popular models:

  • Pioneer (UTV): You can count on the Honda Pioneer for work or play, offering smart technology, superior materials, and refined engineering.
  • Talon (UTV): All Honda Talons share the same powerful, Honda-designed-and-built high-output engine, quick-shifting Automatic DCT Transmission, and exclusive i-4WD technology.
  • Rancher (ATV): Every Rancher model has rugged front and rear racks, a spacious front utility compartment, wide front drive-shaft guards, and an easy-to-use reverse system.

View the most current models on the Honda website.


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