ATV vs. UTV: Which Off-Roader Suits You?


Rough terrain driving is a whole different experience and can be enjoyable or punishing depending on your choice of automobile. While regular vehicles are not up to the challenge of rugged roads, ATVs and UTVs will live up to their reputation.

ATV and UTV fall under the four-wheeled off-road vehicle category, and it’s common for many people to wrongly use their names interchangeably.

So, between an ATV and UTV, which is the most suitable? You must consider several aspects to pick the right off-roader between the two, as evident from this comparison.


ATV and UTV Definition

As earlier hinted, ATV and UTV are two different four-wheelers. ATV stands for all-terrain vehicle, whereas UTV in full is a utility task vehicle.

Their names give an idea of their contrasts, where the ATV or quad bike is suitable for tackling punishing terrains. On the other hand, UTV or side-by-side is more of a task-oriented vehicle with some ATV features. 

Differences Between ATV and UTV

All-terrain vehicles differ from utility task vehicles in numerous ways. Let us look at the variations of these two four-wheelers based on the following facets.


You can easily distinguish a quad bike from a UTV by looking at its steering. The former uses handlebars, which give it an edge of agility, while the latter uses a regular steering wheel, suitable for comfort and stability. According to Yard Floor, power steering issues are common in UTVs.

Rarely will you find an ATV with a steering wheel, which is probably an aftermarket modification. Such ATVs don’t ride as smoothly as those with handlebars, though it is a matter of owner preference.


The most noticeable difference between an ATV and UTV is their design. An ATV is typically smaller than a UTV and has an open build. The buffer UTV mostly has an enclosed design complemented by a roof and support beams, with some models having a roll cage.

Size should not be a key determining factor when distinguishing an ATV from a UTV, as larger ATVs exist. Please note that a quad bike is not a one-size-fits-all design; the sizes vary depending on the rider’s age and build.

Seating Capacity

Not veering farther from design, we look at another contrast point of the two off-roaders, their seating capacity. ATVs mostly accommodate one passenger, though there are larger two-seater models. The seat is a saddle, similar to the ones in motorcycles.

The larger side-by-sides accommodate more passengers, up to six. The standard seats in UTVs are benches, which can hold three passengers. The smaller one-seater UTVs, primarily used in motorsports, come with bucket seats.


A critical area in the ATV vs. UTV discussion is their uses. These two off-roaders are versatile with plenty of applications. Quad bikes are excellent for recreational activities, such as racing, off-roading, and other forms of auto sports. They are also handy for simple transportation, surveillance, and hunting.

Surprising applications of ATVs include:

  • Lawn mowing
  • Snow plowing
  • Plowing the field
  • Salt, seed, or rock spreading

These applications require modification of the quad bike.

UTVs are more work-oriented and are common in farms, construction sites, hunting grounds, and other areas, where they haul equipment, tools, and goods or for moving around. Furthermore, side-by-sides are ideal for recreational activities.

Golf cart vs. UTV, are they the same? Many people wrongly assume a golf cart is a UTV, probably due to their almost-similar designs, plus the work-oriented nature of golf carts.

The difference is their wheels and suspension. UTVs have rugged wheels and robust suspension units built for punishing roads. Such wheels can damage golf courses, a reason why golf carts have smoother wheels. Nonetheless, some adventurous auto-enthusiasts modify their golf carts into UTVs by focusing on the suspension system.

Comfort and Extra Features

Regarding comfort, the larger and more spacious UTV is the victor. UTVs have more seats and adequate legroom than their counterparts. The bench seats are quite comfy, but you can improve them by adding more padding.

Talking about extra features, the UTV has more, though it depends on the model. Standard features include a cargo bed, a cargo rack, a roll cage, and a roof cover, which may be removable. Common ATV add-ons are:

  • Front or rear cargo rack
  • Storage compartments
  • A winch
  • Trailer hitch
  • A bull bar

Still, on the extras, quad bikes lack seat belts, but UTVs have them for safety. Furthermore, UTVs may have a windshield or a cover that protects the passengers from wind, dust, insects, and other elements.


Side-by-sides and quad bikes generally fall under three categories, which determine their cost. The categories are entry-level, mid-range, and high-performance. Entry-level four-wheelers are the cheapest, followed by mid-range, with high-performance being the priciest.

A comparison of ATVs and UTVs from each category reveals that, typically, the latter are more expensive. An entry-level quad bike costs between $2000 and $5000, and a UTV in the same category goes for between $6000 to $10000.

The cost of ATVs and UTVs may vary depending on the brand, type, extra features, location, and more.

Pros and Cons

The following are the pros and cons of each of the four-wheelers.

Pros of ATVs:

  • Relatively cheaper than UTVs
  • Requires less storage space
  • Easy to learn
  • A high degree of agility and maneuverability
  • Easy to transport due to its compact frame
  • Numerous applications


  • Inadequate seating space
  • Safety concerns due to its open design and lack of seat belts
  • It might be quite uncomfortable
  • Not suitable for extreme weather

Pros of UTVs:

  • Safe, courtesy of its enclosed design
  • Ample seating space and legroom translating to comfort
  • The steering wheel upholds stability
  • UTVs have cargo space for hauling items
  • Plenty of extra features
  • Suitable for different kinds of weather


  • Pricier than ATVs
  • They may not access some spaces where ATVs reach effortlessly
  • Less agile
  • They require plenty of storage room

Which Is the Best Pick?

ATVs and UTVs are excellent automobiles with plenty of uses, which explains the dilemma you may encounter when choosing one over the other. The ATV vs. UTV discussion highlights critical considerations when picking an ideal off-roader, such as price, comfort, and purpose.

Quad bikes are perfect for sporting and maneuvering tight sports, plus they are cheaper and economical in storage space. A side-by-side is suitable if you want stability, adequate seating, hauling, and comfort, so long as you don’t mind the steep cost.

Use this piece to pick the right off-roader for a fulfilling moment tackling rugged terrains. 

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