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ATV vs. UTV: Which Off-Road Vehicle is Right for You?

ATVs and UTVs are fun off-road vehicles, but deciding which is right for you can be challenging. It’s not always clear which you should choose, practically and financially. 

Fortunately, this post is here to help. First is a quick review of the difference between ATVs and UTVs. Then, we look at the pros and cons of each before concluding which is the better off-road vehicle. (Clue: it depends on how you want to use it!) 

What is the Difference Between ATVs and UTVs?

You’re not alone if you’re scratching your head, wondering about the differences between ATVs and UTVs. When eyeballing them, they look similar. 

The main difference is the seat position and how you ride each vehicle. ATV stands for “all-terrain vehicle,” meaning designers intend you to go pretty much anywhere on it. In an ATV, you sit upright with similar controls to a motorcycle.

In a UTV or “utility task vehicle,” you have more of a car-like seating position. You sit upright in your chair and usually use a steering wheel instead of grabbing onto a pair of handlebars. 

The following table lists some of the differences between ATVs and UTVs: 




Number of seats

Up to six

Passenger capacity

1 or 2

Up to six


Handlebars, like a motorbike

Steering wheel like a car


Between 30 and 50 inches

Between 50 and 80 inches

Drive train

Mostly AWD or 4x4

AWD or 4x4

Load capacity

1,500 lbs. approx. 

3,000 lbs. approx.


The Pros And Cons Of ATVs And UTVs

Driving Preferences

As their names suggest, ATVs and UTVs are rugged vehicles designed for heavy off-road use. However, which you choose for this purpose depends on your driving preferences. 

If you love cycling or motorbiking, getting an ATV might be better. These vehicles force you to adopt a motorcycle-like seating position when your torso leads forward, increasing stability and ensuring you can climb and descend steep, bumpy terrain. 

On the other hand, UTVs are friendlier to people who prefer driving. The steering wheel and upright seating position feel similar to a conventional car. 

Offroad Considerations

If you plan on using your UTV (or ATV) offroad on motorized trails, ensure it is under 50 inches wide. The U.S. Forest Service doesn’t allow vehicles with larger widths on these tracks, which could limit your ability to explore. 

Speaking of trails, ATVs are often a better option. That’s because the seating position enables you to tackle more extreme trail features. You can use some UTVs for this purpose, but the ride experience is uncomfortable. 

Riding with Passengers

Even so, UTVs are superior when it comes to riding with family. ATVs often only have space for one passenger, if that, while UTVs can have as many as six seats, making them suitable for group off-road adventures. Of course, if you are tackling extreme terrain, you can purchase multiple ATVs, but this starts to get expensive quickly. 


What about hauling things? Here, both vehicle types do well. However, UTV’s larger size often means they are more capable. The load capacity discussed in the table above is typical, meaning any UTV you buy has double the tow capacity of any ATV on average. However, always check individual product ratings. Some ATVs excel at towing, while other UTVs can have surprisingly small carrying capacities. 

Hunting and Fishing 

For hunters and anglers, ATVs are usually a better option. Again, that’s because they can tackle more challenging terrain and are physically smaller. These vehicles make it easier to approach game than burly UTVs. 

Snow Plowing and Farm Use

In wintry conditions, UTVs are better able to push snow because they are heavier than ATVs. However, you can still attach a plow to an ATV and move snow off paths. 

Finally, ATVs and UTVs are helpful for farmers. These vehicles make it more straightforward to get around the ranch. 

As you might imagine, ATVs are better for smaller ranches. You can quickly drive out to cattle or other livestock or survey vegetable crops. UTVs are better when you manage multiple fields or massive areas of corn that take several minutes to get around. As long as you have suitable paths on your ranch, a UTV will give you a better ride. 

Which Should You Choose: An ATV Or A UTV?

When choosing an ATV or UTV, consider what you want to use it for. Those looking for solo off-road experiences prefer ATVs, while those wanting more group-orientated activities may want to get a UTV.

If you need an ATV loan or ATV financing, National Powersports Financing can help. As Canada’s most trusted provider, we help everyone, even if you have bad or no credit. Get in touch today and experience ultimate buying power!


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