It’s Not a Social Media Channel: What Does UTV Stand For

You’ve likely heard of an ATV or all-terrain vehicle, also called a four-wheeler. Another prevalent off-roading ride is a UTV, which is less known by the public. A UTV, sometimes called a side-by-side, is similar to an ATV but holds more people. A UTV is comparable to an ATV, designed for off-roading or utility purposes, with sturdy wheels, terrain capabilities, and usually an open design.

So, what exactly does UTV stand for, and why is it called that instead of ATV? Some disagreement exists about the exact meaning behind the acronym for UTVs. Many people claim UTV stands for “utility terrain vehicle,” while others call it a “utility task vehicle.” Regardless, a UTV is built for utility, whether it be carrying passengers over trails for fun or hauling a few people along with some small cargo on a job site.

Why are UTVs Called “Side-by-Sides”

Still, others referred to UTVs more concisely as a utility vehicle, simple as that. UTVs will also frequently be dubbed side-by-sides, sometimes denoted as SxS or side by sides (without hyphens) when written out. UTVs are often referred to as side-by-sides because they are made to sit two, four, or even six people side-by-side. These multi-passenger vehicles can top out at speeds as high as 80 miles per hour, with an average speed cap of about 50 mph.

The Difference Between ATVs and UTVs

ATVs are for one person, and this is the chief difference between an ATV and UTV. ATVs are for solo riders, while UTVs allow for more than one passenger. As you can see, a UTV can be a fantastic investment if you are interested in utility vehicles similar to ATVs but require more seating for more people.

Types of UTVs

There are a few different versions of UTVs.  The three most common include sport UTV, utility UTV, and sport-utility UTV. These cousins of ATVs are useful utility vehicles, regardless of the style. However, some can handle more heft and towing capabilities than others.

Sport UTVs

The sport UTVs are for more recreational activities such as trails, racing, and even zipping over dunes. These are similar in function to ATVs but allow for multiple riders in the vehicle. On sport UTVs you might find specialized tires, higher speed capabilities, multi-terrain features, or guards under the frame for handling off-roading.

Utility UTVs

Utility UTVs are for functions that the name would suggest, more job-oriented tasks such as moving items around on jobs or getting around on farms. These are crafted to focus more on towing and hauling items. Utility UTVs will more likely have robust towing capabilities and more torque in some cases. These UTVs operate for work more than roaming over dunes or trails.

Sport-Utility UTVs

The sport-utility hybrid mix is a bit of both. You can tow with these UTVs, but also do a bit of off-roading or work the trails. Sport-utility UTVs are ideal for those who enjoy hunting, perhaps live on a small farm, yet also like to drive some trails or dunes on occasion.

Popular UTVs

Right now, some of the most prevalent makes for UTVs are Polaris, Arctic Cat, Can-Am, Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha. You can even find some models of John Deere and Bad Boy Buggies UTVs out there. Five of the UTVs made in the past few years we are fond that also proved themselves to be popular with consumers of are:

  • POLARIS RZR XP 1000
  • CAN-AM COMMANDER 800/1000
  • ARCTIC CAT WILDCAT 1000 X
  • YAMAHA YXZ1000R
  • KAWASAKI TERYX

There are so many makes and models of UTVs out there, you’ll first want to establish your budget, decide on the side-by-side you want, and how many seats you need. When figuring out your budget, don’t forget to factor in costs such as maintenance, possible immediate repairs, and insurance. If you take a UTV to state parks or anywhere that gets patrolled, you will need insurance coverage for your UTV.

Not all states require UTV insurance universally, but specific areas often used for these vehicles do. So, check into this before taking your UTV out. The cost of insuring motorized transport such as UTV can run anywhere for a few hundred dollars to around one-thousand dollars per year. This price will depend on the make and model, the driver’s age, and driving history.

Cost of a UTV

The average price of a UTV is pretty similar to that of motorcycles. The price tag can vary significantly depending on the make, model, and condition of a side-by-side. Whereas motorcycle values average between $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the bike, a UTV can run you anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000. You can find a newer UTV in good condition for around $12,000 to $14,000, and this is a normal price for them.

We compiled a list of ten popular UTVs and their prices. Keep in mind, the cost of these is the average price for a used side-by-side, between the suggested retail price and the lowest used prices out there. Each of these is a rough estimate for the specific utility vehicle.

  • 2019 Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 Northstar: $24,000
  • 2019 Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo EPS: $22,000
  • 2019 Honda Pioneer 1000: $14,000
  • 2019 Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS: $12,000
  • 2018 Can-Am Maverick Trail 1000 DPS: $12,000
  • 2017 Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail: $10,000
  • 2015 Can-Am Maverick 1000R: $10,000
  • 2015 Kawasaki Teryx 800: $9,000
  • 2014 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X RS: $9,000
  • 2010 Kawasaki Mule 600: $4,000

As you can see, buying or selling used will change the cost significantly depending on the condition and age of a UTV. Like any other vehicle, side-by-sides will depreciate over time. Make sure you check out the maintenance records and inspect the condition thoroughly before settling on the best UTV for you.

Buying a Side-by-Side

If you’re interested in purchasing a UTV, you can look into a motorcycle loan calculator to get an idea of the ballpark price and current interest rates for smaller vehicles as such. Be sure to check the VIN before buying, even on a UTV, if possible.

Whether you are interested in an Arctic Cat side-by-side utility vehicle or a Yamaha, be diligent when inspecting used UTVs. Ask the seller questions, such as how long they’ve owned it, what they typically used the vehicle for, and if they are the original owner.

It is also a good idea to check the oil to be sure the levels are adequate (dangerously low oil can be a sign of an irresponsible UTV owner) and take a look at the drive lines and the condition of the frame. Don’t forget to give it a thorough test drive and pay attention to the primary checkpoints: starting the vehicle, smoke from the engine, stability in the steering, whether or not it feels like it has the power it should during acceleration, and how well the brakes perform. 

Safety

Whether you need to tow small cargo loads around your worksite, transport people around a farm, or want to take some friends out on dunes or off-roading, a UTV is an ideal vehicle for these activities. Remember, UTVs pose the same safety risks, just as ATVs or transport such as snowmobiles do. Pay attention to safety practices and responsible driving in your UTV, especially if you are taking passengers with you.

We recommend keeping a first-aid kit and a small fire extinguishing in your UTV and wearing helmets and buckling harnesses when riding trails, dunes, or any other type of off-roading.

When used safely and responsibly, UTVs can be instrumental for work and incredibly fun vehicles that help you get out into nature, explore your area, or help with outdoor work. Check around for prices in your area and compare a few models to see how reasonably priced these helpful utility vehicles can be.