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The Difference Between ATV and UTV Vehicles – Which is the Best for You?

Have you considered purchasing a new offroad vehicle? If so, you might be wondering what are the differences between an ATV  and UTV vehicle  Whether you want to explore beautiful wilderness trails or use one for work-related reasons, finding the best solution for your needs will help maximize the return on your investment; personal or professional. 

Here, we are going to cover both types of vehicles for you. After reading this, if you want to try an ATV or UTV for yourself, we recommend you schedule a test ride at our Pocatello, Idaho store. 

What Do ATV and UTV Stand For? 

ATV stands for “all-terrain vehicle.” These types of offroad vehicles are single-passenger and intended for recreational use. Sometimes, you might hear many types of ATV’s called “quads” or “four-wheelers”  due to their four-wheeled configuration. 

UTV is an acronym for “utility task vehicle.” Unlike ATVs, UTVs are bigger, designed to hold more than one passenger, and can be used more easily for purposes other than recreational riding. Because of these enhanced performance capabilities, UTVs often cost more than ATVs as well. 

Why Ride an ATV over a UTV 

Here are some reasons why you may want to ride an ATV instead of a UTV: 


ATVs are almost always used as recreational offroad vehicles. They are perfect for the single-rider that wants to explore the wilderness without other passengers. Unlike UTVs, these vehicles are rarely used for work-related tasks. 


Because ATVs are often smaller and faster than UTVs, they offer the user tighter maneuvering. Since they are also single-passenger vehicles, the rider straddles a seat positioned at the middle instead of on the left side like a UTV. This grants greater overall control to the user; especially when navigating uneven terrain. 

In addition, ATVs are also typically less heavy than UTVs, allowing you to easily transport them in the back of a truck or towed in a small hitched trailer. 


Because ATVs are smaller and made with less materials, they also often cost less than a standard UTV. For those that want to save money while not sacrificing fun, they make a perfect option. With Switchback, we also offer financing opportunities for most of our inventory to help you save even more. 

Why Ride a UTV over an ATV 

A UTV can provide just as much enjoyment as an ATV, but there are some notable advantages. These include, but are not limited to: 


Beyond recreational offroading, certain types of UTVs can also be used for work-related tasks. For example, a grounds crew at a golf course or university might use a UTV to transport multiple crew members as well as tow a small trailer with maintenance equipment. This eliminates the need for large vehicles and allows greater maneuverability around a landscaped environment. 

Conversely, a tour guide in a desert area might use multi-passenger dune buggies to safely transport tourists through a terrain completely unreachable by a standard motor vehicle. The larger, sturdier frame of the UTV would prove safer than a single-passenger ATV.


As we mentioned, ATVs are often smaller, more maneuverable, and faster than UTVs. However, these features do not crown ATVs the clear-cut superior offroad vehicle. 

Because UTVs are larger and sturdier than most ATVs, they provide a great option for those that want to enjoy offroad adventures but also prioritize rider and passenger safety. Users that want to ride with others will also find UTVs a better choice than a single-rider vehicle. 

Extra Safety Features

As we have mentioned before, UTVs are broadly considered safer than most ATVs. Common UTV features that support this popular perception include: 

  • Larger vehicle frame
  • Roll-cages 
  • Windscreens
  • Seatbelts
  • Safety modifications (enhanced lighting, suspension, power-steering, etc.) 

If rider safety is your number-one priority over greater speed and maneuverability, a UTV will prove your best option. 

What is the Best ATV? 

The ATV market offers a broad range of choices, but our team at Switchback love the Polaris and Yamaha lineups. Both offer a variety of options suited to match many different needs and preferences. 

For example, if you want to adventure through muddy terrain, the 2021 Polaris Sportsman High Lifter Edition is designed specifically for that purpose. Are you a fan of visually-striking vehicles? You will absolutely love the Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS SE for its beautiful construction and show-stealing performance. 

What is the Best UTV? 

Similar to ATVs, selecting the best UTV will depend on your specific needs. Do you plan on using your UTV for work, recreation, or a mixture of both? Knowing your intended purpose for purchasing a UTV will help guide your decision-making process. 

For those seeking a balanced, all-around excellent UTV, you might find the Polaris General 1000 particularly appealing. It looks like a mini-pickup truck with tires and suspension designed for offroad enjoyment. 

Want to turn the adventure up a notch? The Ranger XP 1000 High Lifter Edition is designed for extreme mud performance and can transport as many as 4 passengers at once. With a model like the Ranger XP 1000, you can create unforgettable experiences with your friends and family as you travel together off the beaten path. 

We also offer a variety of Yamaha UTV models, including the sharp Wolverine X4 XT-R. The Wolverine transports 4 passengers with the enhanced safety of a UTV, but with a more compact design than many other alternatives. This allows you to take your adventure to more places that some larger UTVs might not be able to reach as easily. 

Experience the Difference Between ATVs and UTVs Firsthand

To bring everything we’ve discussed together: The key differences between ATVs and UTVs are the size, number of passengers, and functionality. ATVs are single-passenger and used almost exclusively for recreation. Conversely, a UTV rider might also use a vehicle for work-related tasks where a traditional motor vehicle might not be practical or suitable. 

Is one type of offroad vehicle better than the other? Objectively, no, but based on your personal preferences, you may prefer one over the other after reading our comparison points above. 

If you would like more information on the differences between ATVs and UTVs, you can contact us anytime to speak to one of our team members or visit our store at 150 Park Lawn Drive in Pocatello, ID. 

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