UTV Buying Guide
A utility vehicle is a great way to get around and have some fun riding over a range of terrains. If you are looking to buy your first vehicle of this type, you probably have a few questions. Let’s take a closer look at important aspects with our UTV buying guide.
Work or Play?
The most important thing to cover in our UTV buying guide is the importance of knowing what you intend to use the vehicle for on a daily basis. If you intend to use it for fun and riding trails, you will need a different model than one intended strictly for work purposes or just getting around your own property. While a UTV isn’t like an ATV where its broken into utility or sport models, the features will determine which one is right for your needs and intended use of work or play. For example, a work UTV is usually heavier to add to stability and focus more on durability and towing capacity rather than speed or agility of sportier models meant more for fun than work needs. Its important to know what you intend to use this vehicle for before you buy so you can get the right features and model for your needs.
Seating and Bed Options
The seating situation should be one of the first things you look at when buying a UTV. There are options with two bucket seats, fold down bench style third seating, and four seats similar to a car. The seating is important because it determines not only how many people can ride in the UTV, but also plays a role in your bed size. If you are looking for an option with a longer bed for work purposes and carrying capacity, you will likely need an option with only two seats as opposed to the four-seater design with the shorter bed. The number of seats will also affect a few important factors. For instance, a four-seater will be longer and harder to maneuver than a two-seater model while also offering less speed because the focus is on stability over speed. You should carefully consider what you intend to use the vehicle for and how many seats/bed size needed when shopping for a UTV.
2x4 or 4x4?
If you know you will mostly drive your UTV on flat terrains such as grass or pavement, you most likely can get by without the four-wheel drive aspect. If you are planning to ride your UTV over rougher terrains or on trails where terrain can be unpredictable, four by four drive is important. Four-wheel drive can also be useful in the snow even if you don’t intend to use the vehicle on anything more than pavement or grass.
Matters of Performance
- Engine. While the majority of UTVs on the market operate on 4 stroke engines of varying engine displacements using gas, there is also a choice of electric or diesel. Diesel is ideal for power to cover large landscapes but is limited in speed. Electric is ideal for a more environmentally sound option, but you will need access to a charging station to make it work. Traditional gas can be the best bet for you, but these are other options are nice to have. The engine and fuel type you choose will impact the way the UTV performs overall. You also want to consider elements of the engine such as the displacement. The higher displacement an engine has, the more power or speed it has to offer.
- Drivetrain. Most UTVs use a constant velocity transmission called CVT. This type of transmission is ideal for all terrains, but there are a few things to look for in regard to this element before you purchase. For starters, if you intend to ride over hilly or mountainous areas, you will want “engine braking” which will engage the engine’s compression when you let off the throttle going down a hill to help with stopping. If you are looking to ride mostly over grass, having a drivetrain option of “turf mode” engages only one rear wheel to reduce tearing up the grass when you drive over it. The features you will need related to the CVT aspect will depend on your intended terrain and use of the UTV.
- Suspension. The suspension controls the smoothness of the ride can is especially important in this type of vehicle. You should test ride the vehicle if possible over similar terrain of what you will drive over after the purchase to get a feel for the suspension capabilities. Another good idea is to choose a model with adjustable suspension for more versatility and control over this aspect. Keep in mind that if you intend to do mostly turf or pavement riding the suspension will matter a lot less than a UTV you are using for rocky terrain or trail riding.
- Hitch. Most hitches are UTV models that can pull anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 pounds when properly utilized. You should consider this aspect in general but especially if you intend to use this vehicle for work purposes. If you intend to attach trailers, sprayers, or seeders for landscaping purposes, this is a crucial thing to consider before you buy.
Matters of Function/Appearance
- Roof. UTVs can come with or without a roof as part of the design. While some people prefer the more open concept of no roof, others prefer a roof for protection from wind, rain, and sun exposure. While your UTV may come with a roof, you can also add one later on if you choose to buy one without a roof.
- Doors. There are options with no doors, half doors, and full doors similar to a car door. While an open concept can feel freeing and fun, having at least a half door will help keep mud, sand, dirt, snow, and water out of eth cab of your ride for a cleaner and more enjoyable ride while full doors can offer even more protection for riding in unpleasant weather like snow or rain.
- Windshields. Another option you can either buy as part of the original or add on later on your own, a windshield helps block some of the wind while you ride. It also helps protect you from rain, water, mud, and dirt while you ride which makes it worth considering for your UTV.