ATV vs. UTV: Everything to Know

Before we can truly talk about ATVs and UTVs, perhaps it’d be best if you understood what their acronyms even stand for. In its longer form, ATV stands for All Terrain Vehicle. Of course, these are also commonly referred to as quads or four wheelers. And, UTV stands for Utility Task Vehicle.

While they may often get confused or be used interchangeably by those who are unfamiliar, there are quite a few differences between ATVs and UTVs. This includes everything from speed and mobility to size and number of riders. To put it bluntly, these are two vehicles are not created equally.

Let’s explore an ATV vs. a UTV and discover everything you need to know about the two.


Of all the differences between ATVs and UTVs, perhaps one of the biggest is the purpose each was designed for. For example, if you are looking for a fun toy to ride around through the rough terrain on your property and race your friends, a UTV may not be your best option. The same holds true if you are looking for an all-terrain vehicle that will help you haul loads of wood across your property – an ATV may be a poor choice.

So, what are the purpose of an ATV and a UTV?

A UTV is designed to be like a workhorse. Much like driving an automobile, it has the strength to carry loads and pull trailers. They are sturdy and strong vehicles, making them quite heavy. On the other end, the purpose of an ATV is some riding fun. This type of vehicle is designed for racing and other fun times.

Simply put, a UTV is great for work while an ATV is great for pleasure seeking.

Seating Capacity

There is another great difference between an ATV and a UTV when it comes to the seating capacity. An ATV is designed for one rider (occasionally two). It is a straddle seat, much like that of a motorcycle. In fact, it even requires a bit of balance. The steering is controlled by handlebars.

UTVs are quite different. Because they aren’t designed for quick moves, they are built a bit thicker. This allows for at least two to four riders. And, by design, the seats are typically either bucket seating or bench seating. This means you and others can ride comfortably on a UTV. The steering is done by a steering wheel, much like an automobile or golf cart.


How fast are you wanting to go? That is something you may want to ask yourself before purchasing an ATV or UTV. Typically, both vehicles offer average top speeds of about 35mph. However, keep in mind that this is going to vary greatly based on the model, design, and any bonus additions that design the vehicle for higher speeds.

Remember, ATVs are designed for speed. They are generally going to be easier to handle and maneuver, especially when it comes to things such as tricky terrain or taking curves. The faster you go, the more you need to know how to handle it. UTVs, on the other hand, may offer a bit more control, especially those with power steering.


Looking for the best price? When pricing out both ATVs and UTVs, you will find that ATVs generally cost much less than the other. In fact, basic, stock ATVs cost a couple hundred dollars on average. However, a basic stock UTV tends to start at a couple thousand. That is quite a difference between the two.

Think about what you are purchasing. A UTV may be more expensive, but it also rated higher for safety and you will likely find yourself taking less risk with one. Not to mention the space – since it accommodates more than one person.

Keep in mind, also, that there are a tremendous number of add-ons and packages that you can purchase which will also be added into the final price of your vehicle.


As with anything, there are risks with riding both ATVs and UTVs. It is highly recommended that the proper safety equipment and headgear are worn for both.

One very big difference between the two is that UTVs almost always have a roll-cage (safety bars) surrounding them. As long as the rider is buckled in properly, should the UTV overturn, there is a protective barrier to reduce serious injury. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for ATVs.

No matter which you choose, you should never ride a recreational vehicle without knowing how to properly drive and handle it. Not taking the time to learn could have some devastating effects.

When to Use Them

Because they are so different, there is obviously going to be a specific ride for you based on your needs, your lifestyle, and your preferences. Just to recap, here is a breakdown…

So, when should you use an ATV?

  • If you are looking to race.
  • If you need a vehicle built for quick turns and tight spaces.
  • If you have a small budget.

And how about a UTV?

  • If you have work to do and need to haul something.
  • If you want to use the vehicle for work purposes.
  • If you are looking for something that will allow multiple passengers.


Understanding the details that each has to offer is important if you are looking to purchase either an ATV or a UTV. Whether you want to discover uncharted territory on nearby trails or you prefer to get from point A to point B on your property without any delay, you now know the difference between your options.

Is it speed you are looking for? Do you prefer to have a safe way to travel or are you desiring to take risks? Are you looking for strength or mobility? Do you know your price range?

There are a lot of differences when you compare an ATV to a UTV. And you know them.