ATVs Vs. Sides By Sides: What Is The Difference? | XYZCTEM®

Do you need an all-purpose vehicle that meets your needs and lifestyle but don’t know whether to choose an ATV or a side-by-side? You are not alone. Choosing between an ATV and a side-by-side/UTV can be confusing, especially if you are new to the off-road world. But this shouldn’t be.

Understanding what each machine offers allows you to decide which is more suitable for your use.

This piece explains the major differences between an ATV and a side-by-side and what they are typically used for:

What is an ATV?

What is an ATV?

An all-terrain vehicle is a four-wheeled off-road vehicle sharing a few features with a motorcycle regarding seat style and steering. Although there are models that seat two people, a typical ATV is designed only for the rider.

Also, operating an ATV is a bit intensive since you lend much of your body to steering and controlling your quad.

An ATV goes by some other names, such as four-wheeler and quad, and is generally smaller than a side-by-side.

When to Buy an ATV

When to Buy an ATV

Narrow Trails

Farming is one common area of use of an ATV. ATVs are narrow and are excellent for navigating tight pathways, such as on the farm. Plus, they are easier to hop on and off when the farm work requires switching from the machine to the field.

Another great feature that makes an ATV a great choice for farming is the ease of transportation. Transporting an ATV machine to another location is easier than transporting a UTV side-by-side since an ATV is easier to fit into a full-size truck or a standard utility trailer.

Although ATVs don’t offer up to what UTVs offer in terms of space and hauling capacity, utility ATVs have plenty of cargo racks. Plus, the lack of a utility bed on an ATV is not usually a concern as the machine has enough payload to haul a trailer for additional cargo space.

Low Budget

An ATV will make a good buy if you are on a low budget and need a utility vehicle for your off-road activities. Although ATVs’ prices vary as much as UTVs’, an average ATV is cheaper than an average UTV. However, you want to reconsider your choice if you are not the only one embarking on off-road trips.

Since an ATV can only accommodate the rider or a passenger in some models, it is costlier to invest in multiple ATVs for more off-road travelers.

What Is a Side-by-Side?

A side-by-side is a multi-purpose vehicle with increased popularity in different areas of applications. And you have probably seen one even if you have not got your hands on one. They are popularly used on local trails and on off-road terrains.

Also known as a UTV, which means Utility Task Vehicle, a side-by-side features two major seating configurations. While there are 4 seater side-by-sides, some models seat up to six travelers, thanks to the bucket and bench seating arrangements. A typical side-by-side comes with decent shields, such as a roll bar. It also offers the option of further covering and protection, such as front and rear windshields, giving a sense of being in a regular vehicle.

The driver operates a side-by-side UTV using the steering and foot pedals.

When to Buy a Side-by-Side

A side-by-side has a wide range of applications, from hunting to farming. While hunters find value in UTVs for their ability to tackle rugged trails, UTVs’ hauling ability is a major force of seduction for most farmers and ranchers. Hence, a UTV is commonly found in applications requiring plenty of cargo and hauling capacities.


Different models of side-by-sides are designed for hauling, making them a great choice of all-purpose vehicles on farms, ranches, and other job sites. These models exceptionally stand out with their bigger engines and upscale payload. These features are complemented with a winch, so the vehicle can navigate its way out when stuck in tighter trails, such as in mud.

Although you can rely on a trailer for an ATV, a side-by-side has an inherited advantage of plenty of cargo space and hauling capacity over an ATV.

Hunting or Fishing

Hunting and fishing involve surfing different ground types, which are usually difficult to access. However, with an SxSs UTV, you can reach your desired destination and gain entry to your remote hunting or fishing sites.

High-clearance AWD utility side-by-sides offer the best performance even on poorly maintained roads and trails. A side-by-side also gives you enough cargo space for carrying the game and gear during hunting and fishing outings.

Special Work

Even if you are not into farming or hunting, there are still a few other reasons to consider a side-by-side over an ATV. A side-by-side UTV is ideal for tackling heavy-duty chores, such as hauling firewood, bricks, and heavy work equipment.

Depending on use, side-by-sides are designed to accommodate different accessories to expand their application areas. Plus, their ability to accommodate more passengers makes them a suitable choice for work crews.

ATV vs. Side-by-Side: Which Is Better?

What is a UTV? The Difference Between UTVs and ATVs

When choosing between an ATV and a side-by-side, it is important to know that one doesn’t write the other off. Each machine has its ups and downs, and whether to choose an ATV or side-by-side depend on needs, lifestyles, areas of application, and trails.

If your budget allows you, it is great to own an ATV and a side-by-side to enjoy the best of the two vehicles’ offerings.

However, regardless of your choice of machine, ensure you give your vehicle the proper protection, such as investing in a cover.

Here are our recommended ATV cover and side-by-side cover.

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