How to Choose an ORV for You

How to Choose an ATV or UTV for You

Sportsman ATV

I want one! Parents and spouses are hearing that a lot when it comes to ORVs- Off Road Vehicles. And families that play together make memories that will last a lifetime, so what’s not to love? With the right choice, you can go anywhere and do just about anything. . . ripping, mudding, cruising, hunting, working, hauling, and dune and trail riding. You pick the purpose and then choose the ORV that’s right for you.

Deciding which ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) or UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle) to buy can be challenging if you don’t know what questions to ask, so here are some suggestions to get you rolling:

First, decide whether you want an ATV or UTV. What is the difference? An ATV is typically controlled with a thumb throttle and handlebar, and you straddle it. As well, it makes quick turns, and you can hop on and off frequently and haul small loads. The ATV is more physically demanding than a UTV because the rider uses balance to manipulate and control the vehicle. ATVs are typically less expensive than UTVs and fit in smaller trailers, including some horse trailers.

A UTV may fit you better. It can carry more people and cargo in a more comfortable and protective cab. With as many as six comfy seats, amazing new suspension, greater ground clearance, roll bars, and seat belts for all, today’s UTVs are popular recreation for the whole family. You can fly across dunes or ride wooded trails with your kids, spouse, dog, or hunting buddies sitting next to you.

After you decide whether to get an ATV or UTV, determine which make and model to get by deciding what else is important to you:

Are you power hungry and wanting the biggest, baddest, fastest, strongest ATV with the highest horsepower, fastest acceleration, and best power to weight? Maybe you are more interested in features like an innovative touring seat, slimmer straddle width, bigger floorboards, class leading ergonomics, active descent controls, or superior traction. If you want the most powerful recreation UTV ever built, get the UTV with 160+ HP engine, 100+ lbs. of torque and 16” of ground clearance. Many ORVs now have CVT transmissions because they are always in the right gear, delivery is instantaneous, and it is a more powerful, simpler transmission.

If you are serious about hitting the trails, look for variable assist power steering, high ground clearance, preloaded shocks, engine braking and active descent control to slow it on the downhill. Note that many trails have a 50” width limit. Some ATVs are more balanced on faster obstacles like whoops or off-camber ruts than others. Ask about performance and speed on the dunes.

You may not care about thrill rides; you may be more interested in lots of cupholders, a smooth ride and large cargo capacity or in the ease of adding accessories like light bars, sound systems and other attachments. Are they plug and play? Seat height and adjustability are important for safety and comfort.

Do you want to ride in all types of weather? Can you seal the cab? Is there heat or A/C available? Parents love the new geofencing capabilities and digital speed limiting from the Ride Command app for ATV/ UTVs for children as young as six years old.

If you are a rancher, pay attention to payload and towing. One of the newer models of UTV has an amazing 2500 lb. towing capability and a 1500 lb. payload capacity. Ranching is hard work, but these Polaris units definitely make it easier!

Sometimes a used unit is sufficient, but newer units have owner inspired improvements making them more rugged and stable with higher ground clearance, longer lasting parts, welds, and sealed suspension bushings. Buy from a company that is constantly making new, better models. Ask questions and then let the fun begin!


Warning: ATVs can be hazardous to operate and are not intended for on-road use. Polaris adult models are for riders age 16 and older. For your safety, always wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing, and be sure to take a safety training course. For information, call 800-342-3764. Check local laws before riding on trails. ©2018 Polaris Industries Inc.