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March 6, 2017
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This may be the best time to be a UTV enthusiast, but for people interested but unfamiliar with the sport, I know the huge selection of different UTV models is confusing. Even if you remove youth machines, pure utility UTVs and sport utility models, which some manufacturers call recreation machines, the many categories of sport models is enough to make a beginner’s head spin. To make life easier for those new to the sport, I’ve prepared this simplified guide to sport machines.


Single seat UTVs. Honda invented this clever concept with the Odyssey in the late 70’s and Polaris recently reinvented it with its Ace UTVs. These machines can be used on most ATV trails, and are big fun in a small package because of their agility and light weight. With the recent addition of the Ace 900 SP, these 48 inch wide machines are available with up to 60 hp. Regardless of size, their favorable power to weight ratios make them surprisingly quick. They’re also simple to transport in a full size pickup and can get you behind the wheel and on the trail for the price of an ATV, far less than most other UTVs. Price range: $7499-$11,499.

Fifty inch wide “Trail” UTVs is a fairly new but broad category, which includes everything from Honda’s Pioneer 500 to Arctic Cat’s Wildcat 700 Trail, to the big bore, 75 hp Polaris RZR 900. Most of these machines have around 10 inches of suspension travel. With two seats, extremely nimble handling and the ability to use most trails, along with convenient full size pickup portability, lower prices than wider, longer travel UTVs and serious performance, these are great go-anywhere machines. Price Range: $8499-$13,799.


55 and 60 inch wide “Sport” and “XC” UTVs like the Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport, Sport XT, Sport Limited, Can-Am’s Maverick 1000R XC, X XC, and the Polaris RZR 900 XC, RZR S 900, RZR 4 900, and RZR S 1000 are a step up to 12 to 13” of suspension travel, and, on some manufacturers’ machines, more than 100 hp. This category of machine has a balance of stability, suspension performance and power that many woods riders and racers love. Some of these vehicles are also available with four seats. Two-seat 55’’ and 60” wide UTVs can fit in some full size pickup beds, most 4 seat models won’t. Price range: $14,699-$18,299.

At the moment, the highest performance sport UTVs like Can-Am’s Maverick X ds Turbo, X rs Turbo, Arctic Cat’s Wildcat 1000 X, X Limited and Polaris’ RZR XP 1000 have 64” wide chassis with as much as 18” of suspension travel and, thanks to the new RZR XP Turbo, up to 144 hp. These are the machines with the most sophisticated, whoop eating suspension and dune climbing power, but you’ll need to have a trailer and a truck capable of pulling it to transport them. Most of these high performance machines are available in two and four seat models, and the four seaters don’t just hold more thrill seekers, many drivers prefer them for their longer wheelbases which offer additional high speed stability. Price range: $16,399-$26,599.

Knowing what category of UTV you want is a great start toward having the best possible time with your machine. Knowing how all those UTVs actually work is just as important, which is why we test so many machines in UTV Action. Seeing all the new choices in the many manufacturers’ lineups, I can’t wait to help you with that part.

By Joe Kosch

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