Utility Vehicle Roundup

Choose the best partner for your operation.

| January/February 2008

They’re fully evolved, here to stay and taking the countryside by storm. I’m not talking about some invasive insect, but the off-road utility vehicle (UTV) that’s now available in scores of models, many brands and numerous colors. First developed for a few specialized industries, these versatile little machines have become the new choremasters for folks living the country lifestyle. UTVs are perfect for getting around the acreage and boldly going where a pickup truck dare not tread, and they have less environmental impact to boot.

In the entries on these pages (and at www.Grit.com), we’ve included a roundup of the latest and greatest UTVs to get you started.

Workhorse of a different color

UTVs aren’t intended to completely replace your tractor or truck, but they perform many of the same functions with relative ease and have the added benefit of ATV-like nimbleness. Unlike traditional ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), the UTV carries its passengers in side-by-side fashion and is easily operated by anyone of legal age who can drive a car with an automatic transmission.

As their name implies, UTVs are designed to be very utilitarian. The basic layout is a compact pickup truck configuration with passenger seating ahead of a small bed. Though the bed is much smaller than an actual pickup truck bed, it is plenty big for use around the home place. Nearly all side-by-side UTV beds offer a dump feature (some are power), adding to their versatility. UTVs can be harnessed into moving snow, grading earth, pulling mowers and tillers, and all manner of hauling. Several of the heavy-duty commercial grade UTVs can even provide hydraulic power to accessories.

Practical pulling

Most UTVs are powered by an efficient four-stroke, single or twin cylinder gasoline engine ranging in size from around 300ccs to more than 750ccs. For more serious applications, some UTVs can be ordered with an optional diesel engine, which might be well worth the premium if you plan to put a lot of hours on the vehicle or already have a diesel tractor or pickup. All UTVs in this roundup feature automatic transmissions, generally continuously variable designs.

Since UTVs are intended to be used off-road, four-wheel-drive is a popular option. These vehicles will go just about anywhere you point them in two-wheel-drive, and are nearly unstoppable with all four wheels pulling. When maximum traction is required, a locking differential will keep power to the ground. If you plan to use the vehicle on steep terrain or plan to pull stumps, consider a model that has a dual range hi-low final drive.

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