TMW Off-Road
Factory UTV
Axia Alloys

Sport UTVs:
Polaris RZR XP 4 1000
Polaris RZR XP 1000
Arctic Cat Wildcat
Can-Am Maverick
Polaris RZR XP 900
Can-Am Commander
Yamaha Rhino
Kawasaki Teryx FI 4x4 Sport
Polaris RZR S

The "Perfect" UTV?

See more UTV Analysis and Comparisons at

Ground Clearance

In stock form, all the UTVs suffer from low ground clearance. A key to being successful on trails like the Rubicon is ground clearance.

The Polaris RZR is about 2 inches lower than the Yamaha Rhino and Arctic Cat Prowler.


Taller tires and wheels are the easiest way to gain a bit of altitude, but a lift kit is another way to get your UTV up in the air. The Ranger below has a lift kit installed.

 Adjustable ride height would be a big plus. Legend Air Suspension and Fox Racing Shox both have air shocks that should make this a reality. We will have to see how they perform in all types of terrain.

Minus: Polaris Ranger and Polaris RZR

Locking/Unlocking Differential (aka "Turf Saver")

Locking differentials are a real necessity for a trail like the Rubicon.  With an open differential, if one tire loses traction, all power goes to the tire that is spinning. That doesn’t help much when the spinning tire is in the air. With a locking differential, if a tire loses traction, the other tire can still pull. Thankfully, most of the UTVs come from the factory with some sort of locking differential. However, the rear differential on the Yamaha Rhino and Arctic Cat Prowler are always locked and cannot be unlocked (open). The downside to a differential that isn’t open is poor turning radius. On a tight trail like the Rubicon, you can turn your wheels all the way in one direction, but the locked rear end will push the vehicle straight. On the Ranger and RZR, the driver controls whether the rear differential is open or locked.

Minus: Yamaha Rhino, Polaris RZR & Arctic Cat Prowler

Plus: Polaris Ranger

Low Gear Ratio

Slow speed will help you keep your vehicle in control when you are rock crawling, and the ability to go slow is dictated gearing and how quickly the CVT engages. This is where the Polaris vehicles do well. The lower low range in both the Polaris Ranger and Polaris RZR gives them the ability to crawl up and over rocks, while the Rhino needs to have a little momentum to climb.

Fuel injection also helps get your vehicle moving more smoothly in off-idle situations.

Plus: Polaris Ranger and Polaris RZR

Low Center of Gravity

A low center of gravity translates directly to more stability. The Polaris RZR is the only UTV that really addresses this with how the engine is placed behind the seats. Unfortunately for the RZR, the low center of gravity also means low ground clearance.

Plus:  Polaris RZR

Power Steering

None of the UTVs on our run had power steering, but everyone agreed that it would have been nice. A few Utility ATVs already have power steering.  Sure sees like a natural for UTVs to be similarly equipped.

Minus: All


The stock Rhino exhaust tip makes a downward turn and points the exhaust at the ground.  On a trail where you need to apply a good amount of throttle to climb up and over rocks, but not go very fast an exhaust that points down means one thing – DUST. Easy enough fix to cut off the downward portion of the tip, or to install a different tip, but very obnoxious for anyone in or behind a Rhino with a stock exhaust tip.


Off-road vehicle noise has also become a big issue in our National Forests.  A quiet exhaust makes the user experience more enjoyable on multiple-use trails.

Minus: Yamaha Rhino

Common Axle Length

The possibility of a CV or axle giving up on the trail is pretty real. We had three CVs break amongst our 14 UTVs on the Rubicon Trail run. It would be great to be able to carry a spare axle with CVs and boots all ready to install in case of a breakage. Unfortunately, none of the UTVs have common length axles, so you would need to purchase and carry multiple axles for each vehicle to handle all scenarios.

Stock Yamaha Rhino Axles

Minus: All


For day trips, all the UTVs have plenty of capacity for spare parts and an ice chest.  But if you are going to camp out on the trail, you need more room for tent, sleeping bags, food, clothes, etc. The RZR is really the only "sport" vehicle available in the side by side market, and the bed is a bit small.

Polaris RZR - Small Cargo Carrying Capacity
Polaris RZR has a small bed with low side walls.

Yamaha Rhino - Large cargo bed
Yamaha Rhino has much more storage capacity

Minus: Polaris RZR


1. On the trailer - The Polaris RZR has a length of 102".  This just so happens to be the maximum width of a trailer being towed on the highway. The advantage here is you can stuff a Polaris RZR on the trailer sideways and save a ton of room.

Plus: Polaris RZR

2. On the trails - Some trails have a maximum width restriction.  At 50" wide, the Polaris RZR is allowed on ATV trails.

Plus: Polaris RZR

Polaris RZR

3. Four seat conversion - If you are looking to add seats and a cage in the bed for kids, it can be done with a Rhino, Ranger or Prowler.  No can do with a RZR.

Minus: Polaris RZR

Tires and Wheels

Larger tires are an easy way to increase ground clearance.  Most stock UTV's come with 25" tires.

Traction is key to being successful on trails like the Rubicon trail. Traction helps you crawl up and over rocks without slipping and the easiest way to gain traction is by lowering the air pressure in your tires. Lowering the air pressure will cause the tire’s contact patch area to become larger. This will provide you with better traction, floatation, control and a softer ride.

Lower air pressure in your tires is great, but lowering the air pressure too much increases the chance of popping a tire bead which will in turn cause the tire to deflate and possibly peel off the rim. The solution to debeading is a beadlock wheel. Simply put, a beadlock is a mechanical fastening device that literally clamps the tire's bead bundle onto the wheel rim using mechanical force rather than air pressure. It holds the tire’s bead firmly in place even under extremely low air pressure.

Tire with 5 PSI  Tire with 20 psi
5 psi vs 20 psi

Aside from the performance benefits that come with beadlock wheels, a beadlock also gives you a little added assurance for when you are out on the trail. If you suffer a flat tire and you do not have a spare, a beadlocked rim will help hold the tire on the rim so you can limp your vehicle to a place where you can get help.

For my Rhino, I chose a set of 26” Maxxis Bighorns and OMF Billet Center beadlock wheels.  On the Rubicon, I cringed many times as I watched a granite rock deforming the sidewalls and scraping past the beadlock.  But the tires and wheels did their job well and I was very happy that I upgraded before the trip.

Wheel Travel

When it comes to full size vehicles like Jeeps and Toyota trucks, wheel travel is probably the most important feature on trails like the Rubicon and Moab.  But for UTVs, it really did not seem to make a difference. On our UTV Rubicon run, we had a good mix of stock and long travel rigs. The other features listed here all seemed to make a bigger impact that long travel vs. stock. The one advantage that the long travel Rhinos did have was a plush ride. My Rhino has a Mason Motorsports +6" long travel kit with 46mm Elka Elite shocks, and the ride is so much better than the 1998 Jeep Wrangler that I used to have.

More UTV Resources & Comparisons

Back to Sand Dune Guide

Long Travel:
Can-Am Commander Long Travel Kits
Kawasaki Teryx Long Travel Kits
Polaris RZR Long Travel Kits
Arctic Cat Prowler Long Travel Kits
Yamaha Rhino Long Travel Kits

Favorite Sites:
UTV Guide
Crowley Offroad
UTV News
UTV Models


Dune News | Trip Reports  |  Advertise  | Contact Us

Worldwide Dunes  |  Closed Dunes



Copyright © 2010 Crowley Offroad LLC. All rights reserved.
No images or content represented on this web site may be copied, stored, manipulated, published,
sold or reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission.

OpenCube AJAX Components

hits counter