** See more UTV Analysis and
Comparisons at www.UTVGuide.net **
What is the "perfect" UTV? That is a tough question
because every rider has different needs and rides on different terrain.
This page was created to help guide you through the differences
in the different side x side vehicles. Our focus is more slanted towards
sport use rather that utility, so take that bias into account if you want a
vehicle that will be used on a farm for example.
We like to ride in the dunes, desert and places like Moab and
the Rubicon. In order to fair well in all of these types of terrain, you will
need to be pretty nimble. If you don't see a particular UTV below, it is most
likely that we felt it did not fall into our riding style.
Side x Side Vehicle Comparison Chart
||9" front, 9.5" rear
||Twin cylinder 760cc
||Single cylinder 686cc
||Single cylinder 695cc
||Twin cylinder 683cc
1 1/4" receiver
A Little Analysis
We are big fans of electronic fuel injection. With EFI,
vehicles tend to start easier and run smoother. And once you have an
aftermarket fuel controller installed, it makes tuning a breeze after adding
intake or changing your exhaust.
Minus: 2008 Kawasaki Teryx, pre-2008 Rhino, pre-2008
Arctic Cat Prowler
Plus: Polaris RZR, Polaris Ranger, 2008 Yamaha Rhino,
2008 Arctic Cat Prowler
Twin cylinder is the way to go with big cc's.
Minus: pre-2008 Yamaha Rhino
Plus: Polaris RZR, Kawasaki Teryx
Power to weight ratio is big for all of these underpowered UTVs.
Check out the weight specs carefully, and also look at what you add to the
vehicle. A four seat roll cage, a bench seat and two kids adds a lot
Plus: Polaris RZR
In stock form, all the UTVs suffer from low ground clearance.
A key to being successful on trails like the Rubicon or running the Baja 500 is ground clearance.
The Polaris RZR is about 2 inches lower than the Yamaha Rhino
and Arctic Cat Prowler.
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.
ride height would be a big plus.
Sway-A-Way, Legend Air
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
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. This directly translates to lower
seats by several inches.
Unfortunately, some of the gains for the RZR are realized by
lowering the entire vehicle. And this means low ground clearance.
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
3. Cargo - 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. If you want to have two adults and all your camping
equipment for two nights, it will also be real tough in a RZR.
Minus: Polaris RZR
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
does 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
Now go out on the track or play in the dunes, and wheel travel is much
Aftermarket Parts Availability
If you look at what types of aftermarket parts are available
for different side by side vehicles, you'll see that it isn't equal.
The Yamaha Rhino is the hands down king when it comes to aftermarket, but
the Polaris RZR is catching on quick. For example, there are almost 40
different long travel kits and
lots of aftermarket pipes being made
for the Rhino. For the RZR, there are now over a dozen
long travel kits, with more coming
out each month.
Try and find a long travel kit for the Polaris Ranger or
Arctic Cat Prowler, and you will have few if any choices.
Long travel may not be in your future, but it seems like
other sport-type aftermarket products (performance, roll cages, bumpers,
etc.) are in line with the popularity of long travel for a specific vehicle.
Plus: Yamaha Rhino, Polaris RZR
Nothing else matters much if you aren't comfortable in a
vehicle. Leg room, seat comfort, tilt steering wheel, cab space.
I am 6' 1" and 190 lbs. I fit pretty well in all of these
side x sides.
The Polaris RZR is a bit tight, but very doable. If I was
much taller or pushing 250 lbs. with a similar sized guy next to me, the RZR
would be on the small side.
The tilt wheel in the Polaris RZR is nice.
Adjustable seats would be nice for when a smaller person
wants to drive.
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 the
Polaris RZR 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 2008 Arctic Cat
driver controls whether the rear differential is open or locked.
In the dunes or desert trails, the locked rear end is no big
Minus: Yamaha Rhino, Polaris RZR
Plus: Arctic Cat Prowler, 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.
injection also helps get your vehicle moving more smoothly in off-idle
Low range really doesn't come into play for dune
Plus: Polaris Ranger and Polaris RZR
Minus: Yamaha Rhino
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.
Exhaust & Noise Output
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
The stock RZR is much quieter than a Rhino and the exhaust exits straight
out the back.
Minus: Yamaha Rhino
Plus: Polaris RZR
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
UTV Rubicon 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.
Polaris RZR has
two axle sizes. Yamaha Rhino has 3 for 2008 and 4 in 2004 - 2007.
2004 - 2007 Rhino Axles
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. It all depends on what you are doing with the vehicle. If you
want to pack two people, plus gear for two nights in the bed, the RZR will
be a challenge.
Polaris RZR has a small bed with low side walls.
Yamaha Rhino has much more storage capacity
More In Depth Details of various Side x Side Vehicles
Features & Specification Resources:
All UTV Models