4 wheeler vs side by side

4 Wheeler vs Side by Side: Pros and Cons

Picking an ATV that suits you, your personality and your goals isn’t easy.  In fact, with so many models and options to choose from, it takes a lot of research to actually decide on which model is right for you.  You’ve got sport ATVs, Utility ATVs, side-by-sides, etc. etc.  One that frequently comes up is the difference between the 4 wheeler and the Side by Side.  There are subtle similarities and differences between the two, so this article will point them out and help you decide on which vehicle would be the more appropriate fit for you.

Things to Consider When Buying

Before we delve into the specifics of each vehicle, there are some general characteristics that have to be outlined here. You’ll need to take them into consideration because they’ll definitely have an impact on your decision. For that reason, I am highlighting those features and once you set those priorities straight, finding the best vehicle will be an easier task.


When considering the weight of your vehicle, you will want it to be fast and have the ability for an all-out performance. So, the best way to determine its weight and if it is suitable for your purposes, whether you will need it for work or just for fun, you have to look at the horsepower-to-weight ratio. If it is meant for sport purposes, you will want the highest ratio, but if you have to get a certain job done, lightweight is not the way to go. Therefore, with an engine of 750cc, ATVs will usually weight around 700-800 lbs., while UTVs’ weight will range from 1000-1700 lbs.


The size is quite important in terms of how many people will fit and how maneuverable it will be once it is out on the field. Ideally, its width should be no more than 120”, because that’s the limiting number by law. ATVs always have smaller dimensions than UTVs, so it might be a better choice if the size really doesn’t matter to you.

Cargo and Tow Capacity

There is no doubt that UTVs have bigger cargo capacity than ATVs, ranging from 200 – 1000 lbs. and some can be equipped with electro-hydraulic dump. On the other hand, if you only need a transport for yourself, then the ATV is what you need. With its capacities of 200-300 lbs., they will satisfy all of your needs.

Similarly, the tow capacity is very important if you need to carry extra load. Even though it can be similar for both the ATVs and UTVs, you should pay attention to the size of the receiver and look for vehicles that come with front and back hitches. The rear one is universal, but placing a trailer in a tight spot by using the front hitch is the real deal. Don’t believe me, just try it.

Ergonomics and overall comfort

The capacity and power of the vehicle are a must, but if it’s not comfortable enough, it may end up collecting dirt in the garage. Therefore, it is really important to pay attention to the overall design in terms of the position of the steering wheel, of each button and control sticks, brakes, etc.

Also, consider the operator’s space of the vehicle. ATVs are quite comfortable and allow for great visibility, but straddling the machine can get quite tiring if you need to get on and off very often. On the other hand, UTVs save you from all of the leg swinging over the seat, but the leg room can be very tight, so choose wisely.

The perks of electronics and other goodies

Since we live in a technology era, the ideal choice should be equipped with standard or optional packages that will offer you with engine rpm, fuel level and maintenance indicators, ground speed, coolant temperature and similar information readily visible. Also, a lot of the vehicles, especially the UTVs may even offer bed with removable sides and tailgates so that you can switch between bed configurations and flatbed. In addition, outlets for your smartphone and gloveboxes for storing your belongings are other important features, worthy of having.


If you opt for an ATV, then the only safety option would be to wear a helmet. On the other hand, UTVs offer a bit more safety than the ATVs, such as safety cage and protection systems like the SAE, ANSI or OSHA. Having seatbelts is also important, while side doors and full cab enclosures are the best solution during winter times.

With all of that said, let’s check some specific features of the UTVs and ATVs separately.

The 4-wheeler

The 4-wheeler is also known as the ATV. They are available in 2WD and 4WD, but since we are interested in full performance, we will pay attention to the 4WD vehicles. 4-wheelers can be offered in several configurations, but it is most important to pay attention to the specifics I have outlined previously in this article.

Most of the ATVs’ price is ranging anywhere between $4000-$14000 and for that purpose we want to show you what the specifics of a mid-price vehicle are. For example, an $8000 vehicle, such as the Honda FourTra Foreman Rubicon, will usually have an engine of around 500 cc with a constant velocity transmission and a readily available EPS. This ATV in particular has a length of 83” and a width of 46.8”, a weight of 640 lbs. and a tow capacity up to 850 lbs.


  • More flexible
  • Less expensive
  • Lightweight
  • Good towing capacity


  • Not enough passenger space
  • Not good enough cargo capacity
  • Limited safety features
  • Less comfortable

The Side-by-side

Compared to the ATVs, UTVs are usually larger due to larger engines and deluxe features, which it doesn’t necessarily mean greater capability.

Just so you get the right picture, I chose to review the Honda Big Red that costs $11.699. At that price, you get an engine of 675 cc, full independent front and rear suspensions and hydraulic disk brakes. Also, its turning radius is 13.8’, while the ground clearance is 10.3”. When it comes to its dimensions, its weight is 1,433 lbs. and it is 114.7” long and 64” wide. Consequently, its cargo capacity is 1000 lbs., while the tow capacity is up to 1,500 lbs.


  • Seatbelts and safety enclosure
  • Comfortable space
  • Full cab possibility
  • Integrated bed


  • More expensive
  • Could not be flexible enough
  • Larger turning radius

Wrapping up

Both the ATV and the UTV models are a great investment for your money. Which one you will opt for will depend on your special preferences and the type of the activity you will need it for.

However, I hope this article was useful and will contribute to your final decision and the one you will buy will satisfy all of your needs.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.

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