So many good ones to choose from By D. West
This March issue of Dirt Wheels is the one that has our official “2020 UTV Buyer’s Guide.” You should keep it stashed away in a safe place, because it’ll be handy to refer to throughout the year. Any questions you may have about a particular UTV can be answered by flipping to the specs and info on that machine. We include around 100 vehicles, so anything you’d be interested in is covered.
What is the biggest difference between the “2019 UTV Buyer’s Guide” and this year’s? Well, it would have to be both Honda and Kawasaki entering the high-performance category. Honda’s Talon X and Talon R will get you down the trail quite a bit quicker than their Pioneer UTVs. By the same token, Kawasaki’s all-new KRX1000 is a significant step up from their Teryx models.
When it comes to non-turbo, performance UTVs, Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki now offer fairly similar machines. Along with these, you also have the non-turbo models from Polaris and Arctic Cat to choose from. That brings up one other news item concerning 2020 UTVs. There is now an additional brand known as Tracker. It is basically Arctic Cats under a different name. For years Bass Pro Shops have been selling Arctic Cat quads and UTVs along with Tracker bass boats. So now they’re going to try putting both under the same brand name.
When it comes to people looking at our “UTV Buyer’s Guide,” there are several different groups. One would be those who have already owned UTVs and are thinking of moving up to another model. Then there are people who have been riding quads for years and are thinking of switching to a UTV. Next would be the people who’ve never owned an ATV or UTV before. They’ve seen UTVs go by on trailers and wondered if they should consider this type of off-road recreation.
No matter what your knowledge of UTVs has been, here’s a basic guideline of what you should know. UTVs come in different widths that make a difference in what they’re capable of. The narrowest group are 50 inches wide. That is basically the widest width of a quad. Any wider and it would have trouble getting through the trails. Many national forests and riding areas will have two metal poles at the entrance of a trail that are exactly 50 inches apart. The sign will say, “You’re not allowed on this trail if you can’t fit between these poles.”
Fifty-inch-wide UTVs are required if your riding areas have a lot of tight and twisty terrain. They serve a purpose, as long as you’re aware of their tippy handling characteristics and drive them accordingly. In other words, you have to slow down more for turns so they don’t two-wheel or even turn over.
The next width of UTVs will be in the 55- to 60-inch category. They offer more stability in the turns if you can still squeeze through other sections. From there you move up to the 64-inchers, which used to be the maximum width for the fastest RZR Turbos. However, 72 inches has now become the new number. In other words, the Can-Am X3 Turbo RR and the Polaris RZR Turbo S are just as wide as your Mustang street car. They’re basically made for dirt roads, sand dunes and wide-open desert.
So, to get a quick understanding of each UTV in this guide, look at the width, length and height numbers. The front- and rear-suspension travel numbers will also give you a clue of how fast it can go across rough terrain. In that regard, 20 inches is way better than 10 inches. If your interest in UTVs leans more to their working and hauling abilities, look at the bed-capacity number. For example, the Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXR has a bed rating of 1000 pounds. That means it’s more of a workhorse than Kawasaki’s Teryx that has a bed rating of 250 pounds.
For most of us, the bottom line on which UTV to get is determined by price. Yeah, the sticker shock on some is rather severe; however, there are others that are quite affordable. You’ll notice how several brands in general offer their UTVs at lower prices. We have tested UTVs from every brand in this guide, and there’s not a bad one in the bunch. So, have fun going through the list and picking out your next UTV.