WIDE OPEN

Attack of the affordable UTVs! By Joe Kosch

Just like lots of Dirt Wheels readers, I have to avoid tripping on my tongue when I see a machine like Can-Am’s Maverick X3 X rc Turbo RR or the Polaris RZR Pro XP Ultimate. That can be embarrassing when lots of people are around, like when Polaris had the Pro XP on hand at the latest Camp RZR gathering at Glamis. I’m usually so entranced by the technology and looks of high-end UTVs, I don’t even think about the prices on these rigs until I have to research the facts for an article, but I’ve got to admit, they’re pretty shocking. That X3 X rc Turbo RR  starts at $29,599 and the RZR Pro XP Ultimate is $28,499.

One of the best things about the surge in UTV sales is, there are as many new, affordable, entry-level models as top-of-the-line rides. Fortunately for working-class UTV enthusiasts, the manufacturers are smart enough to know not everybody is ready for a high-end, high-performance machine. Okay, you’re not going to get a 180-horsepower UTV for half the price of the high-performance monsters, but trust me, you don’t need 180 horses to have fun, especially in a smaller, lighter vehicle. If you can drive well at all, you should be able to lure your friends with high-end, high-horsepower machines into some trails where a small machine can put the moves on bigger, more powerful rigs.

Here are some examples of UTVs with prices near the $10,000 mark and some under $10,000: Polaris has the RZR 570 for $10,599, the Ranger 570 for $10,499, and the Ranger 500 for $9,499. Honda’s Pioneer 700 is $10,999, and the Pioneer 500 starts at only $9,199. CFMoto’s ZForce 500 sport machine is just $9,099, and the UForce 500 recreation/utility machine is only $9549. Can-Am’s Defender 500 is only $10,299.

Price isn’t the only reason to think small while you’re shopping for UTVs. Here are some more:

• Smaller, less expensive UTVs are easier and less expensive to move around.  Most small UTVs fit in the beds of full-size pickups, so you don’t need to buy, register, maintain or store a trailer, or observe those lovely lower speed limits for vehicles with trailers. Your UTV may not be as fast as some of your friends’ machines, but you’ll get to where the riding is faster!

• You can buy two or three inexpensive UTVs for less than the price of a single high-priced machine. Some UTV enthusiasts like being a passenger as much as or more than driving, but most can’t wait for a turn in the driver’s seat. Low-priced UTVs let whole families drive everywhere they go.

• Small, inexpensive UTVs go where big machines can’t. As great as the big high-performance rides are, you can’t take them on trails limited to 50-inch-wide machines, like the Honda Pioneer 500 and the Polaris RZR 570.

• Small machines are great to start out on. Not everyone has the same level of driving talent, and even experienced highway drivers have a lot to learn when they get into the dirt. As tempting and thrilling as high-performance UTVs are, smaller, slower machines are better to learn with.

• Small UTVs are economical to run. Gas prices are momentarily less insane than they have been, but no matter what the prices are, a fuel-sipping 500 or 570 that runs on regular is cheaper to feed than a 1000 that requires premium.

• I’ll take driving a smaller, slower UTV over not driving a UTV any day. I’m all for the idea of saving up for a dream machine, but if you do the math and you’re going to miss years of off-road high-performance model, you should at least consider the fun with your friends to get some super machines you can afford right now. The list of machines in your price range is probably longer than you might think!

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