ATV vs SxS: Which One Suits Your Needs?

So you want to buy a new off-road vehicle, you hear the terms, ATV and side-by-side, and you have no clue which one you should buy. They're both quality machines with a lot of similarities. The choice really comes down to your preferences and requirements. This post will compare ATV vs SxS features so you'll know which machine suits your needs.

What are The Main Benefits of an ATV?

atv wheelie tricks


ATVs are less expensive than SxSs because there is literally less of them. This doesn't mean they lack anything in quality, just that they are less expensive to produce. This could be a major determining factor for you, depending on your budget.


Because ATVs are smaller, they can fit into smaller spaces and take tighter turns than a SxS can. If you will be using your ATV for farm work on land with small areas to fit in or if you plan to tackle difficult off-road trails, you may need an ATV.

Transporting and storing

It's easier to transport and store an ATV than a SxS, because again, it's smaller. You can load some ATVs on the bed of a pickup truck, and if you need a trailer, you can do with a smaller one. You will also be able to fit your ATV in your existing garage or a shed more easily than you will a SxS.

Ease of turf

ATVs weigh less than SxSs and vehicle weight can damage turf, so if you'll be riding on softer ground, you should lean toward an ATV.

Frequent stops

If you'll be using your machine for tasks that require you to frequently dismount and remount, an ATV's smaller size and open design are the way to go.

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What are The Main Benefits of a UTV/SxS?

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Loading capacity

SxSs have more room for storage, even before you upgrade it with additional space. You should calculate what you'll be loading onto your machine and determine if it is possible with and without upgrades for an ATV to carry all you need.


Calculate the weight and size of items you expect to haul with your machine. The larger engine in SxSs allows you to haul bigger and heavier things.

Group fun

An ATV is usually designed for only one rider. It is unsafe to have a passenger onboard these machines because it makes them more likely to tip. Some models are designed for two riders. But you might want to bring your family or several friends on a trip. That's where SxSs come in. In fact, that's why they're called side-by-sides, because multiple people can sit side by side.


SxSs seat riders and passengers lower, inside the machine rather than on top of it, and in seats with seat belts. The roll cage provides invaluable protection from impacts and rollovers. You can even have a roof and windscreen for added protection from the elements.


SxSs have car-like seats with backs that offer back support you can only get with an upgrade on an ATV. They are also controlled more like a car, making them easier and more familiar to drive.


Off-roaders love to customize their machines and SxSs offer even more options for upgrades, giving you maximum control over the look, storage capacity, and functionality of your machine.

Which is Better for Certain Tasks: ATV vs SxS?

atv vs sxs

Trail riding

Whether an ATV or SxS is best for trail riding depends on the trail and what you want to do on your adventure. If you will be exploring dense or varied environments where maneuverability and narrow fits are expected, you'll need an ATV. A SxS is fine for larger, more predictable trails.

Family adventures

SxSs are the clear winner here. You can more safely and inexpensively bring the entire family on outdoor adventures with SxSs. Otherwise, everyone would need their own ATV and to be mature enough to ride. Even then, the ATVs would not have the safety features you get with SxSs.

Winter tasks and fun

Both ATVs and SxSs are excellent at both getting you outside in the winter more and for plowing snow. You might choose a SxS over an ATV if you want to protect yourself from the winter weather using a roof, windscreen, and cab enclosure upgrade.


SxSs are generally thought of more for farm work because of their extra storage and hauling capacities. If you don't need as much storage or hauling capacity and you want to save money, need a machine that can fit in tighter spaces, or need one you can mount and dismount easily, then an ATV may actually be better for you.


Either machine is great for average hauling needs, but if you need to haul larger or heavier items, then you may need a SxS.

Hunting, fishing, and camping

ATVs can carry one or two persons in tighter spaces and haul average-sized loads. If that sounds like your trip, then you're fine. If you want to bring the whole family and need to store or haul heavier loads, then you'll need a SxS.

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