Hitting the trails on your ATV is always a refreshing experience—as long as you own a model that is excellent for the surface. With many options in the market, it’s often to choose a perfect model.
When looking for which ATV to buy, you should focus on models designed for your needs. Recreation ATVs like the Polaris Sportsman XP1000S are designed for all kinds of activities, including competitive racing. New ATV enthusiasts can choose the Honda FourTrax Rancher 4X4 for its overall stability.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the top ATVs you can choose today. Watch out for some tips to keep in mind when it’s time for your purchase.
What are ATVs? How Do They Differ From UTVs?
ATVs are all-terrain vehicles designed to move on four non-pneumatic or low-pressure tires. They are also known as 4x4s or quads. ATVs are often confused with UTVs because many brands manufacture both types of vehicles. However, both of them are fairly different.
ATVs are mostly designed with a single adventurous rider in mind. Some models add a second seat behind the operator, but that isn’t the norm.
UTVs, on the other hand, are generally made for tasks, so they can carry more weight. The operator and the passenger sit side-by-side, which explains why they are called side-by-sides.
Knowing this distinction is important because some people think they need an ATV, but in reality, their needs are more suited for a UTV.
What Are the Types of ATVs Available?
If you’re sure you need an ATV, you should know that models are generally divided into
Recreational and Utility ATVs. As the names imply, Recreational or Sport ATVs are designed to deliver excellent sports performance.
They are fitted with powerful suspension and handling, and the overall power of the vehicle can handle racing across virtually all kinds of terrains.
Utility ATVs, on the other hand, are typically all-rounders that can do a great job while you’re out on the trails and can also prove useful in applications such as hunting or mudding. However, they may not win you any racing competitions.
Regardless of how much power you want and how you intend to use the ATV, you’re sure to find a model for you. Some manufacturers offer different builds of the same model to give everyone what they’re looking for.
It’s why you can find so-called youth ATVs made from popular full-sized models and why you can find similar full-sized models with different displacement and horsepower.
What Are the Best ATVs to Buy Today?
The best ATVs to buy now are covered below:
The Arctic Cat Alterra 300 is one of the most affordable ATVs in the market today. The latest model comes with an updated chassis, which the company is marketing as its toughest ever.
The ATV contains the new and improved Alterra turning radius, and the quad now has a lower center of gravity and excellent rid-in suspension.
Most importantly, it now has a new automatic transmission, which has made it an attractive option for beginners. Riding the ATV is as easy as jumping on board.
There is a switch to move between 4WD and 2WD and also lock the ATVs front differential as you need it. The Alterra 300 also comes in different trim levels.
Here’s a quick review video of the Arctic Cat Alterra 300:
The Suzuki KingQuad first hit the market in 2005 when the KingQuad 700 was the rave of the moment for its automatic transmission. Since then, this model has gained a massive following as the company continues to improve on what they first put out nearly two decades ago.
The KingQuad 750AXi is the company’s latest iteration in the range.
This Special Edition KingQuad looks great on the outside, thanks to the Rugged Package bumpers placed on the front and rear and the striking color (Metallic Matte Colorado Bronze).
On the inside, this ATV is no slouch as it packs a ton of features. It is powered by a four-stroke, 722cc engine with Suzuki’s fuel injection technology and a double overhead cam.
The engine is also connected to the company’s Quadmatic CVT transmission. With the incorporated 4WD and 2WD/4WD Differential Lock, the KingQuad delivers excellent grip at all times regardless of the terrain you’re wading through.
The 27-inch (68.6 cm) all-terrain tires from Carlisle also help with that. Do you ride at night? You’ll love the 2,700-lumen LED light attached to the bumper.
Here’s a full review video of the KingQuad 750AXi:
This brand is one of the leading names in the power-sports segment. Their level of experience shines through in the Polaris Sportsman XP1000 S as they packed in a groundbreaking suspension travel, making it arguably the best 4×4 ATV to use if you ride regularly in desert terrain conditions.
The ATV is 55-inch (139.7 cm) wide and, according to the company, the current frame is 31% stronger than any model they ever made.
You get a powerful engine and adequate suspension handling for the output it delivers. The vehicle has lower A-Arms in the front designed for higher clearance, in addition to the double A-Arms.
Other features that make this ATV a force include the powerful shocks and an all-new power steering with variable assist. If your adventure heavily leans towards tough terrains, this Polaris Sportsman XP is for you.
Here’s a full review video of the Polaris Sortsman XP1000 S:
The VLX 700 features a tough high-strength steel frame housing a 695cc engine. With 10-inches (25.4 cm) suspension travel and 11 inches (27.9 cm) of ground clearance, you can count on this ATV to easily wade through all kinds of terrain.
The ATV has an adjustable shock absorber and can bear up to 515 pounds (233.6 kg) of weight. The mechanical AWD is another important highlight of this ATV.
For the price, this is another excellent utility ATV that can serve a wide range of purposes.
Here’s a quick review video of the Textron Alterra VLX 700:
This is another affordable and excellent ATV from the dependable Polaris. It is not as heavy-duty as some of the all-trials options we’ve covered here, but it can do a fantastic job while out on the trails as well as when you’re doing some ranch work or going hunting.
The latest model comes with higher horsepower, stronger torque, and more displacement than previous models, so it has more strength to effortlessly ride through obstacles or deep sand.
The new Polaris Sportsman 450 is also 46% higher off the ground and gained around 40% more rear travel. Do you want more storage on your ATV? This new 450 has around six times the storage of previous models.
Here’s a quick look video of the Polaris Sportsman 450:
This Grizzly is one of the most popular ATVs around today. The latest EPS XT-R model comes fitted with new upgrades that make it an excellent solution for extreme terrain riding. The ATV features roomy ergonomics, superior e-coated chassis, and a powerful 700-class engine.
The vehicle has custom 14-inch wheels that are fitted with 27-inch (68.6 cm) Maxxis Zilla tires. Combined with Yamaha’s special Ultramatic clutching system, you are guaranteed excellent power transfer to the ground.
The WARN Pro Vantage 2500 system is another excellent feature designed to ensure enhanced safety when you’re out on the trails.
Here’s a walk around video of the Yamaha Grizzly XTR:
This ATV features a 4-stroke 518cc liquid-cooled engine. It is more powerful than previous models and has stronger torque. With its electronic fuel injection, this ATV is much different from older models.
It also has a 5-speed semi-automatic transmission, which is easy to use, thanks to the preloaded driving modes.
A 2WD/4WD system provides a 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD experience with a locking front differential designed to improve traction when riding. With the front differential locked, you can engage the Speed Override mode—an important feature if you do a lot of riding in the mud.
Here’s an overview video of the Honda Foreman 4X4:
The Outlander ATV models from Can-Am are very popular among ATV enthusiasts. The latest Can-Am Outlander DPS 450 is another dynamic addition to the family.
This is a six-wheeled machine designed to give you lots of hauling power and a tough wheelbase to navigate treacherous terrains.
The ATV is longer than normal because apart from the extra wheels, it also has an extra seat and more room at the rear for cargo space. Dragging the chassis is not a problem as the machine is powered by a 427cc 38hp engine capable of delivering all the torque required to move the machine about.
Wading through tough terrain is easier, thanks to the machine’s triple-mode dynamic power. When traction is an issue, you can engage the 4WD or 6WD Visco-Lok technology to quickly engage the front differential.
Are you looking for a trusty ATV that can haul cargo out on the ranch? This one can tow a massive 1,650lbs (750kg) of cargo easily. The dual 35-watt headlight fitted on the Outlander makes working at night easy.
Here’s an in action video of the Can-Am 6X6 450:
This new Honda ATV has a 420cc engine and a Dual Clutch Transmission (hence the Auto DCT appellation). It also has power steering (electronically controlled). The engine ensures you have all the power you need to push through a trail.
The auto transmission makes it super easy for drivers of all experience levels, including those without any prior experience, to enjoy every ride.
An interesting feature of this ATV is that reversing is now easier. All you need to do is pull a small lever to quickly move from reverse gear to forward gear.
Bypassing the neutral saves a lot of time. Also, the DCT feature doesn’t prevent drivers from changing gears manually, even when the automatic mode has been engaged. Other features of note in this ATV include TraxLok torque-sensing, outboard CV joints, and new suspension guards.
Here’s a review video of the Honda Rancher 4X4:
How To Choose the Right ATV
We’ve some of the best ATVs in the market today. To choose the right one, there are a few factors you should consider.
- The use cases. How do you intend to use your ATV? If you’re getting it for recreational use, you should go with lighter models that have just enough juice and suspension to deliver all the fun you need. If you intend to get competitive and join races, you should go with high-performance ATVs with the bigger engines and more suspension.
- Your experience level. Automatic transmission ATVs are typically the best to go with for inexperienced people. You should also consider going with mini or kids ATVs for a while if your height and size allow it until you are comfortable enough to go on a full-sized model.
- Your desired engine power. As we’ve seen above, all ATVs have different engine power. You should choose an option with the power you need and avoid those that will be too much of a hassle for you to control. Your skill level should determine the engine power you choose.
- The terrain. Go for ATVs with all-terrain tread on the tires if you intend to ride on a variety of terrains. If you stick to muddy terrains mostly, angled treads are the best. Paddle or scoop treads are best for sandy trails.
- Your budget. In some cases, the cost of the ATVs supersedes everything else. How far are you willing to go? If you have a fixed budget, it’s best to explore options around it.
What Accessories Are Necessary for an ATV?
The accessories you get for the ATV can improve its performance or make it more convenient to ride. Some of the most popular categories to look at include the following:
- Track kits
- Audio equipment
- Hunt accessories
- Winch kits
Should You Buy an ATV?
Buying an ATV sounds like a great idea, but is it really for you? Why should you choose one of these over other types of power vehicles?
As we’ve stated earlier, the bulk of this decision should come down to why you need the vehicle in the first place. You can go with an ATV if the following applies to you:
- You are interested in ATV-related sports and competitions.
- You want to take regular adventurous trips through rough terrains.
- You want a vehicle that can be used on your ranch as well as for recreational purposes.
- You always ride alone or don’t mind having your passenger seated behind you instead of side by side.
- You don’t find the cost of an average ATV prohibitive.
- You can deal with the safety risks of riding an ATV.
If most of the points above apply to you, then an ATV could be an excellent fit for your garage. If you want a vehicle that can allow you and your partner to enjoy leisurely rides down the farm or while out on approved areas of your local park, you should consider going with a UTV.
However, that may also be a problem if you think the cost of an ATV is too much. UTVs tend to cost more than ATVs because they contain more safety features. So, go over your needs carefully and make a decision.
What Is the Cost of an Average ATV?
Based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, a brand new full-size ATV will generally cost around $6,000-$16,000. The exact cost is determined by the ATV model and the spec sheet, but the bulk of the ATVs we recommended earlier will cost $7,000 or less.
If you moved to the used ATV market, the pricing is a lot more volatile. The cost will be determined by the model year, mileage, general condition of the vehicle, and your current location.
You should expect to pay up to 60% of the cost of a brand new variant of the ATV when going for used ones. However, powerful and popular models no longer being made by the manufacturer can cost as high as some brand new models.
Can You Get Funding for an ATV?
As with most vehicles, you can secure financing for an ATV if you don’t want to pay upfront for one. Securing financing for the vehicle allows you to buy the very best model that ticks all the right boxes instead of settling.
Many manufacturers offer financing with low-interest rates to encourage people to buy new models. Look at the manufacturers you’re thinking of going with to see what they offer.
Where manufacturers don’t have financing available, you can check with big dealerships near you. When all else fails, you can consider personal loans—as long as the interest rates are good value.
ATVs offer an exhilarating experience that many owners will not give up for anything. With the technological advancements of the last few decades, enthusiasts are spoilt for choice more than ever on which models to choose as more powerful options continue to hit the stores every year.
The list provided above helps narrow things down for you. Go over the models and choose the one that ticks the right boxes for you. If you’re still unsure, head out to a dealership to see a few of them live and perhaps go on a test drive.