Side by Side (UTV)

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The Side by Side is a small 2-person or 6 person four-wheel drive off-road vehicle, also called UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) or ROV (Recreational Off highway Vehicle).[1]

Kawasaki Mule

Difference between ATV and UTV[edit]

UTVs differ from ATVs in that UTVs typically have a side by side seating arrangement, many have seat belts and roll over protection, and most have a cargo box at the rear of the vehicle. The UTVs generally have a higher payload capability and are longer and wider than ATVs. While most ATVs can carry 125 to 200 lbs. of cargo in addition to the operator’s weight, the UTV payloads run from 800 to 1350 lbs. above the operator/passenger’s weight. The payload is usually carried on a UTV below the top of the tires as opposed to an ATV where the load is carried above the fenders. This lower load positioning can drastically lower the vertical center of gravity which will increase stability. UTVs come in a number of different configurations. Some have four tires on the ground, some have six or more. How these differences affect the operation of the UTVs can be confusing. Most of the functions required of these units within wildfire suppression operations have at least two aspects in common. The machines are required to work off road and to carrying equipment. Working off road requires the unit to maneuver around obstacles and over rough terrain. Carrying equipment requires the strength to haul a load and the ability to stay on top of softer ground.


The majority of the side by sides come factory equipped with a ROPS, or roll over protection system. Many of the vehicles also come equipped with hard tops, windshields, and even cab enclosures.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission stated in 2009 that "The vehicles may exhibit inadequate lateral stability, undesirable steering characteristics, and inadequate occupant protection during a rollover crash". According to the CPSC between 2003 and August 2009 116 deaths occurred in ROV/UTV accidents.[2]


Notable manufacturers of UTV / Side by side vehicles: