Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) have carved a niche for themselves in the world of off-road adventures. They are versatile, robust, and designed to conquer challenging terrains. However, not all UTVs are created equal, and reliability plays a significant role in distinguishing the best from the rest.
The Most Reliable UTVs to Consider – Naturally Aspirated
Turbo vs. Non-turbo
Alright, buckle up, folks! When it comes to car talk, we like to keep things simple – it’s either turbo or non-turbo. Now, I know some of you might be picturing backwoods trail rides, mud flying everywhere, like a scene straight out of a Florida postcard. But let me stop you right there. That’s not our scene. We’re more of a… diverse terrain kind of crowd.
You see, our opinions, they’re shaped by the landscapes we conquer – from the sun-kissed beaches to the majestic mountains, from the shifting dunes to the adrenaline-pumping race tracks. So, when we talk turbo vs non-turbo, we’re not just talking cars. We’re talking about a lifestyle, a love for the open road, and the thrill of the ride. So, let’s dive in, shall we?
Sport Side-by-Side UTVs – Naturally Aspirated
Alright, let’s dive into the world of non-turbo cars, shall we? Right here, standing tall and proud, is the Kawasaki KRX. Now, let me tell you, this beast has got some serious perks. The structure? Solid as a rock. The components, arm mounts, double sheer tabs, hardware? All top-notch. The design? It’s like a fortress on wheels. And don’t even get me started on the suspension design – it’s a geometry masterpiece. It’s got this negative camber gain throughout its travel, something you’d usually find gracing the front of a trophy truck, limiting track width scrub. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving.
Check out our article on Are Side by Sides worth it or as I like to call it, how to convince your wife we need a side by side.
But, alas, every rose has its thorn. And for the KRX, it’s the power – or rather, the lack thereof. It’s like a lion with the roar of a kitten. Compared to its non-turbo brethren, it just doesn’t pack the same punch. But here’s the silver lining – if Kawasaki decides to slap a turbo onto this bad boy, watch out world! This underdog could transform into a titan, giving every other car on the market a run for their money.
Let’s talk about the Honda, folks. Now, this is a car that’s been put together with some serious thought. The structure? Solid. Not quite on par with the KRX, but it’s nipping at its heels. And the engine and transmission? Top-notch. In my book, it’s the best non-turbo, naturally aspirated engine and trans package you can find on the market. And let’s not forget – no belt. Big plus there.
But, and it’s a big but, that’s where the love story ends for me and this Honda. The geometry of the car, it’s a mixed bag. The front end, is not too shabby. The back, though, it’s a nightmare. It’s stiff. I mean, kidney-kicking, teeth-rattling stiff.
Even after tweaking the shock and spring package, it’s still got its issues. Hit some big bumps, and this car starts bucking like a bronco. The only way to tame it is to load it up with weight at the back. I’m talking spare tire mount, all your gear, a heavy load shifted rearward past the cargo bed. That’s the only way to get it to behave in the whoops.
Function-wise, it’s not bad. But from a pleasure standpoint? It’s like trying to enjoy a roller coaster that’s all drops and no climbs. It’s just not plush.
Alright, let’s shift gears and talk about the Yamaha YXZ. Now, this is a dependable side-by-side that comes equipped with a fantastic engine and transmission package. You can pump a ton of power into this baby, and it’ll handle it like a champ. The shifting? Smooth as butter. And the build? Solid.
Now, if you’re thinking of taking this short course racing, where suspension isn’t the be-all and end-all, then this is your ride. All you need to do is stick the landing on a big jump, then whip around a flat corner, and the YXZ shines. It’s a stellar short-course car. Or, if you’re into drag racing, and you’re not going to be dealing with any whoops, then this car is a dream. Load it up with power, and it’ll leave the competition in the dust.
But, and here’s the catch, if you’re planning on tackling the rough stuff, the whoops, then you’re asking a bit too much of the YXZ. The chassis geometry just isn’t up to snuff. It’s not going to handle the big, rough stuff at high speeds. It’s got the same issues as the Honda in that respect. So, if you’re going to take a YXZ into the rough, you’re going to need to load it up with weight at the back, just like the Honda.
Polars RS1 -Single-Seater Perfection
Let me tell you about my absolute favorite solo ride – the Polaris RS1. Now, when we’re chatting about non-turbo vehicles, the RS1 is my go-to. It’s a real gem. There’s barely anything about it that I don’t adore. Sure, it might not be as robust as some of the other cars I’ve mentioned, with its earlier XP-style arm mounts and ball joints, but let me tell you, this car is a beast.
When you’re behind the wheel, it feels like an extension of you, like you’re one with the machine. There aren’t many cars out there that can give you that kind of experience. It’s in a league of its own, really. If you’re in the market for a single-seater, there’s only one choice, and trust me, you’re not settling for less. The RS1 is a force to be reckoned with, no two ways about it. If I were a lone ranger on the roads, I’d own one in a heartbeat.
Honorable Mention: Polaris RZR 900s & Polaris RZR 1000s
Alright, let’s dive into the realm of non-turbo classics, shall we? If you ask me, “What’s the best vintage ride?” I’d say, without a doubt, it’s a toss-up between the Polaris RZR 900s and the Polaris RZR 1000s. Honestly, those machines are pretty darn impressive, especially when it comes to rough terrain trail rides.
Now, we don’t do much of the narrow off-roading trail stuff around here, so I tend to steer clear of that. But let me tell you, we’ve had our fair share of thrills in those UTVs. So, there you have it, we’ve covered everyone in the non-turbo category.
The Most Reliable UTVs to Consider – Turbo Models
CanAm Maverick X3
Let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Starting with the good: the Can-Am suspension design is top-notch, the best in the market. It handles the big stuff, the little stuff, and everything in between like a champ. It’s got everyone else beat in that department. The engine and transmission? Solid. It’s got a belt, which is a bit of a mixed bag, but that’s pretty much par for the course with turbo UTVs.
The cab design is more sports car than truck, with a laid-back seat that makes you feel like you’re in a sports car. It’s a matter of personal preference, really. If you like the laid-back vibe, you’ll love it. If you’re more of a sit-up-straight kind of person, it might not be your cup of tea.
Now, onto the not-so-great bits. The CanAM X3 isn’t exactly built like a tank. The arm mounts, tabs, and bolt-hole locations could be stronger, and the material on the mounting tabs is a bit on the thin side. All of this means that if you just hop in and start ripping it up, things are going to come loose and wear out.
But if you’re mechanically inclined and willing to make a few tweaks here and there, it can be a fantastic ride. Add a bulkhead, some double shear plates, and a few other components to strengthen it up, and you’ve got a UTV that will last without needing much maintenance. From a suspension and drivability standpoint, it’s my favorite. But when it comes to longevity without tweaks, it leaves a bit to be desired.
Polaris RZR PRO XP
Let’s talk about the Polaris XP Pro. I reckon it’s been given a bit of a raw deal, mostly due to its roll cage aesthetics and perhaps its price point in comparison to the Turbo S and other competitors. But let me tell you, this machine is a marvel.
Once we’ve had our way with the suspension, it offers one of the smoothest rides you can get your hands on. It’s hands down the best ride Polaris has to offer. The build? Stronger than ever. The chassis is a work of art, with all the mounting points double-sheared and the hardware beefed up to keep everything together.
So, to answer your initial question about which one’s better for a no-fuss, hop-in-and-go experience, I’d say the Polaris XP Pro or the Turbo S would outlast the X3 without needing much tinkering. The Pro packs a punch in the power department, on par with the CanAm and the Turbo S.
Now, where does the XP Pro fall short? I’d say it’s been a victim of poor marketing and, let’s be honest, it’s not the prettiest belle at the ball. But don’t let that fool you. I’m a big fan of this side-by-side. It performs beautifully.
Polaris XP Turbo S
Let’s chat about the Polaris Turbo S. This beast of a machine is a sight to behold and has garnered quite a bit of affection, thanks to its eye-catching aesthetics. It’s been around the block a few times and has proven its mettle.
The Turbo S boasts impressive strength with its double shear tabs, a feature its predecessors lacked. It’s got bigger hardware, twelve millimeters instead of ten, larger bearings, larger trailing arms, and larger clutches. It’s a well-rounded package that delivers on all fronts.
Now, let’s talk about the ride. Once we’ve had our fun tweaking it, the Turbo S offers a ride that’s a cut above the previous XP Pros. It’s a smooth operator, although the rear suspension does have a tendency to droop out and tow out quite a bit. This can make the Turbo S a bit skittish, especially when you’re tackling the whoops.
In comparison to its younger sibling, the XP Turbo S, it’s a bit long in the tooth and doesn’t ride quite as smoothly. But don’t let that deter you. The Turbo S is a fantastic UTV in its own right.
Learn what the best Polaris RZR belt is
The Most Reliable UTVs to Consider – Utility Side-by-Sides
Let me tell you, I’m a massive fan of the Polaris General. I mean, I really dig them. In my eyes, they totally outclass the Polaris Ranger and pretty much any other utility vehicle out there. In my book, it’s the cream of the crop. If you’re looking at the utility-style vehicle category, I’d say, save yourself some time and just go for the Polaris General.
Why, you ask? Well, it’s built like a tank, performs like a dream, and rides like you’re on a cloud. The comfort level? Off the charts. Want to add a seat or a heater? Go for it, there’s plenty of room. It’s a vehicle that ticks all the boxes, while the others just don’t quite measure up.
Honda Pioneer 1000: A Trustworthy Companion
The Honda Pioneer 1000 is a versatile UTV, seating five and boasting a powerful engine. The cabin is cleverly designed, perfect for farm use, though a bit tippy on the trail. Steering is a dream, but the throttle and transmission can be a tad clunky.
The rugged interior is practical and user-friendly, but the rear seats, while technically accommodating five, aren’t the comfiest for long rides and can get a bit toasty. Plus, when folded, they make loading the bed a challenge.
The sporty suspension is great but can understeer with heavy loads. There are a few design compromises, like gear shifting and seating position, but overall, the Pioneer offers solid value. She’s perfect for weekend adventures, family trail rides, and hauling loads. And for the detail-oriented, she comes with all the specs you need.
In the realm of side-by-sides, the Yamaha Viking is a standout as one of the most reliable models in the UTV market. It’s a machine that’s more likely to be ready for action than sitting in a repair shop. Its low-range capability is a gem, making challenging terrains a breeze. With a few enhancements like clutch pucks and a clutch kit, it can perform even better.
The Viking is also a budget-friendly choice without skimping on quality. It’s spacious and comfortable, making it a great choice for various activities. However, if you’re seeking high speed and torque, the Viking might not be your first choice. It’s more suited for slow trail riding.
While the Viking is reliable, it does have a few issues. The fans aren’t the best, leading to overheating problems. But with high-output fans and regular radiator cleaning, you can keep it cool. The turning radius can be a challenge, but installing shorter axles can help. Some owners have reported squeaking e-brakes, but a few firm brake applications can usually fix it.
In comparison to other UTV brands, Yamaha Viking’s issues are minor. It stands out as a reliable and trouble-free option, offering great value for money.
UTV Brands to Stay Away From. The Least Reliable UTVs on the market.
BMS Ranch Pony
I decided to give the BMS Ranch Pony UTV a shot. At first glance, it was a sight to behold – sleek, robust, and it ran smoothly. But as the months rolled by, it started to produce some unusual noises that had me scratching my head.
Now, here’s where things get tricky. If you’re considering a BMS UTV, you should know that support for these units is virtually non-existent. It’s like being stranded on a deserted island with a broken compass – you’re pretty much on your own. The identity of the manufacturers remains a mystery, and the parts seem to be a hodgepodge from different makers, making it nearly impossible to find replacements.
I had a run-in with BMS when I needed oil filters for my unit. They charged me a whopping $48 for two filters, simply because they were the only ones who had them. And don’t even get me started on the repair manual – or rather, the lack thereof. The closest thing to a repair manual is a PDF for a Suzuki 500 4WD ATV engine, which they claim is what’s inside the unit.
The owner’s manual that came with the unit was riddled with inaccuracies. It’s like navigating a maze with a faulty map. If BMS could provide adequate support, accurate manuals, readily available parts, and knowledgeable staff, then their UTVs could be a good deal. But until then, it’s a bit of a wild ride.
Linhai Bighorn UTV
Despite their resemblance to Polaris, these UTVs is not without its flaws. Finding information on parts and a comprehensive owner’s manual for the Linhai Bighorn can be a challenge. There have been reports of improperly welded front driveshafts and prevalent clutch problems in earlier models. The stock batteries often underperform, and the machine only has four tie-down points in the rear cargo bed.
The CVT belt can be prone to melting in sticky mud and other challenging conditions, and some riders have reported a whining noise during operation.
Upgrading clutches can significantly improve performance and eliminate most clutch problems. Replacing the stock battery with an SLA, gel, or lithium phosphate battery can also enhance performance.
If you’re experiencing starting difficulties accompanied by whining noises, it could indicate plugged jets in your carburetor, bad fuel, or a sticking starter clutch.
CFMoto ZForce 800
Ah, the CFMOTO ZFORCE 800 is not as bad as the other Chinese make UTVs. A beast of a machine, but not without its quirks. You might find the idle speed a bit unstable, like a dancer with two left feet. The acceleration can be underwhelming, like expecting a rollercoaster and getting a merry-go-round. The brakes? Could use a tune-up for safety’s sake.
Starting the engine can sometimes feel like waking a hibernating bear, and the engine noise can be a bit off-tune. If your ZFORCE feels like it’s running out of steam, it might need a check-up. The CVT noise is something to keep an ear out for – a little is normal, but a rock band’s worth could indicate a problem.
The front/rear-wheel runout can throw off your vehicle’s stability, making for a bumpy ride. The suspension can be a Goldilocks situation – sometimes too soft, sometimes too hard. Losing power steering can make your vehicle harder to control, especially at low speeds.
Engine overheating is common but still, something to watch for. And of course, there’s the general wear and tear – inevitable, but manageable with regular maintenance.
Remember, with a little TLC, many of these issues can be avoided. And if you do run into a problem, there’s a whole community of riders and a wealth of online resources ready to lend a hand. The ZFORCE 800 is an adventure, quirks and all.
As I wrap up this journey through the world of UTVs, I can’t help but reflect on the diverse range of experiences these machines offer. From the thrill of the Polaris General’s robust performance to the sleek and smooth ride of the Honda Pioneer 1000, there’s a UTV out there for every adventurer. Yet, it’s also crucial to remember that not all that glitters is gold. The BMS Ranch Pony and Linhai Bighorn, for instance, serve as reminders that a shiny exterior can sometimes mask underlying issues.
In the end, the choice of a UTV comes down to your personal needs, preferences, and the kind of terrain you plan to conquer. Whether you’re a fan of turbo or non-turbo, sport or utility, there’s a UTV out there that’s just right for you. So, strap on your helmet, rev up that engine, and get ready to kick up some dust. The world of UTVs is vast and varied, and there’s always a new trail to blaze and a new adventure waiting just around the bend.