I bet most people out there don’t know how many options they have when they’re looking for a UTV to putt around the farm with. You might be surprised by how similar some models are—and how cheap.
The Polaris Ranger XP 1000 is the undisputed king of the UTV world. It’s versatile, it’s powerful, and—above all else—it’s really, really popular. It’s so popular that companies all over the world have created their own models sporting similar square beds, bench seats, and hoods. These are the vehicles that put the utility in utility task vehicle, and there are loads of them.
So let’s take a look at a few of these, starting with the 2019 Ranger XP 1000 EPS as a base. We’ll kick things off with a few 1000cc machines, then look at some companies that only offer up to 800cc of power.
No two UTVs are exactly alike, but the vehicles we’ll look at here are the highest-displacement models offered by the company with power steering and a single row of seats. That means no frills. If we start looking at the special-edition, camo-wrapped, fully-enclosed, gear-reduced transmission models, then the price goes sky high without really giving you a sense of the machine itself—so we’ll leave those out.
What can we learn by comparing the three priciest 1000cc models? Well, on paper, they have similar horsepower ranges, weight capacities, etc. Polaris only advertises the 1K’s payload capacity, so their 1,500 pounds include both the capacity of the cab and the cargo bed. In reality, the 1K’s cargo capacity is nearly identical to the Pioneer and Defender.
The only significant difference is the Ranger’s extra horsepower (Polaris has been pushing horsepower first for years, so it’s no wonder they came out on top) and the Pioneer’s lower towing capacity.
In practice, the Ranger and the Defender tend to be a little more comfortable to drive and offer a bit more focus on the actual ride quality instead of focusing solely on the function of the machine. All three of these machines have power steering at their respective price points and are almost perfectly in sync, feature-wise.
*1,500-lb. payload capacity means the Ranger 1000 has a cargo capacity of approximately 1,000 pounds.
The most surprising thing in this group is that CAT’s new CUV82 is priced to compete with the 1000cc models from Can-Am, Polaris, and Honda. How do they expect that to fly? We haven’t had any seat time on the CUV82 (and probably won’t for some time), but it looks like the CUV82 is going for a more rugged construction. CAT’s all-steel bed makes it more durable than others and it sports a larger capacity by volume than any other UTV. Most likely, this will fill a need that construction companies are filling with Polaris Rangers right now. Because of its emphasis on work sites, the CAT UTV might not be ideal for farm work or recreation. Time will tell.
At the other end of the spectrum is the CFMOTO UForce 800, which is a real lesson in “you get what you pay for.” It’s very competitively priced but lacks the high cargo and towing capacity required for real heavy lifting. The bed box is also smaller, coming in at 10.5 cubic feet, compared to the CAT’s 15.6 cubic feet. It’s a budget machine, through and through.
That’s where the good ol’ Gator comes in. We used to think of the Gator as the old faithful of the industry, and the affordable price compared to the performance still makes it a good choice for someone looking to save a little money. You see them hauling landscaping tools on golf courses and picking up trash on college campuses all across America for good reason. They compare favorably to 1000cc models in all aspects, apart from their power—and you’ll definitely notice a difference. For the casual user who needs to do some heavy lifting now and then, you can’t go wrong. If you’ve got bigger jobs to get done or rough terrain to cover, you’re better off stepping up to the 1000cc class.
The machines we looked at are just a handful of the most powerful UTVs these companies offer. In an industry where the Ranger outsells everything else by a mile, it’s easy to forget that there are tons of Ranger-like UTVs out there that offer similar specs.
Point is, you’re sure to find the perfect workhorse to meet your needs, whether it’s a Polaris Ranger, a Kubota RTV, a Textron Stampede, a John Deere Gator, or something else entirely. We counted more than ten different companies that make something resembling a Ranger, and there are new guys trying to get in on it all the time.