What’s an ATV?
An All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) refers to a type of popular four-wheeled off-road vehicles designed to take on rough, rugged terrain with ease. Adept in both work and recreational environments, they typically feature low-pressure all-terrain tires, lots of ground clearance, and tough suspension. This means they can easily handle rough ground, go through deep water or mud, and scurry up inclines with ease. With great hauling and towing capacities, some are invaluable companions in hard-working environments such as farms, while others can be lighter and faster with recreational thrills in mind. Basically, with a variety of models and options, it’s possible to find an ATV that’ll do almost whatever you throw at it.
So what’s the difference between an ATV, a Quad, and a Four-Wheeler?
Since three-wheeled ATVs have largely made way for the four-wheeled variety, these terms have pretty much become synonymous. But while a two-wheel-drive vehicle can be referred to as an ATV or quad, a four-wheeler generally means an all-terrain vehicle with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive only.
And if you're wondering what makes an ATV different from a side-by-side vehicle, take a look at our ATV vs SxS/UTV guide.
Getting Started: Determine Your Needs
The best place to start is to decide what you need your ATV to do. Do you need to haul or tow loads on the job site? Are you taking it hunting? Planning to do some trail riding with the family? Has the excitement of ATV sports caught your eye? Maybe a flexible model that can do a bit of everything? Regardless of what your answer is, this is the starting point to determine what sort of ATV you should be shopping for.
Now that you’ve got a rough idea of what you plan to use your ATV for, let’s look at the main categories.
Types of ATVs
Firstly, ATVs vary according to their engine size. The size of most engines is measured in cubic centimetres, or “cc.” Some youth ATVs are as small as 70 cc, with hard-working utility ATVs and sportier quads ranging from 450 cc up to 1000 cc. Let’s take a closer look at these categories:
Performance is the name of the game here. Sport ATVs are lightweight and have deep suspension to handle big jumps, hard bumps and quick turns. Their race-proven power makes them much speedier than their Utility cousins and riders enjoy modifying them with endless accessory options.
Youth ATVs are sized right for age and ability, with engines between 70 cc and 250 cc. Their safety features and easy automatic transmissions are perfect for younger riders eager for a taste of the off-road experience.
Performance is the name of the game here. Built for speed, tight cornering, and nimble handling, these are for thrill seekers who want to finish the day with bugs splattered on their helmet. With powerful engines, long travel suspension, and excellent handling, Sport ATVs offer an exhilarating experience on conditions from desert trails to deep mud. The Can-Am Renegade X xc checks all these boxes with a powerful 91 hp 1000R engine, front double arched A-arms for rock-solid stability, and a confident wide stance.
These are the most popular type of ATV, feature short travel suspensions, big motors and loads of accessories geared towards working or hunting. They’re reliable workhorses in industries like agriculture, where their hauling and towing capabilities become invaluable. Hunters prize utility ATVs for traversing rugged terrain and lugging big cargo. They’re often used a tool but are also too fun to leave alone, so they end up doubling as recreational vehicles. Industry-leading 1,650 lb towing capacity makes the Can-Am Outlander a star in this category. Its LinQ™ quick-attach accessory system is the perfect high-strength, multifunction rack system needed to get jobs done.
If you are looking to buy a utility quad, you should take a look at our guide to find the best ATV for farm use.
These ATVs share several traits with utility models, but are a better balance between getting jobs done and cruising the trails. For most ATV buyers, they fit right in that perfect space between the full-strength functionality of utility models and the hair-raising performance of sport vehicles. They’re the Goldilocks choice of ATV categories with just the right amount of both work and play capabilities. The Can-Am Outlander Mossy Oak Edition fits snugly into this dream category, with exclusive Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camouflage, and factory-installed hunting accessories.
If you are looking for a recreational ATV for your hunting trips, don't miss our guide to choosing the best ATV for hunting.
Offered in different sizes and power options, youth ATVs are a safe and fun way to introduce younger riders to the excitement of the trail. Safety and convenience features in the Can-Am DS lineup like electric start, built-in speed-limiting options and confidence-inspiring handling give young riders a perfect introduction to the world of off-road fun.
What about ATV packages?
Can-Am’s packaged options make it easy to choose the features that’ll suit your off-roading needs. It makes checking options off your list super easy and will ensure you end up sitting atop the ATV of your dreams. Let’s take a look!
With Dynamic Power Steering, for easy, direct speed-sensitive steering assistance, with more power at lower speeds to reduce steering effort and less at higher speeds for maximum steering feel to the rider.
Additional accessories and upgrades. Can mean more exterior protection, upgraded bumpers, and winch.
P stands for performance. Here you’re getting everything in an XT package, but with big performance upgrades such as FOX 1.5 Podium QS3 shocks, Can-Am HD winch, and additional factory upgrades.
Stands for cross-country. These features are designed for performance on trails.
Designed for mud riding with added snorkel, exterior protection, retuned suspension, and bog-ready wheels and tires.
This series is designed for a specific use in certain environments. The North Edition is ready for winter with a windshield, heated grips and 'L' low gearing ideal for plowing. The Mossy Oak is primed for hunting with exclusive Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camouflage, 26 in. Carlisle ACT HD 6-ply tires and high-strength, multifunction racks with LinQ™ quick-attach accessory system.
What specs are important for an ATV/Four-Wheeler?
When it comes to ATVs, the most important specs to consider are the engine, vehicle capabilities, equipment and technologies. Paying close attention to your needs while you consider these options will make sure you check all your boxes.
The amount of power you want or need depends on how you want to use your vehicle, what kind of rider you are, your budget, and whether you’re a rookie or veteran off-road rider. Luckily you have a lot of options when it comes to power. If hauling big cargo or towing heavy loads is on your job list, or if you’re a performance-oriented rider who craves speed, a higher-displacement—remember cubic centimetres?—and higher-horsepower ATV is probably the way to go. A smaller-displacement engine is probably the better choice for those riders more concerned about price or ridability for less experienced off-roaders.
Vehicle capacities and dimensions
ATVs that need to work hard every day in industries such as agriculture need to be able to tow and haul heavy loads. If your ATV is going to experience long and hard work days, be sure to prioritize towing capacity, but also storage and fuel capacity. You don’t want to run out of room or have to spend your day refuelling.
The right selection of optional equipment will be key to making sure all your ATV needs are met. Tackling rough terrain? Be sure to prioritize suspension to smooth out those bumps. A winch can save the day over and over again in both steep and boggy conditions. Big meaty treads can offer increased traction in those same conditions but lower-profile treads can provide more comfort when trekking with the family or on casual recreation days. Comfort can mean everything both during long work days and dawn to dusk days on the trail, so features such as power steering and throttle control can soak up loads of fatigue. Can-Am offers an almost endless number of features and options, so be sure to have a good think about your needs and match them with the extras you choose for your ATV.
Just like cars and trucks, new ATVs offer the latest exciting technologies. Among many, Can-Am offers these advanced features on its ATV models such as Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering (DPS) for easy, direct speed-sensitive steering assistance, with more power at lower speeds to reduce steering effort and less at higher speeds for maximum feel for the rider. The Can-Am Renegade and its Rotax engine offer Intelligent Throttle Control (iTC) for ultimate comfort and control. With Standard, ECO, and Sport modes, iTC throttle-by-wire helps smooth power delivery off-road.
How much can I expect to spend for an ATV?
As we’ve already seen, ATVs vary widely in size, capabilities and features. Accordingly, the price varies with these as well with full-size ATVs generally costing anywhere between $6,000 and $16,000 (USD). Some of the most popular, best-selling and still very capable utility ATVs can be found for under $8,000. Youth ATVs are less expensive from about $2,000 to $5,000. The two most significant factors that determine how much an ATV costs are its engine size and its features and accessories.
Financing can be a great option when purchasing an ATV and can be a more affordable option to consider. Manufacturers like Can-Am offer accessible ways to get on an off-road vehicle like low interest rates and other incentives. Financing makes off-roading possible and affordable for more people and it often gives you the opportunity to upgrade to a more powerful ATV that’s decked out in lots of useful features. Can-Am has easy tools available to estimate monthly payments so you can find the best ATV for your budget.
As you can see, there are about as many different options when it comes to ATVs as trails to ride them on. Deciding what’s best for you is all about starting by carefully considering your needs and doing your homework. From trail riding, to utility and hunting, and recreation and performance, there’s a Can-Am ATV available that’ll check all your boxes. It’s just a matter of preparing well for your hunt. But you already knew that.