Mini Truck vs ATV vs UTV: Which is Best?

Mini Truck vs ATV vs UTV: Which is Best?

Let’s face it . . . choosing the right All-Terrain Vehicle or crossover Utility-Terrain Vehicle is no easy task. ATVs and UTVs come in a seemingly endless variety of models, sizes, styles, capabilities, and price ranges.

But before you plop down ten to fifteen thousand smackers (or more!) on one, there are some important factors to consider. And there’s a surprising alternative that you may know almost nothing about, but which just might be the best option for your utility vehicle needs . . .

The surprisingly versatile Mini Truck.

I know, I know.

You’ve probably seen one of those “goofy-looking” small trucks driving by on a rural road somewhere…

…or puttering around a school as a maintenance vehicle, or at a golf course, or carrying a load of produce on a farm.

If you’re anything like me, you had a good laugh and dismissed them with a wave of your hand.

Here’s what you should do:

Take a closer look at one. 


!hen we compare the 6 key factors below for choosing a utility vehicle, it’ll make more sense.

First, let’s quickly check out the distinct uses of ATVs and UTVs to make sure you’re looking at the type of utility vehicle that’s best for you.

A local power-sports dealer I know says that the main difference between ATVs and UTVs boils down to “fun or function.”

For off-road recreation, handling tight corners and quick turns, or negotiating your way through throngs of trees in the hills, or plowing over sand dunes, an ATV is the ticket.

If your purpose is more utility-minded, such as hauling or plowing snow but you still want some off-road action, then a UTV is the way to go.

Most buyers customize their UTV, decking it out with “personalized add-ons” which can push the sticker price past $20,000.

The brands of UTVs ( also called side-by-sides, due to their two-passenger front-seat arrangement) this dealer carries are:

·        Arctic Cat

·        Kubota

·        John Deere

·        Can-Am

·        Kawasaki

·        Polaris

·        Yamaha

Now, if you don’t care about “showing off” with a sporty UTV, but you DO want to be able to handle a broad range of utility-related tasks while not giving up the off-road fun, then your best option might very well be the little-known Mini-Truck

These peppy, 4WD mini trucks (and micro-vans, believe it or not!) are not only versatile, they’re made by world-class manufacturers, such as Honda, Toyota (Daihatsu), Nissan, Subaru, and others. Their stellar durability over 60 years of service is legendary. 


So, if you’re thinking about getting a crossover UTV (not the more limited ATV), then here are 6 Key Factors to consider when comparing a “sporty” UTV to a mini truck:

UTV VS Mini Truck Prices

The base price of a new UTV varies depending on make and model. In general, you’ll be looking at $10,000-$15,000. As mentioned earlier, if you go the customized route, you can top $20,000. As far as used UTVs go, expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 for one that’s in good shape (which can be a challenge to find with the kind of off-road hammering they often get subjected to).

New Mini Trucks range from $15,000-$23,000. However, because of their renowned durability, most people opt to buy used mini trucks, which are less pricey of course. Expect to pay $3,000 to $11,000 for a used mini truck in good condition (fairly easy to find because they are well-made to begin with).

Thousands of mini trucks more than 25 years old are still in service in the US.

Mini Truck VS UTV Durability

The mini truck stands head and shoulders above other UTVs when it comes to durability. Mini trucks have a long history of durability – designed to run well over 150,000 miles.

By comparison, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a UTV in good condition with 50,000+ miles on it. On top of that, mini trucks hold their value better than other types of UTVs, especially those more than 10 years old. 

Mini Truck VS UTV Operating Cost

Mini Trucks win this battle too.

UTVs range in gas mileage from about 12-25 mpg. A mini truck gets between 40-55 mpg depending on model and driving terrain.

This is a big factor in $ savings over time. Both have similar engine sizes, from 550 cc to 800 cc with 35-55 horsepower (some newer UTVs have 1 liter or bigger engines).

Repair and maintenance costs are also less for mini trucks (overall) than UTVs, in part because of their well-built construction.

Off-Road/ On-Road Crossover Versatility

This one is a bit of a toss-up. For off-road, uneven terrain, a UTV’s clearance and roll-bar “open-cab” design can be an advantage. That said, mini trucks can tackle most of the same off-road terrain that UTVs can – and do it in the comfort of a closed cab (heated or air-conditioned). 

When it comes to transitioning to on-road use, the mini truck gets the nod. Although mini trucks are sold and licensed as “off-road” vehicles in the USA, 21 states allow them to drive on portions of public roads.

The owners of a landscaping company I know drive their mini trucks back and forth between San Diego and Las Vegas on I-15 . . . at nearly 50 miles per gallon! Find another UTV that can do that!

All-Weather Comfort

If having an enclosed cab with a full instrument panel is important to you, then a mini truck is the only way to go. Most come equipped with A/C, heater, wipers, radio, etc., even many older models.

This is a real plus when you’re facing nasty weather, or a sudden storm rolls in.

The only thing to get used to is the steering wheel on the right side of the cab (except Chinese models, which have the steering wheel on the left side).

Cargo Capacity and Hauling

Mini trucks are pretty much made for hauling. Cargo capacity is typically 700-900 pounds; and the beds are about 6.5 feet long by 4.5 feet wide with foldable walls for easy access.

Most UTVs have a hard time stacking up to the hauling versatility of a mini truck; but a few pricier models actually have a larger capacity bed than mini trucks, and can go toe-to-toe with a mini truck’s hauling capabilities. 

And there you have it . . . a quick, basic comparison. There are obviously other things you may want to consider, but this should give you a solid starting point for choosing the right utility vehicle.


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