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The Complete Guide to Buying an ATV/4 Wheeler

ATV Buying Guide

When it comes to buying an ATV or four-wheeler to fit your needs, there are several factors to consider. From pricing, financing options, monthly payments, brand, model and usage – this buying guide will give you the tools to make a better-informed purchase decision. As the recognized world leader in off-road vehicles, Polaris is here to help you find the ATV or four-wheeler that’s right for you.

A four-wheeler can deliver the same trail thrills, adventure and capabilities as a side-by-side, and for many is the ideal entry vehicle to the off-road world. This guide will not only help you find the right ATV, but also make a better informed decision on ATV accessories, wheels and tires. Lastly, we’ve outlined basic ATV / four wheeler price guidelines including the advantage of affordable monthly payments. Now, let’s find your next off-road vehicle.

What is an ATV or Four-Wheeler?

The four wheeler was born not long after the three wheeler or ATC disappeared. Featuring four, low pressure all-terrain tires, high-ground clearance and a robust suspension to tackle rugged terrain, the ATV has become one of the most popular off-road vehicles in the world. Most tout four-wheel drive capability, which allows an ATV or four wheeler to travel over rough ground, drive through deep mud and water, and climb rocky hillsides with relative ease. They are also very adept at hauling and towing large loads over difficult terrain. In short, the ATV is just that, an all-terrain vehicle that can work hard, play hard and can open up a new world of off-road adventure.

 

Equally appealing are the varied ways an ATV can be used. They include:

 

  • Hunting and Fishing
  • Farming and Ranching
  • Lawn Care and Landscaping
  • Snow Removal
  • General Utility Tasks
  • Recreational Trail Riding

 

This incredible versatility is what made the ATV one of the most popular off-road vehicles in the world. Yet, it’s the recreational side that attracts so many to the four wheeler market. Popular ATV’s like the Polaris Sportsman offer a level of performance, utility, versatility and affordability that makes it ideal for hundreds of tasks and trail riding adventures. Throughout North America there are thousands of miles of trails where you can experience the off-road freedom only an ATV can deliver.

 

When ridden properly and after taking an ATV or 4 wheeler riding course, these vehicles can be enjoyed by riders of varying skill levels. So, which one is right for you?

What are the different types of ATVs?

It’s important to note when it comes to buying an ATV there are many different models to choose from, but most can be divided into a few key categories.

 

  • Sport ATV – Models like the Polaris Scrambler 850 and Scrambler XP 1000 perfectly represent the sport performance quad with race-proven power, suspension and handling.
  • Recreation/Utility ATV – From small jobs to big tasks, or any kind of adventurous trail-riding, camping, mudding or hunting, Rec/Utility ATVs offer a wide range of versatility
  • Youth ATV – Sized right for age and ability, there are several youth model ATVs to choose from, each designed with safety features and to introduce the off-road experience to the next generation.          

 

Along with individual designs and features, most ATVs or four wheelers offer a broad range of power options. How much power you want or need is dependent upon how you want to use the ATV, what kind of rider you are, your experience level and how much you want to spend. While youth 4 wheelers are powered to match the age and skill level of the rider, full-size models are available in a wide range of power offerings. If hauling or towing big loads is on your to do list, or if you’re an experienced rider who craves peak performance, a higher displacement and higher horsepower ATV or four wheeler is likely your best option. For other buyers who are more concerned about price or rideability for a wide swath of skill sets, a smaller displacement ATV, like the incredibly popular Polaris Sportsman 570, is probably the right choice.

Rec/Utility ATVs

Utility or Rec/Utility ATVs are, as the name implies, designed for versatility and are geared towards a work first, play later usage.

 

Key features include:

  • Racks and Storage
  • Integrated Hitches for Towing
  • Independent Rear Suspension for All-Day Comfort
  • High Ground Clearance
  • Electronic Power Steering (Optional)

 

Utility quads are arguably the most popular ATV in the industry. In some ways, nearly every ATV available in the market today is designed to deliver some degree of utility, yet these four wheelers are engineered to do more work and still deliver a great trail ride when the job is done. 

 

Polaris has all the bases covered in this category starting with the Sportsman 450 HO and Sportsman 570. Both offering incredible value and feature legendary ride and handling, reliable and efficient electronic fuel injection and the industry’s quickest-engaging all-wheel drive system. The popularity of Sportsman is especially evident with the Sportsman 570 - the best-selling automatic 4 wheeler of all time.

 

For those who want more by every measure, nothing compares to the Sportsman 850 and Sportsman XP 1000. Delivering the hardest working, smoothest riding performance with a rider active design, this duo delivers unstoppable power and capability.

Sport ATVs

These are performance first machines built to deliver key performance attributes:

 

  • Speed and Acceleration
  • Precise Handling
  • Premium Suspension Performance

 

Sport quads range from four-wheel drive models designed for trail performance to rear-wheel drive models geared towards racing on motocross tracks or in wide open deserts. This class once only contained pure-race type ATVs with clutches and manual shift transmissions. But as the ATV category grew, so too did the sport quad class to now include four-wheel drive trail models with automatic transmissions.

 

When it comes to all out performance in a Sport ATV, nothing compares to the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000S. With a wider stance than a “traditional” sport quad with more suspension travel, greater ground clearance and a tough as nails design, it delivers unprecedented stability and performance in the most challenging terrain.

Hunting ATVs

Within the utility category there are several sub categories, but one that often receives special attention is hunting. Hunting quads often start life as a utility ATV and are then specialized with unique accessories, features and colors to deliver improved hunt category performance.

 

Some key hunting options and accessories include the following:

  • Premium Camo paint
  • Gun Scabbard
  • Heavy Duty Winch
  • Hand and Thumb Warmers
  • Rack Extenders and Bumpers

Youth ATVs

The final category is youth ATVs. Offered in various sizes and power options for specific age groups, youth quads are a fun way to get children and young riders into the sport with a sized right approach.

 

A great example of this sized-right and powered-right approach can be found in the Polaris youth ATV line-up. The Outlaw 70 is designed for riders 6 and up and is packed with safety-features. Both the Outlaw 110 and Sportsman 110 are perfectly-suited for riders 10 and older. For more experienced youth riders, the Phoenix 200 and its 196cc engine delivers performance and safety features for riders 14 and older.

How much on average is an ATV?

Used market pricing can be extremely difficult to navigate when buying an ATV, but the price should directly reflect the following:

 

  • Condition of the Vehicle
  • Model Year and Mileage/Hours
  • Features and Accessories
  • Location

 

Ultimately the used market is dependent upon what the current market will bear. However, we know with more certainty how much a new ATV or four-wheeler will cost by looking at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). When we take a look at the big picture, full-size ATVs generally range anywhere between $6,000 (USD) and $16,000 (USD). Some of the most popular, best-selling and still very capable utility ATVs can be found for under $7,000.

 

Financing a new four-wheeler is another option to consider. With manufacturers offering low interest rates and other incentives, you may find financing is a more affordable option to consider. Financing not only makes the ownership experience affordable to more people, it gives you the opportunity to enjoy a more powerful, feature-rich ATV.

Types of ATV Accessories

 Just as important as the ATV or 4 wheeler itself are the accessories you attach to truly elevate the capability, performance, convenience and looks of your ATV. The right accessories can help you specialize the capabilities and convenience of your ATV to match how you want to use the vehicle. Popular accessory categories include:

 

  • Racks, Extenders and Storage
  • Wheels and Tires
  • Bumpers and Brush Guards
  • Winch Kits
  • Plows
  • Lighting
  • Audio Components and Speakers
  • Windshields and Hand Guards
  • Track Kits
  • Hunt Accessories

What type of tires do I need for an ATV/4 Wheeler?

Since the appearance of the first ATV or 4 wheeler, it was the unique tires which truly defined the vehicle’s capabilities. Today, those large, low pressure “balloon tires” of yesteryear have been replaced by more specialized designs. They include:

 

  • All-Terrain Performance
  • Desert and Loose Sand
  • Mud and Water
  • Rock Climbing
  • Snow and Ice
  • Hard Packed Trails
  • Soft Loam Trails

 

Most tires found on ATVs and four wheelers from the factory feature a tread pattern for good all-around performance. However, as indicated by the categories listed above, there are hundreds of specialized tires are available in various tread patterns and sizes to enhance the performance and traction for various types of terrain. Serving as the vital contact patch between the ground and your ATV, having the right tire can truly define your ATV’s all-terrain capability.

In short, when it comes to buying an ATV, do your homework. Determine what type of ATV model is right for how you plan to ride. From trail riding to general utility to hunting and so much more, the world of quads and four wheelers is incredibly diverse. Hopefully this ATV buying guide took you a few steps closer to finding the one that’s right for you.