RTV vs ATV – Key Differences Between These Two Vehicles

You can’t talk about off-roading without talking about off-road vehicles like ATVs and RTVs. If you’re new to the off-roading scene, you might be wondering what the difference between an ATV and RTV is. Are you also wondering which of these two vehicles is better? We have all the answers you need, so keep reading to find out!


What Is an RTV?

RTV Kubotausa
Image Credit: www.kubotausa.com

An RTV is a type of utility terrain vehicle (UTV) made by Kubota, a Japanese multinational corporation based in Osaka and founded in 1890. Kubota manufactures tractors, garden equipment, agricultural machinery, construction equipment, engines, and many others.

Similar to Kubota’s other machinery, the RTV was built for work-related purposes and hauling cargo. It can accommodate two to four passengers and drives similarly to a car or a tractor.

UTVs are also called side-by-side or SxSs because of their seat arrangement that can fit 2-6 people. As to why Kubota decided to rename the vehicle, your opinion is as good as mine.

One theory is that this particular model of utility task vehicle has several distinctive features that you won’t find in other brands, thus warranting a special name. Kubota quads are famous for their ruggedness, reliability, and power. They are perfect workhorses that can help you tame any inhospitable terrain.

RTVs are small, strong, and quick. They combine tractor technology with a lightweight vehicle to provide off-roaders with all the power and nimbleness that they would require. They look closer to mini-trucks, unlike other UTVs that resemble golf carts.

What Are RTVs Good For?

The Kubota, side by side, is primarily a vehicle that makes sense for work. It generally has decent cargo space and a strong engine that allows it to haul cargo and traverse rugged paths, even in the snow and rain. It’s an excellent choice for construction and transportation operations in an off-road environment.

Like most UTVs, the RTV is a 4-wheeled machine with seat belts and a cabin. Some variants have bars instead of cabins for safety and protection. UTV vehicles are generally very slow, but some Kubota RTV models can reach up to a maximum of 41mph.

Despite them being designed to be a cargo carrier, the RTV can be used recreationally by clubs, groups of friends, or families for off-road rides and trails. The RTV allows you to customize and repurpose it for many things making it a good general-purpose off-road vehicle.

Like other Kubota tractors, the RTV has a hydrostatic transmission system that makes it especially good for farmland and agriculture applications.

What Is an ATV?

atv terrain vehicle

Now let’s move on to the next vehicle in question, the all terrain vehicle or ATV. The ATV is a generic term and is also known as a light utility vehicle (LUV) or a quad bike.

It is a vehicle that rides on low-pressure tires and has handlebars for steering and a seat that the operator straddles. It is frequently called a four-wheeler in Australia, South Africa, some regions of Canada, India, and the United States.

They have a large presence in the agriculture sector due to their speed and small impact on the environment. ATVs are primarily designed for competitions, natural exploration, and leisurely solo rides. Having said that, some brands manufacture ATV vehicles meant for two passengers. They’re called tandem ATVs or Type II ATVs.

An ATV rides more like a dirt bike, with handlebars to steer and a thumb or twist throttle to accelerate and decelerate. It has four wheels, and they are mostly open-topped, but some ATVs also come with cab enclosures. It has a maximum speed of 85 mph and is much faster than a UTV.

Due to its mobility and smaller size (as compared to a UTV), and ability to go through different kinds of terrains (as its name suggests), the ATV can be used in many industries such as border control, construction, law enforcement, military, oil exploration, search and rescue, and wildfire control.

What Are ATVs Good For?

The ATV is a fast recreational vehicle that can traverse almost any terrain. They allow you to easily navigate through the roughest paths at fast speeds. This makes them the preferred vehicle for people working in off-road environments or wide open areas.

Their speed and ease of use have made them a popular vehicle for racing sports. Off-road racing sports like ice-racing, drag-racing, desert racing, hill climbing, motocross, country cross, and even trail racing use ATVs.

Because of their speed and lack of a roof, you need to wear a helmet and protective clothing when riding or racing on ATVs. The ATV is the perfect vehicle for adrenaline junkies and adventurous people. Even outside of recreation, you can use the ATV for your daily commutes, just like motorbikes.

Which Is Better, RTV or ATV?

rtv vs atv

The better choice between RTV and ATV depends on you. Both of these vehicles serve different purposes and are better suited to different environments. ATVs tend to be more recreation-oriented, but you can use an RTV for recreational purposes as well.

The RTV might be your better option if you like to ride with your friends, are most concerned with safety, and are looking for an excellent work vehicle. Moreover, due to their bench or bucket seats and roll-cage-like enclosure, RTVs tend to be more comfortable and safe. The RTV is a well-rounded choice that gives you a bit of everything.

However, the ATV is better suited for people who aim to have fun and move fast in an off-road environment. They are great for a group of friends and off-road adventures. The ATV is the vehicle suited for thrill seekers, whereas the RTV is better suited to people that want a laid-back ride.

The downside for the RTV is that it is comparatively slow and costs a lot more to buy than an ATV. Whereas the ATV is less stable and secure than an RTV and can be very dangerous at high speeds. 

RTV vs ATV Cost

Regarding affordability, the ATV costs much less than an RTV to purchase. ATVs, on average, have better mileage than RTVs, but because of their high-speed and recreational use, they need frequent maintenance. Usually, ATVs begin to have problems after running 10,000 miles.

In comparison, for most UTVs, 5000 miles is considered high mileage. Still, some RTV models can last 10000 miles or more as well.  Still, RTVs with 10000 miles or more limit are significantly more expensive than ATVs.

If you’re looking to invest in a more eco-friendly option, plenty of electric ATVs are available on the market. The Kubota RTV-X-1140e is also a good electric RTV should you want one. Both of these vehicles are slightly more expensive than their non-electric variants.

ATVs are generally a better option for anyone who wants to invest in a recreational off-roader. In contrast, the RTV is a solid choice for anyone who needs an off-road vehicle for carrying cargo, towing other vehicles, or agricultural work.

Is an RTV or ATV More Comfortable?

Comfort is one of the most crucial things to consider when purchasing an off-road vehicle. If you are going for comfort, then the RTV would be the stronger contender. Its ergonomic, 60/40 arrangement seating bench has a wonderful-feeling foam. The comfy operator space allows you to focus on your work peacefully.

Even when you’re lugging cargo, you won’t notice the tough terrain because it was built for it. The Kubota RTV is designed with operator comfort in mind, including features like hydraulic power steering, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and lots of storage space in the glove box and under the seats.

These enable you to bring additional items like a portable fan, a speaker, or even a blanket that might enhance your comfort and pleasure. The ATV, on the other hand, lacks most of these qualities. At most, you can expect a perfect seat on an ATV when it comes to comfort.

Which Is Faster, an ATV or RTV?

faster atv

When it comes to speed, the ATV has a clear lead. Most ATVs can reach 80mph or more speed easily. The ATV is mostly always faster than an RTV, excluding some cases of low-cc ATVs. This is mainly because they were built for different uses, as mentioned earlier.

Most RTVs have a top speed of 28 mph. You’re probably thinking right now: “Man, that’s slow!” Don’t fret, as Kubota’s RTV-XG850 Sidekick with a gas engine has a maximum speed of 41 mph. If you think it’s still not fast enough, it is already an upgrade from the gasoline-run older types.

Cargo and Towing Capacity ATV vs RTV

When it comes to cargo and towing capacity, the RTV is the clear winner. Full-sized ATVs can tow 500lb to 1650lb of rolling weight. Their actual towing capacity drops significantly in mud and rugged terrain. They also have a lot less cargo space compared to the RTV.

Kubota RTV has added extra features to help with cargo and towing capacity. The added features include the incorporation of tractor technologies into a lighter vehicle and the use of variable hydraulic transmissions (VHT), which allow for better performance, strength, and agility. Their RTV-XG series provides up to 2,000 lbs. of towing capacity and 1,000 lbs. of cargo capacity!

Finally, their diesel RTVs include Extra Duty IRS (independent rear suspension) technology for a smooth and comfortable ride and lots of traction, which is an improvement over earlier designs that had a fixed axle on the back wheel.

Final Verdict

After considering everything above, it’s clear that both ATVs and RTVs are excellent vehicles in their respective categories. The only reason you would want to choose one over the other will ultimately come down to your requirements and needs.

Who Should Get an ATV?

The ATV is the best fit for people that only want an off-road vehicle for recreation or light towing work. It costs a lot less than an RTV and can be used to quickly traverse rugged terrain. The ATV is a poor fit for families since it works best with single riders.

ATVs are also a good fit for rescue workers, military, and national park workers because of their relatively small size, fast speeds, and low impact on the environment. ATVs are also easier to maintain and have better mileage than RTVs, making them a good fit for anyone with limited finances.

Who Should Get an RTV?

The RTV is the best fit for anyone looking for an off-road vehicle with a good cargo carrying capacity. They are very helpful during construction operations in rugged terrain. The RTV is also useful for farmers and agriculturists thanks to the integrated tractor technology.

In addition to that, the RTV is a good choice for families looking for a recreational off-road vehicle. It is also much safer than an ATV because of its cabin-like structure or bars. If you can spend some extra money to afford the RTV and want a reliable general-purpose UTV, the RTV is the perfect fit for you.


What is the difference between an RTV and a UTV?

A UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle) is a general purpose vehicle mostly used for work-related tasks. It is a powerful off-road vehicle with plenty of cargo and passenger space. The RTV is a UTV manufactured by the Japanese company Kubota; it is slightly more powerful than a standard UTV and comes with more tractor-like features.

Is ATV or UTV better?

It all depends on what you plan to do with the vehicle. UTVs are better for work-related operations such as farming, towing, carrying cargo, and construction. ATVs are better if you need a fast off-road vehicle traveling across terrain with natural obstacles.

Do ATVs retain their value?

ATVs usually lose 30% of their core value after 3-5 years of operation. However, after that, their value remains largely the same regardless of how much time has passed. As long as you keep your ATV in good condition, you can resell it for a decent amount, even after some years.

Can I make my RTV go faster?

You can improve the performance and speed of your RTV by getting a hand-throttle kit installed in your RTV. The hand throttle kit can help the engine pre-emptively increase the power in the hydraulics so that your RTV accelerates more easily and deliver more power to the ground.

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Patrick Johnson