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Posted: 09/22/2015

Utility Vehicles vs. Pickup Trucks

Bobcat 3400XL UTV drives on a public roadway.

Pickups have long been the standard work vehicle, but utility vehicles offer unique advantages, like lower ownership costs, improved mobility and more. When you’re in the market for a second pickup for jobsite duties, consider the ways a utility vehicle might serve you better.

Upfront cost
When it comes to dollars and cents, a utility vehicle is going to cost less than a pickup. A lot less.

Pickups cost upwards of $30,000, not including gas/fuel, insurance, maintenance and registration. A typical 4x4 utility vehicle will range from $12,500 to $20,000.

Cost of ownership
Utility vehicles are designed to stop and start with less engine wear, which means less time in the shop. Plus, if you ever need to replace the components, they’re likely to be cheaper than automotive parts. Utility vehicles are also less expensive to operate because they’re more fuel-efficient and have lower liability insurance costs (if any).

Getting around
The smaller size of a utility vehicle makes it more maneuverable, often taking you where a truck simply can’t go. Hit the trails, walkways and access roads that can’t be reached with a pickup. Speeds range from 15 mph up to 40 mph.

Utility vehicles can also pull trailers with less ground disturbance to lawns and soft surfaces.

Because utility vehicles have a shorter wheelbase, they have a tighter turning radius and navigate spaces that a pickup just can’t reach. Travel easily around nursery tree rows, livestock barns and corrals, and indoor warehouses.

Ease of use
Utility vehicles are perfect for work. They offer fast, easy transportation around jobsites and large acreages. The vehicles are intuitive and simple to drive with a familiar steering wheel, foot accelerator and foot brake. Some models with hydrostatic drives feature a single travel control pedal for easy operation. Changing from forward to reverse is as simple as pressing the travel control pedal back and forth with your toe or heel – no gear shifting required.

Many models offer joystick controls for attachments and implements, glove box, cup holders, storage areas and at least one 12-volt plug-in. Choose models with two-, three- or six-person seating.

Performance features
Some utility vehicles offer performance features with pickup-like amenities. Examples include front and rear suspensions designed for smoothing out the ride on rough terrain, reducing side-to-side sway and providing better traction.

Like a pickup, some utility vehicles can pull trailers and tow-behind implements. If towing is important to you, look for a utility vehicle with a 2-inch receiver system and a high tow rating, so the hitch styles can be matched to pull-type implements you already own.

Manufacturers offer two- and four-wheel drive options. Some systems are true four-wheel drive and send torque to every wheel when the vehicle’s wheels start to slip. If the rear wheels start to lose traction, the front wheels engage, with the additional locking front and rear differentials, to power you through difficult terrain.

Gas or diesel engines are available, depending on your fuel preference.

Automobile-style comfort and controls
Some utility vehicles feature many of the same comfort and control features you’d normally expect from an automobile. From a spacious, comfortable area for operator and passenger from shoulders to feet — to operator controls that are intuitive in their placement as well as vehicle information centers. You’ll find many appealing features, including:

  • Heat and air conditioning
  • Power and tilt steering
  • Shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive
  • Low- and high-beam headlights
  • LED or LCD information displays
  • Premium audio
  • Supportive seats with retractable seat belts
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