Getting your first piece of rural property comes with some unique needs. There’s some lingo to learn, you may have purchased some work boots, you’re clearing weekends on your schedule, and you’ll be looking at your first UTV purchase.
When you read those three letters, your response was likely one of the following:
*Nods head* “Ah, yes.”
“Everyone has been asking about mine, and I don’t think I speak their language.”
Motorized Utility Vehicles (UTVs) are destined to be your reliable friend out at your hunting or ranch property. You are no longer in Golf Cart Country. You need something that will get you, your gear, your dog, your friends, and your outdoor self from Point A to Point Edge-of-the-Property when there are no roads and you don’t want to take your truck.
They’re also fun, but that’s another topic. UTVs evolved from smaller All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) because of practicality. An ATV is an off-road vehicle, and terrific for nimbly heading through rough terrain and even getting some air time, if one is so inclined. They’re the modern horse - a little closer to their motorcycle roots.
UTVs answered the questions that began to pop up from ATV users, such as:
“Where do I carry the deer?”
“Where do I put my toolbox?”
“Can I get a heater installed?”
They’re bigger, seat at least two people on actual seats - no straddling the vehicle, like an ATV, use a steering wheel, not handlebars, and have cargo space, thus their “Utility” moniker. They’re smaller than a truck, have Four-Wheel Drive (4WD), can be powered by gas, diesel or electric, and can even handle towing duties.
UTVs have also become a bit of a members-only club. You’ve probably heard others talking about hopping on the “Gator” or “Mule” or “Grizzly” and adding on roof racks or stereos, and the mental images were astounding. Don’t worry. It’s totally possible to get through your first UTV buying experience without looking awkward or missing out on any special language. Don’t let the others intimidate you.
“My husband said he was bringing home a “Mule”, the woman said, with her manicured fingers forming quotation marks. “The grandkids were so excited,” she continued, “They love animals. When they did see it, they were actually more ecstatic about the sub-woofers and driving it around the property while they listened to their music.”
What Your UTV Cannot Do
In Texas, you will not be able to take it into town for dinner, even if it seems like a good idea at the time. UTVs can be used on public roads by licensed drivers - but not divided roads or interstates. You cannot drive it on public roads at night, and you cannot drive it for amusement.
To translate this to real life: If you need to take your UTV out onto the local road for short stretches into order to reach another area of your property, you may. It will be classified as a “Recreational Off-Road Vehicle” by the state, and although you’ll have a title, it will not be licensed for street use.
Your UTV will not be as fast as some ATVs. Your maximum speed will be around 25 mph with a diesel engine, and 45 with a gasoline engine. If you are purchasing a property that is at the end of an 18-mile private road, you’ll want to find another way to get to the mailbox. Otherwise, a UTV is perfectly capable of transporting drivers across all types of terrain at respectable speeds. “Getting some air” with a load of tools or firewood in your cargo box is not a common aspiration for most owners. If it is, consider the next question.
Maybe I Just Need an ATV?
Sure! If you’re searching for something that can get you out to your hunting blind or deer stand, with little extra baggage, an ATV will get you there with minimal fuss. They’re great for trips around your property that need to head down rugged trails.
They can also go quite fast, if you’re looking for that kind of adventure. There are a lot of new designs out there that will send you rocketing off at up to 60 mph. They can pull loads, and can be adapted to carry more cargo.
It’s not uncommon to have both an ATV and a UTV in the garage. ATVs come in at a cheaper price point that UTVs, and have the fun factor that’s appealing to guests and visitors. There’s a wide range of engine sizes that can fit the experience of the rider. They really can offer the modern version of a string of horses, with a size and safety rating for the least experienced - low horsepower, automatic transmission, and even the capacity to keep the speed down by adjusting the throttle control.
In Texas, ATV riders are legally required to wear a helmet and have motorcycle training to drive one on public lands. This doesn’t apply to operation on your own private property, but it does give an indication to the type of skill and precautions that are advisable for ATV operation.
How To Speak the Language
If you’ve been around the groups of people who are discussing their latest UTVs, you’ve been subject to overhearing a lot of lingo that can be intimidating. Like any group, the talk can become very acronym-heavy, and there will be strings of numbers and letters, as well as other specialized language.
When you’re ready to start shopping for your own machine, study up on some of the following terms:
If your new UTV does not come from the dealer with all the features you’d like, you’ll be diving into the world of aftermarket parts. Add-ons like stereo systems, snow plows, and larger tires all fall in to this category.
Part of the safety system, the safety cage is like a roll bar with more cross bracing and support. New UTVs are designed to protect the occupants in case of a roll-over accident. The cage will work with the seatbelt in the vehicle, and also provides a frame for doors, windshields, windows, and other add-ons.
The cargo box is what makes the UTV a UTV. It’s the box mounted on the back of the vehicle that functions like a truck bed. These come in varying sizes, and often are designed to tilt so that they can be used to dump loads. This is one of those features that you never knew you needed until you use it a few times.
Since you are dealing with an off-road vehicle, this aspect is important. Ground clearance is measured by the number of inches below the lowest point on the UTV - this is usually at the metal “skid plate” that you can see from underneath the front of the vehicle. Usually about 10”. Just for reference, a Jeep Wrangler has about 10.6” of clearance.
Refers to the use of a UTV at super slow speeds and low gear ratios on extremely rough terrain. There are rock crawling competitions and rock crawling gear packages that can be added on to your vehicle.
This is what you want your cargo box to do, and one of the reasons that a UTV can perform many of the tasks of a small tractor. It allows you to slide off heavy loads like soil, firewood, rolls of fence - an incredibly useful feature.
Just like on a pick-up truck, UTVs come with a standard sized ball hitch that can be used to tow trailers - or other items, like your friend’s ATV that broke down. Most UTV’s will have about 1000 lbs of towing capability, in addition to what they can already carry on board.
Occupant Protection System (OPS)
This is the overall safety system to protect the driver and passengers. This will include the safety cage and passive restraints such as seatbelts.
This is used to describe the capacity of some cargo beds. It refers to the standard wooden shipping pallet - which measures 40” x 48”.
The seat on an ATV.
Another term for UTV. This refers to the seating capacity of this style of vehicle: there are actual seats, instead of a saddle - which allows a passenger to ride alongside the driver.
If you think you will be using your UTV to pull any type of trailer or attachment around your property, you’ll be concerned with the towing capacity. This will reflect the engine size and weight of the vehicle. Generally, a good work UTV will have at least a 1000 lbs. towing capacity - this in addition to what it can handle onboard.
Operated off the UTVs engine, a winch is located on the front of the UTV. Using the same concept as a tow truck, winches wind and unwind a cable - which can be used to pull your UTV out of a jam, once it’s anchored on a tree, for example - or, to pull someone else out of a sticky situation. It’s also great for dragging logs or other heavy items clear of roads or trails.
What On Earth Do I Do With a UTV?
This will actually be the last time you ask this question. You’re buying your first rural Texas property, and you get a pass. Here’s a sample - and some actual quotes from folks who were just like you, once.
On your rural property, the right UTV will allow you to handle tasks that might otherwise need a tractor, pick-up truck, car, horse or travel on foot. They’re quiet, they’re efficient - and you can trick them out with aftermarket features that may have you wishing that you could, actually drive it into town for dinner.
“We take one along to shows instead of a golf cart. Ours is indispensable. We call him 'Mr. Saki’. I don’t think our Labrador has missed a ride on it since he was a puppy.”
If you’re dealing with horses, there are attachments available that will enable you to maintain your trails and arenas with drags and sprayers. They’re the stable favorite for moving shavings, hauling hay, and getting feed bags to the feed room. With a dumping cargo box, they can replace most of the wheelbarrows you use. They move easily down barn aisles, and can be parked under cover in a smaller slot than a truck needs.
“We have a couple of pick-up trucks, but to be honest, we just use these little guys 90% of the time. They’re just faster.”
Out in the pasture, a UTV lets you check fences and do repairs all over your property. You can move crew members around quickly, and take shortcuts. Unlike a truck, a UTV will let you get in close to cattle in wooded areas, and get any necessary veterinary equipment directly to injured livestock. Best of all - they can let your stock dog ride shotgun with you - that’s impossible with an ATV.
They’re also indispensable for quick road maintenance on your property. UTVs can scoot right into stretches of road that have developed impassable areas or potholes, dropping off gravel or pulling downed trees out of the way. There’s plenty of room to haul your chainsaws and other equipment to areas that have been blocked by storm debris. There’s an attachment for virtually any job you can imagine - from snow plows to box blades, excavators to mower decks.
“Best thing for hunting since handwarmers and Realtree.”
Hunters can pack everything they need out on a UTV, and haul back their game easily. There are models that focus on the needs of this type of user - they already feature camouflage paint jobs, and ultra-quiet electric operation. Plenty of room for you, your dog, and your equipment at the blind - or you and a buddy at the deer stand.
“I don’t do wind. And, I’m too impatient for golf carts. Plus, I can charge my phone on it.” (Horse farm owner and until recently, Florida resident)
Onboard the UTV is where the customization becomes extraordinary. Models can come equipped with everything a regular Jeep has - and more. Windshields - and windshield wipers, doors and windows, roofs - all available. There’s no need to stop with avoiding gravel and flying bugs, however. If you’re expecting to transport guests in comfort, you’ll be glad to know that your UTV can have heating, LED lights, a stereo system, and bucket seats.
Around the cabin and ranch, the no-nonsense, easy-clean, easy-to-operate aspects of an ATV will have you using it for hauling everything from groceries for your big BBQ to ice bags to lawn furniture. They’ll bring in potting soil, deliver landscaping plants, and haul luggage so efficiently, you’ll wish you could take it on your next trip to the DFW Airport.
Getting your first UTV is a rite of passage that accompanies your rural property research - and it should be fun, not intimidating. If the thought of learning about the ins and outs of agricultural exemptions and the best areas for searching equestrian, ranch or hunting properties seems equally overwhelming, talk to our Fort Worth realtor at the Chicotsky Real Estate Group. They’re experts at finding the best match for you, and their knowledge of the area is unmatched. They’ll answer any questions, and put their team to work on every aspect of your DFW area real estate purchase.