What Is A Side-By-Side (SXS Or SSV) Vehicle?

If you have no idea what a side-by-side vehicle is, or what it’s capable of, don’t worry! We’ve done extensive research so you won’t have to. By the end of this post, we promise you’ll know all there is to know about them, along with other essential information. 

A side-by-side (SSV or SxS) is a small AWD (all-wheel-drive), all-terrain vehicle that can accommodate a maximum of between two to six passengers. This vehicle also goes by Utility task vehicle (UTV), or a Multipurpose off-highway utility vehicle (MOHUV).

We have looked up all the essential bits about side-by-sides and compiled them all on this post. We hope that this post will help you make an informed decision the next time you decide to go SXS shopping!

An SSV vehicle moving on a dirt track, What Is A Side-By-Side (SXS Or SSV) Vehicle?

What Makes A SxS So Unique?

Aside from their unique design, they come in a variety of fun and unique models that are perfect for work or leisure – depending on your mood. You can opt to go for a ride with your mates in your next outdoor adventure or use it in your upcoming construction project. The following are three major classes of UTVs and their unique features:  

Recreational Side-by-Sides 

The main thing that stands out about this type of SxS is its small compact size and relatively narrow widths. This helps them to easily maneuver through tight tracks and provide you and your fellow passengers with a fun and thrilling driving experience. 

Since side-by-sides for trail riding are becoming more and more popular, it’s getting easier to find recreational off-roading trails all over the country. Some side-by-sides, like the Polaris RZR XP Turbo S, boast a high ground clearance. 

This makes it easier to drive through deeper or taller obstacles. Other notable features include an onboard GPS, integrated camera systems, a winch, and a bunch of useful safety accessories.

Hunting Side-by-Sides

All of the features that boost an SSV’s appeal as a recreational machine can as well be associated with a hunting-focused rig. It has an impressive level of ground clearance, an organized cargo and payload arrangement for transporting supplies, gear, or people as well. These SxSs h a high towing capacity in case you need to bring along extra cargo for any secondary tasks. 

Family Side-by-Sides

For your information, UTVs make the best rides for outdoor family trips or outdoor bonding experiences. The one thing that makes this type of SSV stand out from its counterpart is the passenger seating. The Kawasaki Teryx 4 family UTV, for instance, can fit at least four family members with adequate headspace and legroom for both kids and adults. 

The best thing about family UTVs is their ability to provide pure family fun, regardless of the model used.

Ranching/Farming Side-by-Sides

These types of UTVs typically have a high towing/payload capacity and a reliable workhorse for extensive farm projects. If you work on loads such as gravel, manure, or hay bales, the ranching UTVs have with a dump/power-lift cargo box that also boosts their overall appeal. 

These beasts of burden offer farm-specific features such as the ability to change from 2WD to 4WD and vice versa, high ground clearance, and add-ons such as sprayers and front loaders. For more information about when to use 4WD, read When Should You Use 4WD? (Four-Wheel Drive Guide)

Why Is It Called A Side-by-Side? 

As seen earlier, Utility Task Vehicles go by a variety of names. However, there’s one specific name that stands out from the rest - the side-by-side

The name side-by-side represents the vehicle’s seating arrangement. A typical UTV has about two to six seats that are fixed side by side one another in rows of two. It makes sense.

Are Side-by-Sides Safer Than Quads? 

Still, on the topic of safety, it’s worth knowing if the average side-by-side beats the average four-wheeler in terms of safety features. Side-by-sides are generally safer. Here are three primary safety features that UTVs have that ATVs don’t:

1. Center Of Gravity

Side-by-sides are a safer option as far as the center of gravity goes. They often have their payload underneath the tire tops, thereby lowering the center of gravity and providing greater stability.

2. Roll Cage

The solid roll cage design of side-by-sides helps keep you secure in case of an accident. Unfortunately, quads don’t offer this kind of advanced safety feature.

3. Cab

The majority of side-by-sides are structured with enclosed cabs that keep you safe and comfy, no matter how harsh the weather gets. Quads, or ATVs, have an open structure that often exposes you to the elements and road debris and particles. 

How Fast Does A UTV Go? 

UTVs’ top speed range between 45 mph and 85 mph. The UTV with the highest top speed is the Can-Am Maverick X3 at 85 mph while the slowest is the Arctic Cat Prowler Pro Crew at  55 mph. The average speed of a UTV varies greatly based on the purpose and model of the UTV. 


For example, the Polaris RZR or Maverick can easily beat the average utility UTV in a track race. Even though most utility task vehicles aren’t reliable in terms of speed, some can go. If you often drove on off-road trails, your top speed will be slower when compared to when driving on flat grounds. 

It’s important to note that the weight of the UTV does not affect its speed in any way. It all has to do with the engine model. If you’re curious about the weight of the Polaris RZR, though, read How Much Does Polaris RZR Weigh? 

How Much Can A Side-by-Side Tow? 

The last thing you want to do is unknowingly damage your UTV by overburdening it with excessive weights. Since different models have their towing capacities, you must find out yours and stick to it. The towing capacity of a side-by-side is often determined by its weight as well. The lighter it is, the lower the towing capacity. 

The Can-am commander, for example, weighs 1291 pounds and tows a total weight of 1500 pounds. On the other hand, the CAN-AM defender weighs 1550 pounds and can tow up to 2,000 pounds. 

When looking at your desired side-by-side vehicle specifications, focus on the weight aspect more than anything else. The weights of different models are either listed as dry weight or wet weight. Dry weight refers to the frame’s weight when the tank is empty, while wet weight includes a full gas tank. 

Do You Need A License To Drive A UTV? 

You’ll be surprised to know that you can drive your UTV on the road – well, in some states, provided you have a license. Not only do the laws vary in each state, but they are also not enforced uniformly in all streets or locations within a state. 

Based on our research, we found that a considerable majority of states require that you have a license along with other legal requirements for you to drive a UTV on the streets. For example, in Minnesota, you should have a valid license, plus a valid safety certificate, possess a motorcycle endorsement, among others. 

Other states like Kansas are less strict on driving UTVs, only if you do it on specific public streets. You should also own a driver’s license, and your vehicle should be legally registered. The city roads should also have less than 15,000 pedestrians.  

What Is The Best Side-by-Side For Utility?

Here are two of the most dependable, challenging, and rugged utility UTVs:

1. Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXT EPS

This UTV has a configuration that allows you to easily switch from a 3-passenger cab long bed to a 6-seat beast with a relatively smaller cargo bed. The Kawasaki Mule is a 4WD UTV that is powered by a 3-cylinder 812cc Chery engine. To top it all, this beast comes with an impressive 3-year warranty.

2. Yamaha Viking EPS

Any utility machine from Yamaha is synonymous with dependability. The Yamaha Viking EPS, more specifically, has what it takes to get the job done. This machine is powered by a single-cylinder 686cc engine that generates an insane amount of low-end torque. The Viking EPS can tow up to 15,000 pounds and also comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

Other utility SxSs worth considering include the Polaris Ranger 1000, the John Deere Gator XUV835M, and the Can-Am Defender Pro.

What Is The Best Side-by-Side For Hunting? 

Going hunting? We recommend these two powerful hunting UTVs:

1. The Honda Pioneer 1000-5 LE

The Honda Pioneer 1000-5 is undoubtedly the machine to get for all your hunting needs. It features a spacious and fully functional dumping cargo box that also converts into a second seating row. The noiseless 999cc twin-cam engine allows it a six-speed transmission, a towing capacity of a whopping 2,000 pounds, and a top speed of 20 mph.

2. Polaris General 1000 EPS

The Polaris General 1000 EPS features an impressive GPS capability, ready Bluetooth connectivity, and a touch-screen Ride Command system. The recordable camera system and excellent seats are a bonus. On the top end, this machine exceeds speeds of up to 70 mph. Being a hunting UTV, it is reasonably quiet and only gets noise when going up steep slopes. 

Other hunting SxSs worth considering include the Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX EPS LE, the Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS, and the Cub Cadet Challenger 750.


If you’re planning on buying or replacing your UTV, we hope this post helps in getting just the right one for your utility, family, or recreational needs. 

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