UTVs are extremely popular, and if you’re considering one, there are some fairly straight-forward points to consider, including…
- For what will you be using the UTV? (e.g. speed vs. work, utility vs. trails)
- In what kind of terrain will you be driving?
- How much are you going to carry/tow?
- Number of passengers?
- How much power do you need?
- How much can you spend?
However, what if you don’t know what, exactly, you want and you’re having a hard time parting with $12,000-$25,000, depending on options, to get into a UTV? Or, what if you question the wisdom of the herd and you’re wary of the marketing hype surrounding UTVs?
The answer may reside in Minnesota’s northwoods
Recently, I spent some time at my uncle’s lake cabin, where UTVs seem to be standard issue for the people who spend time there. Many of my uncle’s neighbors have UTVs, and I asked him when he was going to get his UTV. He responded that he was not going to pay $12,000 for a beefed-up golf cart, and instead he was going to buy a Suzuki Sidekick.
Retired at 57 after 35 years as a master welder, boilermaker and skilled mechanic, I respect my uncle’s option on matters of financial frugality and anything to do with an engine. My uncle’s insights, coupled with a recent ride in a Sidekick in the Mojave Desert, inspired me to investigate the Suzuki Sidekick as a possible alternative to the UTV.
A couple disclaimers regarding the Sidekick or similarly small SUVs
Because it’s a used vehicle and Suzuki has left the U.S. market, you’ll have to go online or to an auto parts store to get replacement parts, and if you don’t have the aptitude or appetite for DIY repairs and maintenance, the Sidekick may not be a good choice.
Acknowledging these limitations, the chart below compared the popular Polaris Ranger SUV and a used Sidekick. Most notable is the price. The cost of the most basic options (doors, roof, windshield) on the Ranger exceed the total cost of the Sidekick. In addition to the obvious age and mileage difference, the weight and size of the Sidekick are disadvantages.
All things considered, if you’re considering a UTV, but you’re unsure what you want or have a hard time justifying the cost, the answer may be a Sidekick.