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Choosing Your Next Side-by-Side Utility Vehicle


(ARA) – Side-by-side utility vehicles have become a popular choice for multi-acreage homeowners, farmers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Their cargo boxes, high payloads and towing capacities coupled with seating for multiple people and some vehicles with more than 50 miles-per-hour top speeds, make them a versatile vehicle that can work and play.

The side-by-side utility vehicle market has more than doubled in the past five years. With manufacturers introducing a variety of new models, choosing a utility vehicle can be a difficult endeavor.

Here are a few things to consider when making your next side-by-side utility vehicle purchase.

* Power

Engine size is always a consideration when choosing a utility vehicle. Most manufacturers offer utility side-by-sides in the 500 to 700 cubic centimeters range. For lighter jobs not requiring heavy towing and hauling, a 500cc vehicle would suffice but for heavier applications, a vehicle with 700ccs gives your more available power to muscle through the toughest work. Also a consideration is if the engine is carbureted or electronic fuel injected. Electronic fuel injection offers reliable starts at extreme temperatures and offers no power loss in altitude changes.

* Ride

Using a vehicle for work should not be hard on the driver. Considerations such as suspension type, travel and ground clearance should be noted when looking for your next work horse. Independent rear suspension offers a smoother ride over a straight axle and offers more ground clearance and suspension travel. Many of the utility side-by-sides available offer IRS and this year, manufacturer Polaris Industries is offering exclusive Adjustable Dual A-Arm front suspension on its new Polaris RANGER models for the maintenance of ground clearance when carrying heavier loads and using accessories such as plows, cabs and sprayers. For even heavier duty work applications, along with the new Dual A-arm front suspension, Polaris is offering the first-ever Self-Leveling Rear Suspension on their RANGER HD model allowing the vehicle to carry heavy loads and maintain the same ground clearance.

* Maneuverability

Utility side-by-sides tend to be big which can be a hindrance on small work sites, farm yards or in the woods. Be sure to test drive the vehicle through tight areas to realize steering ease and ability to maneuver in tight areas. Some vehicles, such as the new 2009 Polaris RANGER are operable with one hand and the RANGER HD offers variable assist power steering to ensure easy maneuvering and the elimination of feedback.

* Ergonomics

Since you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in your new utility side-by-side, you’ll want to ensure you can work long days in comfort. Ensure that seat and leg space, seat comfort and placement of gauges, levers and pedals complement the driver. Go to the dealership dressed in work clothes including gloves, hats and boots to ensure operating the vehicle is easy in work gear.

* Storage

When driving around your property, on the work site or while hunting, there’s always a need for storage for everything from tow ropes to work supplies. Be sure to take into consideration that if you are hauling a load in the dump box, you’ll need room for your supplies elsewhere. Most utility vehicles offer some compartments either in the cab, under the hood or under the seats. The more storage, the better.

* Accessories

Along with understanding the features of each utility vehicle, it’s important to understand the accessories available for each model. Accessories offered through a model’s manufacturer are built for that specific machine and can help you get the most out of your new purchase. Accessories such as cabs, plows, cargo boxes and winches can make work easier and quicker. Installation of accessories also should be a consideration. Some manufacturers offer accessories that latch on and off their vehicles easily while others have quite a bit of installation time before they can be used. A broad line of accessory offerings can go a long way.

Keeping these simple things in mind can help you through the wide variety of utility side-by-sides available and ensure you get the right vehicle for the job.







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