Various Options to Put Power to the Ground
While most UTVs are gasoline powered, several diesel engine models are available. Powerplants typically range from about 300cc to more than 800cc. This translates to between 20 to 40 hp, but there are models that reach up to 70 hp. Electric-powered variants are available for customers looking for a low-emissions option, but they are heavier, cost more and require recharging time.
“Heavy construction sites are mostly dominated by diesel products, and fuel communization is important,” says Heffline. “Cushman offers UTVs with electric, gasoline, diesel and hybrid options.”
John Deere offers both gas and diesel vehicles, as well as an electric model. “Advantages of diesel include fuel economy, torque and the convenience of having common fuel with other equipment,” says Lund. “Diesels are generally more expensive, so careful consideration should be given to the necessity for diesel on the jobsite.”
There are many drive axle variants, including 2x4, 4x4, 6x4 and 6x6. From personal experience, the two-wheel-drive variants are sufficient for most terrain. And all UTVs offer variants with an automatic transmission.
The choice of drive system depends on how the vehicle will be used. “Most 2WD vehicles can handle mud with the differential lock engaged. But they also tend to have lower under-frame clearance, which means they will bottom out sooner,” says Lund. “Most people choose 4WD because they never know what they might want to get through, and those configurations give them the most terrain capability.”
Yet, there are applications where 4WD is not needed and can even be detrimental. According to Lund, these are primarily turf applications, such as ball fields or commercial property sites.
“The 4WD is not always necessary,” Heffline agrees, adding, “Some jobsites may only require 2WD, and with options like a limited-slip differential and manually locking differential, a 2WD vehicle can navigate a difficult work site nearly as well as a 4WD machine at lower cost.”
Before you decide on a 2WD vehicle, however, make sure you consider the full range of potential uses for the UTV on your jobsite, Lund advises.
While some UTVs can travel up to 50+ mph, the speed can also be restricted to meet government or jobsite requirements. “In the Gator line-up at John Deere, we have low-speed work vehicles (25 mph and below), as well as higher speed vehicles up to 53 mph,” says Lund. “Some higher speed vehicles are capable of being converted to lower speed vehicles with electronic controllers. We also have the ability to customize the speed for multiple speed settings based on the customer needs.”
Customize Your “Mini-pickup”
Most UTVs can be configured like “mini-pickups,” with many offering power outlets for charging electronics, and features such as electronic power steering for low-effort control and electronic fuel injection (EFI) to ensure easy starts and efficient running regardless of the weather or altitude.
“To keep operators and passengers comfortable in all weather conditions, we offer a number of optional amenities, including hard and soft cabs, heater, fans, weather enclosures, wind screens, vehicle roofs and canopies and removable doors,” says Heffline.
UTV suppliers typically offer a laundry list of options. The most popular accessories for jobsite applications include metal canopies (FOPS rated for the RTV900XT), front and rear work lights, beacon/strobe lights, backup alarms and an extended oil dipstick, which allows oil level checks without raising the cargo box, says Muramoto. Kubota also offers air conditioned cabs.
“John Deere offers more than 250 accessories for its UTV line-up, and the selection will depend on the job to be done, the environment and the flexibility that is needed,” says Lund. “For heavy hauling jobs, a contractor might consider a power dump box, side extensions, a spray-in liner and brush and fender guards.” Multiple light kits, protection packages, winches, pull-behind trailers, full glass cabs, heaters, front blades and other options are available.