For our entire off road enthusiasts lives, the equipment has always been limited to either motorcycles or 4-wheelers (well, we do still have a pair of Honda ATC 3-wheelers from the 80's!). With the cost of UTV's being considerably higher than that of a dirt bike or 4-wheeler - and in most cases more than we normally paid for a good used car - we didn't really look at them closely until we had our first child. Growing up as a young boy and through the teenage years, the dangers of a dirt bike or 4-wheeler are not a concern, but when you're a "grown up" planning on getting your 1-year old into offroading, safety becomes a MUCH higher priority!
Obviously it goes without saying that a UTV provides an entirely different level of safety than a 4-wheeler. Just by looking at a UTV, you can see the roll cage wrapping a closed wheel chassis/body, automotive style seating and controls, and automotive style seat-belts. Basically, a UTV is a small car designed specifically for off-roading, but sized appropriately for the maneuverability of trail and woods driving. We all feel pretty safe about putting our kids in our cars and driving off, so naturally the UTV is in our opinion the safest way to enjoy the trails with your family outside of a Jeep. So when we decided to introduce our little guy to offroading, it's clear why we took the UTV route instead of the 4-wheeler route when choosing our new machine for family off-roading.
Now that we had the UTV vs. ATV route decided, it was time to think about which machine to choose. We originally sought out a new Can-Am Outlander or Polaris Sportsman 4-wheeler, but with two-seater 4-wheelers being almost as much as a used UTV in cost and still carrying the danger of no protection for a little one, we decided to spend just a little more and go with a UTV. As discussed in our previous article about the different sub-genres of UTV's, there were certainly a TON of choices for us. Being a family of three, we were in a tough spot as UTV's in the majority are either 2-seaters or 4 seaters. Three-seaters were limited to Polaris Ranger Full-Size machines, which are certainly capable, but more suited to utility and not recreation. 4-seaters are enormous in size and expensive, which wasn't an "ease into it" kind of route. So we were content to figure out how to adapt a 2-seater to hold a 3rd person (albeit a very little person!).
With recreation being our primary use for the UTV, our path steered directly towards the pure-rec machines like the RZR or Maverick, with other rec/utility blends dashed in there such as the: Can-Am Commander, Polaris General, Honda Pioneer, and Kawasaki Versys. The other factor was what was available to us through our local used market here in Central Florida. Being connected to Route 1 Motorsports in Palm Bay via family friendship with the owner, we wanted to take our business there as we trusted them to provide us with great service, both at time of sale and beyond. Being our first dip into UTV ownership, we also wanted to buy used to save costs (obviously) and because we knew we'd probably upgrade in the future and didn't want to lose a ton on the value. Keeping the costs low was our #2 priority, and it quickly ruled out the new models and 'almost' new used models. The last priority of ours was size. While RZR1K's and Can-Am Maverick's are definitely the kings of the pure-rec UTV world, we had space limitations on where we wanted to store the machine. We wanted to keep it in our attached house garage so we could jump in it and goof around our 1-acre lot and drive down to our track/trails. Part of the fun for us is being able to blast out of your garage and ride to our trails, so we needed to consider the space in which it would be living.
Our first glance of the Route 1 Motorsports site had our eyes caught by a 2015 RZR 570. While basic in features, it aligned with all of our wishes in a UTV. While the engine was the smallest in the RZR lineup, we weren't too concerned with out-right power because we would be enjoying this machine as a family and most of its time being used wouldn't be at full-throttle. Also, in Florida the landscape in which we ride doesn't promote top-speed runs and the need for running at full-throttle like it would out West in the dunes. Most of our riding would be in wooded trails and light mud, so we compromised on the engine size to meet our other demands. After doing some research on the 570 and learning that the engine was reliable and not lacking too much behind the RZR 800 in speed, we picked it up at a hell of a price (less than a new Can-Am Outlander or Polaris Sportsman 2-seater) as our starter UTV. Upon unloading it from the truck (yes, truck. We brought it home in the back of our F-350 dually!), we quickly realized that the "baby" of the RZR lineup was the most capable and fun off road machine that we'd ever owned!
Read the next article in our blog to find out our impressions of the RZR 570 and how we plan to configured it to fit our needs.
Thanks for reading,