I recently bought a youth side-by-side for my kids and have spent weeks pouring over specs, comparing UTVs, and considering which was the best purchase for my kids.
Here's the short version of this post: In my opinion, the best youth side-by-side out there right now is the Polaris Ranger 150. Another solid option is the Polaris RZR 170. There are also quite a few solid options from Chinese and other smaller manufacturers that should be considered.
In this post, I hope to share all of the information I've researched over the last few weeks.
How much does a youth side-by-side cost?
VERY IMPORTANT! The prices listed below are what I found in late 2018. Prices of Chinese import UTVs are set to spike soon! Trump's tarrifs on imported four-wheel vehicles are going to hit UTVs big time. One dealer said they saw a 20% increase on Trailmaster UTVs, for example.
- Polaris Ranger 150 - $5,499 MSRP (Street price is more like $4,900)
- Polaris RZR 170 - $5,299 MSRP (Street price is more like $4,800)
- Blade 170 - Approximately $2,700
- Massimo Gunner 250s - $4,749 MSRP (Not sure on street price)
- SSR 170 UTV - $3,949 MSRP (+$300 Destination charge)
- Pitsterpro Avenger - $3,999
- Trailmaster 150X - $3,300 Street price
Polaris RZR 170
This is the big one. By far, the most popular and the original UTV is the RZR 170.
It can be difficult to find the RZR 170 in stock. One of the dealers told me it's kind of like how KTM works. They only allow dealerships so many each year, so they can sometimes be hard to find.
The RZR is 10 years old and has consequently had a lot of bugs in the system worked out over time. It's fast, reliable, and great for kids.
There are two main problems with the RZR 170. First, the seats aren't adjustable to accommodate growing kids, and there are basically no instruments in the dash (no speedometer, odometer, etc). Both of those issues are fixed in the Polaris Ranger 150, which I suspect will cannibalize sales of the RZR 170 if they don't update it soon.
The worst part about the RZR 170 is that they put a STICKER on the dash that kind of looks like a speedometer. THAT is what they give you in a nearly $5,000 vehicle.
The RZR has no speedometer, no odometer, no windshield, no metal front or rear bumper, no roof, no horn, no cup holders, nada. The competitors are less money with more features, but it's tough to argue with Polaris's quality.
Polaris Ranger 150: My top pick
This is the UTV that I bought for my own kids. It's a brand new model in 2019 (technically it was released in 2018, but there was an immediate recall, so realistically the first model year will be 2019).
The Polaris Ranger is absolutely awesome. In my opinion, it's far superior to everything else on the market. Here are the standout features of the Ranger 150:
- Digital display in the dash with GPS!
- Parents can set the max speed using the phone app and push the setting to the Ranger
- Parents can set a geofence so the kids can only ride in a certain area
- Seats can move forward and back to accommodate growing kids. They don't just stop fitting at 14 years-old.
- The steering wheel is adjustable up and down for growing kids
- Larger wheels than the RZR 170
- Better front suspension than the RZR 170
If you can't tell, I'm really excited by the Ranger 150. You can read my full review of the Ranger 150 and see the full comparison of it compared to the RZR 170 right here.
The Ranger 150 is far from perfect, though. While most of the less expensive brands offer a metal front bumper, six-point roll cage, accessory light bar, windshield, roof, and more, the Ranger has none of that, and it's more money.
At the time of writing, it's very hard to find a Ranger 150 for sale. They were originally released in a 2018 model year and were almost immediately recalled when they hit the market. I called about 8 dealerships and many of them had the Ranger 150 in stock, but couldn't sell it until the recall item was fixed and they were waiting to get parts or information from Polaris.
I finally found a dealership in Utah that had a Ranger 150 in stock and that's where I bought from. They said they had one that was just recently shipped from Polaris and evidently it had whatever was broken on the others fixed. I still can't find any info on the recall. I checked Polaris's recall page on their site and can't find any recall information on the Polaris Ranger 150, so I'm not sure what the deal is because all the dealers told me there was a recall.
SSR is a well-known brand in the dirt bike space, but is new to UTVs. Their UTV is becoming more popular and is a decent option.
The SSR 170 Youth UTV is definitely tough looking. It has an extra tire mounted on the back like a Jeep, has lights, matte black plastics, etc. It looks like the Batmobile had a child with
I spoke with a few dealers when researching for this article, including one dealer who said they stopped stocking the SSR 170 because of constant air intake issues. That comment was enough to convince me to look elsewhere. I like SSR dirt bikes, but won't by their awesome-looking UTV until I hear that problem is fixed.
The Blade 170 is a direct
I already know what you're wondering. How cheap is the price, and is the engineering so cheap that it's not worth the price reduction? The Blade 170 is about $1,700 cheaper than the RZR at $3,000.
The Blade 170 comes by many different names and brands being that it's a Chinese knock-off. If you Google youth UTVs, you'll see a bunch of them with different names that all look about the same, and that's why.
There's actually a great long-term owner's review of the Blade 170 on Youtube that I'll embed below. If you don't have the time to watch it, his basic review was that he's had to do a lot of mechanical tinkering and work to maintain it, but he was actually pretty happy with the purchase and it continues to run at 350 miles. Overall, he gave it a 7/10 review.
Trailmaster is a pretty decent option for a cheaper UTV. You can pick up a Trailmaster 150X for about $3,300. For that price, you get a lot of upgrades from what a Polaris offers, but the reliability is somewhat suspect.
The top speed of the Trailmaster 150X is around 24 miles per hour on flat ground with time to get up to speed.
I have seen positive and negative reviews of the Trailmaster. One reviewer had significant issues after just 20 miles on his 300cc Trailmaster and didn't like it. Others have had a few minor issues but generally reported a positive experience.
After a lot of digging, I finally found an actual owner's in-depth review of the Trailmaster on Youtube. His general review is that it was cheaply made, but actually held up better than he expected
Pitster Pro Avenger
Pitster Pro is another well-known company in the dirt bike space like SSR.
I'm impressed with the Avenger's roll cage. It's far better than anything else on the market in my opinion. They have a front metal bumper, 6 point roll cage that fully wraps around the back of the machine, and actual side doors instead of netting. That makes me feel MUCH better about letting my kids mob around in this thing.
Unfortunately, the Trump tariffs have stopped sales of the Avenger for the time being. I called the factory in Utah and they said they aren't quite sure what to do right now and may be able to sell something in the winter, but they aren't sure. I asked if the price would increase substantially and they said they aren't sure at all, and they aren't even sure if they'll be able to sell them at all.
It's a real shame because their UTV looks really impressive.
Ages and Sizes of Youth UTVs
The most important thing is to get a UTV that can grow with your kid. I personally would not buy a youth side-by-side unless it had an adjustable seat so that smaller kids can scoot up to reach the pedals, and bigger kids can scoot back. It's too expensive of a purchase to only fit the kids for 3-4 years. That's a major reason not to buy the RZR 170 in my opinion.
The youth UTVs have age limits for who should be operating them. The Polaris Ranger 150 and RZR 170 are rated for kids 10 years old and older. This is a little peculiar to me because the RZR 170 is small enough that some older teens wouldn't fit in it. I certainly couldn't sit in one as an adult male.
Polaris is very strict on the age limits. One dealership told me that they have to get your kid's birth certificate and send it to Polaris to prove they are the proper age. WHAT!?!??! Chances of me violating my kid's privacy so that I can have the privilege of buying from a specific company are ZERO.
Some of the less expensive off-brand UTVs are rated for older starting ages. One of them (can't remember which) said they start at 16 years old, despite being the same size and CCs as the others. I'm wondering if it's something to do with certain testing they have to do to be rated for the younger market?
Tips on Getting a Good Price on a Youth UTV
Surprisingly, the price of youth UTVs doesn't depreciate much. The price of a brand new UTV will likely depreciate $500 or so right when it's purchased because if the price were any higher, someone would just go purchase it new instead of used.
Other than that relatively small initial depreciation, though, the price stays about the same for many many years. There are plenty of people willing buy a 2-5 year old UTV for $1,000 cheaper than the brand new price.
So, really, if you want to save some money on your purchase, the most important thing is to just be really patient. If you spend several months (especially in the off-season) scouring Craigslist, ATVtrader.com, and Facebook marketplace searching for the model you're looking for, you'll probably find someone willing to sell for a better price.