The industry description is “side-by-side” ATV. Others may prefer “buggy” or load-carrying quad, while some may use the generic “mule”.

But the manufacturers’ handle does at least emphasise one of the key advantages over other off-road ATVs – the driver can take along a passenger for company.

He can also take along a decent load in the tipping box above the rear wheels.

Kawasaki’s Mule started the craze for this style of ATV and was also first with a diesel-engined version. As the vehicle’s versatility has caught on, so it has been followed by an avalanche of similar vehicles.

The Mule has been improved and beefed-up in response and the range expanded with configurations to suit particular users and applications.

The “Trans” version is so called because it can be transformed from a load-carrying truck to an off-highway people-carrier in moments. Folding away the front half of the rear bodywork reveals a second bench seat for another two passengers yet a decent load space remains behind them.

Although most side-by-side ATVs come from quad bike specialists, mainstream agricultural equipment manufacturers are also getting in on the act: Massey Ferguson has teamed up with Cub Cadet to produce the Perkins-engined MF20 MD and JCB’s new groundscare division has its own two-model range.

The latest addition to the continually expanding John Deere Gator range is the XUV 850D, a faster and more powerful alternative to the existing HPX.

JCB’s new Groundhog 4×4 enters the market with one of the most powerful engines, its 26hp output being matched only by the Task M 50D from Spanish manufacturer Ausa.

The Ausa Task M is unusual for being produced in road-legal form as standard and with pedals and steering wheel available on the “correct” side for UK roads in contrast to other side-by-side ATVs.

Massey Ferguson’s MF20 MD has permanently-engaged four-wheel drive together with belt-type CVT drive for easy stomp-and-go driving characteristics.

Four-wheel disc brakes contrast with the drum brakes served up by several of the other diesel utility ATVs.

Bobcat’s revised 2200D – and the similar Club Car Carryall 295 from distributor Bradshaw Electric Vehicles – can also bring into play a sophisticated drive-line when conditions are challenging underfoot.

The IntelliTrak system provides light, two-wheel drive steering most of the time, but activates drive to all four wheels when things get slippery. It detects any loss of traction at the rear wheels and immediately engages front drive and diff lock.

Drivers of Kawasaki’s Mule are relieved of arm strain by the electric power steering now fitted, while the Kubota RTV900 serves up hydrostatic power steering as part of its equipment package.

The Kubota also breaks the mould in having a three-speed gearbox, hydrostatic drive and optional hydraulic power take-off.

Light tread

For a light tread on delicate surfaces or a stable platform and more generous load capacity, the six-wheel utility ATVs from JCB and John Deere are the machines to consider.

John Deere’s TH Gator 6×4 and the JCB Groundhog 6×4 have permanent drive to all four of the rear wheels to give plenty of traction; 20hp diesel engines; and a single-speed CVT transmission.

The Gator was given a revised power-train as part of its most recent update, resulting in faster travel speeds, increased low-end torque and 25% more drawbar pull.

Diesel-engined side-by-side ATVs

Ausa Task M 50D 

Ausa_Task M50D-1

  • Power  26hp
  • Engine 1028cc Lombardini
  • Drive  2-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×2/4
  • Top speed 60kph
  • Cargo box 500kg
  • Unladen 650kg
  • Retail  £9,547
    Ausa website

Bobcat 2200D 

Bobcat-vehicle-2200D-LAN_2 

  • Power  20hp
  • Engine 719cc Kubota
  • Drive  1-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×2/4 auto
  • Top speed 40kph
  • Cargo box 499kg
  • Unladen 756kg
  • Retail  £N/A
    Bobcat website

Club Car Carryall 295 

Club_Car_Carryall_295_01

  • Power  20hp
  • Engine 719cc Kubota
  • Drive  1-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×2/4 auto
  • Top speed 40kph
  • Cargo box 476kg
  • Unladen 669kg
  • Retail  £7,400
    Club Car website

Cub Cadet Big Country 

Cub_Cadet_Big_Country_camo 

  • Power  20hp
  • Engine 720cc Caterpillar
  • Drive  2-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×4
  • Top speed 40kph
  • Cargo box 409kg
  • Unladen 726kg
  • Retail  £8,750
    Cub Cadet website

JCB Groundhog 4×4 

JCB Groundhog 4X4_2a 

  • Power  26hp
  • Engine ‘JCB’
  • Drive  2-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×2/4
  • Top speed 50kph
  • Cargo box 500kg
  • Unladen 850kg
  • Retail  £8,665
    JCB website

JCB Groundhog 6×4 

JCB_Groundhog_6x4_deer 

  • Power  21hp
  • Engine 768cc Perkins
  • Drive  1-speed CVT
  • Traction 6×4
  • Top speed 29kph
  • Cargo box 500kg
  • Unladen 630kg
  • Retail  £9,201
    JCB website

 

John Deere Gator HPX

John Deere HPX 4x4 Gator 

  • Power  20hp
  • Engine 854cc Yanmar
  • Drive  2-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×2/4
  • Top speed 40kph
  • Cargo box 409kg
  • Unladen 757kg
  • Retail  £8,670
    John Deere website

 

John Deere Gator XUV 850D

Deere_XUV850D_Gator

  • Power  24hp
  • Engine 854cc Yanmar
  • Drive  2-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×2/4
  • Top speed 48kph
  • Cargo box 453kg
  • Unladen 784kg
  • Retail  £9,299
    John Deere website

John Deere Gator TH

 John Deere Gator TH

  • Power  18hp
  • Engine 854cc Yanmar
  • Drive  1-speed CVT
  • Traction 6×4
  • Top speed 32kph
  • Cargo box 544kg
  • Unladen 493kg
  • Retail  £8,155
    John Deere website

Kawasaki Mule 4010 Diesel 

Kawasaki_Mule+cab01 

  • Power  24hp
  • Engine 953cc Daihatsu
  • Drive  2-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×2/4
  • Top speed 40kph
  • Cargo box 499kg
  • Unladen 683kg
  • Retail – std £8,345
             – Trans £8,895
    Kawasaki website

 

Kubota RTV900 

 Kubota

  • Power  22hp
  • Engine 898cc Kubota
  • Drive  3-speed Hydro
  • Traction 4×2/4
  • Top speed 40kph
  • Cargo box 500kg
  • Unladen 830-925kg
  • Retail  £8,750
    Kubota website

Massey Ferguson MF20 MD 

Massey_Ferguson_MF20MD_01a 

  • Power  20hp
  • Engine 720cc Perkins
  • Drive  2-speed CVT
  • Traction 4×4
  • Top speed 40kph
  • Cargo box 409kg
  • Unladen 726kg
  • Retail  £8,995
    Massey Ferguson website

Notes:

Traction – 4×4 = four wheels with permanent four-wheel drive; 4×2/4 = four wheels with selectable or automatic two- and four-wheel drive; 6×4 = six wheels with permanent four-wheel drive.      

Petrol-fuelled side-by-side utility ATVs include the Arctic Cat Prowler, Kymco UXV, New Holland Husky, Polaris Ranger and six-seat Ranger Crew, the Yamaha Rhino and Quadzilla CUV 300 – all 4x4s – and Polaris Ranger 6×4.