Havasu Side by Side Buying Guide

A side by side is an off-road vehicle for work, recreation, and sport. It is a great way to enjoy the environment around Lake Havasu City. The area offers a variety of trails for you to explore on your own or with a group guided tour.

Also known as a Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) or SxS, a side by side is a blast to drive. It can get you through most rough terrain and can be a highly functional work horse. It is an alternative to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that are more about recreation and sport.

What is a side by side?

A side by side gets its name from the two seats located next to each other—one for the driver and one for a passenger. It’s not uncommon for these work horses to have one continuous bench. In either configuration, you drive a side by side like a car or a golf cart with pedals for power and brake and a wheel for steering. Some side by sides have back seats, allowing you to take passengers out on the land. Some have a cargo area like a mini pickup truck. Others are strong enough to tow a trailer. There are three types of side by side on the market today.

Utility SxS

The roots of the side by side are in utility. These traditional UTVs are designed around hauling, pushing, and towing. They can feature large cargo areas and usually have storage in and around the driver’s cabin. You have a choice of an open cab or a completely enclosed one to protect you from the weather. They keep you comfortable with heat and air conditioning. Utility side by sides can accommodate various attachments from plows to sprayers and even bucket loaders.

Recreational SxS

People realized that all work and no play was limiting for side by sides. Recreational models evolved accordingly. Recreational models tend to have bucket seats instead of benches. They cut down the cargo box for more seating that can be removed or folded down. Many feature Rollover Protection Systems (ROPS) to protect passengers from accidents that can happen in steep terrains. While recreational SxS vehicles trade a bit of brawn for speed, they can still haul weight. These models aim to strike the balance between fun and usefulness and are a great choice for those who want to explore Lake Havasu.

Performance Models

The newest segment of the side by side market are performance vehicles. They are meant for taking on tough terrain, for going fast, and for having fun. You won’t be able to really tow anything or haul a lot of gear. Made for fun and adventure, performance side by sides have big tires and beefed up suspension with plenty of tire travel for going over rocks. Engines are turbo-charged for speed. A burgeoning Lake Havasu racing community is developing around these SxS models.

Tips for buying a side by side

  1. Know what you want before you go shopping. If taking your family out into the back country is your aim, you won’t get seduced by a performance SxS. If you need utility, consider where, when and how you will be using the vehicle.
  2. Test drive it. Like cars, different brands and models of side by sides offer different driving experiences. Get a feel for what they offer by taking your top contenders out for a spin. See if you like the way they feel, steer, and stop.
  3. Ask a ton of questions. A reputable dealer will be knowledgeable about the brands they carry and will have personal experience driving them that they can share with you. They are a great resource for information. And you will be building a relationship that will be useful as your vehicle needs service throughout its lifespan.

Havasu Side by Side Trail Association

The local Havasu Side by Side association is a members-only group that seeks to represent the interest of the Side x Side (UTV) community. Their goal is to work with Local, County, State and Federal agencies to keep desert roads and trails open for public use. They seek to promote and educate members in regard to responsible OHV riding along with safety, riding etiquette, and awareness and respect for the environment. They also hope to assist in the development and maintenance of both public and private lands for responsible off-highway vehicle recreation, including organizing volunteer groups for the removal of litter and promoting access to public lands.