By Nick Snidarich
Utility vehicles (UTVs) are made to navigate various terrain and go where pickup trucks can’t. But UTVs have different features designed with a specific environment and user in mind due to the kind of work (or fun) being done. For sports field managers and ground maintenance professionals, utility and safety are paramount, with bonus points awarded to UTVs that have accessories available to further enhance the vehicle. With a seemingly endless list of optional accessories on the market, upfitting your UTV can seem daunting, so we’re breaking down what to consider.
First things first
The selected UTV brand, make and model can determine the accessories available and needed – and whether they are appropriate for the jobsite. There are UTVs designed strictly for recreational use, and UTVs designed for daily work environments.
Other considerations may include cost, and whether you will customize your UTV at the time of purchase or have accessories installed after purchase. If adding after the initial UTV purchase, look for accessories that are vehicle validated – meaning they have been tested and quality approved by the original equipment manufacturer. Without this, you could negatively impact the accessory fit and function; or worse, limit the performance or lifespan of the UTV itself. Also, consider a UTV and accessory offering that allows for easy plug and play of powered accessories. This will reduce install time by eliminating the need for slicing and wiring directly to the battery terminal. Armed with this information, you can then dive into the top accessories to upfit your UTVs for your application.
Accessories to increase operator confidence and vehicle awareness
Before you buy accessories, take inventory of what your UTV already has. For example, if a UTV doesn’t have three-point seatbelts, a horn and backup alarms as standard features, start there. If these accessories are standard, consider going a step further to increase driver confidence and visibility.
- Lighting is a highly effective addition for increasing visibility. Strobe lights call attention to the vehicle, while LED floodlights, spotlights and lightbars provide increased field lighting and navigation visibility for the operator.
- Rear and side mirrors further aid in operator visibility of their surroundings. Look for mirrors that can be securely mounted to the ROPS or side doors and are adjustable to accommodate all operators.
- Speed limiters enable top speeds to be lowered to meet campus or facility speed limits, and help increase overall durability. Slower speeds prevent excess damage to the driveline while still maintaining productivity. Depending on the make and model, these can be available as an aftermarket accessory installed by the dealer or pre-programmed into the machine.
Performance and utility accessories
UTVs are designed to traverse off-road, limited-access areas with ease. This capability protects over-the-road trucks from unnecessary use and costly abuse. Depending on work use, added components can give the UTV an edge over work trucks when it comes to performance and utility.
- Headache racks increase load-carrying capabilities for the UTV. Attached to the rear cab, these racks serve as further tie-down points to secure large loads.
- Electric cargo box lifts can help you work smarter and tackle bigger jobs by eliminating manual lifting of the rear cargo bed, a critical capability for those who often have heavy payloads of sand and gravel that can be unloaded by tilting the bed.
- Cargo bed toppers keep equipment and materials secure and protected from the elements. Ensure your cargo bed topper is weather resistant, lockable and made with durable-but-lightweight material – such as aluminum.
- A plow system can be used for snow removal and material handling. Find one that is durable enough to last through harsh conditions, securely fits to your vehicle, and can easily be added or removed from the UTV when needed. A winch is required to operate the plow system, so plan to add that too.
- Mud guards help reduce exposure in the UTV’s driveline and engine bay from mud, dirt, debris and caustic chemicals, decreasing maintenance time and keeping the UTV in pique driving condition.
While the best UTV accessories will depend heavily on the specifics of the location and needs of the crew, it is imperative to stick to trusted brands. Quality and reliability go a long way in enhancing your UTV – even if it means spending a bit more up front. It is also worth considering where accessories are coming from – and it is important to always check your owner’s manual regarding installation of accessories. For example, while a third-party supplier may have a wider range of niche accessories available, fitment may not be 100-percent accurate. This means that rework or adjustments may be needed, which can come at extra cost and upfit time. You can trust that accessories coming from an OEM are specifically designed for that model year vehicle, fitment will be accurate, and they will work seamlessly with other accessories within the OEM catalog.
Understanding the ins and outs of the desired accessories, how they will be incorporated within your UTV, and leveraging the reputation of the company from which you are purchasing will ensure that you are not only upfitting your UTV with features that enhance performance but also confirming your investment lasts. To get started, head to manufacturers’ websites to see what accessories are available and recommended. From there, you may also be directed to a reputable dealer or find build-and-quote modules to design, price and get an accurate feel for your desired UTV and available accessories.
Nick Snidarich is product and marketing manager at Polaris Commercial.