Understand the differences to determine which vehicle better suits your needs.
On a large worksite or property, you can lose time walking on foot and carrying equipment and materials from place to place. A small vehicle, such as a golf cart or utility vehicle, lets you zip around efficiently, delivering people and things to areas where a full-size vehicle might not fit.
To decide which vehicle is right for your situation, first understand the basic differences.
Is a golf cart considered a UTV?
A golf cart is not a UTV. The two vehicles are designed to do different things. (There is no such thing as a UTV golf cart, unless the golf cart has been souped-up by the owner and turned into an off-road golf cart.).
A golf cart is a good choice for transporting people and light loads over smooth terrain. Common golf cart uses include transportation of airport and campus security personnel, guests at weddings and other special events, staff and guests on large vacation properties and workers who need to access outbuildings on farms and other large properties. A golf cart with a cargo area is a popular choice for gardeners working large landscapes.
A utility vehicle, or UTV, can haul more weight and is better suited for rough terrain.
“Utility vehicles are designed to withstand more of a pounding, like what a worksite would provide,” said Keith Campbell, district sales manager for United Rentals.
Another difference: Some states and counties allow golf carts on public roads but not UTVs. Check the laws in your area.
Golf cart vs. UTV features and capabilities
If your choice isn’t obvious based on the key differences between the vehicles, consider the features and capabilities each.
Hauling and towing
UTVs are built to work with more accessories than golf carts. Most come with a tow hitch that can be used to attach a trailer or connect landscaping equipment like a disc harrow or seeder. Tow hooks and a frame on the front allow you to attach a snowplow bucket or a winch. UTVs can even be fitted with sprayer tanks.
Golf carts are built to carry a few golfers and their gear, not to haul heavy loads. They can be customized to add a tow hitch or other accessories, but customization can be pricey. If hauling materials is your primary need, a UTV is the better choice.
If you need speed, a UTV will generally beat any golf cart. Most golf carts average a top speed of between 10 mph and 25 mph without upgrades. UTV speed generally ranges from 45 mph to 60 mph, with higher-end models capable of reaching 85 mph.
UTVs come in gas, diesel and electric models. Many large worksites have an on-site diesel tank, making it easy to fill up a diesel UTV. If you don't have diesel on site, a gas-powered UTV is a good option. Electric UTVs aren’t as powerful or as widely available as gas or diesel UTVs, but they are suitable for lighter jobs such as landscaping.
Golf carts come in gas and electric models. Since they don’t emit fumes, electric models are a good choice for indoor work.
Golf carts, whether gas or electric, are designed to operate quietly on the golf course. Gas and diesel UTVs are considerably louder. If you want a quiet UTV, choose an electric one.
Frame, suspension and tires
A golf cart is meant for cruising over smooth greens or paved pathways, so it’s a smart choice for landscaped sites where its lighter frame and smaller tires will be less likely to tear up the turf.
A UTV has a more powerful engine and a suspension designed for off-road terrain. Mud, ruts, debris might stop a golf cart, but a UTV will have less problem getting through. Many UTVs come with four-wheel drive and tires with deep tread to increase traction. Overall, UTVs are built to tolerate wear and tear, whereas golf carts are designed to have “a pretty easy life,” said Campbell.
UTVs seat between two and six passengers and also have a bed (usually around 4 feet long) for cargo. On many UTVs, the back row can fold down for more cargo space.
Golf carts can seat between two and four passengers and generally feature enough storage to accommodate golf bags. Some models also have optional beds to increase the cargo capacity.