Yamaha vs Polaris ATV Guide | Hunt or Shred

Don't know which ATV to choose? Our comprehensive Yamaha vs. Polaris guide will help you pick the perfect one for your needs. Read now!

Choosing the best ATV depends on your needs and preferences. Yamaha and Polaris offer excellent models with varying features, so comparing and assessing which suits you is essential. Consider their engine power, suspension, towing capacity, and price to make an informed decision.

I've spent years researching and testing various ATV models. I've also consulted with industry experts to ensure that my knowledge is as comprehensive as possible. With many positive user reviews backing up my recommendations, I'm confident that I can help you find the perfect Yamaha or Polaris ATV to suit your needs.

Table of contents


Yamaha vs. Polaris: ATV Brands Overview

When it comes to the world of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), Yamaha and Polaris are two major players. Both brands have been in the industry for decades and are known for producing high-quality, reliable machines.

Both Yamaha and Polaris ATVs are known for their durability, performance, and versatility. However, there are some key differences between the two brands, which may influence your decision when choosing an ATV:

  • Price: Yamaha ATVs tend to be slightly more affordable compared to Polaris, although this can vary depending on the specific model.
  • Performance: Polaris ATVs often provide higher horsepower and torque, which can improve overall performance on rough terrains.
  • Features: Polaris ATVs usually come with more advanced features and customization options, such as multiple driving modes and storage compartments.
  • Design: Yamaha ATVs are known for their sporty and aggressive design, while Polaris focuses on utility and functionality.
Brand Origin Popular Models
Yamaha Japanese Kodiak 450, Grizzly EPS SE
Polaris American Sportsman 570 Trail, Sportsman 450 H.O. Base

Choosing between Yamaha and Polaris ATVs will ultimately depend on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Both brands offer a wide range of machines, catering to riders of various skill levels and intended uses.

Engine Performance

Horsepower and Torque

When it comes to engine performance, both Yamaha and Polaris have their strengths. The Yamaha Grizzly, for instance, is equipped with a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC, single-cylinder engine capable of generating 45 horsepower.

On the other hand, the Polaris Sportsman is equipped with a more powerful engine, generating up to 78 horsepower.

Transmission and Powertrains

Yamaha's Grizzly features a high-performance 'ultra-automatic' transmission. This continuously variable transmission (CVT) ensures smooth power delivery and maintains excellent traction even in challenging conditions.

On the other hand, Polaris Sportsman utilizes a CVT and offers Active Descent Control and an Engine Braking System, ensuring better handling and control on steep and challenging terrain.

Fuel Efficiency

The more powerful engines of the Polaris Sportsman may consume more fuel than the Yamaha Grizzly. However, both ATVs utilize electronic fuel injection systems, which help improve overall fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

ATV Model Horsepower Engine Transmission
Yamaha Grizzly 45 Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC, single-cylinder Ultramatic CVT
Polaris Sportsman 78 V-twin engine CVT with Active Descent Control and Engine Braking System

Check out our complete ATV and UTV Fuel Efficiency Guide here.

Design and Features

Suspension Systems

Yamaha ATVs are known for their low-maintenance and reliable performance, with independent suspension systems designed for smooth rides and handling on various terrains. Some of their models offer front and rear independent double-wishbone suspensions that provide great stability and comfort.

On the other hand, Polaris ATVs feature a MacPherson strut front suspension and an independent rear suspension system for handling rough trails and improved performance. These machines also offer ample ground clearance to tackle obstacles without a hitch.

Braking Systems

Both Yamaha and Polaris ATVs come equipped with reliable and efficient hydraulic disc braking systems. Yamaha implements dual hydraulic disc brakes on both front and rear, offering great stopping power even on rough trails.

Polaris also features hydraulic disc brakes on all four wheels, with large brake rotors and calipers for faster-stopping capability and better control during various riding conditions.

Cargo and Towing Capacity

Yamaha ATVs offer a decent cargo capacity with front and rear racks, allowing riders to carry their essential gear. Towing capacity varies depending on the model, but some like the Grizzly EPS, can tow up to 1,322 lbs.

Polaris ATVs stand out for their impressive cargo and towing capacities, with models like the Sportsman 570 that can carry up to 270 lbs on the front rack and 180 lbs on the rear rack.

Power Steering

Yamaha offers Electronic Power Steering (EPS) on some of its ATV models, providing smooth and precise steering, improved handling, and reduced rider fatigue.

Polaris also provides EPS in several ATV models, including the Sportsman 570. This feature significantly enhances the rider's comfort and control.

Size and Weight

Yamaha ATVs are designed to focus on low maintenance and long-lasting performance. The Grizzly XT-R, for example, is 46.5 inches wide, 81.5 inches long, and stands 48.8 inches high with a curb weight of 686 lbs.

Polaris ATVs have slightly larger dimensions, depending on the model. The Sportsman Premium, for instance, stands 47.6 inches wide, 83 inches long, and 51 inches high with a weight of 783 lbs.

Color Options

Yamaha offers various color options for its ATV models, ensuring there's a design for every rider's taste. The Yamaha Grizzly XT-R is available in Tactical Green, while other models may come in additional colors like Red, Realtree Edge camo, or Covert Green.

Polaris also provides a diverse range of colors and graphics for its ATVs. The Sportsman Premium comes in Stealth Gray, while other models may feature colors like Sage Green, Indy Red, or even special edition Patriot graphics.

Models Comparison

When comparing the Yamaha Grizzly and the Polaris Sportsman, there are several key factors to consider for buyers looking to invest in a reliable ATV. These include engine performance, handling, suspension, payload capacity, and additional features such as braking systems and factory-installed winches.

1. Performance and Handling

The Yamaha Grizzly is powered by a 686cc engine with a wet weight of 780 lbs, offering a good balance of power and agility. While the Polaris Sportsman 850 boasts an 850cc engine, providing a bit more power for harder tasks and challenging terrain.

2. Suspension and Braking Systems

Both ATVs feature an independent rear suspension system for improved handling and comfort on rough terrain.

The Yamaha Grizzly utilizes an independent double wishbone suspension setup, while the Polaris Sportsman comes equipped with A-arms and high-performance Fox shocks.

In terms of braking, both ATVs have effective systems in place, with the Grizzly featuring hydraulic disc brakes all around and the Sportsman coming with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes and active descent control for added safety.

3. Payload Capacity and Utility Features

The Yamaha Grizzly offers 1,322 lbs of towing capacity and a 110 lbs front rack capacity. In comparison, the Polaris Sportsman 850 outperforms the Grizzly with a 1,500 lbs towing capacity and an impressive 360 lbs combined front and rear rack capacity.

A notable feature is a factory-installed winch found on the Sportsman 850, a valuable component not standard on the Grizzly EPS SE.

Feature Yamaha Grizzly EPS SE Polaris Sportsman 850
Engine Size 686cc 850cc
Wet Weight 780 lbs Not specified
Towing Capacity 1,322 lbs 1,500 lbs
Front Rack Capacity 110 lbs 180 lbs
Rear Rack Capacity Not specified 180 lbs
Factory-Installed Winch No Yes

Accessories and Customization

When it comes to ATV ownership, accessories and customization play a crucial role in elevating your off-roading experience. Both Yamaha and Polaris offer a wide variety of options, catering to various needs and preferences.

Winches and Racks

Yamaha and Polaris have several winch options for their respective ATVs. For example, the Yamaha Pro Vantage 2500 Winch is known for its durability and 2,500 pounds of pulling capacity. While the Polaris Pro HD 3,500-lb Winch boasts slightly higher pulling power at 3,500 pounds.

Both manufacturers also offer a range of rear racks to enhance your ATV's cargo-carrying ability. Yamaha ATVs, such as the Grizzly, can be equipped with a Genuine Yamaha Rear Rack, while Polaris Sportsman models can be fitted with a Lock & Ride Rear Cargo Rack.

These rear racks make it easy to transport additional equipment and gear during your off-roading adventures securely.

Off-Road Tires

Another essential aspect of ATV customization is selecting suitable off-road tires that match the terrain you intend to explore. Both Yamaha and Polaris offer a wide range of tires to cater to different riding conditions.

For example, Yamaha recommends the Bighorn 2.0 Radial Tires for its Grizzly models, designed to provide excellent traction and durability on various terrains.

Polaris Sportsman riders can choose from specialized tires catering to mud, sand, rock, and trail riding conditions.

Lighting and Electronic Systems

Lastly, enhancing your ATV's lighting and electronic systems can significantly improve visibility and safety during off-road adventures. Yamaha offers various options, including the LED Light Bar, which can be mounted on the Grizzly's front bumper for better lighting coverage.

Similarly, Polaris riders can upgrade their ATVs with a selection of LED lights and electronic accessories, ranging from headlight upgrades to lighting pods and whips.

Recreational and Utility Options

When comparing Yamaha and Polaris ATVs for recreational and utility purposes, it's essential to look at their offerings in terms of performance, features, and pricing. Both brands offer diverse options suitable for various user needs and preferences.

Yamaha's line of ATVs includes the popular Grizzly, boasting a towing capacity of up to 1,050 pounds and features such as a digital gauge, push-button 2WD/4WD, steel front and rear racks, and a 3,000-pound winch.

The Grizzly is a strong contender in the utility segment, providing the necessary features for off-road adventures and work tasks.

Polaris's ATV lineup includes the versatile and powerful Sportsman Premium LE. The Sportsman delivers exceptional power and performance suitable for both recreational and utility purposes.

Specifications Yamaha Grizzly Polaris Sportsman
Towing Capacity 1,050 lbs 1,225 lbs
Winch Capacity 3,000 lbs N/A
Starting Price Higher Reasonable

For parents looking to introduce their children to off-road vehicles, Yamaha and Polaris also offer youth and entry-level ATVs. Yamaha has options like the Raptor 90 and YFZ50, while Polaris provides choices such as the Outlaw 50, Outlaw 70 EFI, and Sportsman.

Both Yamaha and Polaris offer a wide range of ATVs to meet varying needs for recreation and utility. While Yamaha's Grizzly is a strong utility option with a robust towing capacity and available winch, Polaris' lineup is known for its fresh designs and competitive pricing.

Parents also have various choices for introducing their children to off-road vehicles, with youth and entry-level models from both brands.

Best ATVs for Various Categories

Best for Off-Roading

For off-roading enthusiasts, the Yamaha Grizzly XT-R and Polaris Sportsman are top contenders. Both offer impressive power, with the Grizzly featuring a 686cc engine and the Sportsman boasting a powerful 850cc engine producing 78 horsepower.

Feature Yamaha Grizzly Polaris Sportsman
Engine 686cc 850cc
Power Not specified 78 hp

Both ATVs have excellent suspension systems and durable tires for tackling rough terrain. However, the Grizzly has more color options, including Covert Green and Tactical Black, whereas the Sportsman is only available in Matte Titanium.

Highest Quality and Dependability

The FourTrax Foreman Rubicon stands out as a dependable and high-quality choice. It's built on proven reliability, featuring a 518cc engine with easy-to-use power steering and dependable fuel injection.

The Rubicon offers three transmission options: Manual, DCT, and DCT with independent rear suspension, catering to various rider preferences.

Additionally, the Rubicon comes in several color options, such as Red, Phantom Camo, and Matte Molasses Brown.

Feature Honda FourTrax Polaris Sportsman
Engine 518cc 850cc
Transmission Options Manual, DCT, DCT with IRS 78 hp
Color Options Red, Phantom Camo, Matte Molasses Brown

Best Value for Money

For the best bang for your buck, consider the Yamaha Kodiak and Arctic Cat Alterra. The Kodiak, with its 421cc engine, offers a great balance of power and affordability. Its towing capacity of 1322 pounds and front/rear rack capacities of 88/176 pounds make it a reliable workhorse.

The Arctic Cat Alterra, on the other hand, is a popular choice for beginners and light users at a reasonable price. It comes in an attractive Earth Blue color and offers a solid entry-level experience.

Feature Yamaha Kodiak Arctic Cat Alterra
Engine 421cc Not specified
Towing Capacity 1322 lbs Not specified
Price Varies Reasonable

Key Takeaways

  • For long-term value, prioritize durability and reliability when selecting your ATV.
  • Opt for an ATV with superior handling and maneuverability to navigate any terrain easily.
  • Choose an ATV that fits your needs and budget by comparing features and capabilities.
  • Ensure peak performance by selecting an ATV suitable for your intended terrain and use.

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23 years old. I work at a motocross store where we specialize in gear, parts, and apparel for ATV and UTV riders.

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