Best Automatic ATVs: Yamaha, Can-Am, Polaris, and More

There are many things to take into consideration when buying a new ATV, but the main question you should ask yourself is if you should choose an automatic ATV. Today I will present the best automatic ATV and showcase the pros and cons of using one.

The best automatic ATV is 2021 Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R. The ATV is equipped with Ultramatic transmission, known for being the most reliable CVT system on the market. The automatic transmission system the 2021 Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R uses features dual-range drive (allowing the rider to switch between Hi and Lo). That’s not all, the ATV is paired with a gated shifter and automatic centrifugal clutch to ensure smooth shifting. These features combined with the premium build of the ATV make it the best automatic quad.

Automatic ATVs have many advantages, as well as a few drawbacks that you need to be aware of. Keep reading to see a comparison of manual and automatic transmission systems and a complete list of automatic ATVs for adults and youth.

image describing the best automatic ATV

What is the Best Automatic ATV?

an automatic 2021 Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R ATV

Taking into account both the quality of the automatic transmission type and other essential features such as power, speed, durability, and comfort, I believe that the 2021 Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R is the best automatic ATV for adults today. There is a reason why Yamaha named this model after one of the most ferocious animals on the planet: this quad is a beast!

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Let’s talk about the transmission type right off the bat. This model is equipped with the Ultramatic Transmission that features dual-range drive (so you can switch between Hi and Lo), a gated shifter, and an automatic centrifugal clutch. The difference between Ultramatic and other CVT systems is that for the first one the clutch keeps belt tension at a constant level to reduce belt wear significantly. This means less trips to the repair shop, which is always nice to have.

Now that we got that out of the way, there are a lot of interesting features to take into account with the Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R. The 686cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine can reach top speeds of 68mph and it delivers enough power for the ATV to go through any terrain, no matter how difficult. Every other feature of the 2021 Grizzly model was developed for terrain adaptability, from the suspension system to the massive tires.

This quad has independent double wishbone suspension both in the front and in the rear, with 7.6 inch, respectively, 9.1 inch travel. On top of that, the rear is equipped with an anti-sway bar for more stability on all types of trails. The dual hydraulic disc braking system completes the suspension perfectly, providing an impressively smooth ride.

The Maxxis ‘Zilla MU01 tires have a diameter of 27-inches, offering the quad a ground clearance of 11.8 inches. If you are going to use your quad in mud and water a lot, this feature is perfect for your needs. These tires are created with dual-compound sidewalls, which make them extremely tough and hard to destroy.

The durable chassis is another feature that shows how trail-ready this automatic ATV is. Yamaha paid close attention to the design of the quad, deciding to add full-body skid plates for extra protection. Even though most off-road riders will add these as an accessory, it is nice to have it right from the manufacturer.

All of these specs are something you usually see on a manual sports ATV, but Yamaha saw an opportunity to give people that prefer automatic a great “adventure mobile.” Not only does it have automatic transmission, but it features Electronic Power Steering as well for even better maneuverability.

The Grizzly EPS XT-R still lets you be in control of your ride with the on-command 4WD system. You can easily choose between 2WD and 4WD with different lock modes depending on the terrain you are facing.

All in all, the Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R is more than an easy-to-ride ATV. This monster quad can reach  high top speeds and can tackle challenging trails with ease. Ulterior visits to the repair shops seem to be reduced by the Ultramatic transmission system and factory-included skid plates. The starting price for this automatic ATV for adults is $10.999.

I know that I boasted a lot about Yamaha’s star model of 2021, but the truth is that other brands have reliable and durable models as well. For instance, if you are a Polaris fan and do not mind paying $5,000 more for an ATV, I recommend checking out my review of the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S.

A budget-friendly alternative is the Arctic Cat Alterra 700 EPS SE, which I reviewed here in my list of top 5 fastest ATVs in 2021. I recommend you take a look at both of these models as well and make a decision based on your priorities.

What ATVs have Automatic Transmissions?

an ATV gear shifter in neutral

Nowadays, most ATVs are automatic. The reason behind this is that automatic ATVs allow the rider to focus on having fun and not worry about shifting. In fact, automatic ATVs also sell better because the buyer no longer has to learn how to shift gears. However, this doesn’t mean that all quads on the market are equipped with a CVT system. With that said, you can find below the top automatic 4 wheelers for adults and best automatic quads for youth.

Top Automatic ATVs for Adults

  • Honda FourTrax Rancher 4×4 with dual-clutch transmission
  • Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon 4×4 with dual-clutch transmission
  • Honda FourTrax Rincon with hydraulic torque converter
  • Can-Am Renegade with CVT transmission (three models: 570, 850, and 1000)
  • Can-Am Outlander with CVT transmission (four models: 450, 570, 850, and 1000)
  • Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R with CVT transmission
  • Yamaha Kodiak with CVT transmission (two models: 450 and 700)
  • CFMoto CForce with CVT transmission (four models: 400, 500, 600, and 800)
  • Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S with CVT transmission
  • Polaris Sportsman with CVT transmission (four models: 450, 570, 850, and XP 1000)
  • Kawasaki Brute Force 750 with CVT transmission
  • Arctic Cat Alterra with CVT transmission (three models: 450, 570, and 700)
  • Suzuki KingQuad with CVT transmission (three models: 400, 500, and 750)

Top Automatic Youth ATVs

  • Can-Am DS with CVT transmission (three models: 70, 90, and 250)
  • Yamaha Raptor 90 with CVT transmission
  • Yamaha YFZ50 with CVT transmission
  • Polaris Phoenix 200 with CVT transmission
  • Polaris Outlaw 70 with CVT transmission
  • Polaris Sportsman 110 EFI with CVT transmission
  • Kawasaki KFX with CVT transmission (two models: 50 and 90)
  • Arctic Cat Alterra with CVT transmission (two models: 90 and 300)
  • Suzuki QuadSport with CVT transmission (two models: Z50 and Z90)

Does Yamaha make Automatic ATV?

Yamaha Logo written red on white

Yamaha makes a variety of automatic ATVs, such as Raptor 90, YFZ50, Grizzly EPS XT-R, Kodiak 450, and Kodiak 700. While all of these models feature CVT transmission, only the adult quads are equipped with their trademark Ultramatic system.

The Ultramatic automatic transmission was first introduced to the market in 1954 by Packard Motor Car Company and has since evolved into one of the most reliable CVT transmissions on the market. Yamaha cites an independent study called the ADP Lightspeed study that crowned the Ultramatic transmission as the most durable belt driven drivetrain in the field.

Here is what the group marketing manager of Yamaha, Steve Nessl, had to say: “A lot of companies say they make the toughest ATVs, but now Yamaha can clearly prove that claim in our CVT transmission system. The ADP study proves once and for all that our vehicles have the best CVT drivetrain reliability in the industry.”

This study took into account all CVT transmissions on ATV models with engine capacities of 400c and up. They analyzed repair records of all brands in the industry, reaching the conclusion that Yamaha’s Ultramatic CVT transmission requires the least amount of upkeep.

Therefore, not only does Yamaha make automatic ATVs, but they have the most durable automatic transmission system on the market. If you are a big fan of mechanical talk, I recommend you check out Yamaha’s official video on how the Ultramatic works and discover why it is so much more reliable than other CVT transmissions on the market:

Automatic ATV vs. Manual ATV

Chinese ATVs

An automatic ATV uses a self-regulating clutch system that chooses the right gear for your speed and RPM. On the other hand, a manual ATV allows you to change gears on your own. I think you can already see the advantages of each one. While the automatic system provides you with convenience, the manual system offers you complete control.

Here is a quick list of the pros and cons of an automatic ATV, compared to manual ATVs:

Pros of an Automatic ATV system

  • Simple to use;
  • Great for beginners;
  • Better control and speed on steep hills;
  • Maintains speed constant between gears.

Cons of an Automatic ATV system

  • More prone to need repairs;
  • Less overall control;
  • Not good to perform specific techniques such as slow crawling.

While these are important factors to keep in mind, in the end I would still choose between convenience and control. There is not that much difference between their abilities to handle difficult trails, so the real question is what you are looking for in your experience. While some people love that they do not have to think about which gear to choose, others might get bored.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a half-way solution: the semi-automatic ATV! I have a full beginner guide on my website as well, describing what a semi-auto is and how it works.

Final Words

Yamaha Grizzly EPS XT-R is, hands down, the best automatic ATV on the market. Its automatic CVT system is less prone to belt damage, and its incorporated accessories make it a less expensive investment in the long run. Other than that, it is a durable and reliable ATV equipped with a powerful liquid-cool engine ready to face any obstacle. Two other great choices are the Arctic Cat Alterra 700 EPS SE known for its speed, and the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 S preferred for additional comfort features. All of these models are easy to steer and some of the top performance ATVs of 2021!

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at if you want to get in touch.

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