Compact ATVs: Top 7 Best Models for Beginners

A compact ATV is great for someone who is just getting started with off-road adventures. Compact ATVs are easier to control, and despite their smaller size, they feature a solid build and powerful engines that can give you the thrill of the ride.

The best compact ATV for adults is the Can-Am Outlander 450. The ATV is ideal for beginners because it sports a solid build and a powerful 427cc engine that delivers 38 horsepower. Furthermore, the ATV is equipped with an innovative suspension system that ensures a comfortable ride for both beginner and experienced riders. Thanks to the compact design and low center of gravity, the Can-Am Outlander 450 can be easily maneuvered on narrow trails and tight spaces.

While the Can-Am Outlander 450 is the best compact ATV for adults, in my opinion, there are a bunch of other premium ATV models that are ideal for beginners who are looking for a smaller ATV. With that said, today I will present you the top 7 best compact ATVs on the market and their top features.

image showing top 7 best compact ATVs for beginners

Top 7 Best Compact ATVs for Adults

#1 Can-Am Outlander 450

stock photo of Can-Am Outlander 450

The Can-Am Outlander 450 is the best compact ATV that you can get. The reason why I placed this four-wheeler on the number spot on my list is because it features the perfect design for beginners. The ATV is equipped with an innovative torsional trailing arm rear suspension to ensure that no matter what type of trail you are riding on, you will have a comfortable ride. What’s really great about the suspension system is that both the front and rear shocks are oil-filled. Thanks to this feature, the Can-Am Outlander 450 provides excellent performance and durability.

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Despite being a compact ATV that can fit ride on the narrowest of trails, it still comes equipped with a powerful 427cc single-cylinder engine that puts up 38 horsepower. Therefore, you will be able to tackle even the most rugged terrains and come out on top. I should also mention that the Can-Am Outlander 450 features selectable 2WD and 4WD riding modes that you can switch with the press of a button. In addition, the 4WD mode comes with auto-locking front differential to help you conquer the steepest hills. If you want a compact and reliable ATV, you will not go wrong with the Can-Am Outlander 450.

Notable Features:

  • Rotax 450 engine (38 horsepower);
  • Unique torsional Trailing Arm Independent (TTI) rear suspension;
  • CVT transmission (smooth shifting);
  • Tri-Mode dynamic power steering;
  • 1,300 lbs towing capacity;
  • Convertible rack system (for the seat);
  • Prewired for winch support.

#2 Kawasaki Brute Force 300

stock photo of Kawasaki Brute Force 300

Are you on a tight budget and want to get the best compact ATV for the money? In that case, Kawasaki Brute Force 300 might be what you are looking for. This is one of the best compact ATVs made for adults, and it sells for an affordable price tag. In fact, it’s featured on my cheapest four-wheelers guide with a price tag of $4,299. However, choosing to go for the affordable Kawasaki Brute Force 3 doesn’t mean that you will be making any compromises when it comes to features. The compact ATV features a sturdy build that is paired with high-quality materials such as steel racks and leather seating.

If the cool design and leather seats of the Kawasaki Brute Force 3 aren’t impressive enough, then the fact that it’s equipped with a 271cc engine will get the job done. The engine is powerful enough to give you a thrilling experience every time you pull on the gas throttle. In fact, the four-wheeler goes up to 50 MPH and it has a towing capacity of 500 lbs. Moreover, the engine is paired with an ultra-smooth automatic CVT transmission system and centrifugal clutch to make shifting a seamless experience anytime you ride. I also want to shout out the amazing electrical display. The display is very easy to use and it showcases all the information you need at a quick glance. It’s great tech for beginners.

Notable Features:

  • Compact design presenting premium materials;
  • Affordable price tag;
  • 500 lbs towing capacity;
  • High-tech digital display;
  • Front and rear cargo racks (great for outdoor adventures);
  • Hydraulic disc brakes.

If you are just looking for the smallest ATV that money can buy, you can check out my smallest ATV guide here.

#3 Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O.

stock photo of Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O.

If you follow my blog regularly, then you probably know that I am a huge Polaris fan. This is because the company makes some of the world’s best four-wheelers and the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. is the perfect example of that. What really makes this compact ATV stand out is not only its small size but the fact that it hides a powerful 450cc engine under its hood. This is a 4-stroke SOHC single cylinder engine that is super fast. To make things even better, the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. is equipped with an automatic PVT transmission. This makes the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. a great compact ATV for beginners who are just getting started and have yet to master shifting on a semi-automatic ATV.

Since the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. is featured in the #3 spot on my list of compact four-wheelers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it weighs in at only 689 lbs (317 kg) and that it has a height of 47 inches. Despite the small size, the four-wheeler still features a ground clearance of 11.5 inches (29 cm), which means that you can ride over obstacles without any issues. A high ground clearance is essential if you live next to mountain and forest trails that are packed with rocks.

Moving on, I also want to highlight that the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. comes with a fantastic lock & ride storage system. The system allows the rider to attach all sorts of accessories and gear to the ATV. It’s also important to note that the ATV has on-demand true 2WD/4WD driving modes. The 4WD mode is automatically engaged when needed for extra traction.

Notable Features:

  • Automatic 4WD mode when traction is required;
  • Powerful 450cc engine;
  • A high ground clearance;
  • Electronic fuel injection;
  • Automatic transmission for smooth rides;
  • Lock & ride storage system.

#4 Honda TRX420 Rancher

stock photo of Honda TRX420 Rancher

Right from the get-go, I want to highlight that Honda TRX420 Rancher’s engine offers reliable power and performance like no other. Thanks to the compact size and the fuel-injected 420cc engine, the Honda TRX420 Rancher reaches a top speed of 55 MPH. You will certainly feel the power from the first moment you press on the gas throttle. What’s really great about this four-wheeler is the fact that it’s also easy to ride. The manufacturers have equipped it with electrical power steering to give riders maximum control on rough terrain. That’s not all. The ATV comes with an automatic dual clutch transmission for improved shifting and fuel efficiency.

One of the things that everyone can agree on when it comes to Honda’s four-wheelers, it has to be the fact that they all sport great designs. The Honda TRX420 Rancher is not an exception to that rule! The ATV looks fantastic and it offers storage space both on the front and rear side. As you can expect from all premium ATVs, the Honda TRX420 Rancher features selectable 2WD/4WD driving modes. In fact, the four-wheeler uses a special TraxLok system that allows for convenient and easy switching between the two driving modes.

Notable Features:

  • Top speed of 55 MPH;
  • 420cc engine;
  • Automatic dual clutch transmission;
  • TraxLok 2WD/4WD system;
  • Sportsy design;
  • Independent rear suspension.

#5 Arctic Cat Alterra 450

stock photo of Arctic Cat Alterra 450

Are you looking for a compact ATV for beginners that sports a premium build? If that is the case, I highly recommend checking out the Arctic Cat Alterra 450. The four-wheeler is featured on the second spot in my best ATVs made in the USA list and it shines with amazing features such as a 443cc engine that helps the ATV reach a top speed of 52 MPH. Considering that the ATV weighs in at only 613 lbs (278 kg), the big engine will certainly make its presence known when you pull on the gas throttle. The Arctic Cat Alterra 450 is fantastic for challenging trails because it offers a 10-inch ground clearance and it uses 5-inch Kenda Pathfinder tires that help with traction.

In general, the downside of choosing a compact ATV is that you are giving up on storage space. Fortunately, Arctic Cat Alterra 450 is here to showcase that a small ATV can still be a good choice for long distance rides where you need lots of equipment. The ATV has a 75 lbs front rack and 150 lbs rear rack. Therefore, you can have more than enough room for all the essential ATV riding equipment. Since this is a premium ATV made in the USA, no one should be shocked that it also comes with features such as a dual A-arm front and rear suspension and electronic power steering to improve handling and reduce rider fatigue.

Notable Features:

  • 443cc engine (52 MPH top speed);
  • 1,050 lbs towing capacity;
  • It offers great storage for long rides;
  • Electronic power steering;
  • Dual A-arm front and rear suspensions;
  • 10-inch ground clearance and Kenda Pathfinder tires.

#6 Arctic Cat 366

stock photo of Arctic Cat 366

On the sixth spot, we have another four-wheeler from Arctic Cat. The company makes great ATVs and there is no doubt about that. The Arctic Cat 366 is the best compact ATV for youth shipping with a wide range of premium features such as an on-the-fly 2WD/4WD selectable modes that can be quickly changed with the press of a button to adapt to different terrains, hydraulic disc brakes for improved stopping power and an impressive 336cc engine. Talking about the engine, I want to mention that it’s a 4-stroke,4-valve engine and that it’s paired with an automatic CVT clutch for enhanced shifting.

Even though the Arctic Cat 366 is quite small, having an overall length of 81 inches and a width of 44 inches, it can still compete with the best when it comes to trail riding. The four-wheeler offers smooth riding, and thanks to its powerful engine, you can conquer any trail. As you can see from the picture featured above, the Arctic Cat 366 also looks amazing. The cool design of the ATV will definitely make your ATV adventures that much better!

Notable Features:

  • A modern design;
  • 336cc engine;
  • On-the-fly 2W/4WD selectable modes;
  • Automatic CVT transmission;
  • Hydraulic disc brakes for improved stopping power;
  • 1,050 lbs towing capacity.

#7 Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi 

stock photo of Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi 

On the final spot, we have the impressive Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi and its fuel efficient 376cc engine. Suzuki is one of the biggest brands in the ATV industry and the company is known for engineering some of the best engines. They offer the perfect blend of power and efficiency so that no matter the difficulty of the trail, even a compact ATV like the Suzuki KingQuad 400Asi can take it on. I previously mentioned that the Suzuki KingQuad 400Asi offers excellent fuel efficiency. This is possible because the ATV uses Suzuki’s innovative 3D maps for optimum ignition. This way, the engine can offer reliable power at all times.

If you don’t like shifting when riding ATVs that much, then you will love Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi’s QuadMatic transmission. This is a fully automatic CVT system that gives the rider the option to select high/low sub-transmission and reverse for maximum traction. Power is not the only thing you will get with the Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi. The ATV also offers great comfort features like the independent front and rear suspension and winch-ready mounts with wire conduit that make the installation setup complete. You can read more about how to install a winch. It can get quite tricky and having half the installation setup done from fabric is definitely a huge benefit.

Notable Features:

  • 376cc engine (it’s fuel efficient!);
  • Fully automatic transmission;
  • 2WD/4WD selectable mods;
  • It comes winch-ready mounts (wiring included);
  • Independent front and rear suspension.

Final Words

As you can see, there are many great compact ATVs on the market. There are budget and premium choices, but whatever model you choose from the list I presented today, I assure you that it’s not a wrong choice. All these premium four-wheelers feature impressive power, maneuverability and, despite their small size, a high towing capacity. For my taste, the Can-Am Outlander 450 is a great ATV if you want a compact four-wheeler that doesn’t compromise power and reliability.

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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