The Best Air Conditioned UTVs on the Market: Get chilly!

Even though off-road riding is one of the best adventures you can experience, there are some things that can make it annoying. Like getting drenched in sweat after riding for only a couple of minutes. If you want to keep yourself cool in the hot summer months, getting a side by side with A/C is your best decision.

The best UTV with air conditioning is the Can-Am Defender HD10 Limited. The side by side uses a unique automatic climate control option included in the HVAC system that provides great airflow. The A/C on this UTV is really simple to use. All you have to do is set the desired temperature and the Can-Am Defender HD10 will handle everything else. It’s that easy! The Polaris Ranger XP 1000 is the second best UTV with air conditioning, especially since it also has vents inside the rear of the cabin to ensure great air circulation.

Even though the Can-Am Defender HD10 Limited and the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 are both UTVs with A/C, there are some features and specifications that make them stand out. Worry not! I will tell you all about them.

infographic presenting best UTV air conditioning

The Best Air Conditioned UTVs on the Market

#1 The Can-Am Defender HD10 Limited

Can-Am Defender HD10 Limited

Can-Am makes some of the world’s best UTVs and the Defender HD10 Limited is the perfect example of that. The UTV sports a premium build and it retails for $25,199. Since I am presenting the market’s best UTVs with air conditioning, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Can-Am Defender HD10 Limited uses a unique automatic climate control option included in its HVAC system. Truth be told, Can-Am is one of the last UTV manufacturers to include air conditioning systems. However, it seems like the wait was worth it because even though Can-Am is late to the game, the A/C system its side by sides use is downright impressive. You will get chilly right from the first moment you turn on the A/C.

The UTV features an automatic mode for heating that helps the user forget about manual adjustments by controlling the heater, the A/C, and the airflow all at once. All you need to do is set the desired temperature, and the Can-Am Defender HD10 Limited will take care of the rest. This is a neat addition to the climate control package that caused quite a buzz in the off-road community when it came out. The UTV is equipped with 8 strategically placed vents: four up front, two at feet level, and two next to the windshield for defrosting purposes. As you can imagine, 8 vents is more than enough!

Apart from their innovative HVAC system for a side by side, Can-Am made sure to add other high-end features such as electric windows, a tilt-up windshield, and removable storage compartments in the cabin. The HD10 V-Twin 976cc engine on this UTV also sits at 82hp and can reach a top speed of 62mph. Are you new to UTVs? If that is the case, you should check out this article where I present the basics of driving UTVs and how easy it actually is.

Highlight Features:

  • Powerful Performance: At the heart of the Defender HD10 Limited lies a potent Rotax 976 cc V-twin engine. This powerhouse is known for its reliability and is designed to deliver optimal torque, ensuring that whether you’re hauling, towing, or just cruising, the UTV won’t let you down.
  • Advanced Comfort Features: What sets the Limited model apart is its emphasis on rider comfort. It comes equipped with an integrated, factory-installed cab with an HVAC system, ensuring that riders stay comfortable in all weather conditions.
  • Intuitive Technology: The Defender HD10 Limited boasts an advanced 7.6-inch digital display with keypad, ensuring that all vital stats and functionalities are easily accessible and viewable. This includes everything from fuel information to maintenance reminders.
  • Dynamic Power Steering (DPS): To ensure a responsive and effortless ride, the UTV is equipped with DPS. This enhances steering feel in slow-speed working situations and provides more direct steering input in high-speed terrains.
  • Versa-Pro Bench Seat: This special seat is designed with thick, water-resistant padding and contoured bench to support the driver and passenger for all-day comfort. It also includes a flip-up passenger seat for added storage space.
  • Multiple Drive Modes: To adapt to different terrains and tasks, the Defender HD10 Limited features multiple driving modes, including Eco mode for better fuel efficiency and responsive throttle for high-demand situations.
  • High Payload Capacity: Reflecting its utility-oriented design, the Defender HD10 Limited offers a significant payload capacity. Its strong frame, combined with the cargo box’s design, makes it ideal for hauling tools, equipment, and more.

Below, you can see that UTV Guide invited over the Global Product Manager from Can-Am to talk about climate control on the 2020 Defender Limited. I think it’s a great watch to get to know the vehicle better and see its top features:

#2 The Polaris Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Ultimate

Polaris Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Ultimate

In 2021, Polaris decided to bring a variety of improvements to their Polaris Ranger XP 1000 lineup with the “NorthStar” upgrade. Whether you go for the Premium version priced at around $24,000, or the Ultimate, which retails for $26,999, you will not be missing out on the NorthStar system. The built-in climate control includes both heating and air conditioning, making the side by side ready for any type of weather. Therefore, the innovative HVAC system the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 uses makes it a top choice if you are looking for a side by side with heat and air.

Polaris knew that in order to create a more expensive version of the popular Polaris Ranger XP 1000 UTV, it needed to do something special about the extra features. This is why Polaris developed a special NorthStar HVAC system that does much more than your standard side by side A/C can do. For example, the UTV comes with vents mounted in the rear of the cabin to ensure proper air circulation at all times. It’s clear to see that Polaris paid extra attention to the sealing of the cabin so that the climate control system could work with optimal precision.

Besides the greatly acclaimed NorthStar system, the brand worked intensely to raise the comfort level of their Ranger Ultimate model for high-end buyers. The cabin is equipped with three plush seats with under-seat storage, a glass windshield that can be tipped over, power windows, and a built-in sound system. Riding in the Polaris Ranger is a smooth experience because of its large 29-inch tires, great suspension, and ride command with front and rear cameras.

As for the engine, this UTV rocks a 999cc, twin-cylinder motor that delivers 82 horsepower and a top speed of around 65mph. All of the features on this side by side scream high-end experience, so it is no wonder that it is the priciest UTV out of the two.

Highlight Features

  • Premium Performance: At its core is the ProStar 1000 engine, capable of delivering a whopping 82 HP. This makes the Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Ultimate one of the most powerful UTVs in its class, prepared for any heavy-duty task or terrain challenge.
  • Unrivaled Comfort: The NorthStar Ultimate takes rider comfort to the next level with a factory-installed heating and air conditioning system. Regardless of external conditions, whether it’s scorching heat or biting cold, the cab remains comfortable.
  • Ride Command Technology: This model features a 7-inch infotainment system, providing GPS navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and an AM/FM radio. It also integrates with mobile phones, allowing users to check the weather, answer calls, and manage other functionalities seamlessly.
  • MB Quart Audio: Enhancing the overall ride experience is the premium MB Quart Audio system, delivering crystal clear sound that can be controlled through the Ride Command system.
  • Ultimate Versatility: Aiding its versatile nature, the vehicle comes with a Pro Shield cab system, power windows, and an electric windshield wiper, preparing it for various weather conditions.
  • Impressive Payload and Towing: The Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Ultimate boasts a massive payload and towing capacity, ensuring it can handle the weight of equipment, cargo, or anything else needed for the job.
  • Adjustable Smooth Riding Suspension: With 11 inches of suspension travel, the UTV guarantees a smooth ride, even on rugged terrains. The shocks can also be easily adjusted to suit the load or terrain, ensuring optimal performance.

If you want to take a look at the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Ultimate and see a video review, I think the folks at Dirt Trax TV did a good job going over its features:

As you can see, there are quite a few similarities between the two SXS models. Therefore, let’s go offer what the differences between the two are so that you can make your final decision with ease.

Which is the Better Side by Side with A/C: Polaris Ranger or Can-Am Defender?

Starting with the air conditioning aspect, there is quite a clear difference between the two: the Can-Am is equipped with the additional automatic feature for A/C. If being able to turn on the A/C system and forget about it sounds like an essential feature for you, then you can say the Defender is a clear winner. However, if manual adjusting doesn’t seem that annoying, then I would say the two models offer equally effective climate control in the cabin.

The differences between the two lay in the little things, such as:

  • Slightly more comfortable seats in the Can-Am Defender;
  • Better suspension system and smoother throttle response in the Polaris Ranger;
  • Tighter turning radius on the Defender Limited;
  • Better top speed on the Polaris Ranger;
  • More storage capacity in the Can-Am Defender cabin;
  • Reported problems with shifting in the Polaris Ranger, with a notchy response;
  • Additional desirable features on the NorthStar Ultimate, such as sound system, front and rear cameras, and 29-inch tires.

Depending on how important the extra features on the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar Ultimate are for you, this can be the winner between the two. However, if you would like arguably better climate control at a lower price, the Can-Am Defender HD10 Limited is the way to go.

Talking about cool UTV features, are you looking for the best side by side with power steering? If so, you can check out the article I wrote about the top 3 best UTVs with power steering.

Can You Put Air Conditioning in a UTV?

Several leading UTV manufacturers offer models with factory-installed air conditioning systems. For example, the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar and the Can-Am Defender Limited are prime examples of models with integrated heating and cooling systems.

For those who own UTVs without a factory-installed A/C, there are aftermarket A/C kits available. These kits can be installed in the cab of the UTV, provided it’s fully enclosed. Installation usually requires some technical know-how, but many kits are designed to be user-friendly, with detailed instructions and customer support.

However, there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge:

  1. Power Drain: A/C units require a substantial amount of power. Ensure your UTV’s electrical system can handle the additional load without affecting performance.
  2. Maintenance: Like any other vehicle A/C system, a UTV A/C system will require periodic maintenance to ensure its efficiency and longevity.
  3. Cost: Installing an A/C system, especially a high-quality one, can be a significant investment. It’s essential to weigh the benefits against the costs to make an informed decision.

While it’s entirely possible to install an air conditioning system in your UTV, it’s vital to do thorough research and perhaps even consult with experts or other UTV owners to determine the best solution for your specific needs.

In Summary

Buying a UTV with air conditioning is a game changer. There is no doubt about that. Whether you are planning to ride the four-wheeler during winter or on hot summer days, a powerful HVAC system will ensure you have a good time. In my opinion, the only downside about UTVs with air conditioning is their hefty prices. However, it’s definitely worth it if you can afford it.

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