Removing snow with an ATV can be both fun and effective, as long as you have the right tool. For many homeowners, it is the preferred alternative for clearing out their driveways.

But what is the best ATV for plowing snow? An ATV for plowing snow should be reliable, low maintenance, and heavy enough to get proper traction in the snow. It should have a transmission geared for low speeds, a fuel-injected engine for easy cold-starts and power steering for easy low-speed turning. Finally, it should have a reputable dealer in your area that offers a good warranty.

In this post, we have selected our top 3 picks for those who are looking for the ideal snow plowing ATV. All of them are reliable workhorses and not high power sport models. Reliability is the main reason why they made the list in front of some of their more powerful and exciting but not as reliable competitors. These are also our top pics for the best ATVs for snow blowing.

Finally, we go through what features you should look for in an ATV for plowing snow.

1 Honda FourTrax Foreman 4×4 ES EPS

Why is it good for snow plowing?

  • Honda ATVs are widely regarded as the most reliable ATVs on the market. A reputation the company has had for decades.
  • The Honda Foreman is a tested and proven utility ATV that has been gradually improved and upgraded since it was launched back in 1987.
  • Its beltless, wet-clutch transmission is probably the most robust and efficient transmission on the market. With the electric shift program (ESP), you shift gears by the push of a button. With no drive belt, you do not have to worry about belt slippage high power loss. The high and low sub-transmission make the Foreman ideal for high torque, slow speed utility work
  • It has a user-friendly electric reverse. Useful when repeatedly shifting from forward to reverse, like you do when you’re plowing snow.
  • Electronic front diff lock provides optimal traction with the flick of a switch.
  • Both speed- and torque-sensitive electric power steering (EPS) for easy turning at low speeds.
  • Handlebar-mounted work light that provides light when the main headlights are covered by a raised plow blade.
  • A solid workhorse that will keep going for years with proper maintenance. It can take a beating from heavy tasks such as from plowing snow and other utility work.

What would make it better?

  • We would like to see integrated winch mounts which would take away the need for installing an aftermarket bracket.
  • The Honda does not come with a front-mounted winch from the factory, you will need to buy and install one, or have the dealer do it for you.
  • It is not the cheapest or the best value, especially if you also will be trail riding.

What are the alternatives?

If you want a machine both for work and play, the Honda Foreman may not be the best option. While the transmission is ideal for heavy pulling, there are better alternatives for high-speed trail riding. Its reliable but low-power engine and solid rear axle are also not ideal for thrilling trail runs.

If you are set on getting a Honda, the FourTrax Rubicon EPS ES with its independent rear suspension and automatic dual-clutch transmission is a better option for combined sport-utility-recreational use.

But you still get an engine built for longevity and not for power. Also, the automatic transmission does add to the list things of things that can potentially break.

In the sports-utility category, Honda is facing some serious competition from other brands.

The Can-Am Outlander 570 offers an incredible overall value with a nice balance between cost, performance, and rideability. It is, however, not as reliable. It’s still our top pick for those that are looking for a more versatile ATV at a reasonable price.

Other key Features:

  • ESP – Electronic shift program. Shift the five-speed transmission by pushing a button.
  • EFI: Electric fuel injection with an O2 sensor for a better fuel economy.
  • TraxLok, selectable 2WD or 4WD
  • Solid rear axle with swingarm suspension.

Specifications:

  • Brand: Honda
  • Engine: single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-stroke.
  • Displacement: 518cc
  • Weight: 654 lb (curb weight)
  • Transmission: Five-speed electric manual with reverse, automatic wet-clutch (oil sump).
  • MSRP: $8,349 (2020)

2 Yamaha Kodiak 700 ESP

Why is it good for snow plowing?

  • Yamaha ATVs are well known for their durability and robustness, built with top of the line manufacturing quality.
  • It has a reliable and well-proven single-cylinder engine.
  • Ultramatic CVT transmission. Yes, it is still a belt-driven transmission, but it is the most durable and long-lasting in the industry. It is designed for optimal performance, minimal belt slippage, and low maintenance. Yamaha offers a 10-year belt warranty.
  • Adjustable preload in the front (and rear) suspension allows you to stiffen up the springs to compensate for the extra weight of the winch and plow.
  • The combination of a big bore engine with its compact size makes it ideal for maneuvering and pushing a plow through tight spots.
  • Yamaha offers a quality Warn Pro Vantage winch and 54″ inch plow system as well as a large windshield as optional accessories.
  • The handlebar-mounted work light provides light even when the main headlights are blocked by the plow.

What would make it better?

  • The 700 Kodiak does not come with a winch as some of the more expensive Yamaha Grizzly models.
  • As with the Honda, we would like to see integrated winch mounts.
  • The single-cylinder engine does run rougher than dual cylinder ATVs.

What are the alternatives?

Why did we choose the Kodiac over the Grizzly? On paper, the two models may seem very similar. But for snow-plowing and utility work purposes, the Kodiac offers a better overall value.

While the Grizzley is designed to provide an aggressive, sporty and fun riding experience. The Kodiak is designed for optimal durability and reliability.

The Kodiak has a suspension that is set up for work more than high-speed trail riding. The Kodiak is also more compact than the Grizzly and offers a lower seat height that makes it easier to get in and out. Then there is the price difference of $1,100.

The initial cost of a Kodiak will set you back a bit more than some of its competitors such as Polaris and Can-Am. But a lower maintenance cost will likely level your financial burden after a few years.

Other key Features:

  • YFI: Yamaha fuel injection
  • Three-position On-Command 4WD system; 2WD, 4WD, locked differential 4WD.
  • Speed-sensitive Electric Power Steering (EPS).
  • High capacity radiator for better cooling at low speeds.
  • Independent Double Wishbone Front and Rear Suspension.

Specifications:

  • Brand: Yamaha
  • Engine: Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-stroke, SOHC.
  • Displacement: 686cc
  • Weight: 686 lb (wet weight)
  • Transmission: Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking; H, L, N, R, P
  • MSRP: $8,799 (2020)

3Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i EPS

Why is it good for snow plowing?

  • The V-twin engine offers loads of power, even from a dead-stop. It also runs more smoothly than a single-cylinder engine. It provides high torque, especially at low RPMs, which is great for low-speed plowing.
  • Kawasaki offers a quality Warn Pro Vantage winch and 54″ inch plow system as well as a large windshield as optional accessories.
  • Kawasaki ATVs are also well known for their reliability and toughness, just not as good as Honda and Yamaha.
  • Fuel injection makes the ATV easy to start in the cold.
  • Low range transmission for controlled low-speed plowing.
  • Pre-load adjustable shocks, front, and rear.

What would make it better?

  • Belt driven CVT transmissions are not ideal for high torque applications such as pushing loads of heavy snow. Allow the belt to heat up before attacking the snow at full force, or it may get damaged and start slipping.
  • No integrated winch mounts mean you will need to get an aftermarket mounting bracket.
  • It does not come with a handlebar-mounted work light.

What are the alternatives?

If you want the power, but don’t like the looks of the Kawasaki, consider looking into the CanAm Outlander 650 or even the 800.

Other key Features:

  • Variable control front differential lock.
  • Electric starting system
  • DFI: Direct fuel injection.
  • Final drive: Selectable 2WD/4WD with variable control front differential lock, shaft.
  • Independent four-wheel suspension

Specifications:

  • Brand: Kawasaki
  • Engine: V-twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-stroke, SOHC.
  • Displacement: 518cc
  • Maximum torque: 42.7 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
  • Weight: 699 lb (curb weight)
  • Transmission: Automatic CVT (H,L,N,R)
  • MSRP: $9,999 (2020, in black colour)

What makes an ATV good for snow plowing?

In reality, most ATVs are able to push snow just fine.

But to find the ultimate snow plowing machine there are some key features you need to look for. This guide will make it easier to choose the right snow plowing ATV for you.

ATV weight – heavier is better for plowing

The main challenge with ATV snow plowing is getting enough traction. Most ATVs have more than enough power to push loads of snow. But the problem is transferring this power through the wheels and down to the ground

The weight of the ATV in combination with the type of tires you use is what determines how capable the rig is for pushing snow. More weight generally means better traction. With better traction, you are able to push more snow.

When it comes to snow plowing, the weight of the ATV is even more important than how powerful the ATV is. No amount of power is going to help you if your wheels are only spinning.

If the ATV is too light, you won’t be able to move any snow at all. What is the best size and weight ATV for plowing snow?

Wheels, chains, studs or tracks?

Tracks are superior to tires for traction. Even when you install tire studs or chains. The difference in the amount of snow you will be able to push with tracks vs tires is no short of impressive.

Due to the high cost of tracks, a set of quality tire chains is probably the best option for most of us. In this post, we look at the pros and cons of tire chains vs tire studs.

Maneuverability: Power steering or not?

Adding a heavy snowplow to the front of your ATV is going to affect how easy the bike steers. Power steering (EPS) makes the ATV much easier to steer which makes it a recommended option to get for a snow plowing ATV.

In this post, we discuss whether power steering is worth it or not.

Transmission type

Most ATVs on the market use belt-driven (CVT) transmissions. They are cost-efficient, but not very effective at transferring the power from the engine out to the wheels.

Their rubber belt is a weak link that may wear out prematurely if used incorrectly. CVT transmissions are generally not ideal for high torque applications, at least not before the belt and pulleys have had time to warm up.

If you apply too much throttle with a cold belt, you may end up having a belt that is slipping.

Another potential issue with CVT transmissions and snow plowing is being able to drive slow enough. In tight spots, and when pushing large amounts of snow, it is nice to be able to slow way down to remain in control.

The CVT transmission on some ATVs is set up for higher speed applications such as trail riding. That is why a sport ATV may not be your best option for plowing snow.

Utility ATVs are generally geared for lower speeds and are usually a better option for plowing snow. Ask the dealer about the transmission before you make your final decision.

Honda is currently the only manufacturer that offers a different style of transmission than CVT.

Fuel injection (EFI) vs. carburetor

Fuel-injected ATVs are generally much easier to start in cold weather than carburated models.

4X4 and diff-lock

You need a proper 4×4 system for traction. Ideally, you should look for a model that offers locking diffs for additional traction when needed.

Front-mounted winch

The ATV needs to have a front-mounted winch so that you are able to lift the snowplow. For snow plowing, we typically recommend a winch with a pulling power of 1500 – 2500lb.

Synthetic winch ropes are generally regarded as the better option for snow plowing applications. In this post, we take a closer look at the pros and cons of steel cables vs synthetic ropes.

Plow quick mount

We wish all ATV-brands would offer OEM quick mounts which would remove the need for installing an aftermarket plow bracket.

Enough wheel-well space and clearance to install tire chains

Some ATVs require that you install wheel spacers to avoid rubbing issues when installing chains. Ideally, you should go for an ATV that can fit chains without using spacers as they add cost as making an impact on maneuverability.

Nice-to-have winter-ready accessories

Some accessories and features are not mandatory, but sure can be nice to have when riding an ATV in the winter.

  • Heated grips and thumb throttle: Electric hand warmers are great for comfort. They do, however, consume quite a bit of electricity when in use. Battery drain due to extensive winch use is a common problem with ATV snow plowing. Adding one extra power drain such as hand warmers is not going to make the situation any better.
  • Elevated LED light bar: Lifting the plow will cover the headlights on many ATVs. With an LED light bar mounted high enough to clear the plow blade you ensure full visibility at all times.
  • Heated seat cover to keep you warm and dry.
  • Large windscreen as protection from snow and wind.

Brand reputation

All ATVs break, but some brands break more often than others.

To save you from problems down the line, we recommend that you stick with one of the top reputable brands such as Can-Am, Polaris, Yamaha, Honda or Kawasaki.

Only time will tell if the up and coming Chinese brand CFmoto will make our recommended list. Steer clear of the cheaper Chinese or Taiwanese brands, it is just not worth it.

Suzuki and Arctic Cat/Textron, however, have some work to do before they can earn a spot on our recommended list.

Dealer availability and reputation, quality and service of the product and the local dealer

More important than which brand you choose is wich dealers you have in your area and the quality of the service and warranties they offer.

To ensure optimal performance and longevity of your ATV you must follow the specified service schedule. In addition, you may have unexpected warranty issues and problems where having a well-reputed dealer nearby is key.

Will you be using the ATV for more than just snow plowing?

Please note that the ATVs recommended in this post are chosen with snow plowing in mind only. Most people are going to use their ATV for other things such as trail riding or collecting firewood.

Other riding applications are going to require a different set of features. For recreational trail riding, you would likely want a more powerful engine, and for hauling firewood you need to look at the ATVs towing capacity as well.

Cost and value

If you plan on only using your ATV for snow plowing, you will likely be just as happy with an ATV that costs two-thirds of the price of a premium model.

In fact, if removing snow is the only task you need the ATV to do, a snow-blower maybe your best option from a financial standpoint. But if you include the “fun-factor”…

Even if you plan on adding some utility work such as gardening or small scale farming, you do not need the top of the line ATV model to get the job done.

The more expensive models are generally packed with more powerful engines and extra features that you may not actually need just to plow snow.

Shop around for good deals. And remember, the MRSP is only a suggested price.

Related questions

How good are ATVs for snow plowing?

An ATV is noot specifically made for plowing snow. It does the job quite well, but is it good enough for what you need? This post goes into detail on how good ATVs actually are for snow plowing in various applications and snow conditions.

How does an ATV plow work?

Those of you that are new to snow plowing or specifically snow plowing with an ATV may be interested to read this post on how an ATV plow works.