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XTV vs. Snowmobile

XTV vs. Snowmobile

An Argo XTV is a great choice if you need to move beyond the capabilities of an ATV or UTV. An Argo can climb steeper terrain, withstand extreme temperatures, float over soft ground, and even drive over water. What about snow? With the right equipment, an amphibious ATV may be a better fit for your winter activities than a traditional snowmobile. Here’s how these two vehicles stack up against each other.


Snowmobiles work best on hard-packed snow, but it’s easy to get bogged down on powder. It takes a lot of skill and patience to ride on soft snow, and even the best riders will get stuck from time to time.

From the factory, an XTV’s ground pressure is similar to a snowmobile, but it has the advantage of using drive wheels across its entire length. This gives it a better grip on soft surfaces. With snow tracks installed, an Argo has extremely low ground pressure, letting it drive on top of soft snow. This makes driving on powder a cakewalk.

Hard Surfaces

The rubber tracks on snowmobiles spread out weight in a way that makes it difficult to get grip on ice. Meanwhile, the built-in flex of an amphibious ATV’s tires maintain grip. For maximum traction, tracks can be paired with ice teeth.


You can drive a snowmobile on water if it has enough power and you’re fearless enough to keep the throttle pegged until you’re back on land. However, you should probably leave these exploits to extreme sports videos.

With tracks, an Argo can go as deep as the top of its lower hull before it needs an outboard motor to move around. Without tracks, the tires can paddle through the water. While breaking through ice is still dangerous, you have a better chance of surviving in an XTV because it can float on the water.


When you’re operating in flat, open areas. it’s no contest: the fastest XTV can reach 25 MPH, while there are snowmobiles on the market that can hit 120 MPH. On technical trails, that advantage will disappear. An amphibious ATV is better at handling uneven terrain and varying snow densities, giving it an advantage when navigating through forests.

Cargo and People

If you pick a niche utility snowmobile, you can seat up to four people, but three of these seats are in a narrow arrangement similar to a UTV. The majority models are limited to seating one or two people, and towing options are limited to lightweight sleds. With an Argo, you have a choice of seating for four or six people spread across two or three bench seats. Need more cargo space? The Conquest has seating for two plus a large cargo area or a dump bed. As for towing, an XTV can pull regular trailers as well as Argo’s own amphibious trailers.

Trail Access

No matter where you live, snowmobile access is limited to select trails in recreational areas. Most areas don’t allow wheeled vehicles on groomed snowmobile paths. However, you should have no problem traveling on open UTV paths, no matter the conditions. Better still, if snowfall is light for the season, you can still drive your vehicle on bare land.


A tall windshield and a set of heated grips can do a lot to keep you comfortable on a snowmobile. If you want to stay warm in severe temperatures, you have the option of powering electrically-heated clothing from your snowmobile’s charging system.

With an XTV, staying warm is a lot simpler. With a windshield, ROPS and convertible cover, you can get full weather protection. If you get a model with a liquid-cooled engine, you can add an automotive-style heater. This uses the engine coolant to keep the interior warm. There’s no need to wear special winter gear while you’re driving your Argo, so long as you have clothing that will keep you warm when you leave the vehicle.


Like the rest of the motorsports industry, snowmobile manufacturers have had to work hard to bring emissions down to meet stringent regulations. In many places, older machines are outright banned from use.

Amphibious ATVs use industrial engines built for high efficiency and low emissions, so this isn’t a concern. Better still, the hull design prevents oil and gas leaks from reaching the soil, keeping the landscape pristine.


In ideal conditions, snowmobiles are really fun. They’re as close as you can get to a motorcycle riding experience, but you can ride at times when snowfall would stop most wheeled vehicles.

However, if you need more seating capacity, better terrain capability or more comfort, or you’re just fed up with digging out your snowmobile, you need an Argo.

We Can Help You Build the Ultimate Snow Machines

Shank’s Argo is one of the largest dealers in the East, and we have decades of experience selling and repairing outdoor equipment. We can help you find the right XTV for your needs and outfit it with tracks, weather protection and more. Come see our showroom at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA.

Need parts for your amphibious ATV? Visit our website, We ship parts across the U.S. and Canada.

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