8 Major Types of Snowmobiles [Comparison Chart]


What are the different types of snowmobiles? – we get this question more than any other. Without further ado, the eight major snowmobile categories are as follows:

  1. Youth
  2. Mid-Sized
  3. Trail
  4. Performance
  5. Mountain
  6. Crossover
  7. Touring
  8. Utility

You can find out more about these categories by following the links above!

But if you’re looking for a brief description of each and want to compare them head-to-head in one chart, keep reading.

We at PowerSportsGuide have compared these major snowmobile categories by the numbers!

How Many Types of Snowmobiles Are There?

Although snowmobiles are known as powersport vehicles specifically designed for recreational use, it’s a lesser-known fact that they were initially intended to be utility vehicles.

The main idea behind creating snowmobiles was to build a machine that could reach snowy areas where no other type of vehicle could go.

Over the years, snowmobiles have undergone significant development, as manufacturers started designing different types of sleds for various purposes.

Therefore, many new snowmobile categories gradually emerged from the popular mountain to the lesser-known mid-sized sleds.

Are you wondering how many types of snowmobiles there are?

Although there are eight major types of snowmobiles, some of them can be further divided into additional subcategories. As you might assume, this leads to a lot of confusion in the marketplace! What’s more, some of these main categories are often classed together, which is why manufacturers categorize all their products in only 4-6 categories.

For instance, Yamaha classes their utility and touring models together, and the mid-sized Yamaha sleds are also found in their trail category. In contrast, Ski-Doo offers their trail, performance, and touring sleds all in the same category.

For a better understanding, we’ve compiled the different categories of each manufacturer:

Ski-Doo Snowmobile Categories

  • Trail (MXZ-X, Grand Touring)
  • Crossover (Renegade, Backcountry)
  • Deep snow (Summit, Freeride)
  • Sport Utility (Expedition, Skandic, Tundra)

Polaris Snowmobile Categories

  • Mountain (RMK)
  • Crossover (Switchback)
  • Trail (INDY)
  • Utility Crossover (Titan)
  • Rec./Utility (Voyageur)
  • Youth (EVO, Polaris Indy 120)

Yamaha Snowmobile Categories

  • Youth
  • Trail
  • Crossover
  • Mountain
  • 2-UP Touring & Utility

Arctic Cat Snowmobile Categories

  • Youth
  • Mid-Sized
  • Trail
  • Crossover
  • Mountain
  • Utility

Before you purchase a snowmobile, you may want to learn the difference between each type. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and take a closer look at each of these categories one-by-one!

What are the Different Types of Snowmobiles?

Excluding subcategories, the eight different types of snowmobiles are as follows:

  1. Youth
  2. Mid-Sized
  3. Trail
  4. Performance
  5. Mountain
  6. Crossover
  7. Touring
  8. Utility

Youth

Youth snowmobiles, also known as kid-sized snowmobiles, are designed for 6-12-year-old children.

The smallest youth snowmobiles are the 120 sleds, which are about 73”-75” long and 30”-36” wide. Besides their small dimensions, they are also the lightest snowmobiles in the marketplace as they only weigh 150-170 pounds.

These sleds are powered by 120cc 4-stroke engines in which the performance is limited by a speed governor. Thanks to this safety feature, they offer a limited top speed of 8 mph.

The most popular 120 snowmobiles are as follows:

You can find out all about these models by following the links above!

We also have to mention the iconic vintage Arctic Cat Kitty Cat, which was in production for nearly three decades!

Larger 8-12 years old children can take advantage of the bigger chassis and the more powerful engine of the 200-class of snowmobiles.

These sleds are powered by 200cc, 4-stroke engines that deliver about 9 HP. Like their smaller brothers, the performance of these sleds is also restricted, so they offer a limited top speed of 30 mph.

The most well-known 200 snowmobiles are the Yamaha SnoScoot and its twin brother, the Arctic Cat ZR 200.

Drawbacks?

Although these sleds are very popular among kids, they can outgrow these tiny machines very quickly.

Mid-Sized

Mid-sized snowmobiles represent the link between the 200cc youth and full-sized sleds. They are typically built on the chassis of full-sized trail snowmobiles, but they feature a unique handlebar, seat, and suspensions that lower the seating position.

Mid-sized sleds are typically powered by 400-550cc 2-stroke engines that crank out about 55-65 HP.

Like any kid-sized sled, the performance of these machines is also typically limited so that they can go up to 50-65 mph.

Since they are primarily intended for teenage riders, mid-sized snowmobiles are often considered youth snowmobiles, although certain manufacturers class them as trail sleds.

But thanks to their small dimensions and easy handling, they could be an excellent choice for smaller and female riders.

The most popular mid-sized sleds are the Arctic Cat Blast, Yamaha SXVenom, and the Polaris Indy EVO. Bombardier also offered a great mid-sized Ski-Doo, the 300cc Freestyle, in the mid-2000s. Since then, the Canadian manufacturer has stuck to full-sized models.

Drawbacks?

One of the biggest drawbacks of mid-sized sleds is their limited supply. They are also known for their low-powered engines and lack of convenient features.

Trail

It’s safe to say that trail snowmobiles are the most basic sleds out there. They are designed for beginners and riders who aren’t trying to be the fastest on the trails.

Trail snowmobiles are lightweight and easy to handle, even by novice riders. They are powered by 550-850cc 2-stroke or 600-1050cc 4-stroke engines, which offer plenty of power for the average rider.

Despite their great performance, trail sleds are surprisingly affordable compared to other segments.

Drawbacks?

The only drawback of these sleds is that they can only be used on groomed trails, as their short track doesn’t provide adequate flotation in deep snow.

Performance

As the name suggests, performance snowmobiles are engineered to provide the best performance on the trails.

They are powered by large-displacement, 600-850cc 2-stroke, or 900-1000cc 4-stroke engines, and some of them are turbocharged. These power mills put out no less than 90-200+ HP and propel the sleds up to 100-120 mph!

Besides their engines, these sled’s tracks, gearing, chassis, and suspensions are also tuned for maximum acceleration and top speed. Thanks to their sharp handling, they are the fastest in the corners, while their wider ski stance takes care of the balance.

It’s good to know that riding a performance sled requires a lot of skill and significant muscle strength, so they are definitely not recommended for beginners.

Instead, they are intended for experienced riders and professional racers who can enjoy the most out of these great sleds.

Drawbacks?

Performance snowmobiles are not only the most expensive models, but they are also known for their high maintenance and low durability.

Also, just like any trail-oriented snowmobile, they are supposed to be exclusively ridden on groomed trails.

Mountain

Mountain snowmobiles have been around since the early ‘90s. They are purpose-built sleds specifically designed for mountainous terrain and deep snow conditions.

For the best power-to-weight ratio, they are built on a lightweight chassis and utilize high-performance (120-170 HP) 2-stroke engines. These power mills are designed to deal with the thin air and the large changes in elevation.

The long tracks of mountain sleds ensure sufficient floatation and traction in powder, while their narrower ski stance delivers better agility.

Today all off-trail snowmobiles are typically considered “mountain sleds,” but this is not entirely true. This is because, besides the mountain class, some manufacturers offer special off-trail sleds designed for flatland riding.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that all mountain sleds are off-trail sleds, but not all off-trail sleds are mountain sleds.

As a rule of thumb, mountain-specific models utilize the longest tracks and the most powerful engines in the off-trail class, while their features are designed for aggressive hill-climbing and playing in powder.

Drawbacks?

Mountain snowmobiles are not built for high speeds, so they are significantly slower than the sleds in other segments.

They are also not recommended for trail riding, as their tracks can easily rip up the groomed trails. What’s more, hard surfaces can also damage the long lugs on the track.

It’s also good to know that mountain snowmobiles are among the most expensive models on the market.

Crossover

Crossover snowmobiles are a kind of “Jack of all trades” machines. These versatile sleds are engineered to operate well in deep snow as well as on the trails.

They are powered by both 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines that deliver up to 200 HP.

The key feature of crossover sleds is their medium-sized track, which is typically 128”-132” long. In contrast, the length of mountain snowmobile tracks can reach a whopping 175”.

These hybrid tracks deliver adequate floatation in powder, but they also offer excellent handling on groomed trails.

Drawbacks?

Crossovers are not as good in powder as mountain sleds and not as good on trails as their trail-specific brothers.

Touring

Touring snowmobiles are built to ride longer distances, even with a passenger. Since they are manufactured with a passenger seat as standard, they are also known as “2-UP snowmobiles”.

The durable chassis and high-performance suspensions of touring sleds are designed to handle the weight of two riders and a lot of gear.  

Standard features typically include the heated comfort seats with a passenger backrest, electric start, reverse, heated grips, large windshield, GPS, audio and communication system, and a rear rack.

Thanks to their countless comfort features, touring models are arguably the most comfortable snowmobiles on the market.

If you want to cover long distances, even with a passenger or are just looking for a luxury snowmobile, you can’t go wrong with a touring sled!

Drawbacks?

Compared to other types of snowmobiles, touring models are significantly heavier and provide lower performance. Not to mention their hefty price tags!

Utility

Snowmobiles are not just for recreational purposes. There are purpose-built “working snowmobiles,” which are also referred to as utility sleds.

They utilize heavy-duty chassis and suspensions to handle the massive workload. Another advantage of these sleds is their extra-wide, 20” track, which is essential for the right grip while towing.

These special tracks offer great floatation, so despite of their heavy weight, utility sleds can even be used in deep snow despite their heavy weight.

Utility and touring snowmobiles often share the same chassis and many features; that’s why they are usually classed together.

From the legendary fan-cooled Yamaha VK 540 to the modern 4-stroke Ski-Doos, the engine options of utility snowmobiles vary widely, but most of them have a 540-850cc 2-stroke or a 600-1050cc 4-stroke power source.

Utility snowmobiles are commonly used for towing, carrying heavy cargo, grooming smaller trails, and reaching remote places. What’s more, they can be used for expeditions, search and rescue purposes, and even ice fishing.

They are typically equipped with a winch, hitch, reverse gear, and a rear rack. Also, a sleigh is always an excellent addition to these machines.

Drawbacks?

Utility models are the heaviest of snowmobiles, and their wider chassis and track make them less maneuverable. On top of that, they offer only a moderate top speed of 50-70 mph.

Snowmobile Comparison Chart

For a better comparison, we’ve compiled the specifications of the different types of snowmobiles into one chart:

Category Youth (120) Youth (200) Mid-Sized Trail Performance Crossover Mountain Touring Utility
Engine type 120cc, 4-stroke single 200cc, 4-stroke single 300 -550cc 2-stroke 550 – 850cc 2-stroke or 600-1050cc 4-stroke 600 – 850cc 2-stroke or 900-1000cc 4-stroke 600 – 850cc 2-stroke or 900 -1000cc 4-stroke 650 – 850cc 2 stroke 400 -600cc 2 – stroke or 600 -1050cc 4 -stroke 540 – 850cc 2-stroke, or 600 -1050cc 4 -stroke
HP (approx.) na 9 55-70 60-170 90-200+ 90-200+ 120-170 60-200+ 60-170
Top speed (mph) 8 (limited) 30 (limited) 50-65 65-110 100-120 90-110 80-90 60-110 50-70
Length (in.) 73-75 84 110-130 115-125 114-125 128-132 125-170 120-132 130-140
Width (in.) 31-36 36 40-47 47-48 47-50 46-48 42-45 48 43-46
Height (in.) 30-34 36 46-51 46-49 46-52 48-49 50-55 54-56 52-60
Ski stance (in.) 27-31 31 32-39 38-43 42-44 40-44 36-38 39-43 35-38
Track length (in.) 67-69 93 121-146 121-137 129-137 141-153 153-175 137-155 135-154
Track width (in.) 10 10 14-15 14-15 15 15 15-16 15 20
Lug height (in.) 0.60-0.80 1.0 1.0-2.0 1-1.25 1.25-1.75 1.25-2.6 2.5-3 1.25-1.75 1.25-2.25
Front suspension travel (in.) 3-5 4-5 6-8 4-10 9-10 9-10 7-9 6-9 6-7
Rear suspension travel (in.) 5-7 8-9 11-15 9-16 13-16 13-14 9-15 10-15 9-11
Fuel cap. (gal) 0.45-0.5 2 9-12 10-12 9-12 9-16 9-12 9-13 11-15
Dry Weight (lbs.) 150-170 200 370-430 450-550 450-650 450-600 450-500 470-650 500-700
Rider capacity 1 1 1 1-2 1 1 1 1-2 1-2
Off-trail use No No No No No Yes Yes No Yes

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that there are eight different types of snowmobiles in the marketplace. A brief description of each is as follows:

  • Youth: For 6-12-year-old children.
  • Mid-Sized: For teenagers and smaller/female riders.
  • Trail: Average snowmobiles for trail riding. They can be an excellent choice for beginners.
  • Performance: High-performance models for experienced riders and racers.
  • Mountain: Purpose-built sleds for mountainous terrain and deep snow.
  • Crossover: A mix of trail and mountain sleds. They can be ridden on and off-trail.
  • Touring: The most comfortable snowmobiles for covering long distances, even with a passenger.
  • Utility: Special heavy-duty snowmobiles for work purposes.

This is our short compilation of the main types of snowmobiles. We hope you find it helpful!

References:

Snowmobiles.org

Mywestshore.com

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