Product Report: Breaking new ground

The utility vehicle market has seen tremendous growth since John Deere introduced the first, one-seat, three-wheel Gator in 1987. In fact, according to Deere, these vehicles have enjoyed 25 percent growth over the past four years – with most of that coming in what the company calls the “heavy-duty and trail” type machines.

“We’ve found customers are looking for a utility vehicle capable of putting in a hard day’s work, but they also want to be able to turn it loose tail riding, hunting or fishing on the weekend,” notes Kevin Lund, utility group product marketing manager for John Deere. “They’re looking for a vehicle that combines the ability to do work and operate in all types of terrain.”

To meet this growing demand for vehicles equally at home on a construction project or at play, Deere has introduced its all-new Gator XUV utility vehicle. At the same time, it has strengthened its conventional Gator lineup with the addition of new, 4-by-2 and 6-by-4 gasoline- or diesel-powered “Traditional Series” Gators.

New drivetrain guarantees 30 mph for life
John Deere’s new Gator XUV is an extension of its High-Performance HPX models. Similar in design to Deere’s previous HPX, the XUV features an elevated vehicle platform, gas or diesel engines and a hybrid work/play concept.

Although the XUV is “extreme terrain capable,” it has also been designed to be turf friendly with an 11-inch ground clearance. The driver can select between one, two, three or four drive wheels to help further protect sensitive turf. An optional speed limiter keeps vehicle speeds down when conditions require slower travel.

Gator XUV features a true four-wheel-drive system with on-demand locking front differential. As noted, the operator has complete control over drive wheel engagement to deliver brute force in muddy off-road conditions, or a delicate touch when crossing lawns. An advanced suspension system travels up to 7 inches to keep the Gator’s wheels on the ground in uneven terrain. Additionally, Deere designed the suspension to handle everything from light- or no-load operations to maximum cargo capacity runs with 900 pounds in the cargo box. Total vehicle capacity for the Gator XUV is 1,300 pounds.

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The Gator XUV can be spec’d with a gasoline or diesel engine. Each deliver more horsepower than engines in the previous HPX Gator model. This translates into better vehicle acceleration and top speeds up to 30 mph for the XUV. John Deere engineers noted many competitive four-wheel drive utility vehicles tend to jump or lurch when operated at low speeds. To counter this, they also tweaked the XUV’s powertrain to include excellent creeping characteristics when working at low speeds.

Gas-powered XUVs with electronic fuel injection feature an exclusive electronic governor and throttle body that automatically compensates for drive belt wear to consistently deliver power and speed under heavy loads and maximize drive belt durability. Thanks to this system, Deere engineers expect operators to have responsive throttle inputs and the ability to reach 30 mph throughout the entire life of the vehicle, regardless of drive belt wear.

The Gator XUV lineup includes the gasoline-powered XUV 620i – available in both green and yellow and black and olive color schemes – and the diesel-powered XUV 850. All will be on John Deere dealership yards beginning this spring.

Deere’s 6-by-4 diesel Gator features more than just a new engine
The new Gator TH 6-by-4 diesel Gator completes the Traditional Gator series lineup – Gator TS, TX and TH gas-powered models – John Deere brought to market in 2004. But Deere did more than simply drop a larger diesel engine into the existing TH model body. Deere engineers have added a host of improvements to the TH 6-by-4 diesel, including improved top speeds, cooling systems, handling characteristics, cargo capacity, operator comfort and styling. Even better, they accomplished this with a 7-percent reduction in retail pricing: The Gator TH 6-by-4 diesel will list at dealerships for $10,299.

The 854-cubic-centimeter Yanmar diesel Deere opted to put in its newest Gator is the same engine the company has been putting in its military-class Gators for years. The engine has a displacement 30 percent greater than the unit on previous generation diesel Gators. As a result, the new Yanmar cranks out approximately 20 percent more maximum torque and a higher top speed of 20 mph. The higher-powered engine allows the new Gator 6-by-4 diesel to haul payloads of 1,600 pounds and tow up to 1,400 pounds thanks to a stronger, reinforced frame.

The frame also allows for a stable, turf-friendly machine that can still tackle heavy-hauling and extreme terrain conditions. A two-radiator design allows for improved cooling and the ability to work harder in hotter conditions. New gearing and an improved transmission provide smoother operation and eliminate the grinding that occurred during shifting in the previous Gator 6-by-4.

Deere engineers rounded out the 6-by-4 diesel package with a larger vehicle cab, enhanced by high-back driver and passenger seats, a 12-volt electrical outlet, optional in-cab heat and other ergonomic improvements. A ROPS rollover protective structure is available as optional equipment.