Product Report: Gators go extreme

Updated May 31, 2012

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.

To meet this growing demand for vehicles on a landscaping 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, 4×2 and 6×4 gasoline- or diesel-powered “Traditional Series” Gators.

Extreme-terrain capability and 30 mph for life among design advances
John Deere’s new Gator XUV is an extension of its High-Performance HPX models. “We’ve found that 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 trail 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. We’re able to provide that with the new XUV, which offers power, acceleration with the stability to handle a wide range of loads.”

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 in help further protect sensitive turf. An optional speed limiter keeps vehicle speeds down when conditions require slower travel.

In off-road conditions, the Gator XUV features a true four-wheel-drive system with on-demand locking front differential. A new, advanced suspension system travels up to 7 inches to keep the Gator’s wheels on the ground in uneven terrain. Equally important, the suspension has been optimized by Deere engineers 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.

The Gator XUV can be ordered with a gasoline or diesel engine. Both deliver more than engines in the HPX model Gators along with better acceleration and top speeds up to 30 mph. At the same time, the XUV was designed with superior creeping performance at low speeds – compared to other four-wheel-drive utility vehicles that tend to jump or lurch when operated at low speeds.

Gas-powered XUVs with electronic fuel injection feature an exclusive electronic governor and throttle body which automatically compensates for drive belt wear to consistently deliver power and speed under heavy loads and maximize drive belt durability. “Thanks to this system,” Lund says, “the Gator XUV will attain 30 mph for the 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.

More power, more payload highlight new 6×4 diesel Gator package
The new Gator TH 6×4 diesel Gator completes the Traditional Gator series lineup – Gator TS, TX and TH gas-powered models – that Deere brought to market in 2004. But John 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 6×4 diesel, including improved top speeds, cooling systems, handling characteristics, cargo capacity, operator comfort and styling. Even better, all this was accomplished with a 7 percent reduction in retail pricing: The Gator TH 6×4 diesel will list at dealerships for $10,299.

Obviously, the most significant feature on the TH 6×4 diesel Gator is its engine. The 854 cubic centimeter Yanmar diesel is the same engine that Deere has been putting in its military-class Gators for years. It’s a larger engine, with 30 percent more displacement, approximately 20 percent more maximum torque and a higher top speed of 20 mph compared to the previous Gator 6×4 diesel model it replaces.

The higher-powered engine allows the new Gator 6×4 diesel to haul payloads of 1,600 pounds and tow up to 1,400 pounds thanks to a stronger, reinforced frame. Taken altogether, the new frame allows for a stable, turf-friendly machine that can still tackle heavy-hauling and extreme terrain conditions.

A new, 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 6×4.

Deere engineers rounded out the new 6×4 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.

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