Long Term Test: John Deere Gator - By Off-Road.com

John Deere Gator Utility Vehicle

Feb. 01, 2005 By Jarret Gleason
Besides being a valuable working machine, it can handle some fun time - for two!

Low-pressure, high-flotation tires combined with differential lock ensure these models go where you need to. Powerful, 10- and 18-hp units boast a payload capacity of up to 900 or 1,400 pounds (maximum capacity of the 6x4-diesel model)

Electric, gas and diesel models of the Gator Utility Vehicle offer low ground pressure, operator comfort and a vehicle that can go anywhere and do almost anything.

Long Term Test: 6x4 Diesel Gator

I have had the joy of working with a 6x4 Diesel Gator for the past four years, putting it though daily working conditions, hauling loads of sand all day long. During off time we "survey" the undeveloped areas of the facility and run the trails we made with it. The one thing stands out about this unit is that it has never had a failure - it has taken all the abuse that we can throw at it without a hiccup. Why? I guess it was well built, because we have put it though hell!

We got it new four years ago, and had the power lift bed added so we could dump sand out of it (we move a lot of sand around). The only thing I can say I don't like is the 18MPH limit. I have tried to do the usual fixes to pump up the 18 hp, overhead valve, 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-cycle diesel engine, but no dice, I guess I am stuck there. The PVT-style belt drive has proven reliable, with the downfall that it does tend to freewheel and send you sliding into a tree on a steep downhill off-camber hill, but that's part of the fun right? The body plastic did ok, but we took out the headlight and bent the front frame, just a little. We chained it to a tree and bent it back, put in a new headlight and we were ready to rock! (Don't tell my boss.)

I am a die hard ATV nut, so don't get me wrong, but there is just something fun about you and your buddy beating around in the woods in a diesel utility 6x4. It scoots across sand great (at a whopping 18 mph), hill-climbs great with its low center of gravity, and mudbogs okay - though it is heavy and when its stuck, it's stuck good. But nothing a 4x4 ATV can't pull out though. It even jumps ok, though it has nothing for suspension in the rear. Ouch.

6x4 Diesel Gator FEATURES

  • 18 hp, overhead valve, 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-cycle diesel engine improves fuel economy
  • 4-wheel drive provides superior traction
  • Continuously variable transmission eliminates shifting; speeds from 0 to 18 mph
  • Standard differential lock helps vehicle pull through tough spots
  • Standard high flotation tires minimize ground compaction, improve traction in mud, and flex over bumps for a smooth ride
  • Low center of gravity enhances stability and handling
  • Tight, 24.8-ft. turning clearance circle
  • 16-gauge-steel, 11.2 cu. ft. capacity cargo box hauls up to 1,000 lb.
  • Compact design allows unit to be hauled in the bed of most full-size pickup trucks
  • List price: $10,299.00(U.S.)
  • Test model accessory: Power Lift Kit (Cargo Box) $586.00

Happy Trails,
-Jarret Gleason

Contact Information

John Deere and Company
To call John Deere's World Headquarters, dial 309-765-8000.
Locate your nearest John Deere Dealer

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