HORSEPOWER VS TORQUE - New Holland T8.420 vs A Ford Explorer???

Neil from Messick's here. Today, we're outside with my 2013 Ford Explorer and this New Holland 2013 T8.420. Interestingly enough, my car here is 365 horsepower. There's tractor nets out at 367, just two horsepower apart from each other. We got a short conversation today about some of the differences between horsepower and why not every one of them is the same. As a salesman at a tractor dealership, we're constantly battling with our customer's perception of horsepower. We're all very programmed to pay attention to that number. We know the horsepower of our vehicles and our tractors, but we don't really necessarily know how it's put to work.

Every one of those horsepower is not necessarily the same. The relationship between torque and horsepower has always been a little bit confusing to me. They are mathematically related to each other. As your torque goes up, your horsepower does as well. It is always broken my mind a little bit exactly how they're related to each other. One thing that I heard recently that clarified that a little bit is to think more of horsepower in terms of speed, how fast something gets done, and think of the torque as the potential amount of work that can get done.

When we look at these two engines here, my V6 twin turbo EcoBoost and this New Holland eight-liter Fiat Powertrain's engine. The smaller one over here has 350 foot-pounds of torque, while this big tractor has just over 1800. Very clearly, they're capable of two very different jobs. Your automotive engines are really made for completely different tasks than what big tractor engine like that is. In a small automotive engine like this, you don't want something that's particularly heavy, that weight slows down your vehicle, ruins your fuel economy. They're usually made of aluminum blocks to be very, very lightweight.

Your heat dissipation is very different as well. When you look into your typical duty cycle for an automotive-type engine like this, when you're cruising down the highway, you're only using 15% or 20% of the available horsepower of your engine. For most typical driving, you don't need huge cooling packages in the front of your car in order to keep that engine cool because you're never really continuously utilizing all the horsepower that the engine has available.

This tractor though is very different. When you go and you drop that plow into the ground, or you're pulling a heavy tillage piece, you're sitting up there at 80%, 90% of what that engine is capable of delivering. The size of the cooling package, say, in the front of my car here versus this huge radiator stack in the back, in front of the T8, is very different from each other for that reason. The application differences really are completely different here for our engine. When we're talking about our big eight-liter tractor engine over here, we have a high compression ratio engine running at low RPMs.

The peak torque for this engine that 1800 foot-pounds is actually created at just 2000 RPMs. Take my car though. There's 350 foot-pounds of torque are created at 5,500 RPMs requiring you to rev much, much higher in order to reach those peak torque loads. One place that can be a good and a bad thing, you dive into these application differences is engines like this are terrible when it comes to being responsive. When you go and you rev this engine up, it takes it some time to get up to those RPMs and start to create that horsepower.

If you actually did a crate engine swap here and somehow managed to shove a T8 engine into the car or take your car engine and put it into a T8, it would be completely wrong. They just wouldn't meet their end goals. My EcoBoost in this tractor would never be able to stand up to the heat loads or the duty cycles that this tractor would require. This engine, even though it's got gobs of torque and would tow amazingly, would have really poor acceleration because it wouldn't be able to get up to speed quickly enough to say, "Pull out from the stop sign."

This was an extreme example here. I thought it was fun because my car and this tractor happened to be so spot on with each other. What we're talking about here continues down into lower horsepower classes as well. When we start talking compact tractors and utility tractors, and we start talking machines that are 20 to 100 horsepower, that's where guys really get this impression that these tractors just don't have enough horsepower to get the work done compared to what say they might be used to from their vehicles.

Keep this in mind, you got to remember the implications that torque has and that that's really what's doing your work and not necessarily the horsepower, the engine, and comparing every one of those horsepower is not exactly apples to apples. If you're going through the tractor-buying process, you're trying to understand these things. You've got parts needs for machines that you already have. Give us a call at Messick's. We're available at 800-222-3373, or online at