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Kubota LX vs Standard L

 

I've gotten to spend about the last two months putting significant hours on both my LX3310 and an L2501, which have a lot of things in common, but also a lot of differences and so we're going to go around and talk a little bit about my seat time here for the last two months. Many times, when you look at manufacturer's product lines and you move through these different series of tractors, usually you're getting significantly larger machines as you go up. There is, however, in this case, an odd amount of overlap between Kubota's LX series and their standard L series tractors. These are actually two machines that are geared towards a different customer and geared towards different tasks.

Starting with the LX. This machine's going to be available in 26 and 31 horsepower. I have the larger of the two and behind me here is the standard L that's going to be available in 25, 33, and 39 horsepower. This behind me here is the 25-horse machine. These are tailored towards two different types of customers. The LX, in my mind, is generally tailored towards more of that landscape-type, homeowner-type application while the standard L was a little bit more utilitarian. Those things were really obvious to me as I spent the time actually in the seat.

 

From The Seat

 

We're going to start here from the actual seat, not just the metaphorical seat. The LX is definitely the more comfortable of these two tractors. You're going to find the seat here, the cushioning in it is a lot softer. Both of them share the same spring undercarriage so there is a little bit of bounce to this seat as you're popping around. The positioning of the seatbelts on the LX is a lot easier to put on and off. If you're so inclined and you find it a little bit more comfortable, the seat here on the LX reclines backward, and also comes with standard armrests. We can bolt armrests onto the standard L but they're going to be included here. From the feeling of your rear end, this is definitely the more comfortable tractor here as far as the seat goes.

There's a comfort issue here on the operator's platform that I feel like also is a factor when it comes to productivity. When you're looking at machines like this, not all of them are going to have a flat deck here across the bottom. You'll notice on the standard L, you've got this big hump down through the middle, where the transmission runs. Over on my LX, the platform is set up in a way that it's a mostly flat deck. It's a lot easier to take your feet and swing them off the side. The LX also has a tilt steering wheel where this one is fixed in place.

I've been on and off these tractors, a lot, specifically this one to get around back here and use the backhoe. I find the ability to be able to hit that foot pedal and get the steering wheel out of the way and swing my legs right off the machine is a lot easier on that more deluxe LX series tractor than it is here on the standard L. I came to appreciate some of those design choices, not just in terms of comfort, but also productivity as I'm jumping on and off the machine.

 

Loaders

 

In terms of these two loaders, these are actually slightly different from one another. We do normally sell and market the standard L series tractor as being a slight step up in capacity from the LX that is beared out on the spec sheets. If you look and see, this has a little bit more capacity than what the LX is. That capacity is exaggerated here a little bit more in that my tractor has a skid steer quick coupler on the front, whereas the standard L here is sporting a pin-on-bucket.

That skid steer coupler is going to take away a little bit of your capacity. The additional weight of the coupler is the weight that you can't lift in the material. However, we very frequently are going to lean really hard on you picking up one of those skid steer couplers for the versatility that it gives you. Out here, the tasks that I've been doing, I've been using pallet forks and stuff on the front of my loader a lot. That's something that you just can't do when you have that skid steer coupler missing from your machine.

Capacity-wise, though, I think it's important to know that the 10%/15% difference that you're going to find between these tractors, I never was really able to detect in the seat. The standard L back here behind me, especially with all the ballast and everything from the backhoe is definitely a little bit more stable. In terms of the raw capacity of being able to lift and carry more, I wouldn't say that I necessarily was able to detect that 10% or 15% difference or so.

 

I think that's important for people to realize, oftentimes when you're shopping for equipment like this, there's definitely the tendency to go out and just buy the biggest numbers that you can find. Not necessarily always realizing that a lot of those things don't really translate to necessarily more capacity and more productive work. You really need to be looking at the whole of the machine in terms of what you're able to get done and not just something as small as the minute differences on the back of that glossy spec sheet when you're looking at two loaders.

If you look at the profile of the loader arms here, going down this tractor versus on the standard L, you're going to see mechanically, they're a little bit different here. The loader arms on this machine are dropped down a little bit lower. You see, they sit lower than the height of the hood right here and they're also a little bit tighter in closer to the hood than what the standard L is. When I'm sitting here on the machine, I have a little bit better sightline going down to my bucket, or if I'm using pallet forks, I can see my fork tips a little bit better. I also have a level rod indicator that's standard equipment on this loader where I don't have the optional one on the standard L. Sightlines and knowing where my pallet forks are, is definitely better on the LX than what I would have over on the standard L.

That standard L is going to have a higher lift height by having that hinge point up higher here in the back, you're going to lift higher. The loader looks a little bit more stout having that wider stance to it. It probably would be a little bit more rugged and not tweak quite as easy, but there are trade-offs to some of these things and you're going to notice that, specifically for me in terms of sitting here in the seat and what my sightlines look like.

 

Under the Hood

 

When looking at the engines on these two tractors, its not comparing apples to apples. As I mentioned before, the standard L is offered in 25, 33, and 39 horsepower, the option I have here at 25 that I have being that it's under the limit for needing a diesel particular filter on the engine, lacks that. We sell a lot of that model for this reason because machines under 26 horsepower don't need a DPF. You see a lot of models sitting right at that horsepower and it's also a breakpoint for a lot of people who want to avoid the additional engine complexity and also save some money too because all the emissions hardware is a little costly.

That said, there's two things here that we ought to discuss, that this engine and the 3310 just runs beautifully. There is some value to the computerization and stuff that's on these engines. It starts really easy. It runs really smooth. It's nice and quiet. It doesn't have the amount of rattle that the 2501 has. It runs really nicely. We ought to understand that that yes, there's some expense and yes, there's maybe some long term mechanical concerns that some people might have over the emissionization of this stuff, but this engine runs really, really nice. I'm always continually surprised by the fuel economy. Goodness, I probably have put two cans in the other here to the one that I put in this one, and even with the added horsepower, to me, it seems like it's burning a whole lot less fuel, I have not tested that very scientifically, but just anecdotally here. I've been pretty surprised. I really like the engine in this tractor.

 

Backhoe

 

This is a BH77 backhoe and both of these tractors accept this same backhoe, and also the same one, regardless of what horsepower engine you choose. It's important to understand that when you're looking at backhoes, their capacity and capability are really just determined by the pressure of the hydraulic fluid going into them, which is essentially the same, regardless of what engine you have under the hood. Whether you're running the 25, the 33, or the 39 horse standard L, you get a very similar performance out of the backhoe. It's done really nicely. At this point, I've probably trenched out close to 150 yards worth of trenches with it. I'm very proficient in this kind of thing. It's a very nice backhoe to run. The one thing that we do want to watch though, and we go through and give that explanation, telling people that the backhoe perform is the same, regardless of your engine horsepower, one thing that is not the same is your transport speed.

 

Transporting

 

When you take a reasonably heavy tractor, fill the tires of fluid at a loader out front, at a thousand pound or more backhoe off the back of the machine, you have a lot of weight and a lot of mass to move around just from this 25 horsepower engine in order to do it. There are times that I became a little frustrated with this machine, particularly in transport because I can drive it between work and my house with the four ways and stuff on the back that it's not the fastest machine on the road, and it will start to dog down going up, even a minor slope.

That would have been better, would've transported it a lot faster with the 33 or 39 horse machine, just having a little bit more horsepower in order to put that power to the ground. This is something that you tend to find anytime that you go through any of these product catalogs and you pick out the lowest horsepower tractor in a product family and load it up with a whole lot of attachments and weight, they can end up feeling the little dogged down and this one does.

 

Tires

There's been a lot of conversation about these R14 tires. On your LX series tractor, there are actually two different sizes of these available. This is the smaller set. There's also an overside set that's typically used on the SU, special utility, a version of this tractor that lacks the mid-PTO, and some of the deluxe features. That large set of tires also fits the other models as well. If you're not using a mid-mount mower, it conflicts with those two. I have come to really like these R14s over the R4s that are on the standard L. In terms of doing turf damage, I feel like these have been definitely a little bit easier. The sidewalls don't dig quite as much. I've sunk these things in the mud now several times and not had any trouble getting my tractor out. They seem to clear out better than what the R4s do. They don't pack quite as full. I'm looking forward to being out with snow in them. I think they're going to perform really well there.

 

I haven't really come upon anything yet that I have not liked these for. If I give them any criticism in two-wheel drive on soft ground, I feel like they do break loose a little bit quickly and sometimes I end up doing more turf damage because of that. There are times I probably should stay in four-wheel drive in order to have that assist, to keep my tires rolling and moving along in that soft ground. Four-wheel drive can sometimes help keep you from doing turf damage too but besides that one small case, I've been really happy with them and haven't found anything to complain about.

The sidewall is definitely not quite as heavily built on these as they are on an R4. If you're doing strictly industrial or loader-oriented work, the R4 is still probably the better choice for you but there's going to be a large subset of customers out there that are going to be served really well by this hybrid tire and probably really like it. Been holding my opinions on this one for a while, but day after day is of spending time and putting hours on these things, I really have not found anything to complain about.

 

Running out of Fuel

 

If you're anything like me, you like to push the fuel gauge up to its absolute limit, right? When there is work to be done, I go out and get it done regardless of the amount of vapor that's left in that tank right there. I have run both of these tractors here out to fuel now multiple times. I can tell you another benefit from the electronic engine systems that are in these is that they start easier when you run them out of fuel. When I take that key and crank it over on this tractor, it just takes about 20 seconds or so for the fuel to make its way to the tank and up to the engine. There's a little bit of ramp-up time before the thing starts running smoothly again, but not nearly as much ramp-up time is what the standard L seems to take with the 2501 non-DPF engine in it.

 

 

That more old school mechanical fuel pump just takes a lot more time of prime and get the fuel running through smoothly, and while I've been able to successfully do it every time without having to crack injectors and that kind of stuff, that's not things that you have to do on modern machines. It definitely does take a lot more futzing around and a lot longer cranking the key and turning that engine over before the fuel starts to run smoothly again.

 

 

Which Tractor is Right for You?

 

Generally, my experience here has beared out the advice that we usually give steering people looking towards more of the homeowner landscape-type tasks into the LX series tractor and somebody with more of a utilitarian mindset into the Standard L. These machines are not wildly different in price, but there's going to be differences here in terms of their comfort with this machine working a little bit better on residential property as well, the standard L giving you a little bit more value, a little bit more capacity your money, but maybe not being quite as nice to operate when you're actually in the seat. That's generally the way that we've sold them and is definitely beared out in the time that I've spent out here today. Both good tractors, both have their place, but it's good that you, as the customer always win when we're able to go through and tailor your purchases with exactly the right model, depending on the task that you have at hand. 

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