Mark Davey, John Deere marketing manager, tells a story about test-driving a competitor's crossover utility vehicle with three-wide seating. As the vehicle carrying three Deere folks started down a steep hill, they all pressed their feet to the floor to brace themselves. Suddenly, the vehicle accelerated, almost making the driver lose control. When he recovered, he realized that the passenger in the middle had accidentally pressed his left foot on the accelerator pedal, sending the vehicle speeding down the hill.
The new Gator XUV835 and Gator XUV865 now have a raised lip between the middle passenger's foot and the accelerator pedal to help prevent accidental acceleration.
Deere engineers were not the first to create a crossover utility vehicle with three-wide seating. But they used all they had learned from their own utility vehicles and from other manufacturers' vehicles when they designed the new gas-powered XUV835 and the diesel-powered XUV865. The result is a line-up that Deere promises will work hard, be user-friendly and have a lot of comfort features.
The 54-horsepower XUV835 and 23-horsepower XUV865 have a payload capacity of 1,500 lb. and can tow up to 2,000 lbs. Top speed is more than 45 miles per hour for the gas model, 32 mph with diesel. Pushbutton electronically engaged four-wheel-drive is standard.
The bed dumps easily with the optional hydraulic lift. It just takes the push of a button in the cab to slide out a load or to access the engine for servicing. To convert the bed to a flatbed configuration, the sides and tailgate can be removed in minutes by unscrewing several bolts. The bed comes with a spray-on protective coating to minimize damage and rust.
The M and R trim Gators are pre-wired to accept a front-mounted winch or front roof lights on cab models.
The new models come in three series: top of the line R, mid-spec M and economy E. The R Series vehicles come standard with a cab Davey said has comfort features, "like a John Deere tractor cab." It has heating and cooling, side windows that fully roll down and a pop up front window for extra airflow when not using the AC. M Series models also have the HVAC package as an option.
Seats in the R Series are cloth and there is an upholstered headliner, which helps with noise reduction. The steering wheel tilts for comfort, and the driver's seat is adjustable back and forth to accommodate most sized drivers. "That may not seem like a big deal, but we spent a lot of time getting it right," Davey said.
The passenger seat lifts to reveal a two-level space with 15 gallons total storage. A glove box holds additional 1-gallon storage and houses one of two 12-volt outlets. Also in the glove box is plug-and-play wiring for the optional front winch. The dash has space for switches to operate optional front and rear roof mounted lights and an electric spreader at the rear. Wiring is already in place to accept GPS or precision farming monitors for farmers and ranchers who use their Gators as a mobile office.
List pricing starts at $25,892 for the R Series, $15,937 for the M Series and $12,999 for the E Series models. The entry M Series in a Cab HVAC starts at $21,945 list price.
Jim Patrico can be reached at email@example.com
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