innovative iron awardsThe Coolest and Most Creative Compact Equipment of the Year

Exploration is the engine that drives innovation, so let’s go exploring. Let’s search through a year’s worth of creative ideas in the off-highway equipment industry and see if we can benchmark the innovative exploration of the American machine market. Over the last 12 months, global manufactures from Case to Kubota have released compact machines that have set new standards for power, versatility, efficiency and design. Our editors have traveled across the country to meet these manufacturers, operate their new products and give detailed reports and opinions both in print and on our website (compactequip.com). We sifted through the hundreds of models and brands released in 2017 and picked 25 units that set the new bar for innovation. With this article, we salute those companies that have changed the commercial equipment market over the last year with their unique, interesting and innovative machines, engines and technologies.

Keith Gribbins is associate publisher of Compact Equipment.

JLG Utility Vehicles

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JLG is an expert at making equipment that works in elevated environments and in rental, but in 2017 it entered a new terrain-focused category of equipment. JLG released its first utility vehicles — the three-seat 315G and six-seat 615G. The models feature 10-in. ground clearance with four-wheel drive and an independent suspension to keep all four wheels firmly on the ground. While in operation, drivers can shift between two- and four-wheel drive, locking the differential, for improved control. Rugged axles, standard skid plate, brush guard bumper, heavy-duty steel frame and powder-coated paint enhance durability. This is a unit built for rental customers with a class-leading 1,000-lb capacity cargo box and 1,500-lb towing capacity. These rental-focused units take a clever angle at attacking the growing, competitive, diverse UTV market. For more info, visit jlg.com.

Mustang 1650RT Compact Track Loader

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Track loaders are hotter than skid steers right now. Rental houses are finding these units can do a zillion different jobs with good traction, low ground pressure and the same universal attachment plate as skid steers. This year Mustang released one of the best rugged- and rental-ready track loaders — the 1650RT. The new compact track loader is built on a common skid loader chassis similar to the Mustang 1650R for 85 percent parts commonality (great for rental houses). Designed with compact dimensions and operator choice of controls, T-bar, hand-foot or joystick, the 1650RT’s low operating weight of only 8,020 lbs makes it super easy to transport. There’s also the industry-exclusive IdealTrax automatic track tensioning system. No worries about track tension. For more info, visit mustangmfg.com.

Want more innovation? We have plenty more Innovative Iron Awards here.

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