Over the last several years, compact loaders have become the dominant category not just in the compact segment but across the entire construction equipment industry. Skid steers and compact track loaders have always been versatile machines thanks to their combination of small footprint, easy transport and quick tool switching. But the machines themselves have always been the base of this successful formula.
But the X-factor, the thing that has really driven the explosive growth of these machine categories are all the tools that have hit the market in the last 10 years or so. Tools that are redefining what is possible with a skid steer or CTL. Dozer blades, grading attachments, backhoe attachments, cold planers, mowers, mulchers and a long list of other attachments are now available for CTLs and skid steers and with the rise in adoption of these power hungry tools, the machines themselves have evolved to support them.
In a very real way, the attachments are driving the innovation and development of the most popular skid steers and CTLs. These machines have become so popular and so versatile that they have been replacing larger machines on certain jobsites like backhoes, wheel loaders and agricultural tractors for a while now.
Contractors Are Hungry for High Flow
But in the last few years, they’ve started to replace small dozers and motor graders as well because they can now be equipped with things like grade control technologies and grading attachments. Which brings us to John Deere‘s latest compact loaders the 334 P-Tier skid steer and 335 P-Tier compact track loader. Both of these machines were created in response to customer demands for more power and increased hydraulic capabilities.
As we established above, folks in the industry are long past sold on the value of compact loaders. Now they’re asking for more capability. They want to be able to push more, lift more, they want to mulch, grind, cut, spread, dig and grade — and they want to do all of it less time. In fact, John Deere has seen its take rate on its high-flow option more than double in the past five years. The 334 and 335 increase the headroom of Deere’s large frame skid steers and CTLs. These machines were designed to tackle an array of applications, particularly those that require the use of high-flow attachments.
P-Tier Is for Performance
And as P-Tier machines, the 334 and 335 also mark the first set of compact loaders to transition to Deere’s performance tiering strategy. Under this new system, there are three tiers of Deere machines: G, P and X. G-Tier machines are economy machines — machines that are durable, have enough performance to get the job done, but at a much lower price point. Meanwhile, X-Tier machines are on the other end of the spectrum. These machines are top-of-the-line, state of the art and feature next generation powertrains and hydraulic technologies like battery or hybrid-electrics.
P-Tier machines sit between G and X in the Deere lineup and have features that reflect that. These machines have some advanced features, but are focused mainly on providing big performance, efficiency, comfort and service life to the widest group of customers. Let’s dig in more to both of these machines.
How Large are Deere’s Largest Compact Loaders?
So, as the largest compact loaders Deere makes, just how big are the 334 and 335? Rather than make the machines meaningfully bigger in physical size, Deere focused much of its improvements on engine horsepower and hydraulic capability. The design directive then became make a machine large enough to support these changes and the larger tools they’ll power, but not so large that they’re no longer “compact” loaders. The 334 and 335 needed to retain their ability to get into tight spaces and be trailered with a standard trailer and a pickup truck.
To that end, Deere says these machines aren’t taller or wider than the 332 and 333 just below them in the lineup, but they are a few inches longer. They’re also about 200 lbs heavier than the 332 and 333 mostly due to the need for a larger coolers in the 334 and 335.
PCLS and the Formula for More Hydraulic Horsepower
As we mentioned earlier, the core difference between the 334 and 335 and the 332 and 333 below them in the lineup is power. Though Deere retained the proven 3.1L Yanmar engine found in the 332G and 333G, they have gotten a nearly 20 percent increase in power out of it. Both the 334P and 335P are rated at 118 gross hp, an increase needed to provide the higher hydraulic system pressure of the 334 and 335.
But Deere says the real bulk of the engineering in the 334 and 335 went into the new, more sophisticated hydraulic system. The 332 and 333G in that those older machines have open centered hydraulics which run as fast your engine RPMs. But the new 334 and 335 feature a Pressure Compensating Load Sensing (PCLS) hydraulic system. The system can automatically detect how much load is needed depending on the attachment you’re running. As a result, the hydraulic pump on these machines will only run as fast as the current task needs it to run.
Not only does this provide better, more optimized attachment performance, it also allows the 334 and 335 to be more fuel efficient than the 332G and 333G. Deere says that the 334 and 335 have tested about 20% more fuel efficient than the 332G and 333G. It also gives the 334 and 335 improved multi-function capability due to the precision flow control of the PCLS system.
While the old open centered system tends to dump flow since its basing flow on engine RPMs, machines that run on an open centered system like the previous generation loaders can lose things like hydraulic strength to raise the boom, or counter rotate while running an attachment at full speed. One more benefit of the PCLS system is that it runs at a significantly lower noise level than the open centered system.
But the new system also provides more pressure and flow as well. Both the 334P and 335P have 4,000 PSI system pressure and a high-flow option of 44 gpm. The combination of the higher engine horsepower, and the increases in pressure and flow is greatly increased hydraulic horsepower on the 334 and 335. One more note: Deere is also working on a re-vamped 333. The upcoming 333P will also get the new PCLS hydraulics but will feature system pressure of 3,500 psi and a high-flow option up to 42 gpm.
Compact track loaders are the most popular category of compact equipment in America. Learn why with loads of track loader features right here.
334 and 335 P-Tier Loaders Redesigned, One-Piece Cab
Deere has also made major improvements to the cab with the 334P and 335P with an all-new design. The cab on the 332G and 333G was a two-piece design. And while it enabled you to remove a couple of bolts and roll the cab back, the floor of the cab stayed in place. The new cab design on the 334P and 335P is a one-piece design—when you roll back the cab, the floor comes with it now. Not only is that an improvement when it comes to maintenance, it also ensure better cab sealing, allowing the 334 and 335 to keep out more noise, more dust, and more debris.
In addition the improved sealing, the one-piece design enables better isolation. Deere implemented larger rubber isolators with the new design, greatly reducing vibration and noise inside the cab. All-in-all, the comfort improvements on the 334 and 335 are huge. The new cab also features more visibility. With the move to the one-piece design, Deere was able to cut out part of the cab weldment, and a bit more steel from the structure to put in more glass, providing better visibility to the tracks, tires and ground.
In fact, Deere says that when operating with the boom down, such as when grading, you can see much more ground area, allowing operators to avoid running up alongside curbs, walls or other obstacles. Inside the cab you’ll also find heated and vented seats, hands-free Bluetooth audio, and because these machines were literally created to carry more advanced and more powerful attachments, you’ll also find new joysticks.
334 and 335 P-Tier Loaders New joysticks, New Display and New Views
Deere says it’s becoming more common for attachments to require more than just six-way controls. Eight-way controls are becoming more popular and Deere developed the new joystick to have more buttons to allow operators to keep their hands on the sticks. And while the 334 and 335 come with a standard 2.5-in. display, an 8-in. touchscreen display is an available option along with a new piece of software called Attachment Manager, which allows you to configure and store custom configurations for specific attachments you run on the machine.
The 334 and 335 will come 2D grade control-ready but will also feature standard grade indicate. Finally, one last option on the 334 and 335 is the new Surround View, which, via a separate, 5.5-inch dedicated display, provides the operator with a constant 280-degree view of their surroundings.
John Deere 334 and 335 P-Tier Loaders Will Be Available…
Well, that’s our deep dive on the new John Deere 334 and 335 P-Tier loaders. These machines will start hitting lots in May 2024, but Deere says you can head to your local dealer in late November or early December to start setting up your purchase. Moving forward, Deere believes the demand for larger attachments like bigger mowers , trenchers that can dig six feet or deeper, or cold planers with drums north of 40 in. — 50 or 60 in. in width — will be a thing. With that in mind, they fully plan on continuing to develop solutions and machines to meet this growing demand.
What do you think of the new 334 and 335 P-Tier and the overall trend toward larger and more powerful compact equipment? Let us know in the comments below.