The Coolest Compact Track Loader Technology on the Market in 2024

John Deere 333G track loader

Compact track loaders are one of the most popular categories of equipment on jobsites and dealer lots today. Why? For starters, these CTLs can come equipped with loads of cool tech options — sophisticated digital control panels that allow for attachment and machine automation — routine tasks such as boom settings, attachment speeds, hydraulic flows, wheel speeds, ride control and return-to-dig functions. Telematics systems can be installed to track and log all machine functions, spearhead maintenance schedules and perform security measures like geofencing. Grade control can be utilized on CTLs to perform precision dirt work before further construction.

There’s lots of cool tech to choose from. Manufacturers will offer unique technologies (like Caterpillar’s Smart Attachments) and then common technologies options for customers (ranging from ride control to return to dig). To showcase the variety of awesome tech being offered in the industry, we reached out to big brands from Kubota to ASV to discuss top innovations being engineered into their units — with a little owner/operator advice as icing on the cake. Enjoy all the insights below.

Kubota’s SVL75-3 Boasts Everything from Keyless Start to an Advanced Multifunction Valve

Kubota's SVL75-3 Compact Track Loader

The Kubota SVL75-3 incorporates a number of new features as well as features taken from other products in the Kubota lineup. The SVL75-3 introduces a new one-piece cab that is sealed to diminish dust, dirt and water intrusion, and makes for a much quieter work environment as well. Kubota has added a new 7-in. touchscreen inside the cab with keyless start, relays all machine vitals and serves as the display for the new, wide angle (176-degree) backup camera. The load arms have been redesigned, giving a higher hinge pin height (almost 3 in. higher than the SVL75-2) and improved rear visibility. Kubota borrowed the Advanced Multifunction Valve from the SVL65-2, which allows for enhanced, simultaneous machine and attachment operation. The auto-downshift feature from Kubota compact excavators has been incorporated as well. This function automatically shifts from high to low range when executing a turn for a smoother ride and maximum available torque when exiting the turn.

Owner/Operator Advice: Application to Comfort

Kubota SVL75 lifting rocks with a good cab shot

There are a couple of different viewpoints here. As a buyer, I know they are asking for answers beyond “know your application,” but honestly when you are spec’ing a machine, the most important question is “what will you use it for?” You need to know the size of the machine you need, which feeds into your lift capacity requirements. What attachments will you be using and whether you need high flow to operate them? If you are transporting from site to site, what are your truck and trailer limitations?

Beyond that, personal preference comes into play. Many operators spend the bulk of their day working the machine, so you need to make sure yours is a comfortable place to spend hours at a time. Kubota CTL cabs are among the roomiest in the business, and the rollup door makes entry and exit a breeze without having to work around a door that is swung out and in the way.

Will you purchase or lease? What are the available financing/leasing programs from the manufacturer? What is the resale reputation of a given brand? In addition, what do you know about the dealer? We all know that not all manufacturers are the same, and likewise, not all dealers are the same. Service, warranty, and training support are at least as important (and arguably way more important) than the initial sales experience. As a renter, you will also need to know your application to know what size of machine you need. In addition to that, you will want to know what your daily maintenance responsibility is as a renter.

Regarding what tips are important to consider when operating, becoming educated on the proper operation of the machine is paramount. CTL’s have limitations, and it is critical to know what those are. Understand the concept of “center of gravity.” CTLs are large, heavy machines, but in motion with a heavy load high in the air, they can quickly become unstable. Know how to navigate hills and slopes. Understanding the importance of avoiding traversing a hill, and keeping the heavy side of the machine facing uphill when going up or down a slope can help to make sure both you and machine go home each night without incident. — Jerry Corder, Kubota product manager, construction equipment

Cat Smart Attachments for CTLs

Cat Smart Grade

All Caterpillar compact track loader (CTL) models come standard with Smart Technology that delivers the highest level of integration between the machine and Cat’s line of Smart Attachments. This advanced machine technology allows the machine to recognize when one of the Smart Attachments is connected and tailor the controls and information provided to the operator to match the tool and the task. This integration allows for better machine utilization and a better finished product by delivering easy, intuitive joystick operation of these advanced grading and excavating Smart Attachments. Three things comprise the Smart Technology and Smart Attachments: plug-and-play attachment recognition, tailored in-cab controls and special information/control display screens. The family of Smart Attachments includes the Smart Backhoe, Smart Grader Blade and Smart Dozer Blade.

Owner/Operator Advice: Proper Operation

Cat 265 Compact Track Loader

Proper operation of a compact track loader is one of the most influential factors in undercarriage wear and operating costs. Aggressive operation may help get the job done faster, but it can also increase the rate of wear and overall operating costs. For example, making a quick change in travel direction by counter-rotating, can ingest material into the undercarriage and may cause unnecessary wear on the tracks and undercarriage components. Three-point turns are a good way of turning, when practical. Turning without counter-rotating may take more time but can extend the service life of undercarriage components. Operating at the minimum ground speed required to complete the task will extend the service life of tracks. The two-speed functionality that is standard on Cat CTLs allows for increased productivity on the jobsite and should be used when needed. However, constant high-speed operation may accelerate undercarriage component wear. — Kevin Coleman, Cat senior product specialist

John Deere’s DozerMode on the 333G SmartGrade

John Deere 333G SmartGrade compact track loader working dirt

John Deere‘s exclusive DozerMode, available on the 333G SmartGrade compact track loader, is a breakthrough control solution that enables the EH joystick control system to function like a crawler dozer with the push of a button. DozerMode is beneficial when operating the machine-equipped, John Deere-designed and -built six-way dozer blade attachment that can both cut a grade and spread materials, streamlining attachment needs and setup time. The blade is fine-tuned to meet the performance needs of a compact track loader and does not require tools to change between other attachments. It also enhances the versatility of the machine by accurately and automatically cutting or finishing light materials in tight spaces. In conjunction with SmartGrade technology, the blade reduces the amount of operator input, ultimately lowering operator fatigue.

Owner/Operator Advice: Track Maintenance

John Deere's 333G SmartGrade compact track loader

Especially in the colder months, track maintenance is vital to the performance and uptime of your compact track loader. By training your operators, inspecting and cleaning tracks and maintaining proper tension, you can extend track life, limit downtime and reduce operating costs. It is important to handle your equipment with care. Compact track loaders excel in soft underfoot conditions like dirt and mud, and if you must run a CTL on hard surfaces, consider sprinkling sand or dirt in the machine’s path to reduce track wear. It is also important to select the right tracks for the job at hand. Many manufacturers like John Deere offer multiple track tread pattern options that can used based on the intended application. Lastly, the biggest impact to track life is the operator and application, which have a much larger impact than the design, chemistry or origin of the track. — Luke Gribble, solutions marketing manager, John Deere

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ASV’s Posi-Track Undercarriage

ASV RT-75 Max Series compact track loader lifting dirt

ASV’s Posi-Track undercarriage is a key part of what makes ASV compact track loaders all-season equipment. The system features a flexible track and an open-rail and internal positive drive-sprocket undercarriage, allowing for greater traction, longer wear life and faster, more convenient undercarriage cleaning. Posi-Track loaders also have a high number of ground contact points, spreading the machine’s weight evenly. This provides the compact track loaders with often industry-low ground pressures, reducing the risk of damage to turf. The low ground pressure also leads to better flotation and traction on steep, slippery and wet ground and enhances control and pushing capabilities. The wide, flexible track maintains more contact with the ground than other designs, helping to virtually eliminate the risk of track derailment.

Owner/Operator Advice: Dig into Automation

ASV RT65 track loader

Stay up to date with the latest productivity features in today’s compact track loaders. There is an increasing number on the market that provides improvements both for new and seasoned operators in terms of learning more quickly and getting repetitive jobs done with ease. Some compact track loaders include a combination of return to position and work tool position features standard with the base machine. The work tool positioner allows operators to create a preset for the angle of the attachment based on the task at hand, allowing return to position at the push of a button. Return-to-position technology complements the work tool positioner by allowing operators to set a designated height for the loader arms. The technologies can be paired together or used independently to adjust to the needs of the jobsite. This expedites repetitive tasks where the attachment needs to be at a certain height and angle. — Buck Storlie, aftermarket director for Yanmar Compact Equipment North America

Wacker Neuson’s ST27 with Auto 2-Speed

Wacker Neuson ST27 compact track loader working a dirt pile

Wacker Neuson’s newest compact track loader, the ST27, offers an innovative travel drive. The 9.1 mph travel speed and the standard automatic 2-speed drive are industry firsts for a compact track loader of this size. The auto 2-speed is designed to make the operator’s job easier by automatically adjusting the speed range depending on the application and the operator’s joystick commands and movements, eliminating the need for the operator to make manual shifts. Operators have the flexibility to turn off the auto 2-speed if they prefer to manually control the speed settings based on the current application. By enhancing the driving experience, Wacker Neuson simplified the operation and improved efficiency leading to faster cycle times and more precise work.

Owner/Operator Advice: Jobsite Requirements

Wacker Neuson's ST27 compact track loader lifting dirt

The most important aspect in selecting equipment is of course understanding the specific requirements of the project. This all makes a difference, for example, when you are looking at rated operating capacity to handle the loads you will encounter or the type of drive to travel over rugged terrain and improve efficiency. Additionally, equipment dimensions can’t be overlooked. If a piece of equipment has all the right specs but is 2-in. too wide to access your jobsites, it’s not the right machine for the job. And, of course, there is the maintenance aspect. Easy access to all components means less time in the shop and more time on the job. — Doug Clark, product manager, compact equipment, Wacker Neuson

Takeuchi’s Fleet Management System

Takeuchi Fleet Management Telematics on a compact track loader

Takeuchi’s telematics system, Takeuchi Fleet Management (TFM), remotely connects users — dealers, owners and operators — to their Takeuchi equipment, including the company’s range of compact track loaders. TFM’s hardware technology transmits data over a cellular network (LTE), allowing users to view machine information in traditional formats (desktop/laptop) or on-the-go platforms (mobile phones or tablets). TFM provides alerts and machine information including details for location, utilization, performance and maintenance. These insights provide a clear picture into where and how equipment is being operated. Operators can make decisions based on actual equipment use and schedule maintenance based on run hours. TFM also minimizes costs by precisely identifying problems as soon as they start so service technicians can bring the correct tools and parts right away. TFM allows contractors to manage all their assets on multiple jobsites and projects, monitoring utilization and maximizing output. Contractors can be more proactive with machine maintenance and prevent costly, time-consuming downtime.

Owner/Operator Advice: Cold Weather CTL Care

Takeuchi compact track loader working in the snow

When starting up your CTL in cold weather, use proper warmup procedures as found in the operator’s manual and always limit engine idling time. A cold weather kit, such as a block heater, can help promote proper engine warmup in regions where glow plugs and intake air heaters are not sufficient to effectively start the engine. Operators should also always make sure the windows and front glass are completely defrosted before operating. It can be tempting to skip this step, but having the best possible visibility around the worksite is safer and will help you do a much better job. At the end of the day, make sure the CTL’s undercarriage is relatively clean to prevent mud and debris from freezing up in the undercarriage components and causing premature wear and damage. — Lee Padgett, product manager, Takeuchi-US

Bobcat’s T86 Compact Track Loader with Super Flow

Bobcat T86 compact track loader using a planer attachment

Bobcat Co.’s T86 compact track loader is the most powerful compact loader the company has ever built, delivering more usable engine and hydraulic power than ever before. This advanced machine has been engineered to offer customers the all-around performance expected for today’s most demanding jobs. Highlights of the Bobcat T86 compact track loader include:

  • Premium power performance for improved engine-to-workgroup efficiency.
  • Three hydraulic flow options — standard, high and super flow — in one machine.
  • Cast steel lift arm sections and increased lifting capabilities.
  • Standard dual-direction bucket positioning.
  • Standard automatic ride control.
  • Standard rearview camera.
  • One-piece, sealed and pressurized cab.
  • A simple, non-DPF emissions solution.
  • Enhanced workgroup response and drive response.
  • Automatic heat and air conditioning.
  • Optional Bobcat Machine IQ wireless communication

Product Standout Feature: Super Flow

Standard Flow (23 gpm, 3,500 psi) — Select standard flow to operate attachments that require lower hydraulic horsepower.
High Flow (36.6 gpm, 3,500 psi) (Optional) — This system provides additional hydraulic power to increase productivity of attachments like flail cutters, trenchers, cold planers and stump grinders.
Super Flow (42 gpm, 4,061 psi) (Optional) — Tackle the most demanding applications, including pavement milling and land clearing of trees and heavy brush, with attachments designed specifically for super-flow hydraulics.

Compact track loaders are the most popular category of compact equipment in America. Learn why with loads of track loader features right here.

Owner/Operator Advice: Attachments

Bobcat auger attachment on a track loader

There are hundreds of attachments available for compact track loaders. While attachment popularity varies by application, we see several all-around workhorse attachments as high-utilization choices for most construction contractors: buckets; pallet forks; augers; breakers; sweepers; industrial/root grapples; rotary cutters; snow blades; and graders (compatible with Topcon and Trimble systems). For landscapers, the right attachments can help handle a variety of tasks, including planting trees, clearing land, installing irrigation lines, creating paths, placing landscape materials, moving pallets or removing snow. These might include everything from an auger or a trencher to a snowblower or soil conditioner. For general grounds maintenance needs, a lot of work can be accomplished with a strategically chosen set of attachments. Whether it’s clearing snow in February in a retail parking lot, mowing overgrown brush in June on a corporate property or clearing leaves in October on a university campus, the right lineup of compact equipment attachments can keep a machine fleet productive in every season. — Julie Portillo, Bobcat marketing manager

Manitou’s Ideal Access Door System

Manitou Ideal Access door

Manitou Ideal Access is a patented door system that is available on select Manitou compact track loaders, including the all-new VT Series compact track loaders. The Ideal Access door provides more head room for the operator as it folds up and stores up top in front of the operator’s head (instead of directly above the operator, as in other designs). It is built of 1/2-in. polycarbonate material for durability and can be opened in any lift arm position and with any attachment on the machine without risk of damaging the door (which is a common occurrence with standard door design). This saves time and money related to door repair. This is accomplished without increasing cab height for applications with height restrictions.

Owner/Operator Advice: Lift Orientation and Load Sensing Hydraulics

Manitou compact track loader with a bucket working the dirt

Vertical lift is by far the most popular type of lift arm, especially on larger models which load larger trucks and where the price point is less critical. Radial still has its advantages, especially on smaller models where users are dumping into dump trailers or maybe just using the machines for grading. Radials also offer lower daily maintenance by only requiring two greasable pins vs. verticals with eight greasable pins, and they offer a more robust design for ground engagement. The type of lift arm really depends on the applications a user is looking to perform and given the positive attributes and cost advantages I don’t see radials leaving the market anytime soon. On some larger loaders where the price point isn’t as critical, we are seeing some load sensing hydraulic systems. These systems really give you optimal performance by sending hydraulic oil exactly where you need it rather than to the path of least resistance. OEMs are leveraging hydraulic component efficiency improvements to move to higher pressure systems to recoup as much hydraulic horsepower as they can for optimal attachment performance. — Nathan Ryan, product line manager for skid steers and CTLs, Manitou and Gehl

Yanmar SmartAssist Remote Telematics

Yanmar TL100VS with a bucket and lights on

Yanmar includes its SmartAssist Remote telematics as an option on its new line of compact track loaders for operator convenience. Previously only offered for Yanmar’s mini excavators, the service allows the machine owner or fleet manager to view operation and service data on all machines quickly, which provides clear benefits from catching error codes early to the ability to track and receive alerts on maintenance intervals. Additionally, the system comes with integrated location tracking and geofencing, allowing for both management of equipment location and theft protection. SmartAssist allows the equipment owner to set a range from a specific location and triggers an alert if that range is exceeded.

Owner/Operator Advice: Connect Your Machine

Yanmar TL100VS compact track loader close up in the dirt

Like many other things in today’s society, technology is making equipment increasingly connected. Look for smart features that can improve equipment management and make your life easier. Some compact track loaders, for example, feature telematics options with location tracking, maintenance management and the ability to view utilization data. The benefits include the obvious theft deterrent of being able to view machine location and receive alerts when it moves outside of a preset range. It can also improve your life by reminding you of maintenance intervals for particular components and send error codes straight to your phone. Finally, if you’re a fleet manager you can make sure the equipment is as productive as possible through the use of operation data. — Buck Storlie, aftermarket director for Yanmar Compact Equipment North America

Keith Gribbins is publisher of Compact Equipment.

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