Innovative Iron Award Winner: John Deere P-Tier 244, 324 and 344 Compact Wheel Loaders

John Deere P Tier wheel loader

The Top Construction, Landscape and Rental Equipment Launched in 2023

Innovative Iron Logo 2023

The world of off-highway machinery is evolving — battery-powered units, hydrogen engines, luxury and economy tiering, machine control automation — but maybe the biggest evolution is that everyone wants a compact machine. Small, tool-carrying construction equipment now make up about 50 percent of the U.S. machinery market with mini excavators and compact track loaders being the two most popular categories in America. To meet this enormous demand, machine makers released some pretty awesome machines in the past 12 months: advanced skid steers, electric asphalt pavers, entry-level grade control attachments and so much more. The 2023 Innovative Iron Awards celebrate the best of these compact equipment launches. Scouring tradeshows, visiting manufacturers, operating units, interviewing experts, this annual compilation represents the best equipment we’ve seen and experienced all year, including…

John Deere’s P-Tier 244, 324 and 344 Loaders

John Deere 244 P-Tier compact wheel loader doing yard work

John Deere has been offering compact wheel loaders to customers for more than 30 years, but its newest trio of compact units sets a higher standard for the famous brand in the compact realm. In May, John Deere announced it was expanding its performance tiering offerings with the shift from L-Series to P-Tier for the 244, 324 and 344 compact wheel loader models. 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 and 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 advanced tech but are also focused on providing big performance, efficiency, comfort and service life to the widest group of customers. That’s how the P-Tier 244, 324 and 344 compact wheel loaders roll.

All three models introduce new productivity-enhancing features — from standard ride control on base models to optional factory-installed features like an auto-reversing fan. We caught up with Luke Gribble, solutions marketing manager at John Deere, at Equip Expo in October to discuss these new compact loaders, especially all the tech features.

“We’ve got return-to-dig functionality and boom height kick-outs [on these new units],” said Gribble. “Ride control comes as standard on these machines now, which is new for P-Tier. It was an option, a pretty heavy take rate option, and we just went ahead and threw it into the base to make sure that customers are getting the best experience possible. So that’s a nice feature. This one [pointing to the unit on the floor] has what we call the Attachment Assist control package. That includes throttle lock and creep control. So if you are running a snowblower as an example, you want high rpm and constant flow to the attachment. You can push down on the throttle, lock that into place, and then adjust your travel speed without having to constantly go back and forth on the pedal. So, it’s not a 100 percent automation, but it’s a great feature that keeps the operator a lot more comfortable throughout the day.”

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Ride control cushions boom movements during transport, acting like a shock absorber to help minimize material spillage. Increasing operator comfort and productivity, this feature is applied with a flip of a switch in the cab and can be set to automatically engage and disengage at a predetermined speed. There’s the attachment assist controls, which include integrated electrical (three-pin) controls for attachments and combined creep control and throttle lock. This allows customers to run their machines with higher rpms and lower ground speeds with overall fewer manual inputs. An enhanced pause and resume function means that reactivating the feature after a change in direction or switch to neutral is seamless as well.

The P-Tier compact wheel loaders also offer the industry-exclusive Articulation Plus feature (a system that delivers tighter turns that are more stable, especially with large loads).

“That’s still a big feature for us,” confirmed Gribble. “I’ve been talking about that a lot. Articulation Plus gives you a little extra stability because the loader’s not articulating like a standard one. So more lifting capacity, more rated operating capacity, but still getting a really tight turning radius for maneuverability. That’s good for the supply yards and for snow.”

Articulation Plus enables rear-wheel steering to increase full-turn tipping load and improve maneuverability. This steering system combines 30 degrees of standard articulation with an additional 10 degrees of rear-wheel steering. Articulation Plus also provides a significantly higher full-turn tipping load than machines without this feature, as the machine does not need to articulate as much to turn.

Attachments, Lift Heights, Speed and Serviceability

John Deere 244 P-Tier compact wheel loader loading a red dump truck

High-flow, electrohydraulic-controlled auxiliary hydraulics are also available, so these units can run serious attachments even via a skid steer-attachment plate. The loader arm and coupler design have been improved allowing the lifting path to be near parallel — for better load-carrying capability than previous models. This keeps the load more level from ground to truck-bed height and helps the operator focus on the task instead of on making manual adjustments. There’s also an optional High-Lift configuration on the 324 and 344 P-Tier units.

“This unit here is equipped with a High-Lift linkage, so you’re going to get about up to 12 ft, 5 in. height to the hinge pin [vs. 11 ft],” said Gribble. “So whether you’re hitting the small stuff or the large stuff, that’s a great option that we have that can help do that. Whether you are having forks, loading pallets on the trucks or just moving’em around the hardscape stuff, these are all very popular machines to do those applications.”

These units also motor with a standard top speed of 23 mph. Low-effort joystick controls boom and bucket, forward-neutral-reverse (F-N-R) and differential lock. Standard mini-joystick controls auxiliary hydraulic functions including optional high flow. An adjustable-height monitor lets operators keep close watch on vital machine functions.

Serviceability is always an important aspect of any machine. An additional feature now offered on P-Tier compact wheel loaders is an optional auto-reversing fan, which is an easy-to-use solution for customers operating on sites with an abundance of debris or dust. This solution is also ideal for applications in agriculture, aggregates and site development. To increase operator convenience, the fan can be turned on and off from the console in the cab. The operator can also control the fan’s time intervals by holding down the switch, making for an automated convenience during operation, keeping the operator focused on the job at hand.

Maintenance overall is easier to access on these new P-Tier additions.

“What I’ve heard a lot of customers love about these new machines is ground level serviceability,” said Gribble. “As you can see here at the rear of the machine, it continues to be a standout feature on our compact wheel loaders out there. Everything’s at the ground level. Get your checks done, look at what needs to be done before you start your day and then go start your shift.”

Big congrats to John Deere for winning another Innovative Iron Award. To learn more about the full lineup of compact wheel loaders within the John Deere Performance Tiering Strategy, please visit or visit your local dealer.

Keith Gribbins is publisher of Compact Equipment.