Five Mighty Compact Wheel Loaders
For over 30 years, John Deere has been offering compact wheel loaders to handle a variety of jobsite conditions. Entering the compact wheel loader market in 1987, John Deere still offers small but mighty machines that are an attractive alternative to skid steers for loading trucks or placing pallets on trailers. John Deere compact wheel loader offerings have recently grown with the addition of the 204L and 304L models, and the 344L with Articulation Plus, further expanding its portfolio of nimble machinery for multiple jobsite applications.
An evolution of the 204K and 304K models, the new 204L and 304L models are built for tasks that require peak productivity in small spaces and over rough terrain. These new L-Series models offer a purpose-built, standard-equipped, two-post canopy to provide quick entrance/exit to a weatherproof interior. A low machine profile below 8 ft enables easy access to close quarters. These machines reach top speeds of 12 mph, offering great reach for loading and a height to hinge pin of 11 ft, 1 in. An oscillating pivot point reduces operator station tilt for a more stable ride. Electrical systems are designed to minimize wires and connections to provide easier serviceability and increase durability and uptime.
Another new addition to the compact wheel loader lineup this year, the 344L offers faster travel speeds with smooth auto shift technology up to 25 mph, ideal for customers who have larger jobsites to traverse or for snow removal. Newly designed loader arms and couplers provide better parallel lifting of attachments and increased visibility, especially for operators using forks. With a full-turn tip load of 12,650 lbs, customers are able to lift heavier loads and can keep more material in the bucket without making adjustments. A redesigned cab features a comfortable air-ride, high-back seat to reduce operator fatigue and heating features.
The 344L offers Articulation Plus, the industry-exclusive steering system that is also the foundation of the 244K-II and 324K models, allowing operators to lift more during turns than leading competitive machines, says John Deere. Its design features an articulated frame plus rear-wheel steer, providing a tighter turning radius, improved stability and additional lift capacity. In addition, manual low-speed differential lock delivers the traction needed to go deeper into the pile for bigger bucket loads. The 324K offers the highest lift in its size-class, reaching a hinge pin height of 148 in. with a high-lift package option, says John Deere. Increased clearance-to-lift features are ideal for speed hoppers and agricultural material handling.
Most models are compatible with almost 100 John Deere Worksite Pro attachments. An optional push-button activated skid steer-style coupler allows operators to connect and release attachments quickly, without leaving the seat.
Advice to Buyers
“First, decide if you need an enclosed cab or open operator station, and if there are any size limitations on the jobsite that will eliminate certain models from consideration,” says Drew Miller, John Deere product marketing manager. “Articulating loaders are powerful tools for a jobsite. Be sure to review the full turn tip load, operating capacity and attachment options to understand how machine capabilities vary.”