Let’s Roll: Four Compact Wheel Loader Manufacturers Share Favorite Units and Advice

Compact wheel loaders are built to move all types of materials and excel in a variety of applications. Whether you’re in landscaping, general construction, site development or snow removal, these powerful machines can help you work in tight spaces while providing excellent visibility and high transport speeds. Below we’ve gathered product info and advice from four compact wheel loader manufacturers.

Yanmar Compact Equipment North America

Frank Gangi, Product Manager — CWLs and Attachments

Product Spotlight: My favorite compact wheel loader is the Yanmar V4-7 in premium red. Compared to its compact size, it is a real workhorse. The powerful Yanmar diesel engine is amazing and incredibly fuel efficient, and even more so when ECO mode is engaged. The rear oscillating axle keeps a firm grip on the terrain, and the seating position feels just right. You also get the convenience of a quick-attach plate that can connect to most skid steer attachments. Personally, I would outfit it with the full cab with heat and A/C to really get the most out of it in every season. Finally, the dependability and confidence with the three-year warranty makes it the stand-out machine in its class.

Advice: Matching the compact wheel loader to your application is the best place to start, including making sure the size of the machine fits your needs and includes the key features you require. Beyond that, consider looking for a machine that can easily be outfitted for several different jobs. Things like hydraulic quick-couplers that work with skid steer attachments are growing in popularity, along with auxiliary hydraulics to operate attachments such as snowblowers, grapples, brooms and rakes. These features boost functionality and, ultimately, ROI.

If you are unsure of the machine size you want, try renting first to get a feel for how it performs before committing to buying. How it handles day-to-day operations becomes apparent rather quickly with a bit of seat time. Also take time to plan your job. Reducing travel distance, working on more level terrain and keeping static turns to a minimum go a long way in reducing operating costs and wear-and-tear to the machine.

John Deere

Luke Gribble, Solutions Marketing Manager

Product Spotlight: The 324L is a compact loader that comes to mind that offers many advantages to customers regardless of application. This loader is built with the industry-exclusive Articulation Plus steering system that provides tighter turns and improved stability. It accomplishes this feat through a unique steering system design that allows 30 degrees of articulation with an additional 10 degrees of steering capabilities realized from the rear wheels. This loader can also reach a top speed of 23 mph, allowing it to work well on larger jobsites where it is needed to move quickly to various places. It also comes standard with an Auto Shift transmission that allows smooth gear changes and is easy to operate.  In terms of optionality, the machine can be further equipped with productivity enhancing features like creep control, throttle lock, high lift linkage and high-flow hydraulics. When it comes to enhanced versatility, a skid steer-style Quik-Tatch coupler can be added that supports nearly 50 attachment offerings available from John Deere.

Advice: Proper tire selection is key when configuring a compact loader. With many tire options available, tire selection is easier once terrain and tasks are identified. If the loader is primarily going to be used off-road (dirt, loose gravel, non-paved livestock yards, etc.) and needs traction to accomplish necessary tasks, a bar-style tire provides excellent traction and cleanout of tread. However, a bar-style tread is not ideal for operating on hard surfaces (roadways) because at high speeds the operator may experience more vibration caused by the traction bars that could result in accelerated wear of the tire.

With that said, if the machine is going to be used on hard surfaces (roadways, paved yards, etc.) a more industrial tread works very well. This type of tire provides a smooth ride while providing good horsepower to the ground and long life. This industrial style tread however typically will lack traction in mud and snow. If the loader is going to be working in mud or snow, then a multi-terrain tire would work very well to increase traction and allow the loader to remain productive on these unstable terrain conditions.


Ethan Clowes, Product Manager — Wheel Loaders, Skid Steers, Compact Track Loaders and Backhoe Loaders

Product Spotlight: The JCB 409 is my favorite compact wheel loader. For its small size it has an enormous cab for operator comfort and excellent visibility. Its front loader arms are tapered, making it narrower at the top of the tower to increase visibility. It’s a very versatile machine with auxiliary hydraulics and a skid steer hitch so customers can utilize most of their skid steer attachments. The JCB 409 has an interesting articulation point. Not only does it articulate, it also oscillates allowing the front and rear chassis to rotate and keep all four wheels on the ground. This is advantageous as it keeps the cab and chassis low, increasing stability. Because of this stability, with optional high speed the machine can reach an impressive 25 mph. If I was buying one, I would select a cab with AC, high speed (25mph), LSD axles, auxiliary hydraulics and a skid seer hitch.

Advice: As an operator I would advise choosing a machine that is reliable, comfortable and productive. Those qualities will give you the best machine for almost any operation. Once you have chosen the machine you need to consider the machine size, loader arms, transmission, axles, tires and attachments. These are the key items to getting the right machine and at the right price for your application. Maintenance is important as an owner of a compact wheel loader. Preventative and routine maintenance is always going to be faster and cheaper than a breakdown. Ensure you are following the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining your machine. 


Darren Ashton, Compact Wheel Loader Product Manager

Product Spotlight: The Volvo L25 Electric compact wheel loader is an exciting new offering that can open up all kinds of new opportunities for those who buy or rent it. Thanks to zero exhaust emissions and significantly lower noise levels, this 1.25-cu-yd CWL is ideal for applications with low emissions requirements, noise regulations or nighttime hours. Another major benefit — and cost-saving opportunity — is maintenance. Electric machines do not have an engine so there’s no need for products like engine oil, oil filters, diesel particulate filters or DEF.

Its performance is comparable to or better than its conventional diesel equivalent, with a breakout force of 12,252 lb-ft and fork payload (80 percent) of 4,409 lbs. The L25 Electric has an onboard charger that enables it to charge within six hours via a 240V outlet. Governments are increasingly enacting clean air laws and project owners are putting sustainability targets into their RFPs, so we are happy to provide solutions for contractors to meet these goals.

Advice: A compact wheel loader’s main advantage is its versatility, including the number of attachments it can support and its higher travel speeds compared to skid steers and compact track loaders. If your machine and attachments are sized correctly for the job and you are using the right tires, it will help lower your total cost of ownership. If you get one of the new electric machines, there is no engine-related maintenance, so that reduces costs as well.

On conventional models, an auto engine shutdown feature is great for reducing idling and fuel costs, but with an electric model the machine turns off instead of idling and no fuel is needed, so that is even less of a concern. Those hours saved also contribute to better residual value in the long run. Plus, an electric machine can add more value for a business because users can now bid on emissions- and noise-restricted jobs, as well qualify for other niche applications where conventional diesel machines aren’t welcome.

Pam Kleineke is managing editor of Compact Equipment.

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