Tough Question, Fairly Simple Answer
Today, we’re going to talk about my #1 most frequently asked question about tractors, and that is: “What is the best brand of compact tractors?”
As you can guess, that could open up a can of worms. What I’m going to tell you first is that there are eleven brands of compact tractors currently available in North America.
- New Holland (Case is also part of the CNH family and not big on compacts, so both offer similar product painted a different color)
- Massey Ferguson
- RK (offered through the Rural King Farm Store Dealership and built by Tym.)
So, Which One Do You Pick?
Well, first off, most tractor companies offer a kind of entry-level tractor or a no-frills tractor which they advertise at a low price. ( This may even mean no quick attach on your tractor. We can fix that with our large selection of quick attach conversion kits.) Then they offer a deluxe tractor, too. Now, they’ll probably sell way more of the no-frills tractor than they will the deluxe tractor. In fact, in some cases you may not even be able to drive the deluxe tractor because they may not have it in stock on their lot.
The most important thing to know is what the differences are between the bare-bones tractor and the deluxe tractor. If you’re shopping for a tractor, just go into the dealership and look at their no-frills model. Then ask if they have a deluxe version of that model. Ask what the differences are, and the dealer will tell you.
If you decide to keep your costs low, you can always add things later on. For example, if you want to add front end loader grapples, tree shears, or manure forks, we offer a hydraulic diverter valve that lets you do that even without hydraulic ports on the tractor’s front end.
Now, personally, I would probably be happy with any of these eleven brands if I got their Deluxe tractors. There are some features on the deluxe tractors that I really like, and would miss on the no-frills tractor. But if you don’t use the tractor very much–maybe you just run a brush hog around the field a little bit– the no-frills tractor may be just exactly what you want. But personally, I would want the deluxe tractor.
I can say that the quality of those eleven brands is really close. Some are built in Korea, some are built in Japan. The Korean product has come a long way, and it’s very close to the Japanese product in quality.
So what to buy? In my opinion, if all the brands are pretty close to the same, I say find a dealer you like and that you trust will be there in ten years to take care of you. Buy what they’re selling. That will end up being the best compact tractor for you.
And by the way, don’t forget maintenance whatever tractor you purchase. We’ve got the best, no-mess grease guns and grease, and a good selection of tools and maintenance products to make your work easier and safer.
I might add that if you are planning on spraying from your tractor, you need to check out our three point sprayers, which are, quite simply, the best on the market. Innovative, convenient and built for long life and safety, I highly recommend them.
I am starting to look at these for purchase. I have access to larger tractors, but want something I can use now at my house, on my projects/construction/landscaping, etc. Then use at my retirement home on my land in a few years. I tend to agree with your assessment above, but the hard part is trying to find the differences online. Do you have any suggestions on good info / comparisons of some of these? I have access to MF, JD, Landini, and grew up working the old Farmall SuperM,M and H tractors. I appreciate the input.
It’s been a while since I’ve been online comparing tractor models, back six years ago, when I was in the dealership world, Deere had the best side-by-side comparison of models on their website. I’d bet the other manufacturers have caught up. The funny thing about Deere was, if their tractor didn’t win in a certain spec category, they’d just leave that information out! I’ve never seen one tractor win all spec categories but the way Deere had it set up they always won. I’d check corporate sites and read some tractor forum…one of the best resources is to have the dealer give you three names of people who own the exact tractor you’re looking at and call them and see what they think of it. Good luck!
I’m looking at a LS but here they have a lot of problems and inexperienced mom and pop dealers that can’t give service
I agree, I have had several issues with my LS, called another state away, they never called me back. Thinking about scrapping mine and salvaging what I can and getting a bigger name brand with a local dealer with a good service reputation
My branson 3510i had shuttle shift and a foot throttle
I am looking for a tractor for regular but light manure/bedding handling, compost turning/dirt moving, and possibly brush hog a few acres or move some small boulders (not a oriority). The JD dealers/repairs in this area are horrible. Don’t know a single small farm that uses one.
I’m new to these other than watching.
Do you have any recs?
Dealer support is very important to selecting a tractor brand. Waiting weeks for simple parts being shipped from overseas, is ridiculous. I have found Kubota is the best with dealer support with John Deere running a close second. I have owned both and currently own a Kubota B2710 and a Mahindra 4530. I will be in the market soon to replace the Mahindra and I will look no further than Kubota.
Stay away from the Massey Ferguson 1739 here they are no good I want to nothing but problems and problems and problems. On the regeneration to the front end to the hydraulics. Don’t know if this helps but I wish I would’ve never bought it
I want a compact in 25-34 HP range. I hate the forward and reverse pedals! I want the hand shuttle and with a foot throttle. Do you know which brands may have this available?
I would suspect that just about all the brands have a shuttle available. They may not all have both a standard shuttle and a power shuttle (which doesn’t require clutching), but I’d almost bet everyone has a non-hydro transmission available in that horsepower range.
Had a Deere D170 engine went in 7 hears. I have 1 acre. I purchased a cub cadet cut the grass with it 2 times and took it back. Bought a husquarvna and hate the way it cuts and it is also a jerky ride. I cut on the highest setting and I cut once a week more if necessary. And it leaves clumps of grass every strip I cut. Very uneven cut. I hate it
I am looking to purchase a tractor for home use and landscaping, tilling, raking etc . My choices are the Massey Ferguson 1726e or Kubota L2501. Your thoughts? Costumer service is equal. Thank you.
You won’t go wrong with either tractor. I used to work for Massey and I’ve fought Kubota all of my sales career so I’m partial to Massey, but Kubota wouldn’t be the market leader if they didn’t do a lot of things right. I’d be happy with both tractors.
i have a mahindra 2310 with 1800 hours had no problem and i run it hard bought it new,and if i was going to buy a new tractor i would stay with mahinda
I have a Mahindra 2555 shuttle 4WD w loader that I purchased new. I’ve had it for 3 years and cannot recommend it, I’ve had it in the shop every year (3) that I’ve owned it. Lots of things I don’t like. This is the third tractor I have owned and I won’t be buying another Mahindra. Yes, I have religiously kept up w recommended maintenance
Im looking at a MF 1725
I think you’re a wishy-washy commentator who tries not to step on anyone’s toes. This may be good for you, but all we want is truth. I have a 25 yr old Deere 322 with a yanmar 3cyl gas engine. I think it’s one of the best ever made. My friend has a late model Deere that has an engine problem the dealer says can’t be fixed. New engine around 1100 bux. What’s really going on here?
Thanks for the comment Pete. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. What I’m doing is good for me and I’ll continue in that direction. If you’d like to start a YouTube channel and critically evaluate the older tractors versus the new I’d probably subscribe. I’d say there’s a need for that. Good luck and have a great day!
Im trading in my 1961 Ford 4500 backhoe on the MF 1725, I want small, I can move and I can use and move to my summer camp in the 1000 islands and towing my self behind my Silverado 2500 HD from Ithaca NY.
I am looking at a Kioti CK2601h Hystat tractor. I saw another one that was a Kioti CK2610G-TL 4×4 tractor. What is the difference and am will I see much difference between the two.
I was also looking at the smaller size 2510HB Hystat and noticed the lift capacity is 1200 compared to 1600 with the 2610. What do you suggest?
The CK2610-H is hydrostat, the CK2610G-TL is a shuttle. Watch this video for an explanation of the different transmissions: https://youtu.be/xzdqA6NlXO0. My recommendation is to get the biggest tractor you can afford. Once you’re a tractor owner you’ll always want the next biggest size. That’s normal. Good luck!
I m looking to buy a kioti 2410 for arourd the house work
Is it a Good tractor
I own 1984 kubota b6100
I don’t have personal experience with that particular model, but when I was in the dealership world prior to 2014, we sold Kioti Tractors, and at that time it was a very good product and the company backed them up extremely well. I haven’t heard that anything has changed, and if I were shopping for a new tractor they’d be on the list of considerations. I would have no qualms about owning their product.
Tractor Mike my 2cents on branson I bought a 05 branson 3510i 3 cyl shuttle shift it has been a great tractor and if it blew up and burned tommorow I could not be mad at it I have over used and abused this poor tractor it looks far worse for wear scratches cracks in the plastic but I’ve over used it for years the biggest problem I have is dealer there was a dealer close but he just sold branson till the big blue tractor came out with subcompact then he dropped branson dealers In my area ar like 75 miles away but branson is a heavier weight tractor
I was about to pull the trigger on a kioti 4010hst cab when I checked the Branson. They have a 4810 hst cab version that appears bigger and has 48 hp and greater lift 4 less money. Intent is land clearing 2 to 10 or more acre tracts while avoiding poison plants… and doing mowing /bush hogging/dirt work… during retirement. Any suggestions between those 2 tractors?
I have a lot of experience with Kioti and none with Branson. I used to sell Kioti and had really good luck with them, they’re well built tractors and the company backs them up well, so I’m a little prejudiced. I’ve met a few people in the Branson world and they seem very customer-focused, but I just don’t know anything about their product. Sorry I’m not much help!
Ok… Maybe too late but I would advise to stay away from cab and cab air tractors. Get a good canopy with a fab. Much easier too fox, work on, and cheaper to replace.
Also, new branson owner
5835 Branson. Only 20 hours on it but have been satisfied and happy.
Your thoughts on LS compact machines?
Thomas, I don’t have any personal experience with LS. They have to be doing something right because they sell a lot of tractors, but I just haven’t been around them enough to give you good guidance.
has anyone taken a look at the Bobcat Tractors or have any feedback on them?
Michael, I saw them up close and personal in Louisville and discussed them in this video: https://youtu.be/V7sDkjmDAFI. They’re made by Daedong, parent company of Kioti and are going to be real similar to their offering.
Good day Mike,
I own 100 acres and most of it is hilly. I am looking to purchase a 50-60 hp compact tractor but it really needs to able to work on hill sides as well as have a cab. I need a tractor with a low center of gravity with a large lift capacity on the loader. I have dealers for branson, run, rk tractors, john deere, yanmar, case, massey ferguson, mahindra, kiot, McCormick and kubota all with in 45 mins or so from me. Out of those tractor companies do you know who might offer something that will fit the bill…. I would not even mind a industrial tractor if has 3point and loader with cab… We have several miles of trails that need maintained and we need to be able to plant, bush hog and clear land as well.
To operate safely, as safely as possible, I have done the following to my cab equipped Kubota B3350. Fluid in the rear tires, welded up a trailer hitch and bolted under front end. Place old brake discs on this,about 125 lbs total. All of this was done to lower the center of gravity. Also installed rear spacers on the rear hubs, this widened the track by about three and a half inches. I used kubota spacers. You need to be careful as column bending stress varies with the square of the unsupported length. Since kubota provided them I assumed they would not increase stress on the axels beyond the engineered specs. I also take the FEL off when using it on steep slopes. Summary: weight as low as possible and stance as wide as possible seasoned with a good helping of caution!
When you look at manufacture web sites it list tractor weight and ground clearance lift cap of loader and pro lift I have a branson I’ve had for 15 years but when I check specs on new tractors the branson is usually 500 to 1000 lbs heavier on equal models higher lift cap front and rear just my 2 cents
I’m also looking at Bobcat 2035 hydro. Seems pretty sold and well priced . Running a deal right now by my dealer. Buy tractor get front loader free. Have a John Deer will most likely be switching this month.
I am looking for a compact tractor 30 hp (give or take) with loader not a lawn mower but a small tractor like my neighbor has( a 25 year old JD 950) can I find something with loader and front mounted snowblower, what brand of tractor should I look for. ThanksRobert
That’s a loaded question. I pretty much sum up all of my thoughts in this video: https://youtu.be/QS7TpfYvKXo. Good luck!
I’m looking to buy my first tractor and only have about1/2-3/4 acres of workable land. Don’t have a lot of $$ and, at some point in time, my neighbor and I are considering the 10 acre lot beside me. Any suggestions? I will not be needing a mowing deck but do need a pto.
I picked up a couple acres and am looking for a tractor to match. I am pretty much down to a Deere 3035D or a MF 1700 series with the shuttle shift. I would prefer to find one made in the US (with global materials of course) I can throw a rock and hit 5 Deere dealers near me. The big guys seem to use mostly Deere or Case here. Any thoughts?
My best advice is to find a dealer that you get along with and trust, who’ll be there for you for the long haul, and buy what they’re selling. You won’t go wrong with any of those brands.
I am 80 years old in good health looking for a tractor to bushhog several acres with lots of blackberries vines and grass ,I do have the hay cut but still have several acres that just need con’t cutting around the bearing blackberries and just to keep the brush down.also have a pond to mow around, after my husband passed I sold the big tractor a Holland 35 just to big for me.what size tractor would be good for me? i keep up the mowing with a bad boy,weeding with a DR High wheel so do a lot of outside work.I want one with a bucket and a 4ft brush cutter.thanks
My best advice is to go shopping and see what size tractor you’re comfortable with. Find a dealer that will take time to show you the different models and allow you to drive them and let them help you decide which size to get. Remember, the bigger the tractor you get, the less time it’ll take to get bush hogging done because you’ll be able to go to a wider cutter. Good luck!
My 84 year old grandmother has a Kubota BX2680 that she uses weekly around her horse farm. The tractor is hydrostatic, very easy to drive and more than capable of pulling a 4 foot rotary cutter. I was using it this weekend to mow tight areas that could not be reached with the John Deere 5510 and was super impressed. It chewed up everything I threw at it. I was rolling over weeds that were taller than me and the tractor kept on cutting. It is equipped with a small loader. We also use it to help with snow removal around the farm (snowblower attachment) and it works great. Im impressed every time I use it.
My family and I are going to try and get in the food plot game with a little bush hogging and box blading. We do have some hills on the property where this will be taking place. We have a Massey Ferguson dealer in our town and have been to see him and have decided that we would like to buy a product from him, but I was wondering if you could give me some input on if the bump up from the 1739E HST to the 1740M HST would be worth it. This tractor will probably only get close to 50-100 hrs put on it a year. I would greatly appreciated your input.
I went on Massey’s website to compare the two models. Some differences I see…1) electric PTO engagement on the M versus mechanical on the E, 2) the M series doesn’t have a diesel particulate filter to meet Tier IV standards, 3) the M has an isolated floor mat to reduce noise 4) M has auto throttle, 5) M has cruise control, 6) M has extendable lower links 7) M has nice seat with armrests. Don’t know what the price difference is, but those are nice features if you’re on the tractor a lot. In the end, they’ll both get the same amount of work done. Good luck!
Hello Mike, I read this conversation with an eye to what owners’ experiences have been with Kioti tractors. The comments were positive, and I am going to visit the closest Kioti dealer and look closely at them. The dealer is not close, but the word is that kioti is adding more dealers over time, and the Kioti’s have good comments on their reliability, and the dollars spent yield what looks like a good value. The CK2610 may be a little small for our 44 acres, but we will not be doing much on the acres with slopes. We will be doing mowing and disking and a fair amount of road creating and loader work. Would love a backhoe, and may be possible as Kioti’s price point appears lower than others. Still interested in owners’ feedback on reliability and how the Kioti’s hold up over time. Biggest other question is if a hydrostatic is the best option. Thanks for the forum.
Does a Ventrac fit anywhere in here? I’m looking for multipurpose homestead/hobby farm all in one kind of a deal. Mower, brush hog, loader and maybe a snow blower.
The biggest problem with compact tractors is people trying to do more than they are capable of. If you don’t beat them up like a lot of people then any of these models will last a long time. Get a bigger tractor if you plan on doing bigger jobs.
What make/model of tractor loader would you recommend for the following:
I need backhoe and loader attachments to excavate about 6000 yds of sandy clay and use it as fill elsewhere on my property. Some of the depths will exceed 20, but I can stage the cuts to accommodate this.
I am thinking 50-60 HP 4WD. I would also like to use this tractor and equipment for mowing, snow blowing, and surging for tree planting and post installation.
My budget is under $35K for the tractor, backhoe and loader attachments, so I’ll consider used and new.
Someone recommended I stay away from hydrostatic.
Hi Mike,I have a 2007JD 2305 with 495 hrs.Transmission went out and estimate is 5 k to fix.One part needed isn’t available anywhere so Deere has to machine it.My dealer is telling me that John Deere won’t make a commitment on when it will b made.Already been 6 weeks.Im told it could b 2 months and maybe longer.Has to b fixed!Looking at a Boomer 35 38 hp.Whats your take on this tractor?
That series of tractors had just been introduced when I left the dealership world. I just don’t know that much about them. Sorry to be no help!
Bobcat has a new line of compact tractors. Does anyone have any experience with them or comments.
I have the older version (2013) of the CT230 (30 HP). It’s just a Kioti (CK30 i think) painted white. Pretty good tractor. I like it a lot. I do all kinds of stuff with it. Rough cut mowing, garden/shelter belt tilling, landscaping, post-hole digging, box blading the lane. Probably the biggest job I tackled was cut down a large hump in the back yard by about 3 feet by 50 feet long.
We live on 40 acres. Seven acres of woods, 19.1 of CRP, the rest pasture, lawn and hay. Started with a Kubota BX 2200, FEL ,
54 mmm, and a 4 ft brush hog. Used it for 1980 hrs. Spent only $106 on repairs, on the tractor in that time. I don’t count oil, filters, antifreeze as repairs. Replaced it with a B2710 because I was feeling that I was asking more of the BX than I should. I certainly admired the way the little mutt met my demands. The B 2710 had 1048 hrs on it when I traded for it. FEL, 72 in mmm, and a 5 ft brush hog. I had to have the injector pump rebuilt, because the previous owners weren’t careful with their fuel. Also had to replace sone hoses on the FEL because the previous owners stored it outside, none of my machinery is stored outside. Put 950+ hrs on the B2710, Then traded it for a B3350 that had 309+ hrs and obviously was used by people who didn’t understand how to live with a DPF
tier 4 beast. I now have 529+ hrs on it and like it and the cab. I traded the B2710 solely because my lungs needed to get filtered air.
Mike: this comment concerns the drainage ditch bank slope on your driveway. I’m a retired engineer and I have to agree with the gentlemen that recommended, heavy equipment and redo the the slopes. French drains have about a 20 yr. useable life, due to the build up of organic material in the gravel. Sorry I can’t offer a better alternative.
Thanks for taking time to reply. I’m getting a lot of negative comments on the French drain. I think it’s out of the picture. Again, I appreciate your response!
I have two acres and am nearly 70. Would like a tractor to move a little gravel, dirt, and compost; might want to till or use forks. Used Yanmar’s seem to be reasonably priced compared to most other makes. You mentioned deluxe models, what are the key deluxe features I should look for? Are there features I should be looking for or avoiding when looking at a used Yanmar? Any other advice appreciated.
I currently have a 2010 NH Boomer 3040 HST tractor that does an excellent job on our small horse farm. The only thing that would make things better would be a cab for summer and winter use in Maryland. Recently I found a 2013 NH Boomer 3040 with a cab that has the CVT transmission.
Any thoughts on the CVT setup on this tractor? I have read multiple reviews where people either love it or hate it…not much in between.
I also understand that there is much more computerization with the CVT setup.
Thanks in advance.
Dave, I was working at a New Holland dealership when those came out and we sold a few of them. My biggest complaint was how complicated they were. We had some warranty issues with one of them that may have been related to operator error, but the rest seemed to do fine once the owner got over the learning curve. If you can get all the controls figured out, there’s a lot that the transmission can do. One thing I do know, and this scared me a little, you can do significant damage by towing one. If you ever got one stuck and tried to pull it out with another vehicle, there’s a process you have to go through to let the transmission freewheel, otherwise it’s bad…
I looking at buying a new tractor i see these rural king tractors is it worth the money savings in the long run for parts avalibility and for service after the sale(warranty) or is it better off to stick with know name brand that is proven
Fred, tough to know now, they’ve just been in the business about three years. If they’re still going strong in 20 years offering parts and service support at all of their stores, then it was worth the money. From where I stand it’s a little early to know for sure.
Mike, I own a M6800 DT Kubota tractor for several years and it has been a great tractor and I am looking to purchase a Yanmar next, 359C with all the bells and whistles. I could purchase another Kubota if you were going to pick between the two which one would you take?
Mike, As I told you earlier I am purchasing the last tractor for my lifetime. I have watched your videos and I am getting a Yanmar YT359C. The dealer that I am using is Tractor Bob, OKC, “Great Guy”. He has asked me which tires do I want R4 or AG, in your videos you speak to this subject. I have chosen the R4 for now, which tire do you prefer. I am still questioning myself on these tires. Whichever tire I purchase it is going to have the Rim-Guard applied to it.
Hi, I am shopping for a compact basic tractor and hesitate between Kioti and Mahindra, like the ck2610 m1626, ck 3510 vs m 1635, ck4010 vs m 1640 an the dk4510 vs m 4540, all 4WD with manual transmission. Anyone can help with an advice ?
When choosing a tractor, a person needs to take into account the availability of parts, dealer service, reviews and hope that they do not get a lemon as apparently a brand may be good but perhaps the assemblers were having a bad day. The dealer should check over the tractor and make sure everything works right. I do like my New Holland 3050 in many ways but the dealer that sold it I found out wasn’t on the ball and missed a ridiculous number of things.
With the loader on the tractor which has a cab though, the engine oil filter change and oil level check is not nearly as easy as it should be. I put a larger sized battery on it and cut off a piece of metal that was welded on right under a hole for the radiator cock drain so I could put a plastic tube on the drain cock and directed into a container. otherwise the coolant would just run all over basically and could not be caught.
And article entitled “What Is the Best Brand of Compact Tractor?” which doesn’t tell me your opinion of What Is the Best Brand of Compact Tractor!!
That’s 5 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
[…] What is the Best Brand of Compact Tractor – Ask Tractor Mike […]
I believe they’re assembled in Augusta, Georgia, but a big part of the powertrain is probably a unit when it gets there and is made in Japan by Yanmar.
Hi Tractor Mike *
We own a 10 1/2 acre property, mostly sand, some pasture and a lot of trees. We’re getting tired of hiring people with tractors and ready to purchase our own Tractor. It’s going to be used for Bush Hogging, moving Hay Rolls/Bails, moving Sand and lifting some logs. We shopped around and found reputable, very nice dealers and narrowed out choice down to two models. Can you help us to make our final decision ? Here are the 2 Models in question :
Bobcat CT2040 ( manuel shift )
KUBOTA L3560HSTLE 4WD
I would appreciate your advice.
Thank You, Hansi Nufer
Just about every manufacturer offers a tractor that I’d be happy to own, and I don’t recommend particular brands. I think it’s more important to find a dealer that you trust and gel with, form a relationship with them, and get what they’re selling. I currently own a New Holland and I know the guys at the old dealership where I used to work would take care of me if I had a major issue with it. I inherited a Massey Ferguson, and there’s an excellent dealer for them about 25 miles from here. Those two dealerships are more important to me than the tractors. The best tractor in the world with no support has limited value.
Most companies offer a deluxe tractor and a “bargain” tractor. They’ll advertise the bargain tractor to get you in the door, many times the deluxe tractor is really what you want. On any brand, have the salesman show you what you lose with the bargain tractor and then decide whether it’s worth it to try to save a little money or not. You’ll tend to get it back on the backside with resale value, so get what you want.
I used to think the Japanese-origin compacts were better than Korean. I think that has changed and the Koreans have mostly caught up. If pricing were equal though, I’d still buy Japanese. Deere’s, Kubota, and some Mahindra’s originate from Japan. Deere is built by Yanmar, Kubota builds their own, and Mahindra owns part of Mitsubishi and their deluxe tractors come from them. Massey Fergusons are Japanese, made by Shibaura, who made the New Holland I own and they’re excellent. LS and New Holland are virtually identical products now and are Korean built. When I left the dealership world, New Holland had just changed from Shibaura as their supplier to LS and I have almost no experience with those tractors. Two other brands that I don’t know much about are TYM and Branson, both from Korea. Kioti is Korean and I used to sell them and if nothing has changed since 2014, they’re excellent. They make their engines as well. The Bobcat tractor is almost identical to Kioti because it’s made by them. The “bargain” Mahindras are made by TYM and, again, I don’t have much experience with them.
If you’re shopping with a dealer who has both a bargain tractor and deluxe, or two brands, ask the salesperson what they would buy and why. If you’re worried about taking a risk, have them give you the names of some customers who have bought the exact model you’re looking at and call them to see what they think.
When testing different tractors we much preferred the JD style separate forward and reverse pedals. A big rocker pedal like a kubota or new holland stunk. And the kubota started like it was -20C but it was +20C that day. My $.02
Does anyone have any experience with the Summit tractors? They have a air-ride seat and front and back third points and weighted wheels standard.
One difference I have noticed being a ct235 owner the Bobcat parts , fluids and filters are much more expensive than the kioti for the same parts. l usually buy the kioti parts for my Bobcat since the warranty has long expired being a 2007 that being said the Bobcat is a good tractor.