What Is the Best Brand of Compact Tractor?

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.

  • Kubota
  • Deere
  • Mahindra
  • New Holland (Case is also part of the CNH family and not big on compacts,  so both offer similar product painted a different color)
  • LS
  • Kioti
  • Yanmar
  • Tym
  • Branson
  • 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. 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.

rhinohide-tractor-canopy-2
            Typical Sub-Compact

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.

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.

Tractor Mike

27 Comments

  1. Joe on October 4, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    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.

    • Tractor Mike on October 5, 2019 at 10:27 am

      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!

  2. Reggie Toler on February 27, 2020 at 9:00 am

    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?

    • Tractor Mike on February 27, 2020 at 9:02 am

      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.

  3. Jayson on April 12, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    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.

    • Tractor Mike on April 12, 2020 at 12:48 pm

      Jayson,

      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.

      -Mike

  4. Pete on April 15, 2020 at 6:29 am

    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?

    • Tractor Mike on April 15, 2020 at 8:34 am

      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!

  5. george lyman on April 16, 2020 at 10:13 am

    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?

    • Tractor Mike on April 17, 2020 at 9:16 am

      George,
      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!
      -Mike

  6. Stéphane Perron on April 27, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Hello
    I m looking to buy a kioti 2410 for arourd the house work
    Is it a Good tractor
    I own 1984 kubota b6100
    Thanks

    • Tractor Mike on April 27, 2020 at 8:06 pm

      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.

  7. Bill on April 29, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    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?

    • Tractor Mike on April 29, 2020 at 6:17 pm

      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!

    • barrett on June 27, 2020 at 11:04 pm

      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.

  8. Thomas M Millert on April 30, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    Your thoughts on LS compact machines?

    • Tractor Mike on May 2, 2020 at 11:13 am

      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.

  9. Michael Angelo on May 1, 2020 at 7:13 am

    has anyone taken a look at the Bobcat Tractors or have any feedback on them?

    • Tractor Mike on May 2, 2020 at 11:12 am

      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.

    • Jon on May 7, 2020 at 7:05 pm

      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.

  10. Robert Koenen on June 13, 2020 at 10:45 am

    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

  11. Craig on June 23, 2020 at 8:09 am

    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.

  12. Kevin on July 2, 2020 at 5:31 am

    Mike,

    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?

    • Tractor Mike on July 3, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      Kevin,

      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.

      -Mike

  13. Ruth Cartwright on July 3, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    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

    • Tractor Mike on July 3, 2020 at 5:19 pm

      Ruth,

      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!

      -Mike

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