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TEST DRIVE: Pushing dirt with John Deere skid steers and loaders

Recently I got the chance to operate John Deere’s new construction equipment as part of a sponsored media event by John Deere Construction & Forestry. The 2013 lineup, which was officially unveiled at the World of Concrete earlier this year, includes the E-series skid steers and compact track loaders, the G-series compact excavators, and the 644K Hybrid 4WD loader. John Deere will release the mid-frame models later this summer.

All of the models are equipped with brand new, interim Tier 4 or Final Tier 4 engines, required by meet EPA’s emissions standards.  The cleaner engines cost more to make, so John Deere wrapped in numerous new comfort and performance features in these new series of vehicles to justify the their higher price tag.

John Deere went straight to customers to ask them what they wanted in these new vehicles. Farmers said they wanted a vehicle that was easy to operate without much training, had more capacity than the previous series and required minimal maintenance without much downtime.

We were asked to judge these features for ourselves in the field. John Deere offered up six of its new construction vehicles to drive: the 332 E  skid steer, the 329 E and  333 E compact track loaders (CTLs), the 35 G and 50 G excavators and the 644K Hybrid 4WD loader.

Check out this gallery for an in-depth look at my experience, and the equipment we put to work. For more information about the machines in this gallery, visit

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