John Deere is synonymous with ag work, and their iconic green and yellow tractors are mainstays in fields across the globe. But, they’ve got a lineup of UTVs called Gators, that are built to handle the toughest jobs found on any ranch, farm, or workplace.
We spent a month with the all-new 2021 John Deere XUV865M Gator out at Sandy Valley Ranch, to find out if the new Gator was up to the 14-hour days and rigor of jobs that are required.
Why Do We Need a UTV?
At the ranch we’ve got a Case Loader that is used for transporting the largest loads and of course digging the biggest holes, and an old Polaris ATV that has been a workhorse for years and is indispensable for hauling feed and transportation around the ranch.
A UTV or side-by-side hits the sweet spot between these two types of vehicles. The Gator has a cargo box that can haul up to 1,000 pounds and it can tow up to 2,000 pounds, but it’s small enough to maneuver between stalls and comfortable enough to drive and use all-day.
We need a UTV to primarily assist with the feeding of the ranch livestock that includes horses, cattle, goats, pigs, and the occasional pony or mule. With a UTV hooked up, a feed trailer can be filled to the rim with enough feed so only one trip around the ranch is required to service all of the animals. Later in the day, a different trailer is used for cleaning out the stalls and hauling the manure to a safe unloading zone.
The second reason why our ranch requires a UTV is for the transportation of people and their gear. Wranglers are constantly servicing saddles and tack as well as hauling tools and materials for repairing fences and pens. A reliable and comfortable UTV is perfect for this job.
What Makes the New Gator Standout
There are elements of ranch life that are beautiful, such as seeing a foal take its first steps or enjoying a sunset trail ride, and soaking up the last bits of desert light. But, it’s the unseen moments that keep the ranch running smoothly, and without the proper tools, it can quickly fall apart.
An underrated feature of the John Deere Gators are the comfortable seats and riding position. If you are going to be jumping in and out of the Gator all-day, you need a seat that will provide the best support and comfort.
Seat design doesn’t show up on the spec sheet, but John Deere takes their seating seriously and considering they’ve been making seating for farmers for decades, they know what they’re doing.
Driveability is a Dream
The new Gators are simply easy to use. Stepping into the gator and starting it up isn’t much different than driving a car. Everything about the feel of the Gator, from the handling to the instrument panel, feels car-like (in a good way).
The Gator handles well, even at higher speeds, and you can immediately switch to 4WD and a locking differential with the flip of a switch.
Differential Lock for Tough Situations
A diff-lock instantly provides equal power to the left and right wheels, providing unmatched traction in sticky situations. With the diff-lock engaged you will no longer sit in the mud or sand with one tire spinning.
A differential lock can also provided added traction when towing a heavier load across slippery or steep surfaces.
The flip-up windshield is a great way to cool down when the temperatures hit 115 degrees. The wind provides a natural respite from the intense heat of the sun in the summer, and when you need to go a bit faster, the windshield can flip back down to protect you from dust and debris.
A Ton of Accessories
There are over 100 attachments available for the new Gator. These include snow blades, winches, and sprayers. This makes the Gator incredibly versatile and useful for all-seasons.
Out in the desert we’d consider adding a winch as a top priority, instead of always having to use the winch on our truck for every job.
For 2021 you now have another option besides the iconic John Deere green or olive. TrueTimber Camo is available for the Gator XUV865M. This adds hunting and trail riding functionality to the Gator, which it is more than suitable for.
Sorry no murdered out Gator this time.
We were sad to see the Gator go, as it quickly became a favorite among the ranch staff. For now we will have to make due with our ATV, but it won’t be the same.