Comparing All Compact Track Loader Brands: Who Makes The Best One?
Even if you've been working in construction for only a day, you've probably seen a compact track loader (CTL) on your job site. They're versatile machines that can perform any task depending on the attachment and strength of the vehicle.
Because they are such popular machines, CTLs are produced by many heavy equipment manufacturers. While it's great to have options, this can make it hard to pick which OEM brand you should buy a compact track loader from. That's why we've put together this blog - to help guide you in determining which brand might work best based on a wide variety of factors like strength, size, features, attachment compatibility, and more.
- About compact track loaders
- Compact track loader brands
- Things to know before picking the CTL you want
- The most important CTL features
About Compact Track Loaders
Because of their versatility, compact track loaders are used in various industries like forestry, landscaping, construction, demolition, and more. Built on the same chassis and frame as skid steers, compact track loaders are used for the same tasks as skid steers but have tracks instead of wheels, making them better suited for terrains that are sandy, rocky, muddy, and more.
Reports have shown that while both CTLs and skid steer loaders (SSLs) continue to rise in popularity, it is actually compact track loaders that have grown more. This is a pretty significant change as even as recently as five years ago it was SSLs that had more sales, showing there's a recent rise in consumer trust, reliability, and preference for compact track loaders.
According to manufacturers, CTLs are especially popular in the rental market. As demand for ownership has increased, so too has the demand for rental companies and suppliers to have compact track loaders in their inventory. This is especially true in any locations where rain or sand are more frequent as the tracks on CTLs work better in those environments than the wheels on skid steers.
The most popular size of compact track loaders is medium-framed CTLs with an engine that has 74 hp. However, they are manufactured in a couple of other sizes including small-frame and large-frame. CTLs are also becoming more technologically advanced. Not only are these machines becoming equipped with things like backup cameras and Bluetooth features, but they're also getting upgraded levels of comfort through better seating and cab technology. Let's get into each of the CTL manufacturers now.
Compact Track Loader Brands
While there are many more CTL manufacturers than what we've listed here, we've prioritized brands that primarily manufacture and sell CTLs in the North American market. Overall, there are 12 popular brands: Bobcat, John Deere, New Holland, Caterpillar, Wacker Neuson, CASE, GEHL, Kubota, Manitou, Takeuchi, JCB, and ASV. We're going to highlight each one below.
With 10 models in their product offerings, Bobcat compact track loaders are one of the best options to compare if you're looking for very specific CTL specs. As a brand, Bobcat has always been synonymous with skid steer loaders as the first manufacturer to create and manufacture the product. While their brand doesn't carry the same strength with compact track loaders as it did with skid steers, it's not that far behind.
With their R-series of CTLs, Bobcat is right near the top of the best models on the market. Engineered to be comfortable, easy to use, and deliver power, the Bobcat compact track loaders are strong, have great uptime numbers, are easily maneuverable with advanced joystick control, and have great engine cooling features.
Beyond that, Bobcat CTLs come in a wide range of small, medium, and large-framed sizes, making them a great choice for any job no matter the size. Data has suggested that while they manufacture loaders with rated operating capacities (ROCs) from 1,400 lbs to 3,650 lbs, the most popular range of Bobcat compact track loaders is between 2,000 lbs and 3,200 lbs. They also are easily compatible with many attachments as Bobcat is one of the biggest producers of CTL and skid steer attachments.
Manufacturing only four models of CTLs, John Deere focuses mostly on medium and large-framed track loader sizes. The ROCs of their models range from 2,125 lbs on the low side to 3,700 lbs on the heavy side, making them very powerful machines. Because data has suggested that people typically prefer CTLs that are on the larger side, John Deere has decided to keep their focus on this part of the market.
What makes John Deere such a great option for compact track loaders, either buying or renting, is that they also manufacture several attachments, over 100 in fact, specifically for these machines. This makes the interchanging of attachments incredibly easy depending on the job. Whether you're grading for a new driveway or pavement, working on the farm, or doing some heavy lifting on a construction site, John Deere CTLs and attachments will help you get the most out of your machinery.
In their new models, they're implementing anti-vibration systems that create more comfortable rides and allow them to transfer from terrain to terrain much more smoothly. Other features like their 3D grade-control technology make it incredibly easy to grade soil on any job site and boost productivity and efficiency.
Despite manufacturing mostly the medium and large compact track loaders, John Deere has made sure that they are still easy to navigate tight spaces with and make them easy to haul from job site to job site.
With six compact track loaders under their product portfolio, New Holland manufactures CTLs with operating weights ranging from 1890 lbs to 4,340 lbs and horsepower ranging from 74 hp to 114 hp, making them suitable for many landscaping and construction jobs.
A few features that stand out about New Holland compact track loaders are their cab, service, and undercarriage. The cabs of the 300 Series are wide, extremely comfortable, and give easy visibility to all sides of the machine. Meanwhile, New Holland makes it extremely easy to do any daily services by grouping together vital components. This makes it possible to not need any additional tools in order to address any concerns. Lastly, their undercarriage makes it incredibly easy to clean out any debris, reduces noise, and provides a very smooth drive.
One of the most popular brand names in construction, Caterpillar manufactures eight different models of compact track loaders. Because of the attachments they build for their compact track loaders, it is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in their portfolio.
Their models range from ROCs of 1,530 lbs to 4,340 lbs, making sure they have a product and option for each type of job and frame. Meanwhile, the horsepower on their compact track loaders ranges from 67 hp to 110 hp. This range also ensures that whether the job is lifting, digging, pushing, grading, or for any other purpose, Cat compact track loaders are able to deliver.
Desirable features of the Caterpillar compact track loader include its adjustable joystick controls for operator preference, torsion axle suspension that allows for better load retention, and extreme comfort, especially in the D3 Series.
Next on the list of compact track loader brands is Wacker Neuson. Developing three models in their ST Series, each make was developed for specific levels of job demands. The ST31 is the smallest model and is focused on versatility, the ST45 is built to handle grading jobs, while the ST50 is the strongest and largest of them with the purpose of maximizing performance.
Features that Wacker Neuson CTLs include are, reduced ground pressure to ensure the work area isn't disturbed, an open-design undercarriage for easy cleaning, and cabs with amazing comfort and adjustable operating controls. With the operating controls, joystick sensitivity can be adjusted to the preference of the operator in every model.
The ROC range of the Wacker Neuson compact track loaders is 2,170 lbs on the light side to 3,500 lbs on the heavy side. The horsepower of the engines ranges from 74 hp to 100 hp.
CASE B Series compact track loaders are another great brand if you're wanting to look at a wide range of options. They have six models under their CTL product line that serve each job size. Within these six models, the CTLs have engine power ranging from the standard 74 hp to the very powerful 114 hp TV620B model. This model also has a ROC of 6,200 lbs making it the most powerful compact track loader on the market.
CASE has worked hard to simplify the in-cab experience of their compact track loaders and make the job of the operator easier. They have done this by adding LCD displays, cameras, mirrors, and simplified electro-hydraulic controls.
GEHL has six compact track loaders as part of their RT Series and one part of the VT series. GEHL compact track loaders are another great choice of manufacturer. However, because their radial lift CTLs have ROCs anywhere between 1,050 lbs to 2,550 lbs, their products are much better suited for small and medium-sized jobs as they don't have the power or lift capabilities of some other manufacturers listed here. GEHL does produce a vertical lift CTL, however, that has a ROC of 3,200 and it would be the best option for heavy-duty projects.
As a smaller frame manufacturer, the GEHL RT Series compact track loaders are perfect for small jobs. They also allow the operator to change the controls between a joystick, T-bar, or hand-foot combination for increased customization. Despite the GEHL compact track loaders being smaller, they are still fit to work many types of jobs.
One of the most popular construction engine brands in the world, Kubota also has become one of the most reliable compact track loader brands as well. With their three SVL models, Kubota compact track loaders are great for any landscaping or construction project. And with their wide range of attachments that include snow removal, they're great for each season of the year.
The Kubota CTL models range from ROCs of 2,100 lbs and horsepower of 68.3 on the low side, which is featured in the SVL65-2 model, to a ROC of 3,200 lbs and horsepower of 96.4 on the high side, which is featured in the SVL97-2 model. This makes them great for the higher end of the small-frame builds and the low end of the large-frame build options.
Kubota offers great features including KubotaNOW which tracks machine vitals so you can receive maintenance alerts and manage your fleet, has great cab comfort, and more.
Manitou has seven models as part of its compact track loader product line. Six of these models are radial lifts while the seventh one is a vertical lift CTL. The ROCs of these products range from 1,049 lbs on the small side to 3,201 lbs on the heavier side giving them great variety across each frame size.
Manitou compact track loaders are great for any type of job and are made to be ultra-compact to make maneuvering around a project and site extremely easy. They've also made it really easy to track any maintenance needs by including access to real-time information and predictive maintenance functions. Whether it's for agriculture or construction purposes, Manitou CTLs can help you get the job done.
The first company to reiterate the skid steer and develop the compact track loader, Takeuchi is another great CTL brand. With five models on the market and ROCs ranging from 1,841 lbs to 4,107 lbs, they are another brand making compact track loaders for each project size.
With mostly redesigned cabs, the design of the doors allows for easy entry and exit. They also have an undercarriage that ensures there are always two points of contact with the ground making it almost impossible to get stuck or off track. The Takeuchi CTLs are also well known for their great cooling features to keep the motor functioning at all times. In the cab, they have rearview cameras that give you ease of mind as well as color displays that give live updates of the machine's vitals and overall health.
When looking to rent or own a compact track loader, Takeuchi should definitely be on your list of brands to review and compare.
One of the last brands popular for their compact track loaders is JCB. With five models to choose from, they have products with ROCs ranging from 2,143 lbs to 3,615 lbs while all the models have 74 horsepower.
What makes JCB stand out amongst the competition would be its Teleskid 3TS-8T model. This is the only compact track loader with a telescopic boom in the entire market giving it a lot of unique capabilities, including higher lift, deeper digging, and further reach. All JCB track loaders have just a single arm on the chassis but are stronger and safer than most other double-arm compact track loaders. This design function also allows JCB compact track loaders to have better visibility than its competitors.
For control and operation, like many of the brands above, both ISO and H-pattern controls are available depending on the preference of the loader operator. The JCB compact track loader also has AUX inputs in their cabs that are compatible with most phones and mobile devices.
Last, but certainly not least, on the list of compact track loader brands in North America is ASV. With nine products listed on their site, ASV compact track loaders have ROCs ranging from as low as 665 lbs to as high as 4,150 lbs. The horsepower for these machines ranges from 24.7 hp to 132 hp. That's quite the range of options, power, and lifting capabilities that allow for ASV's tracked skid steers to be used on every type of project.
Standout features include the ASV-patented Posi-Track® which is undercarriage technology that helps to optimize the tracks and machinery for all types of terrain. They also launched their redesigned MAX-Series loaders that have fully re-engineered cabs that provide optimal comfort. This includes providing 360-degree visibility, increasing legroom, adding a 7-inch full-color touchscreen, and more. Only their medium and large-framed compact track loaders are available in the MAX-Series.
ASV also builds and manufactures a wide range of attachments specifically designed for skid steers and CTLs giving them a wide range of applications and jobs.
Things To Know Before Picking Your Compact Track Loader
At the end of the day, most of the compact track loader manufacturers above are going to offer very similar products and services. The most important factors in picking which one will work best for you are determining the size and scope of the project and what attachments you might need. Knowing this information will help you narrow down the list of options and then hone in on the few that serve those direct markets.
For example, John Deere manufactures a lot more attachments than they do compact track loader sizes. This might help you in determining if John Dere is a better all-in-one solution, or might just be better for attachments. Alternatively, brands like Bobcat, Caterpillar, and ASV offer a wide range of compact track loader sizes and attachments, making them safe bets to find both the right CTL and attachment for the job, while still being extremely compatible.
Theoretically, the wider the range of options a brand provides the more likely you are to find a compact track loader that will fit your needs. Another note to mention here would be that you could rent CTLs from different brands to try them out and test them on different jobs before you go ahead with purchasing one. This is a great way to become familiar with your options and get a feel of which one you like the most because a lot of the time it does come down to brand familiarity and experience. From there, whether you decide to continue renting compact track loaders or buying one will be up to you.
The Most Important Compact Track Loader Features
The last point we want to make here is about the most important CTL features. These will be different for everyone and we've highlighted a lot throughout this piece.
For taller people, cab space might be the most important feature as you'll be spending a lot of time on the equipment. It could be the maintenance aspect and whether things are easily accessible for the operator or if there are predictive maintenance notifications. For operations, it might just be the ability to switch between H-pattern and ISO-pattern joystick controls. Or it could be the ability to connect Bluetooth devices or to AUX inputs as you want to listen to music while you're operating the machinery. Lastly, the features you are looking for might just be as simple as bucket height and power.
All of the above preferences will also impact your choice of compact track loader. Most of the brands have H-pattern and ISO pattern capabilities, the option to enter creep mode, larger cabs than they did before, and the like. It will be worthwhile to visit each of their sites and get a deeper look into each model or maybe try them out for a test run yourself.
Whether you're looking simply for a specific size and power capability of a compact track loader or specific features of the machine, we hope that this blog has been insightful in helping you understand all of the different CTL options. There are a lot of great choices and machines at your disposal in landscaping, construction, and agriculture and we're confident you'll find the best one that works for you!
If you're looking to try any of the brands above, DOZR Marketplace has a wide variety of compact track loaders that you can rent within your surrounding areas. Call our sales team or search the DOZR Marketplace for your next compact track loader rental.