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The Best Backhoe Brand: How To Pick the Right One
10 minute read
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Tim Forestell
October 24, 2023

The Best Backhoe Brand: How To Pick the Right One

There are several popular backhoe brands in North America including John Deere, Caterpillar, CASE, and more. With all these options, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best. While many contractors and equipment operators may have a brand preference, the best backhoe will depend on a few factors. These include the size of the project, the backhoe's specs, use cases, control system, and familiarity with the brand and model.

Here, we will provide an in-depth backhoe brand comparison of the top manufacturers in North America. This guide gives an overview of the strengths, weaknesses, and specs of each brand. It aims to assist in your decision-making for purchasing or renting for your next project. You can jump ahead to any of the brands by clicking on the respective brands below:

The information below gives a summary of each brand and what they offer. Your own experiences and customer reviews are also very helpful to think about before purchasing or renting.

Another component to think about is that backhoes may not be the best machine for the job. While they are versatile, excavators or mini-excavators could be better options depending on your needs.

A Closer Look at The Top Backhoe Brands

Now it's time to analyze all the different backhoe brands in North America. While there are more manufacturers than just these six, we're only highlighting the popular and current brands. Auctions offer backhoe brands such as Volvo, Terex, and others, but these brands are no longer currently making them.

Within each brand review, we will discuss backhoe performance, features, and the specs of current and recent models.

CASE Backhoe Review

One of the most popular construction equipment suppliers, CASE has some of the best backhoe loaders on the market. With five backhoe models, the CASE 580 series is one of the most common machines on any construction project.

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CASE backhoe loaders are popular among contractors for many reasons. This includes their attachment versatility, comfort, and adjustable control system. They also have exterior lighting features that make them great for working at any time of day. Their backhoes have also won many industry awards for their innovation and design.

CASE 580N backhoe on a rental yard
CASE 580 Super N Backhoe, one of the most popular backhoe models on the market

CASE's ProControl feature reduces swings or rebounds, keeping the operator in full control of the machine. Their backhoes also have intuitive controls for the equipment operator and great visibility from the cab.

With models ranging in power from 74 to 110 HP, CASE backhoes meet the industry standard. However, CASE backhoes have a limitation in their dig depth. While most other brands have models that can dig 16 feet, CASE models have a max dig depth of just over 15 feet.

CASE Backhoe Spec Guide

CASE Backhoe Specs and Sizes
ModelNet HPOperating Weight (lbs)Backhoe Dig DepthBackhoe Bucket Force (lbf)Loader Lift Capacity (lbs)Loader Breakout Force (lbf)Loader Hinge Point 
CASE 580N EP  74 15,81014' 11"11,3176,5039,60711' 3"
CASE 580N9017,75114' 8"11,5176,80810,62211' 3"
CASE 580 Super N9719,06714' 4"14,4527,04410,94711' 3"
CASE 580 Super N WT11020,07714' 5"15,7008,42510,87311' 6"
CASE 590 Super N11020,53215' 5"15,8538,20212,77611' 6"

Caterpillar Backhoe Review

Caterpillar is another well-respected and popular backhoe loader manufacturer. CAT's backhoe loaders include 8 models with power ranging from 70 to 131 HP, providing slightly more range than CASE. This makes their backhoes great for a wide range of projects including residential, utility, earthmoving, trenching, grading, and more.

With all their models having SAE controls, this can be a great deciding factor for many equipment operators. However, most other brands on this list allow for both ISO and SAE control patterns.

Caterpillar uses a variety of their own innovations in their equipment, especially in their new models. CAT GRADE, for example, gives operators tons of in-cab controls to improve efficiency, accuracy, and safety. With their hydraulic systems, they also are highly productive machines.

Caterpillar's brand recognition and familiarity give them a leg up on lots of their competitors, and rightfully so. With their presence across North America, they have great serviceability and their backhoes are reliable.

Additionally, all Caterpillar backhoes are center-pivot. This means that the cab centers in the middle of the frame with stabilizers that help keep the machine level. With a max dig depth of 17 feet on the CAT 450 backhoe, they compete in performance with the industry standard.

Caterpillar Backhoe Spec Guide

Caterpillar Backhoe Specs and Sizes
ModelNet HPOperating Weight (lbs)Backhoe Dig DepthBackhoe Bucket Force (lbf)Loader Lift Capacity (lbs)Loader Breakout Force (lbf)Loader Hinge Point 
CAT 4157016,27914'12,2076,73012,20711' 5"
CAT 4168616,53214'12,2076,73012,20711' 5"
CAT 4209217,27114'11,2167,23011,21611' 5"
CAT 420 XE9217,27114'11,2167,230 11,21611' 5"
CAT 43010718,05115' 2"11,2167,23011,21611' 5"
CAT 44010421,54415' 6"13,5608,78213,56011' 11"
CAT 45013124,03917'13,5608,88613,560 12'

JCB Backhoe Review

Also producing a wide range of construction equipment, JCB backhoes are some of their most popular machines. With small, compact models like the 3CX, they are great for residential work as these jobs often require equipment to fit through small, narrow spaces.

The smaller backhoe loaders excel in roadwork projects that have a one-lane limitation. This small size also makes them really easy to maneuver. Despite manufacturing some of the best compact models, JCB also has models like the 4CX-15 SUPER which provide dig depth up to 20 feet.

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Available with both SAE and ISO control with the switch of a button, they give operators the customizability that they desire. Models are also available with either 2WD or 4WD, making them great for different terrains if necessary.

With their EcoMAX engines, JCB backhoe loaders have great fuel efficiency and low emotions, while telescopic handling provides reach and flexibility. Also compatible with several types of attachments including augers and breakers, JCB equipment has great versatility.

They also come equipped with safety features like rollover protection systems (ROPS) and external LED lighting for working in the dark.

JCB Backhoe Spec Guide

JCB Backhoe Specs and Sizes
ModelNet HPOperating Weight (lbs)Backhoe Dig DepthBackhoe Bucket Force (lbf)Loader Lift Capacity (lbs)Loader Breakout Force (lbf)Loader Hinge Point 
JCB 1CXT499,57210' 1"5,2911,4665,1809' 5"
JCB 3CX Compact7413,51414' 2"7,363NA8,28510' 6"
JCB 3CX7417,19618' 6"13,7307,70513,60011' 4"
JCB 3CX-147416,19118' 6"13,7307,67013,60011' 4"
JCB 3CX-14 SUPER10917,10120' 1"13,73010,22513,60011' 4"
JCB 3CX-15 SUPER10918,45920' 1"13,73010,22513,60011' 4"
JCB 4CX-14 SUPER10917,65918' 6"13,73010,22513,72811' 4"
JCB 4CX-15 SUPER10919,01720' 1"13,73010,22513,72811' 4"

John Deere Backhoe Review

John Deere has seven backhoe models ranging from 69 to 148 HP. This product line offers the most variety of backhoe loader sizes on the market, making them great for several different projects. The 148-horsepower model is the John Deere 710L backhoe, the largest model across all suppliers and brands.

With their advanced hydraulic system, controlling John Deere backhoes is incredibly simple as they have smooth operations including digging and loading. John Deere's backhoes typically have ISO controls, but ISO and SAE options are becoming more popular. This means that the operator's right hand controls the stick and bucket while the left controls the swing and the boom.

John Deere 410L backhoe with a bucket attachment on a residential project
John Deere 410L backhoe, one of their mid-sized models

All John Deere backhoe loaders are 4WD and come with a lighting kit, making them efficient for all types of terrain and time of day. Most also come with telematic features that allow owners and operators to track the machine's performance in real-time.

Their cabs also come with state-of-the-art technology. This includes advanced displays and cameras to help operators with their control, while also emphasizing comfort. Lastly, compatible with several different attachments, John Deere backhoes have the same versatility as other brands on this list.

John Deere Backhoe Spec Guide

John Deere Backhoe Specs and Sizes
ModelNet HPOperating Weight (lbs)Backhoe Dig DepthBackhoe Bucket Force (lbf)Loader Lift Capacity (lbs)Loader Breakout Force (lbf)Loader Hinge Point 
John Deere 310L499,57210' 1"5,2911,4665,1809' 5"
John Deere 310L EP7413,51414' 2"7,363NA8,28510' 6"
John Deere 310SL7417,19618' 6"13,7307,70513,60011' 4"
John Deere 310SL HL7416,19118' 6"13,7307,67013,60311' 4"
John Deere 315SL10917,10120' 1"13,73010,22513,60311' 4"
John Deere 410SL10918,45920' 1"13,73010,22513,60311' 4"
John Deere 710L10917,65918' 6"13,73010,22513,72811' 4"

Kubota Backhoe Review

Kubota is a standout backhoe brand on this list for a couple of reasons. First, while they are technically considered backhoes, Kubota calls them tractor-loader backhoes. This makes them some of the best compact tractors with a backhoe attachment in the industry. Second, Kubota only manufactures small backhoes, making them the best choice of brand for small-scale projects.

While other brands on this list have backhoes ranging between 70 and 148 HP, Kubota makes 3 models that range from 24 to 63 HP. While this means they don't compete with brands like Caterpillar and John Deere, they're also not trying to. Kubota tractors with backhoes are great for farming, landscaping, and small projects because they focus on a specific market segment.

Kubota L35 Tractor Loader with an equipment operator driving around on a project
Kubota L35 tractor loader backhoe

Despite having less power, these compact and lightweight machines are still versatile and can quickly switch from attachment to attachment. They also still have great dig depth with their biggest model, the M62TLB, reaching as far as just over 14 feet.

One of the downsides of the small models is that the cabs on Kubota backhoes are smaller and often have limited cover, making them less suitable in poor weather conditions. However, all their tractor loaders are 4-wheel drive (4WD) which allows them to be great on all kinds of terrain.

Lastly, Kubota is known for great customer support and serviceability, making it easy to get repairs and find parts when needed.

Kubota Backhoe Spec Guide

Kubota Backhoe Specs and Sizes
ModelNet HPOperating Weight (lbs)Backhoe Dig DepthBackhoe Bucket Force (lbf)Loader Lift Capacity (lbs)Loader Breakout Force (lbf)Loader Hinge Point 
Kubota B26TLB24.3 4,0018' 3"4,2011,3012,3437' 10"
Kubota L47TLB47.17,20510' 1"5,8252,8484,5319' 6"
Kubota M62TLB638,92514' 2"6,5723,9605,99210' 6"

New Holland Backhoe Review

The last backhoe brand to cover for this comparison is New Holland. While they focus mostly on agriculture and landscaping, their backhoe loaders can also be used for construction projects.

While not as popular as other brands on this list, New Holland backhoes can compete with the very best of them. However, their products are more focused on mid-sized projects with machines between 95 and 108 HP and a dig depth of up to 15 feet and 6 inches. making their best brand comparable to the CASE backhoes.

Compatible with all the different backhoe attachments, New Holland backhoes can grade, excavate, trench, rip, and much more. Their newer D-series models also have improved specs and increased cab comfort, making them more desirable for equipment operators.

They also can operate either with ISO or SAE controls and come with 2WD or 4WD features that allow them to be used on different terrains.

New Holland Backhoe Spec Guide

New Holland Backhoe Specs
ModelNet HPOperating Weight (lbs)Backhoe Dig DepthBackhoe Bucket Force (lbf)Loader Lift Capacity (lbs)Loader Breakout Force (lbf)Loader Hinge Point 
New Holland B95C9517,56014' 6"12,9697,99612,00411' 5"
New Holland B95C TC9517,73014' 6"12,9337,60614,71111' 4"
New Holland B95C LR9518,52515' 6"12,9697,99612,00411' 5"
New Holland B110C10818,52515' 6"12,9697,88314,25311' 5"

Features to Consider When Choosing a Backhoe Brand

As mentioned above, there are a few factors that are important to consider before renting or purchasing a backhoe. These include the power and engine, hydraulic system, durability and quality, attachment versatility, and operator comfort.

Horsepower and Engine Performance

Getting a machine that has the power to get the job done is incredibly important. If you need a stronger backhoe loader than the ones with 70 to 110 HP, consider the CAT 450. Otherwise, it might be better to go with something like a 20-ton excavator.

Hydraulic System Efficiency

Just like any other earthmoving project, getting a machine with efficient hydraulic lifting power is essential. This will change depending on the attachment but also will give you a good feeling of the machine's power and efficiency. To understand how well the hydraulic system works, you may need to go inside the cab and experiment. Try renting various brands to get a feel for each model before buying.

Durability and Build Quality

For durability and build quality, much of it comes down to individual preference. While brands like John Deere and Caterpillar are staples, not everyone has had the same experience. Before making any purchase, it's a good idea to check equipment forums and consult with other people in the industry. This will give you a better understanding of each brand's durability and quality.

Versatility in Attachments

Every backhoe loader is not compatible with the same attachments. Some attachments may not fit on all backhoe models, even though OEMs and aftermarket companies attempt to make them compatible. Always check if the backhoe you choose works with the attachments you have or need.

User Comfort and Operability

Manufacturers design backhoe loaders to have comfortable cabs. Operators work long hours and staying comfortable will lead to more productive work. Most loaders now come with radio, Bluetooth, air conditioning and heating, increased space, and comfortable chairs. However, it's always a good idea to sit in the cab yourself before making any purchase.

Making the Final Decision: Which is the Best Backhoe Brand?

Understanding which backhoe brand is the best comes down to many factors. However, at the end of the day, it's really about getting the equipment that helps get the job done. The specs and sizes, serviceability, and safety features matter. But it's also good to think about customer reviews, your personal experiences with a brand, customer support, and cab visibility.

Each manufacturer has slightly different features. The best way to get an understanding of each is to use the equipment or speak with other equipment operators. Another way is by renting them! Test runs are a great way to determine which brand might be the best backhoe loader for you.

Fortunately, you can rent backhoe loaders with DOZR. Use the DOZR Marketplace, set your location, and find backhoe models in a variety of sizes in just a few clicks. Start your backhoe rental search now.

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Tim Forestell
Tim Forestell is one of DOZR’s co-founders and CCO. Tim got started in the industry as VP Operations for Forestell Landscaping before founding DOZR with Kevin and Erin. Aside from the amazing team at DOZR, his favourite thing about DOZR are the customers. Working with DOZR renters every day gives him a peek at the evolution of different projects and hearing stories about projects being developed from start to finish.
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