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We field-test the Case IH Maxxum with ActiveDrive

Clutch-less transmission offers auto shift features as well

Grainews test-drove the Maxxum in the field to evaluate the new 
ActiveDrive transmission features.

When Case IH held a media event in Arizona in January, Grainews had a chance to get behind the wheel of tractors from three of the brand’s lines. One of them was the Maxxum. It was our second chance to drive a Maxxum with the ActiveDrive semi-powershift transmission. We first drove one in Iowa ahead of their market introduction. Now that they’ve been on the market for a year, we were able to do a follow-up review on a production model.

Just as Case IH is updating the look of all its tractor lines, the Maxxum also sports those same refinements, which include a new hood and cab designs.

“We do sell the Maxxum in two different cab configurations,” says J.E. Cadle, marketing manager. “We have the base version with premium features but a basic cab layout with mechanical remote levers and things like that. Then we have our multi controller cab. It’s more of a premium model. It has the armrest we traditionally had in Maxxums, Magnums and Steigers.”

But the real story with these tractors is the ActiveDrive transmissions.

“It’s our new transmission, the ActiveDrive 8,” Cadle continues. “And there are two different transmissions now. We have our CVXDrive CVT transmission. And our newest is the ActiveDrive 8. It’s a semi-powershift 24 speed. Eight power shifts in three ranges. ActiveDrive is our name for a powershift transmission. When I change ranges in this tractor, it’s all electronic. I can do it from the multi-function handle.”

The ActiveDrive is a new design for the Maxxums and uses a dual-clutch arrangement that is becoming an industry standard on advanced powershift transmissions.

“What that means is I have dedicated forward and reverse clutches, dedicated odd and even (gear) clutches,” he confirms. “So my next gear is always lined up and ready to go, so I get very fast and smooth gear changes. It’s the same way with direction changes. The transmission has a lot of nice features. It’s a new transmission for us. We launched it about a year ago.”

But smoother gear changes aren’t the only thing the ActiveDrive offers. It has a host of features that have been more closely associated with a CVT transmission in the past than with a semi-powershift.

“It has what we call ActiveClutch II,” he explains. “In this tractor we don’t need to use the clutch at all. We can use just the brakes to slow and stop the tractor. I can feather it a little bit to back up to a hitch. You’re not working that clutch all the time. It’s really nice for repetitive work.

“On a round baler, for example, where you’re stopping every minute or so to kick that bale out, just apply the brakes and stop. Take your foot off the brake and you’re off again.”

Although it is only a semi-powershift with on-the-go changes available in only one range, the transmission can jump between ranges on demand and on the go.

“With SmartRange on this transmission I don’t have to go through every gear,” he says. “I can change ranges whenever I want. If I want to change ranges, I just hit the button. It lines me up to the right gear in the next range, to make it very smooth. It almost feels like a full powershift transmission when you shift it that way.”

When doing back-and-forth loader work, the transmission has a memory that will allow shuttling back and forth between pre-determined gears, which can be different in each direction.

“It has a memory shuttle, so it’s really good for repetitive work,” Cadle says. “It’ll remember what gear you were in, in either direction, and it will automatically shift you into that gear when you change directions. It’s a feature I can turn on and off. It’s a really nice transmission for loader work.”

And when starting off, the transmission can automatically up and downshift in two different modes: one for road travel and another for in-field work.

“It also has an auto road and auto field shift feature,” Cadle says. “I can put the auto road mode on, just push the stick forward and it will shift up for me through all the gears. If I want to slow down a little, I just pull back on the handle. In auto field, it’s the same concept, but it keeps me in one range.”

The transmission will also automatically select the appropriate gear when an operator asks for a change in ground speed while maintaining engine r.p.m.

Variable ratio steering is also available on the Maxxums, which changes the number of steering wheel turns required to get from lock to lock, depending on ground speed.

Factory auto guidance and an AFS Pro 700 monitor can be ordered as a factory-installed option on the Maxxums now too.

Having had some wheel time in the new Maxxum with the ActiveDrive, it’s clear that livestock and forage producers will appreciate what these transmissions offer, whether baling, loading bales or working in a corral, the features make tractor operation much simpler.

The Maxxum line includes five models from 116 to 145 engine horsepower (95 to 125 PTO horsepower).

About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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