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Assessing the 7200R John Deere tractor

Now that the 7R Series tractors have been on the market for more than a year, we follow up with an in-depth look at one of the models from that family, the 7200R

If you take a look at the inside cover of the brochure for John Deere’s 7R Series tractors, the company introduces them this way: “Presenting the all-new 7R Series. Technically it’s a 7, but you’ll call it a 10.” Now that they’ve been around for a little over a year, we decided to take a close look at one of these tractors and see if those most familiar with it really did feel that way. For our evaluation, we chose to focus on the 7200R, the lowest horsepower model in the series and one that has been popular with prairie farmers.

To find out if the 7200R really does amount to a “10,” we started by looking at what the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab (NTTL) report had to say about it. Then, we talked to an owner, who’s put his tractor to work in the field. But first, lets take a look at what the 7R Series tractors offer.

In all, the 7R models offer engine horsepower ratings from 200 to 280. That makes them big enough to take care of some serious fieldwork. But Deere designed them to be multi-purpose machines, blending the attributes of a row-crop tractor with those of a utility model. And designers integrated some novel engineering into them in the process.

Compared to the large-frame 7030 tractors the 7R line replaced, the new models have a shorter overall length but a longer wheelbase. Their redesigned structural frame includes an integrated engine oil pan that allows for a narrower chassis width where the front wheels pivot, improving the turning radius to make them more nimble in tight spaces.

A totally new cooling system using a push-fan helps make it possible to use a shorter, lower-profile hood. At the back, a dry-sump differential reduces parasitic power loss, because final-drive gears get active lubrication instead of sitting in a conventional oil bath.

The 7Rs were given a CommandView II cab, which is 10 per cent larger than its predecessor on the 7030s. These cabs have better air flow and are available with an optional hydro-pneumatic suspension system. And the “steer-by-wire” ActiveCommand steering introduced on the 8R line also becomes an option on the 7Rs. That varies the number of steering wheel turns required to go from lock to lock, making it possible to tailor steering sensitivity to field or road transport situations.

The 7Rs are also available with a front PTO and they are compatible with new, wider Group 49 tires. A quick-detach H480 front-end loader designed specifically for the 7Rs give these machines that utility tractor capability, but with a whole lot more lifting power.

And to give these tractors extra muscle to lug through tough spots, Deere’s Intelligent Power Management system will up-rate the engine output by up to 30-hp during mobile PTO applications. So under some load conditions, the 7Rs should punch above their weight, so to speak, when it comes to horsepower ratings.

Putting it to the test

Last April, the NTTL tested a 7200R equipped with an Autoquad, 20-speed, power-shift transmission. Here’s how their test results stack up against Deere’s power-rating claims.

Deere advertises the 7200R has 164 PTO horsepower (the “200” in the model number is the engine horsepower rating. Deere uses this system in most of its model number designations.)

Did the tractor live up to that advertised PTO horsepower rating during testing? Actually, it surpassed it, putting out 169.95 at rated engine speed (2,100 r.p.m.). At standard PTO speed, (1,967 engine r.p.m.) horsepower jumped to 190.62. That figure climbed higher yet to 197.02 during the maximum power test (conducted at 1,749 engine r.p.m.).

Out on the track, the 7200R managed a top drawbar horsepower rating of 154.77, exerting 11,127 pounds of pull on NTTL’s load car.

When it comes to the 7200R’s appetite, the NTTL data showed it provided 15.16-hp hours per gallon during the drawbar test. During the PTO tests, it produced 16.54 at rated engine speed. The number jumped again to 17.81 during the maximum power PTO test. (Don’t forget more is better, here.)

Owner’s opinion

So far, the tractor seems to have more than lived up to Deere’s claims. But there’s more to consider when building a good tractor than just horsepower and fuel consumption. The only way to really get a feel for what it’s like to spend a day in one is to use it in the field. So we checked in with Dean Clark of Conquest, Sask., a 7200R owner, to see what he had to say about his tractor.

First, he gives the cab interior high marks overall, summarizing that with the comment, “I’m very impressed with it.” The control arrangement is generally good, but he didn’t like the position of the headland management button and moved it to a more comfortable spot. The GreenStar 2630 monitor gets high marks, too. However, the biggest praise he offers about the cab is for its quietness. “The noise level is unbelievably low,” he says.

When it comes to cab access, however, he isn’t impressed. The steps are slightly offset from the door making it a little awkward to get in. “I didn’t like that at all,” he says. The overly-large cab door doesn’t get high marks for ease of use, either. That’s a criticism owners of tractors in the 6R line, which use the same cab, have offered as well.

Up front, getting access to the engine dipstick is a little awkward, because the optional fenders on the front wheels partially obstruct it. “If there was no fender there, it would be fine,” Clark explains. All the other daily maintenance points he rates as “very accessible.”

Deere’s cooled EGR emissions strategy, which doesn’t require diesel exhaust fluid use, was a strong selling point for Clark. “That was huge in the decision,” he says. “I don’t want to fill up another tank.” He’s noticed the 7200R’s fuel consumption rate is much lower than the older tractor he used for similar work before, but he hasn’t calculated it exactly.

When it comes to overall build quality, the only warranty work required so far on his tractor was some adjustments to a cab window which kept popping open.

Based on his experience after a season of use with the tractor, would he buy it again? “Yeah, I would,” he says. “I don’t foresee getting rid of this thing for a long while.”

Next issue we take an in-depth look at Deere’s smaller range of 6 Series tractors. †

About the author

Contributor

Scott Garvey

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

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