Across Western Canada, most John Deere dealers will likely tell you that on their lots, 8R tractors far outsell the 7Rs. Given that these two model ranges have overlapping horsepower ranges, what is it that each series offers that might be a better fit to each potential buyer?
That was a question that marketing staff at John Deere marketing staff addressed directly during a media briefing in Waterloo, Iowa, when the company revealed changes to its tractor line up for the 2020 model year.
“[The 7R Series] gives you the ability to have a high horsepower tractor at a lighter base weight,” explained Dave Geutterman, one of Deere’s product managers. “They have great manoeuvrability, but with the weight and power to handle those implements. It gives you the same integrated technology as an 8R. You can go out and do tillage work, and it’s going to feel very similar to the 8R.”
For 2020 Deere has widened the horsepower range of both the 7R and 8R tractors. The 8R line now has seven models available from 230 to 410 engine horsepower, while the 7Rs also offer seven tractors from 210 to 330. So in that overlap area there are several models in both ranges to chose from.
8Rs are designed to compete in the high-horsepower row-crop tractor segment. And while Geutterman notes these big-chassis tractors are pretty versatile despite their size, he says the 7Rs are designed for those producers who want similar muscle under the hood but packed into a much more compact machine. That can make the smaller line a better fit in some operations. He notes that the brand does offer a front-end loader for the 8Rs and they are still reasonably manoeuvrable machines for loader work, but the 7Rs with the same horsepower are a little more nimble, making them better suited to loader work. At the same time, a 7R is no slouch in the field either. So it’s an all-round, general-purpose workhorse.
The big horsepower ratings in the smaller 7Rs make them well suited to transport work, like pulling grain carts, manure wagons or other similar hauling jobs. And both the 7R and 8R ranges come with similar features and options packages.
“The cab offering across our 7R and 8R is quite similar,” says Doug Felter, product marketing manager for mid-sized and large tractors. “We have a larger cab now with more headroom and a wider entry path.”
A suspended front axle is available on the 7R as well, but those axle suspensions are much different than what is used on their bigger brothers.
“That’s one thing that differentiates the 7R from the 8R,” explains Geutterman. “The 8R has independent front axle suspension like you’d find on an automobile. Where the 7R is going to have a solid front axle with what we call the triple-link suspension. The front axle suspension was really designed to mitigate power hop and road lope, which it does.”
And like the 8Rs, the design of the 7Rs has been scrutinized by Deere engineers to see where potential fluid leak problems could occur, and many of those systems have been reconfigured.
“What we did on 8R and 7R was went back and looked at how many connection points do we have,” explains Geutterman. “And how can we minimize and reduce them. Instead of having oil flow through a metal line and rubber lines, how can we combine them to mitigate some of those leak points. We’ve been very successful with that.”
And the very public right-to-repair debate, which has raged mostly in the U.S. and has seen Deere take a lot of flak, hasn’t been lost on the brand’s engineers, who’ve made some changes to diagnostic systems on the 7Rs.
“We’re making it easier for customers to self-diagnose problems,” he adds. “We’ve heard a lot about that in recent years.”