2017 UTV Evaluation: John Deere Gator 825i
When John Deere unveiled the first Gators back in the early 1990s, the company may not have known it was ushering in a new category of machines: UTVs. Now that the market is flooded with UTVs of various brands and categories, where does the latest utility Gator, the 825i, fit in? We found out during the 2017 Successful Farming Ultimate UTV Evaluation.
This year, Successful Farming magazine conducted its third extensive UTV evaluation to provide you with information about how UTVs perform in ag applications. During the evaluation, we put seven of the newest utility vehicles through four rigorous tests.
Power where it counts
The Gator is powered by an 812-cc., automotive-style, three-cylinder engine that produces around 50 hp. This engine will power the Gator up to speeds of 44 mph, but it’s where the engine makes its power that is important.
This is a low-end engine, meaning the power really comes on in the lower end of the RPMs. This was very evident during the evaluation when we tested the Gator with a full load in the cargo bed (1,000 pounds) and with a 1,500-pound trailer. The Gator scored an impressive 20.6 points out of 25 for testing with the cargo box load maxed out, enough for third place in this test (see full results below).
The chassis design also played a huge roll in how the Gator performed during the testing. Steering responsiveness was very high on the evaluations for two loaded tests and with the trailer. In fact, the Gator scored as high as 4.7 out of five points during the trailer test, indicating that the chassis was not adversely affected by the heavy load.
The suspension also worked well during the simulated work tests. There are fully-independent A-arms at each corner, with eight inches of travel at the front shocks and nine inches on the rear shocks. While the suspension is a bit stiff on the trail, it works well with a load in the bed.
Built to work
If you look at the Gator next to other brands, it is obviously all John Deere. Deere does things its own way, and that contributes to the feel and the ergonomics of the machine. The location and angle of the steering wheel feels very different from other offerings, as it fits your hand more like a small tractor than a UTV. The shift controls and differential lock are all below the seat, as opposed to on the dash, which users may or may not prefer.
The Gator 825i is built to work. Yes, you can trail ride with it and it will do that all day long, but there are better machines for that. If you’re going to work it hard, the Gator is up to the task. It will hold 1,000 pounds in the bed, and while the bed may squeak a little, you’ll hardly notice the load back there. The floor of the cargo bed is metal, so things can shift some, especially on an incline.
The Gator will tow a 1,500-pound trailer with relative ease and has a two-inch receiver as standard equipment. If you go over uneven terrain, you’ll start to notice the weight as it will affect the handling. However, it’ll still get the job done. The engine has the low-end grunt to tow and haul all day long. Going back to how well the machine scored on the fully loaded tests, it was made to work hard and does very well in these areas.
Derrek Sigler is an ATV/UTV journalist and was one of three evaluators during the UTV testing.