Say the word "gator" in many southern states, and folks will start looking around nervously. For the rest of us living outside of alligator country, the word "gator" makes us think of a green and yellow machine by the same name that has helped to revolutionize the side-by-side vehicle industry.
It's been a while since we've cast the spotlight on a John Deere Gator, but it's certainly about time. One of their newest models is the incredible 850D 4x4 Diesel, and it's a fine example of how far these amazing machines have come.
Clearly, the fact that it's a diesel has a lot of appeal right off the bat. But this diesel is more than just a pretty face. This three-cylinder 854cc powerplant is liquid-cooled and boasts a number of best-in-class performance specs, including a 30mph high-range top speed. Power is routed through a two-range CVT transmission that has advanced clutching with a tighter belt. JD says that this helps provide smoothness at low speeds, increased acceleration, and more efficient engine braking. With all the talk about performance, John Deere hasn't forgotten about fuel efficiency, though (a very good thing nowadays). JD reports that the vehicle only uses a half-gallon of fuel per hour with the vehicle 50-percent loaded while traveling at average speed. With a fuel capacity of 5.3 gallons, that means the machine offers over 10 hours of run time per tank, which we think is pretty good.
When the going gets tough (we mean good) the 850D is built to shine. It can travel up to 17 mph in low-range; has 7 inches of suspension travel from its front McPherson strut and rear coilover independent suspension; it sports 11 inches of ground clearance; it has a mechanically actuated rear locker; and you can get the rig shod with either aggressive tread or all-purpose tires.
Of course the 850D is designed to work. It has a manually-operated steel dumpbox that measures 43.9 inches long, 49 inches wide, and has a depth of 9 inches. This box can haul up to a 1/2 ton or 11.2 cubic feet of stuff. There is a power lift option for those who don't wish to get a hernia. The tailgate is removable and the rear of the 850D comes standard with a 2-inch receiver (a front 2-inch receiver is optional). Further, there is a truly mindboggling number of work-oriented options available from John Deere to make the 850D even more valuable around the home, ranch, farm, or whatever.
So whether you're herding livestock, fixing fence, exploring the backcountry, or just showing off to your friends, John Deere's 850D is capable on many fronts. Let's hear it for the green and yellow.
Vehicle model: '08 John Deere Gator 850D 4x4
Base price: $10,599 (green and yellow model), $10,699 (olive and black model)
Colors: Green and yellow, olive and black
Type: Liquid-cooled, four-cycle, three-cylinder
Displacement (cc): 854
Bore x stroke (mm): N/A
Compression ratio: N/A
Fuel delivery system: Direct injection
Final drive: Shaft
Front: Independent with McPherson strut, 5.15 inches of travel
Rear: Independent with coilover shock, 7 inches of travel
Front: Hydraulic disc
Rear: Hydraulic disc
Front: 25x10-12 or 25x9-12
Weight (lb): 1,532
Ground clearance (in): 11.0
Length (in): 113 (with bumper)
Width (in): 59.3
Height (in): 74.4
Wheelbase (in): 79.0
Fuel capacity (gal): 5.3
Cargo box length (in): 43.9
Cargo box width (in): 49.0
Cargo box height (in): 9.0
Cargo box load capacity (lb): 1,000
Towing capacity (lb): 1,300