The Best Crawler Dozers under 300 Horsepower

Nov. 21, 2023
Manufacturers are updating small crawler dozers. Here are the year's top offerings.

Small crawler dozers (300 horsepower and under) are receiving more features and amenities from manufacturers and seem to be doing just fine surviving the onset of heavier CTLs equipped with larger blades dedicated to production and grade-control systems.

“When comparing compact track loaders and crawler dozers that have similar horsepower and weight specifications, the crawler dozer has advantages over a CTL,” says Casey Zbinden, product marketing manager for Komatsu. “The blade of the crawler dozer is wider, which means a larger blade capacity. The crawler dozer has a lower ground pressure compared to a CTL. It’s important to note that a CTL is often equipped with rubber tracks or triple-bar steel tracks, which will further reduce the dozing performance compared to a single bar steel track that is most common on crawler dozer models.”

Jake Sherman, product and dealer marketing manager for Develon, which is a relative newcomer to the North American market with two crawler dozers under 300 horsepower (as well an upcoming CTL product), sees both sides of the coin.

“When you start to look at the capabilities of a of a true dozer and what I'd almost refer to as some of these hybrid type of technologies almost between a CTL and a small dozer, you still can't match the capability of a true small dozer,” Sherman says.

“Of course, there are some limitations when it comes to job site size and these types of things, so I think it's application dependent,” Sherman says. “But when it comes to getting work done, we still see a very good position for the true dozer. “Referencing back to the CTL that we're developing, obviously there's an opportunity there in the marketplace for smaller [equipment] on those restricted type of job sites and whatnot where the real estate just isn't available for a true dozer.”

John Deere is one of the manufacturers to take a run at beefed-up CTLs with blades.

“We look at the CTL and look at what it was designed for—versatility--and see that CTLs are used for a lot of different things on the job site," says Matt Goedert, Deere's solutions marketing manager for roadbuilding products. "Obviously, you can put a lot of different attachments on CTLs and we added a blade attachment on our largest CTL, the 333, just to increase that versatility. Our 333 is just over 12,000 pounds and when you look at our smallest dozer, our 450, we're up to just over 18,000 pounds, so there is a still significant difference in weight that affects the stability of the machine.

"It also affects the balance of the machine," Goedert says "Thinking of the CTL, it has to do a lot of different things. So, whether we're putting a snowblower attachment on and we're piling snow, and then in the summer months using a bucket on it and loading trucks, the CTL is really designed for that versatility. But not only that, it is also designed for lifting and fitting into tight tight areas versus a dozer with steel tracks.

Goedert says the center of gravity of the dozer is low and considered from front to back. As a result, it's centrally located.

"Right down by operators foot is where we like to keep the center of gravity, and that's for the balance and stability on slopes to transfer that weight to the tracks for more traction," Goedert says. "Dozers are really designed for large scale, heavy dozing and grading work. And that's a contrast to the CTL. We're trying to do a lot of different things well. It's not purpose built, I would say, for a dozing application. However, if you have a customer that let's say they're working in confined areas, inside buildings, tight areas, and they're having to switch between attachments and do a lot of different things with one machine, the CTL will work extremely well for those customers."

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.