Mid-Sized Loaders Pack Plenty of Power

By Lynn Landberg, Senior Editor | September 28, 2010


New Holland LW270.B
With enough power and durability, the 200-to 300-hp wheel loaders can handle even the toughest jobs. This New Holland LW270.B proves the point.
Volvo L180E
All wheel loaders in the 200- to 300-hp range can accommodate several bucket and attachment options. Volvo's L180E becomes a log handler with the addition of a grapple.

$271,700 - Average base price, 200- to 300-hp wheel loaders.*
$82/hour - Average ownership and repair cost, 200- to 300-hp wheel loaders.*
25 - Number of 200- to 300-hp wheel loader models currently available.
22 - Number of 200- to 300-hp new wheel loader models.

*Source: "Contractors' Equipment Cost Guide," published by EquipmentWatch - 800/669-3282



Although there are bigger wheel loaders, the machines that make up the 200- to 300-hp class provide plenty of punch when it comes to high production work. They're large enough to take a big bite with buckets in the 4- to 6-cubic-yard range. They have the lift height to load off-road trucks and the breakout force to dig in when needed. But they also boast the most up-to-date controls and features to keep productivity and efficiency high throughout the shift. Of the 25 models in the 200- to 300-hp range, 22 of them have been introduced over the past 12 months, attesting to the fact that these machines are at the top of their game when it comes to the newest features.

All three of Komatsu's wheel loaders in the 200- to 300-hp class are new, and all three have improvements over their predecessors. The WA450-5, with 261 horsepower, is powered by a Komatsu engine that has a torque increase of 19 percent. At the same time, the fuel consumption has been reduced by 15 percent, thanks to the high-torque engine and large-capacity torque converter. An optional lock-up torque converter saves fuel in both load-and-carry and hill-climb operations. When activated, the torque converter will lock up when the travel speed reaches 6.8 mph in third gear and 13 mph in fourth gear.

The WA480-5, at 271 horsepower, has a torque increase of 23 percent, plus the 15-percent fuel reduction and optional lock-up torque converter. Both machines have a normal and power engine operating modes that the operator can select to fit the conditions. In addition, the dual-speed hydraulic system matches hydraulic demands to the work conditions.

The cab has been increased to 123 cubic feet¡ª18 percent larger than its predecessor. A few of the cab features include a telescopic/tilting steering column, a console design to simulate automotive style and feel, and electronically controlled transmission levers for easy gear selection and directional change.

John Deere's three entries in the 200- to 300-hp class are also among its newest, representing Deere designs intended to provide faster cycle times and lower operating costs. The three new models are the 724J at 205 horsepower, the 744J at 265 horsepower and 824J at 275 horsepower. A number of measures have been taken to increase the J-Series' stability. Counterweighting is placed and strategically distributed for front and rear stability. A lower center of gravity and wider stance provide impressive balance, even when the wheel loaders are fully articulated at 40 degrees. The result is increased turn-tip load, greater breakout force and enhanced productivity.

Electronically controlled John Deere PowerTech engines, certified to Tier II emissions regulations, have top-liner cooling to reduce head gasket and liner temperatures.

All three of Kawasaki's 200- to 300-hp wheel loaders have been recently introduced. The 80ZV comes in at 208 horsepower, the 85ZV is rated at 235 horsepower, and the 90ZV delivers 275 horsepower. All three models are equipped with easy-cleaning cooling systems. The 80ZV has a larger radiator with a side-by-side hydraulic cooler. The air-to-air coolers are separated from the radiator by several inches, allowing for easier cleaning. Both the 85ZV and 90ZV have larger plate fin type radiators with hydraulic oil coolers and air-charged aftercoolers. Access panels open for cleaning. For really dusty jobs, wider spaced radiator fins are available for easier cleaning.

All three machines have larger cabs with flat-glass windshields, which makes field replacement easier. The 80ZV's cab door hinges on the front, allowing for easier access to the cab from the deck. Operators now can stand fully on the deck and open the door, rather than swing the door open as they stand on the ladder. All three wheel loaders also have been equipped with larger buckets.

Two standard wheel loaders in this article's horsepower class are offered by Hyundai. Add variations, and the number rises to six models. The standard machines include the new HL760 and HL770. Variations include extended-reach versions (XTD) and Toll Master versions (TM) with quick-attach couplers and parallel-lift linkage. Rated at 207 horsepower, the HL760 features a New Ergopower transmission, which works with a hydraulic system for gearshifts that has proportional valves designed to provide precise control of the clutches. For each gear change, the control unit monitors the function and ensures that the machine adheres to the specific shift curve. The monitor re-adjusts the shift pressure applied to the clutches accordingly, resulting in smooth shifts under load. If the operator wants, an option allows him or her to make gearshifts manually. This transmission also appears on the HL770.

New entries from Daewoo include the Mega 300-V and the Mega 400-V at 230 and 295 horsepower, respectively. Both machines have fully automatic transmissions and modular cab designs that provide plenty of all-around visibility. A single joystick-type lever handles all functions, and a central monitor panel is ergonomically designed, allowing the operator to monitor the status and warning lights at a single glance. The boom/bucket control system automatically controls the ideal bucket position and returns the boom to the desired position. As a result, the boom height and bucket plane are automatically returned after each loading cycle, making repeat operations more efficient.

Caterpillar's new wheel loaders include the 962G, 966G and 972G, all part of Cat's G-Series II line. All three feature Cat's Advanced Diesel Engine Management (ADEM) fuel system, a proprietary control module that Cat points out improves performance, increases fuel efficiency, reduces emissions and aids the diagnostic process. The machines are equipped with a planetary electronic powershift transmission with four speeds forward and four reverse, with the Electronic Clutch Pressure Control modulating the clutches individually for smoother shifting. Power ratings on the three Cat machines are 204, 246 and 270 horsepower, respectively.

A new cooling package helps reduce radiator plugging and further improves fuel efficiency. The system uses a reverse-flow design, pulling air through the rear grill and sending it out the top and sides of the machine, reducing the amount of debris picked up from the ground.

Basic Specifications: Wheel Loaders (200¨C300 hp)
Manufacturer Model Operating weight (lbs.) Reference bucket cap. (cu. yds.) Breakout force (lbs.) Bucket hinge pin height (in.) Net engine power (hp)
Specifications shown here are based on information provided by manufacturers and Spec Check and are given here for comparison only. Specifications are subject to change and manufacturers or their distributors should be contacted for the most current information.
Case 921C 50,621 5.25 45,398 168.6" 248
Caterpillar 962G-II 41,008 4.32 34,486 157" 204
Caterpillar 966G-II 50,238 5.25 42,562 166" 246
Caterpillar 972G-II 56,180 6 48,554 175" 270
Daewoo Mega 300-V 38,150 3.8 40,790 157" 225
Daewoo Mega 400-V 48,590 5.1 48,510 169" 285
Hyundai HL760 39,290 3.9 40,630 162" 205
Hyundai HL770 49,600 5 50,200 165" 265
Hyundai HL780-3 64,590 6.5 58,130 179" 320
John Deere 724J 40,704 4.75 31,742 163" 205
John Deere 744J 51,196 5.25 42,150 169" 265
John Deere 824J 57,359 6.1 43,228 178" 275
Kawasaki 80ZV 38,875 4.2 36,140 161" 208
Kawasaki 85ZV 45,840 4.8 40,680 170" 235
Kawasaki 90ZV 51,320 5.2 46,300 172" 275
Komatsu WA400-5 40,907 4.6 33,290 164" 200
Komatsu WA450-5 49,282 5.5 43,162 172" 261
Komatsu WA480-5 54,113 6 47,658 177" 271
New Holland LW190.B 37,438 4.2 31,967 160" 200.5
New Holland LW230.B 47,318 4.8 39,352 165" 226
New Holland LW270.B 50,884 6 50,045 174" 268.2
Volvo L110E 39,920 4.1 35,140 159" 195
Volvo L120E 42,190 4.7 33,120 161" 215
Volvo L150E 51,130 5.2 39,600 171" 245
Volvo L180E 58,880 6.3 48,910 177" 275



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John Deere
New Holland