JOHN DEERE redesigned its popular Gator utility vehicles (UVs) to boost power and improve comfort in the 2006 models. The green manufacturer added a number of new features to the Compact series and the High-Performance (HP) series of Gators. Deere also recently introduced its Buck ATV lineup for 2006.

Here's a look at what's new and improved in the Gators and Bucks.

HP series enhanced

“The enhancements we're introducing to our Gator HP series focus on delivering more performance and capability while keeping operators more comfortable than ever,” reports David Thorne, John Deere utility vehicles.

First on the list is an operator protective structure with lap and shoulder belt for operator safety. Deere also improved the suspension and offers a heavy-duty front suspension kit for full-cab machines and for front-blade use. The company reports that the changes it made in the steering improves the steering effort by 30% compared to earlier models. The Gator HPX 4×4 diesel model features a redesigned Tier II diesel engine that produces a quieter ride and better performance compared to last year's model.

This year's HP models are equipped with a new on-demand 4-wd system that features an auto-locking front differential with a dash-mounted electronic on/off switch to provide more traction in tough conditions. Operators also should notice a more automobile-like braking system with smoother engagement on the new HP models. Deere installed front and rear wheel hydraulic service brakes with hydromechanical rear park brakes.

Drivers should expect easier starting with a four-bypass carburetor that improves throttle response. Plus, the new HP models include a manual choke on the dash to help engine warm-up when needed. Deere installed a larger 854cc Tier II diesel engine in the Gator HPX diesel model.

The HP series consists of the HPX 4×4, retailing for $9,399; the HPX 4×4 diesel for $10,899; and the HPX Trail Gator for $9,899. All models are equipped with a 900-lb. cargo box, a hydro-formed steel frame for strength and durability, and top ground speeds of 25 mph. Circle 200.

More comfortable Compact Gators

The smaller and lower-priced Gator Compact series also underwent some design changes to provide a better ride for the operator. The Gator CS and CX are equipped with a triple-rate spring-over-shock front and rear suspension, which may adjust to accommodate heavy loads. Deere engineers also isolated the frame from the engine and transmission carrier to reduce noise. A new seat base should improve operator comfort as well as entry and exit.

The Gator CS is equipped with a 249cc engine, and the CX model has a 284cc engine. Both vehicles will hold 400 lbs. in a 5-cu.-ft. cargo box. Deere offers more than 20 attachments, including a new utility cart and 25-gal. bed sprayer, for the Compact series.

Retail price is $4,499 for the Gator CS and $5,299 for the Gator CX. Circle 201.

Buck ATV lineup

Deere offers five Buck models in its ATV lineup for 2006. Four have a continuously variable transmission, and one has a five-speed gear-on-gear transmission. The company says that it continues to design its ATVs for serious work as well as recreational activities.

Two Buck 500 models are available with a 498cc in-line Rotax engine. The Buck 500 includes a gear-on-gear transmission, and the Buck 500 Auto features a continuously variable transmission. Both models are equipped with double A-arm front suspension, rigid swing-arm rear suspension and a step-through design. The Buck 500 retails for $6,999, and the Buck 500 Auto retails for $6,499.

Deere's larger-size ATVs come in the Buck 650 Auto series. Three models are equipped with a 644cc, 4-Tec Rotax engine and feature the continuously variable transmission, step-through design, and the double A-arm front and rigid swing-arm rear suspensions.

The Buck 650 Auto retails for $6,999, and the Buck 650 EX retails for $7,799. The EX model comes equipped with radial tires, a 2,500-lb. Warn winch with roller fairlead, front mud flap extensions, rear rack full extensions, heavy-duty rear bumper and front brush guards, and integrated hand guards. The Buck 650 EXT Auto with a cargo box retails for $7,699.

All of Deere's Buck ATVs have a watertight, 8-gal. front storage area. They all include a progressively locking 4-wd Visco-lock system that automatically corrects traction without compromising steering or maneuverability. Deere designed the Buck models with the radiator located in the rear to keep heat away from the operator and to reduce mud and debris problems in the radiator.

Maintenance of the Buck models is easy; the operator simply pulls up the seat to quickly locate the spark plugs, battery, air filter, oil filter, fuses, dipstick, radiator fluid and carburetor. Circle 202.

For more information, contact John Deere Commercial & Consumer Equipment Division, Dept. FIN, Box 13603, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, 800/537-8233, or visit www.johndeere.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.