Though most of Kubota's small-scale machines and lawn mowers are best suited for “sundowner” farmers and golf course managers, several new Kubota products are appealing to large-acreage farmers as well.

In the haying and loader tractor market, the 93 PTO hp M1005S competes directly with similar-sized tractors from the likes of John Deere, Case IH and New Holland. Meanwhile, Kubota also takes a shot in an entirely new category this year with its RTV900 utility vehicle.

M105S tractor

The Kubota V3800 DI-TI diesel uses a four-valve, center direct injection system. Turbocharger, intercooler and a unique waste-gate system work together to maximize low-rpm pulling power. The engine produces 105 hp at 2,600 rpm and 93 PTO hp while meeting Tier II EPA emission standards and delivering good fuel economy. A wraparound front grill allows slower air velocity through the screen, so less grass and chaff get sucked in to plug the screen.

Standard features include a heavy-duty front axle, 46-gal. fuel tank and 17-gpm open center hydraulic system. The 3-pt. hitch lifts 4,630 lbs., or 7,490 lbs. with two optional assist cylinders. The 540-rpm PTO engages independently, so you don't need to stop the tractor to engage or disengage. A 1,000-rpm option is available.

In the model I drove at the Kubota dealer meeting, the cab was comfortable and functional. The 16-speed (forward and reverse) transmission did the job, as did the dash-mounted hydraulic shuttle. Though not quite as easy to drive as the Deere, Case or New Holland products in this category, the M105S boasts many of the same features found on more expensive tractors. Lowest price is $38,420 for a 2-wd model and $45,000 for a 4-wd.

RTV900 utility vehicle

A true utility vehicle, the RTV900 is probably best compared to the John Deere Gator or Kawasaki Mule. It will go 25 mph down the highway, but it's not exactly what you'd call a wild ride through the woods. Rather, the RTV900 is a workhorse designed to minimize surprises whenever possible.

The RTV's suspension system and power steering significantly reduce driving effort. With plenty of ground clearance, it faithfully plods through terrain that would be an adventure on other utility vehicles. The hydraulic dump box is fast and definitely superior to electric-powered dump boxes.

The RTV's best feature is a hydrostatic transmission instead of a belt drive. Whereas a belt drive tends to slip and lurch into loss of traction, the RTV's transmission engages smoothly and uneventfully when you give it some throttle. There's less tire spinning and mud tossing.

The only downside of this transmission seems to be the three-range clutchless shifter. The demonstrator models I drove had shifters that were rather clunky going through the gates.

The 22-hp, 3-cyl. D902 diesel engine does not disappoint. There's plenty of smooth power for just about any job. Kubota does not offer a gasoline engine option. Although most farmers who already have diesel fuel on site probably won't mind, I can envision many sundowners turning up their noses at the smell of diesel fumes.

Price: $9,899 to $11,199. For more information, contact Kubota Tractor Corp., 43401 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503, 209/931-5051, visit www.kubota.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.