Case IH unveiled its new Maxxima family of tractors this past June in Nevada, IA. It was a no-nonsense production. Dealers and journalists sat shoulder to shoulder in the bleachers where they heard Case IH Vice President Jim Irwin tell how the new machines herald a bright future for the company. Then the lights dimmed and the tractors roared in. The parade of iron covered a wide range of sizes, from the under-100-hp JX and JXU, to the 95- to 240-hp, larger MX and MXM row-crop machines. Here's just a taste of what we saw.

MX series Magnum

212 to 287 hp

The new Magnum row-crop tractors are an improvement over their predecessors. Most models have 10 more horsepower, better fuel economy and an easier shifting transmission. Updated iso-mounted engines run smoother while still delivering 46% torque rise at 2,000 rpm. An electronic fuel system on the MX255 and MX285 improves efficiency further.

Drive train

There are 18 forward and 4 reverse gears. Electronic auto shift lets the operator maintain speed without shifting. A button selects road or field modes. At transport speeds up to 25 mph, the auto road operation function provides constant speed control. In the field, an auto field mode designed specifically for tillage automatically upshifts and downshifts under varying load conditions while maintaining engine speed. An optional creeper package lets the tractor reach a minimum speed of 0.6 mph.

There's a choice of heavy-duty, suspended, and heavy-duty suspended mechanical front wheel drive (MFD) axles on all models. You can order 2-wd versions of the MX210 and MX230. All models equipped with heavy-duty axles also are ready for front duals, which have become popular for their advantages in flotation. Even with the duals, the Case IH suspended axle design maintains a 55° steering angle for a tight 17.4-ft. turning radius.

Hydraulics, hitch

A variable displacement pump hydraulic system provides a 32-gal./min. flow at 2,600 psi for steering, hitch, optional trailer brakes and remote circuits. An optional high-flow system, designed for the requirements of larger planting and seeding equipment, offers 46 gal./min. at 2,600 psi, including steering.

The 3-pt. hitch has electronic lift and draft controls and lifts 17,920 lbs. Hydraulic ride control minimizes shocks from pulled implements during high-speed road travel, which is handy if you hate whiplash and lurching down the highway.

Cab

There's a choice of three different cab styles with enough room to move around and add numerous electronic devices. The newest must-have gizmo is the company's “positive response” seat with electronically controlled shock absorber. It reduces bouncing and harsh bottoming out by changing from soft to hard up to 500 times/sec. The seat comes standard in luxury cabs and as an option in others. Another nice touch: the cab roofs are made of soy-based composite. Nearly 27 lbs. of soybeans go into making each cab roof.

Controls and monitoring systems are very intuitive. First-time drivers can be up and running in a matter of minutes. And because the system is already ISO11783 compatible, it's ready for advanced precision agriculture applications. The standardized communications protocol allows the tractors to interface electronically with any ISO11783-compatible implement. Prices range from $101,000 to $159,000.

MXM series Maxxum

95 to 190 hp

Remember the old Maxxum tractors? The new line is completely redesigned for 2002 with more horsepower, standard equipment and features for comfort and efficiency. These tractors are designed to pair well with loaders, planters, balers, mower conditioners and tillage tools. All six models are available in either the 2-wd or MFD configurations.

The machines use a 7.5-liter, turbocharged, after-cooled Case IH engine rated at 2,200 rpm. However, they produce their maximum torque at 1,400 to 1,500 rpm with a torque rise of 30 to 40%, depending on the model. The transmission has 18 forward, 6 reverse semi-powershift gears. Top road speed is 25 mph. The optional creeper package provides 13 additional forward and 6 reverse gears with a 0.25-mph minimum speed. A full-powershift option adds a headland management system on the larger models, automatic field mode shifting and optional creeper speed down to 0.19 mph.

Hydraulic power comes from a two-pump system. A 32-gal./min. pressure flow compensating pump is separate from the 14.5-gal./min. steering pump. More remotes, a programmable left-hand clutchless shuttle, an added joystick and programmable, electronic switches are available to increase functionality. Equipped with one of the new high-capacity Case IH loaders, the Maxxum series can lift from 3,900 to 5,200 lbs. Prices range from $50,000 to $97,000.

JXU Maxxima

74 to 92 hp

Big Red's renewed focus on the under-100-hp market led to this “little brother” of the Magnum and Maxxum tractors. It's a small package packed with features such as a 24 × 24 powershuttle transmission, electrohydraulic left-hand shuttle, electronic draft control and turbocharged engine. The 2-wd tractors come with either enclosed cab or flat-deck ROPS and are well suited for haying or light fieldwork. They also can be outfitted with creeper gears, loader buckets and other attachments for close-quarters work that's made easier by the visibility afforded by the sloping hood. A 7,900-lb. 3-pt. hitch is more than adequate for a field cultivator or rear-mount mower. Price: $30,575 to $56,177.

JX Maxxima

57 to 97 hp

It seems the only thing this “value-line” tractor has in common with the high-tech Maxxima family is its red, sloping hood and maybe the left-hand shuttle. My goodness, it's manufactured at a factory somewhere in Turkey. And you still have to push in a clutch to shift! But it's simple and built to last with minimal care.

Nothing fancy, it's just a good, flat-deck small tractor for farmers, homeowners and sundowners. You get basic horsepower, a 6,615-lb. 3-pt. hitch, four hydraulic remotes, 2,650 lbs. of loader lift capacity…. And it drives a lot like the regular-guy tractors dad used to let us take out. Price: $17,761 to $37,715.

For more information about any of these tractors, contact Case Corp., Dept. FIN, 700 State St., Racine, WI 53404, 262/636-6011, www.caseih.com.