We’d give the John Deere Gator a Lifetime Achievement Award right now. As the first modern side-by-side, the Gator has already played so many different roles that one could produce a full-length feature film with the life story.
As a current blockbuster, the Gator XUV 590i is now also appearing in Germany and other European countries. We met the experienced actor in a youthful mask for a personal interview and have already lent him an Oscar for this.
The old blacksmith John Deere would be astonished today, because his descendants have created what is probably the largest range of side-by-sides in their American homeland. There are currently 30 models with a wide variety of configurations and equipment, all of which go by the name of Gator. Here in Germany there are still thirteen vehicles to choose from, so there should be something for every taste and purpose. In the last few years we have repeatedly presented and tested Gator models. The cooperation with John Deere is very uncomplicated in this regard and with the company Zimmermann from Wesseling the manufacturer has a very active dealer who provides us with the appropriate vehicles perfectly prepared on the farm. Key in and go. This is also the case with our latest UTV from John Deere, the Gator XUV 590i, which is at the lower end of the range in terms of cubic capacity, but still surprises with unexpected liveliness and performance.
The main actor
The young Mime Gator XUV 590i can easily fit into a number of successful colleagues from John Deere. With the necessary dash of innovation and an appealing exterior, the vehicle can convince right away. Even if the displacement is not to be expected, the 590 fits like a fist in the chassis. At first glance, the heavy 644 kilograms of weight can be staged very neatly with the 32 horsepower generated by electronic injection. Petrol engines have played an increasingly important role in gators for a few years now, because the efficiency is no longer inferior to that of the diesel predecessor. Typically John Deere, everything is in the right place in the passenger compartment. The operation is designed for comfort and precise handling. The seating is comfortable and suitable for long hours of sitting. Only the flasher, which can be operated with a push button, takes some getting used to for Europeans.
The digital speedometer has all kinds of information ready, you don’t really need more. The elastic door curtains, which convey a little security and are very easy to handle, are very nice. Seat belts are of course compulsory and should definitely be used. According to the vehicle, the tiltable loading box is not as voluminous as that of the larger gators, but it fits in proportion. That’s enough for our Oskar and his mobile home. There would also be space for game feed or the hunted prey. In an emergency, you can also pull a trailer that can weigh 499 kilograms. The chassis has double A-arms at the front and rear and dampers with adjustable preload, each allowing 203 millimeters of travel. Also typical for John Deere, the initial tires can be configured according to your own wishes. Our test vehicle has the great all-rounder Terrahawk, which represent a good compromise between on- and off-road. The rest of the equipment makes the 590 a suitable partner off-road as well. Connectable all-wheel drive, gear reduction and lockable differential on the rear axle make the Gator a climber.
The single cylinder starts up without grumbling and immediately runs smoothly. For a John Deere Gator, the youngster is almost sporty. He’s stealing the show from the Diesel brothers. The standard power steering gives the 590i additional agility and makes handling noticeably easy. The automatic CVT responds well and the gears can be easily engaged without hooking. The acceleration is almost fun, actually not common for a Gator. We are all the more looking forward to the trip into the woods. In the actual area of application of a gator, the 590 is completely convincing. The chassis works perfectly and provides sufficient comfort. The stated top speed of 73 km / h can hardly be achieved off-road, so the offered performance and power development is sufficient in all situations. If you only travel on unpaved roads, you should perhaps fall back on the selection of Maxxis Bighorn tires. They can also help through deep mud holes. The Terrahawk are definitely enough for everyday forest and meadow surfing.
The hydraulic disc brakes do their best to bring the load to a safe standstill. In our opinion, the front calipers should also have the brake calipers with double pistons that are used at the rear. That would make the delay behavior of the yellow-green even crisper. The electric power steering acts inconspicuously and, above all, unobtrusively. So you always have good feedback about the ground traveled. Waidmann Michael Zeroba, who takes over the test drive in the undergrowth for us, gets along with the Gator straight away. It is not without recognition that he has to exhibit good manners to the unfamiliar minor. His standard Suzuki Jimmy can not quite keep up despite its good reputation as an off-roader. Michael Zeroba leaves it open whether he would swap. That also seems to be the crux of the matter. When open, the Gator is of course less suitable for Oskar to ride with. That is why he can only lend his Oscar to the Gator temporarily. But a nomination is something like an accolade.
Text and photos: Frank Meyer