profi Tractor Test: No-Nonsense Workhorse (2008)

01:23PM Aug 25, 2008
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The McCormick XTX 215 steps up and delivers


Since McCormick launched the XTX Series in 2005, the company—and the entire tractor market—has experienced a great deal of change. In 2007, the XTX Series followed the mandate to switch to low-emission Tier 3 engines. In the same year, McCormick began to phase out manufacturing at its facility in Doncaster, United Kingdom; now they manufacture tractors in Italy, where ARGO SpA, the parent company, has its international headquarters.

Prior to the changes, the profi test team put the flagship of the series, the XTX 215, through its paces. The test model used a 5.9-liter Tier 2 QSB engine fueled by a Bosch VP44 pump that delivers 170 PTO hp.

Although a torque rise of slightly under 24% may be average, the engine features 16.9 hp of extra power, as well as a fuel economy of 0.373 lb./hp/hr. Maximum drawbar power tested at 171.25 hp. The PTO power boost hikes up horsepower by 13.28 hp when the shaft is fully loaded. This engine proved its performance in output and fuel economy but has been replaced with a Tier 3-compliant 6.7-liter engine, which was tested at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab.

The XTX 215 test tractor featured the XtraSpeed-E plus transmission, an electronic transmission offering four ranges with eight powershift steps in each range, which results in 32F/25R speeds. The XtraSpeed-E plus comes with an armrest-mounted joystick that greatly enhances the operator's ease of use. Other transmission options for the XTX 215 are a mechanical XtraSpeed transmission or an electronic XtraSpeed-E transmission that has a side-console-mounted joystick. At 1,850 rpm, the workhorse can reach a transport speed of 25 mph, with a 31 mph option in Europe.

The electronic E transmission shines with its ease of control. The McCormick control system allows the operator to use two buttons to shift the tractor all the way up—from range 1/step 1 to range 4/step 8—and back down again. To prompt the range change, the operator simply needs to engage the transmission using a third button at the rear of the joystick.

The result is 13 gears in the primary 2.5 mph to 7.5 mph working band. The eight powershift steps and ratio overlaps provide a variety of field tasks to be carried out without changing the range. For example, the second range tops out at 7 mph, while the third range starts off at 4.35 mph.

The XTX 215 model has two PTO options: 540 rpm and 1,000 rpm.

The turning radius for the test tractor measured 46.9' (with front-wheel drive engaged). The XTX 215 features automatic differential lock on the rear axle and automatic front-wheel drive engagement and disengagement based on forward speed. However, the tractor does not have a comprehensive headland management system.

Tipping the scales at 16,645 lb. and delivering a 10,890-lb. payload, the XTX 215 is a powerful workhorse.

When it comes to lift capacity, the test tractor muscled an extraordinary 9.9 ton—the highest lift capacity recorded in a profi test.

An optional 43-gal. pump delivered 52 hp and 40 gal./min. On the joystick, the operator can control one hydraulic outlet. All hydraulic outlets are time- and flow-controlled by the color-coded knobs on the armrest.

There were some electrical glitches while testing the XTX 215. Replacing the speed sensor and wire on the front axle got the tractor up and running, but there were still random beeps and flashes coming from the dashboard for the rest of the test period.

This tractor has routine maintenance requirements, but it's worth noting the 18 grease points on the suspended front axle. The fuel tank capacity is 92 gal., which is enough to tackle a full day's work in the field. The 7.9-gal. oil reserve needs to be changed every 500 hours. The 25-gal. shared storage for the transmission and hydraulic fluids needs service at 1,000-hour intervals.

The cab on the XTX 215 seemed dated to the test crew but did offer good access, visibility, hydraulic suspension and a comfortable instructor seat. In 2007, McCormick introduced a redesigned cab.

The test crew had to use two XTX tractors after the supplied tractor registered a poor noise level because of a problem with the front axle. The noise level on the second XTX 215 was recorded at 78.5 dB(A), which is an acceptable level.

In summary, even before the XTX was upgraded and a Tier 3 engine was added, this workhorse performed well. This model packs the power without many "extra" features, such as a plush trim level in the cab and a headland management system. The XTX stays true as a no-nonsense workhorse without complicating frills.