2011 John Deere Select Series X500 Review

Perfect combination of power and affordability

By Matthew Elmer, Photography by Matthew Elmer, Jul 13, 2011
The old cottage push mower has been collecting dust in the basement this summer – and not just because we’ve been letting the lawn grow out of control. We’ve been keeping everything neat and trimmed on a 2011 John Deere X500 Multi-Terrain tractor with the 54-inch mowing deck.

Yards full of rocks, trees, benches, and other obstacles that we need to cut around dotted our path. With the tight turning radius, precise throttle, directional control, and the unit’s ample power we kept the lawns from turning into unkempt Jungles.

Starting under the hood we found an air-cooled 26 hp V-twin engine that was the real hero in this lawn care-saga. Think about that number for a second... 26 hp in a Riding Mower? There are utility and Agricultural Tractors that use the same amount of power to work. Imagine what you can do with that much capability in a smaller, lighter, and more nimble package.

2011 John Deere X500 Multi-Terrain Tractor

It’s air-cooled though so you might think that working the machine long hours under the summer sun would lead to overheating. That’s not the case on the X500 though; large grill fins and side vents allow the motor to quickly push air in and out to keep itself cool.

Speaking of keeping down to the right from the seat of the X500 and you’ll see a well placed cup holder for keeping a cool drink at hand. Right beside that there is a small storage space for work gloves, small hand tools, and paperwork of any type. Both fenders also feature heavy duty handles which help the operator climb on and off the unit.

2011 John Deere X500 Multi-Terrain Tractor

The seat on the Tractor is fully adjustable to accommodate a driver of any height. We found that this was handy because a few of our testers are tall and others are short. The steering wheel is fixed at a nice height for any operator, however, and the mowing deck height adjustment is easily within reach between your legs on the floor of the Tractor.

A large handle allows you to adjust the throttle speed on the X500 and it is easily adjustable while keeping your hands on the wheel. Change your speed while keeping control of the unit, very safe and handy.

Beside that throttle control you’ll find the John Deere’s easy to read instrument cluster. One quick glance provides the operator with information such as machine hours, RPM, fuel gauge, and mileage. All around the bottom edges of the dash you’ll find controls for locking the mower deck in the up-position, cruise control, parking brake, and PTO engagement options.

The PTO control allows you to mow in forward and reverse. The Reverse Implement Option (RIO) will allow the rider to mow in reverse if the situation calls for it – typically this wouldn’t be allowed for safety reasons but if you hold the lever in the up position, look behind the machine, then proceed the action will be perfectly safe.

The X500 has an electric PTO style clutch which is easy and convenient to use. This system is very durable and can handle the strain of multiple stops and restarts during the course of your lawn-cutting.

2011 John Deere X500 Multi-Terrain Tractor

Talking about getting around that big lawn brings us to one of the nicest features on the X500. The twin touch foot control lets you choose your travel direction simply with one pedal for forward and one for reverse. This makes selecting your speed simple and highly adjustable. We found this to be the nicest feature when working in tight areas.

Those drive pedals attach to the unit’s integrated Hydrostatic transaxle automatic transmission. The standard cruise-control feature on the Tractor locks a pedal in the position you select and maintains the unit’s speed. This drive system has a lockable differential which can be locked using a foot pedal on the left floor board – quick engagement and disengagement of the traction is nice when working on hills or on surfaces with reduced traction.

You could get the mower deck right into tight spaces nice and slow (so you don’t hit anything) and then back out again. This allowed us to cut areas that other mowers in the past have missed – very handy.

Another feature helping us to move in those tight spaces was a combination of the unit’s stats and Hydraulic power steering. The heavy-duty sector and pinion steering system makes turning and manoeuvring the unit around objects nearly effortless.

2011 John Deere X500 Multi-Terrain Tractor

This steering ability also gives this machine a tight turning radius of only 55cm. This means you can move the reasonably sized unit around tight 90 degree turns – plus its smaller size certainly helps with the X500 (with mower and deflector attached) measuring in at 191cm long, 163cm wide, and 121cm tall.

During our time with this test unit we really put it to work. We mowed all the lawns around the family cottage which wasn’t too much of a strain for the X500. That’s when we moved into the back property to mow the grass in the meadow and all around the track area of our piece of land.

One problem – this was the first time we cut the grass back all summer so it was like tackling a forest. Armed with the X500 we had no problem getting that lawn down to a neat 4 in.

2011 John Deere X500 Multi-Terrain Tractor

You can select this height quickly with the adjustment knob between the driver’s legs. Simply raise and lock the mower deck in its highest position turn the knob to indicate which height you would like and then release the deck and it will lock at your selected height. The left side foot lever for the mower deck is easy to operate and makes picking up the deck for obstacles very simple.

This tractor isn’t just a mower. If you take off the quickly removable deck you are left with a powerful garden tractor which can tackle other jobs.

The mower deck comes off simply. Rotate the guide wheels 90 degrees to face out from the machine, then drop it onto the wheels, disconnect a few belts and bolts and the mower deck rolls right out from under the unit (on a concrete floor).

John Deere offers plenty of attachments for working around the yard once the mower deck is off. These all work off the X500’s heavy-duty steel frame and CargO Mount system. Some of these implements include utility carts, front mounted Tractor Shovels, lawn sweepers, front blade, box scraper, snow blowers in the winter, and a single bucket holder.

2011 John Deere X500 Multi-Terrain Tractor

Overall this unit is perfect for someone with a lot of grass and the occasional yard work project to work on. The Select series tractor is the perfect combination of power, versatility, functionality, and affordability. If you need a new piece of lawn equipment you should check out an X500 Series mower at a John Deere dealership near you. For all its features you’re getting a great value with an MSRP of US$5,999.

Related Reading
2011 John Deere X748 Review

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