2012 John Deere 2720 HST Review

When 26 horsepower won't do, move up to 31

By Geof Fowler, Photography by John Deere, Aug 10, 2012
Following the redesign of the sub compact 2305 and its subsequent integration into the new 1000 series, John Deere’s 2000 series designation now becomes clearer with the remaining models all classified as compact utility tractors (CUTs).

The 2320 is the smallest tractor in the 2000 series lineup and is powered by a 24.1 gross/18 horsepower at the power take off (PTO) diesel. The 2520 moves up a half frame size and is powered by a 26.4 gross/20.5 PTO powerplant which is powerful enough for just about any task. Some owners, though, asked for more oomph for conditions such as heavy tilling or to use larger rotary cutters. John Deere’s answer is the 2720.

2012 John Deere 2720

Utilizing the same physical frame as the 2520, the 2720 gets an upgrade to Yanmar’s 3TNV88 powerplant. Rated at 31.4 gross horsepower and 23.5 PTO at a fuel sipping 2500 rpms, the 2720 sends that power to a two-range hydrostatic transmission controlled by a two-pedal system our testers usually prefer. In this case, though, John Deere has positioned the forward pedal slightly higher and further forward than the reverse. While the setup works well and delivers well modulated control, our preference is the side-by-side pedal arrangement Deere has used in the past where no lifting of the heel or rolling of the foot is required to change direction.

2012 John Deere 2720 HST Front Left

Climb up into the high-back suspension seat (no operator weight adjustment is offered) and you are treated to an ergonomically laid out operator’s platform. Controls are color coded and clearly labeled, and everything is a comfortable arm, foot or eye’s length away. On the left floorboard are split brakes which can be locked together or used independently to produce an impressive 7.5’ turning radius. Differential lock is actuated by the left heel. 2WD/4WD is selected by a lever just forward of the differential lock. The abovementioned hydro pedals are on the right floorboard and on the vertical cowl in between the left and right pedals are levers for the parking brake and cruise control.

On the left fender is a lever for selecting hydro range (L – Neutral – H) and behind it is a PTO selector which gives the operator the ability to select Mid, Rear or both. The right fender gets a handy cup holder and the lever controlling the three-point hitch (3PH). The dashboard is equally uncluttered with a large tachometer occupying center stage and a smaller fuel gauge to the right. The rest of the operator information is delivered through LED lights.

2012 John Deere 2720 HST with Cutter

Hydraulics are powered by a gear driven twin pump system that flows 5.5 gpm to the power steering and 5.0 gpm to the implement (10.5 gpm total). The system operates at 2421 PSI so you know response will be snappy. 3PH lift capacity is rated at 1250 lbs at the industry standard 24” behind center link and control is by position, allowing the implement to be lowered to the exact position each and every time.

Though the 2720 comes standard with a mid-PTO and drive over mid-mount mower options up to 72” cut widths are available, our test tractor was outfitted with a rear mounted Frontier RC1072 rotary cutter. This is a standard duty mower rated to cut grass, weeds and brush up to 1” in diameter and uses two blades to cover a 6’ swath. The RC1072 is iMatch compatible. Our test tractor was also outfitted with a 200CX loader and 61” bucket.

2012 John Deere 2720 HST Studio

Turn the automotive-style ignition key and the three-cylinder 97.6 ci powerplant starts right up and idles smoothly with a powerful sounding diesel rap-rap that assures the operator that this isn’t your Father’s 2520. Throttling up to 2000 rpm, we shifted the 2720 into high-range and headed off to the north forty where a field of slightly-damp 3’ tall grass and brush awaited. Here the 2720/RC1072 combination shined. We found the discharge to be fine and consistent and though the RC1072 isn’t rated for 2” diameter brush, when we ran over a cedar about that diameter there was no protest. After thirty minutes or so, our testers all agreed that size and capacity-wise, the RC1072 was a perfect fit for the 2720.

The 200CX loader our test tractor was equipped with is a curved boom loader that matches the profile of the 2720’s hood and offers the operator excellent visibility. Rated to lift 1027 lbs. to its full lift height, we found cycle times and responsiveness to be excellent. Purchasers can choose from several bucket sizes, though the 61” bucket, which is quick attach/detach design but not skid-steer compatible, seemed a good match. The 200CX loader itself can be attached/detached in minutes without using tools and has a built in parking stand. All hydraulic hoses are safely tucked within the boom arm structure.

2012 John Deere 2720 HST with Trailer

For those who maintain their own machines, the 2720 is designed with those tasks in mind: engine oil can be checked from the right side without opening the hood and transmission fluid levels can be checked while in the operator’s seat using a dipstick located in the transmission hump. During more extensive maintenance, the fuel, oil and transmission filters are all easily accessed. As expected, engine air is filtered by a two-stage system.

What would we have liked Deere to incorporate in the 2720? A three-range hydro is always on our list, though with the extra oomph the 2720 makes up for this quite well. Tilt steering and telescoping 3PH lower arms round out the short list.

MSRP for the 2720 is $18,141. Deere backs the tractor up with a three-year, 2000-hour warranty. The dealer we talked to told us that incentives are available along with low interest rate financing. So, is a 2720 with five more horsepower worth a premium of $1,778 over the 2520? After brush hogging with the RC1072, we thought so. If you’re in the market for a medium sized tractor with 23+ horsepower at the PTO, check out the 2720 and let us know if you agree.

Related Reading
2012 John Deere 3720 HST Cab Tractor Review
2011 John Deere 2305 4WD Compact Tractor Review
2011 John Deere 2520 4WD Compact Tractor Review

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