2011 John Deere 2520 4WD Compact Tractor Review

Big performance in a compact package

By Matthew Elmer, Photography by Matthew Elmer, Feb 25, 2011
The John Deere 2000 Series tractors come loaded with standard equipment that would be considered optional on other tractors in the same category. The 2520 is the middle tractor in this category.

The unit offers a “big-tractor” feel in a smaller package and measures in at 108.9 in. long with the 3-point hitch horizontal and no loader attached, 51.9 in. wide with no implement, and 89.0 in. with the ROPS bar up (67.9 in. with the ROPS folded down). This small design means you can get the 2520 into tighter places for working while still maintaining the ability to do the work of a larger Utility tractor. 

To do this work the 2520 comes equipped with a three cylinder diesel engine which puts out 26.5 hp. John Deere’s motors for the 2000 series are all built by Yanmar.

Controlling this power from the driver’s seat is simple and ergonomic. The dashboard has controls for throttle, lights, and turn signals. We found that all of these switches and levers could be easily operated while the Tractor is in motion without any hassle.

The seat on the 2520 has a high-back design and is quite comfortable. Something we did note was that this seat does not come with any type of suspension system so you feel every bump on the road while in motion. The seat is suspended but it could become uncomfortable if you need to spend many hours operating the unit.

While sitting in the driver’s seat we noticed that the joystick control for the front hydraulics is located very close to where your left knee is. If the safety lock is not in place on the joystick you have the potential to hit it with your leg and unintentionally move the loader.

The steering control is aided by John Deere’s Hydrostatic power steering. This makes the operation of the steering smooth and steady when making constant tight turns. After you’ve spent hours mowing lawns without the power steering you really start to appreciate it more when your arms aren’t sore at the end of the day.

In regards to these turning manoeuvres the 2520 has a tight turning radius of 7.5 ft. with brakes and 8.2 ft. without. To put this in perspective we found that when we were working around the edge of a garden or fence we could make nearly 90 degree turns to follow the line of the grass. The unit almost turns on a dime with the rear wheels acting like a pivot.

The 2520’s narrow hood design makes it easy to see where your wheels are. This is helpful when lining up to attach the under-body mower with its drive over deck.

Another thing we did notice about the front tire design and placement is that it flung quite a bit of mud our way. Not unusual for a tractor but certainly something to note when choosing optional features like mud guards.

Giving the 2520 this mud flinging ability is the unit’s HST (Hydrostatic transmission). This drive system provides infinite speed selection without clutching or shifting to change between forward and reverse.

This simple direction change drive system is operated with John Deere’s Twin Touch transmission pedals on the right side floorboard of the unit. One pedal activates the forward gears and the other controls the reverse gears. Both can be used without lifting your foot from the floor thereby lessening driver fatigue. A standard feature on the 2520 is an easy-to-use cruise control which locks with a mechanical lever and quickly releases when you touch the pedal again.

We found that the drive system was very delicate and the most minor throttle changes were easy to do. Hooking up to implements with this system is fantastically simple because you can make tiny adjustments; forward an inch, back an inch. This makes it safer when someone is behind the unit as well because you can’t really make any major mistakes which means your fingers all stay intact.

The 2520’s category 1 3-point hitch needs some mention to the credit of this digit saving safe hook-up system. The lift capacity 24” behind the link arms is 1,250 lb. which is ample power for lifting any implement.

Speaking of attachments for your John Deere tractor there are over 50 different tools available for the rear end. These range from implements which are powered, unpowered, and hydraulic driven.

These attachments have a number of features which are designed to get you hooked up and working quicker. The front end has the John Deere quick park loaders which come off in three minutes or less with fast remove pins and quick-disconnect hydraulics. The under-belly mowers are all designed with drive-over decks so you can line them up easier and the rear features the iMatch AutoHitch.

Using this hitch system we were able to cycle through a number of different implements while we were working. You just back up to the attachment, lift it, and then secure the latches. You can then hook up to the PTO by simply rotating the handle then turn until it lines up and pull the AutoHitch lever. This brings the PTO driveshaft up and connects it without having to get off the unit.

The 2520’s PTO produces 20.5 hp to turn your implements at the rear and middle body of the unit.  Both are standard hook-ups and the rear runs at 540 RPM and the mid at 2100 RPM. Stopping both PTO’s are sealed wet disc brakes.

The hydraulics on the 2520 run off an open centre style hydraulic pump which gives the system a total capacity of 10.56 G/min. This lets you run a front and rear implement simultaneously. The front end loader has a maximum lift capacity at full height of 800 lb. We found that this was plenty of power to take care of our work around the property.

Another nice feature we found was the 2520’s handling on hills. While mowing our property there are a few sections on inclines as severe as 30 to 40 degrees and the unit felt stable. This stability is in part thanks to its wet weight of 1,865 lb.

For varying terrain types the 2520 has standard 4WD with locking differentials to increase traction and pulling power. The control to select 2WD or 4WD is located on the dashboard alongside the locking differential switch. 

This tractor comes with John Deere dependability and simple maintenance features. Under the hood you can easily access things like dipsticks to check fluid levels, air and fuel filters, as well as service any other part of the motor quickly. Furthering the reliability of the 2520 is John Deere’s auto-bleed fuel system. If you happen to run out of fuel you just top off the tank and start back up without the common fears of restarting a diesel engine.

The 2011 John Deere 2520 may look small but its features and load capacity make it work like a larger tractor.

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