2016 Mahindra 3550 PST Cab Review

Mahindra's premium tractor does not disappoint

By Geof Fowler, Sep 18, 2015
The new Mahindra 3500 Series consists of one model available in four possible configurations: power shuttle transmission (PST) or hydrostatic transmission (HST), each available in open station or cab. This series is basically a direct replacement for the outgoing 5035 tractors.

With the 3500 tractors being Mahindra’s premium series, we looked forward to spending some seat time behind the wheel of one. When the good folks at Ellington Agway in Ellington, Conn. called in July to say they finally had a 3550 PST Cab tractor in stock, we jumped at the opportunity. In truth, we were so booked with shows, events and tests that it took two months before our schedule afforded time. Fortunately, the 3550 hadn’t yet been sold and is the subject of this week’s test.

Mahindra touts its 3500 series tractors as “super-powered 4WD compact workhorses designed for medium- to heavy-duty applications.” Though Tractor.com had not had the opportunity to test the outgoing 5035 machines, we did test the baby brother 4035 (PST, open station) in Aug. of 2013 and the less deluxe 5010 (HST, cab) in 2011, so we had a baseline of what to expect.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 Kubota L4600 HST

The 3550 begins with a Mahindra four-cylinder naturally aspirated powerplant displacing 166.6 cubic inches and utilizing mCRD technology to achieve3 EPA Final Tier IV (FT4) emissions compliance. Mahindra’s mCRD technology means no diesel particulate filter (DPF) and no need for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) additions. Output from the four is 49 horsepower at 2800 rpm, and in the case of our test tractor, the rating at the power take off (PTO) is 40 (39.5 PTO for HST/Cab tractors and 43 PTO for open station machines).  Power from the engine is sent to a 12F / 12R power shuttle transmission with full synchro mech. This means a clutch is only required to start and change the four gears, which can be accomplished on the fly. To change direction, a flick of the left hand turn stalk-like shuttle lever is all that’s required. Range change requires the use of the clutch as well as bringing the tractor first to a stop. Engine rpm is controlled by a right-side dash throttle lever which is good for selecting a set speed, but there is also a foot throttle for those time of varying need such as when doing loader work.

Hydraulics run through an open center system flowing 16 gpm (5 gpm for power steering and 11 gpm for implement demands). The Cat-I three-point hitch (3PH) is rated to lift 3090 lbs which is the same as the 4035, but 224 lbs less than the 5010 with just 9.5 gpm going to implement requirements. In the grand scheme of things, the difference is insignificant – this is a tractor with a 3PH capable of lifting over a ton and a half. Position control so an operator can return an implement to a precise, selectable point time after time and draft control where the 3PH varies its depth to maintain a level load are both standard. For ease of implement attachment, the lower links telescope, as do the outboard stabilizers. A single rear remote is standard, with up to two more supported.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 Branson 4720h Open Station

Opening the left-hand cab door, which has a precise, luxury car feel, and climbing up into the cab exposes the operator to a high-end environment. Material selection and fit exude a deluxe aura. The air ride seat is fully adjustable and the controls laid out in a logical and intuitive manner. The dash is uncomplicated with a large tachometer dominating the center and smaller gauges for temperature and fuel flanking the side. The rest of the dash uses indicator lights with an LCD strip showing functions such as engine hours. The selective control valve (SCV) lever is incorporated into the right console and falls comfortably to an operator’s hand. The gear selector and levers for 3PH position and draft are positioned between the right console and the seat, with controls for the rear remote(s) aft of the joystick. To the left of the seat is the range lever with clear indents for H – M – N – L.

On the flat floor are suspended pedals for the clutch, tilt wheel, and split brakes. The abovementioned foot throttle was pretty close to the brake pedals and might be a little tight for those with big feet, but the 3550 isn’t a larger six-figure or plus machine. Keeping it in perspective, Mahindra engineers get high marks for getting what they did out of the available cabin space, which in no way felt stifling or small. A rarity these days is the inclusion of an ashtray and cigarette lighter. The adjacent 12V outlet and storage trays are sure to see lots of use.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 New Holland Boomer 54D CVT Cab

Fire up the four, and as expected, the event is quiet and smokeless. With the doors closed, we measured 75/80 dBA at idle and 83/91 dBA at PTO rpm. Test day was clear and sunny with nary a cloud in the sky. Temperatures were well into the 80s, yet the cabin air conditioning system kept the environment comfy. Heading off to the north forty in high range and first gear, followed by a shift into second, then third and then forth, and the 3550 felt nowhere as large as its 128.9” overall length by 75.4” width might have indicated. Loader response (our test tractor was outfitted with Mahindra’s 3550L loader) at idle perhaps was a little lethargic, but push the throttle up a couple hundred revs and there was no hesitation. Mahindra rates the 3550L at 5.7 seconds full lift, 4.3 seconds full lower, 4.9 seconds full dump, and 3.5 seconds full curl (3080 engine rpm). Max lift height is 111.5” with a lift capacity of 2700 lbs. Standard bucket size is 75” (17 cubic feet) and the system is skid-steer compatible.

For those in the market for a tractor of this size and class and desiring a backhoe, Mahindra offers the 50B which can dig to a depth of 115”, has a 154” reach, 180-degree swing arc, and a dig force rating of 5710 lbs (bucket) and 3188 lbs (dipper). Currently there are incentives ranging from cash back to rock bottom pricing to value pricing with zero down and terms of 60/72/84 months. And for the first time, prospective backhoe purchasers can participate in Mahindra’s Power Pack deal, where if a backhoe and qualifying implement (blade, rake, box blade, snowblower etc) are ordered with a 3550, the customer can save $1000.

With a base MSRP of $40,380 ($47,190 as tested), the 3550 offers a lot of tractor for the price. Is it worth approximately $10K more than a 5010 cab tractor? For some, maybe not. But for anyone in the market for a 50 hp, deluxe cab tractor with plenty of cush, the 3550 would be hard to beat.

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