Kubota’s GR2120 puts big tractor features into a compact package and might be in a class all alone.

We’d heard the buzz on tractor forums from happy GR Series owners but had never tested one. When we got word our local dealer was prepping one for delivery and the new owner-to-be would allow us a little seat time, the decision for our next review was never in question. The GR Series consists of the GR2020 20 horsepower air-cooled gasoline powered garden tractor and the tested GR2120 with a 21 horsepower liquid-cooled diesel powerplant. The rest of the niceties with the exception of mower deck size between models remain the same.

2012 Kubota GR2120 Front Left

The GR Series begins with a heavy-duty 5/16” thick ‘U’ frame into which the abovementioned Kubota manufactured engines are attached and power hydrostatic transmissions via a shaft drive (no belts to slip or need replacement here). Not only is the shaft-driven feature a class leader, but Kubota shoots darts into competition hearts with the addition of its Glide Steer AWD system. The Glide Steer system allows the front wheels to turn a full 70º each direction, but instead of damaging the turf as traditional 4WD systems often will, the transmission allows the inside rear wheel to freewheel, making tight turns possible without tearing up your lawn. Impressive.

2012 Kubota GR2120 Front

The GR2120 gets Kubota’s time tested and proven three-cylinder diesel. This is a smooth running powerplant with a wide torque curve that under no circumstances leaves the tractor wishing for more power. The single-speed hydrostatic transmission is controlled by Kubota’s single treadle pedal that gives the operator infinite control over the 0-6.2 mph forward and 0-3.1 mph rated speed. We found the flat operator’s platform roomy with plenty of legroom and easy to access from either side. The high-back seat had plenty of travel and came with another big tractor feature; operator weight adjustability. On the left fenderwell is a cupholder and the hydraulic mower lift lever that gives the operator 1/4” incremental control over the 1” – 4” cutting height. Our tractor had the optional arm rest kit installed (a $55 option) that we felt was well worth the added operator comfort it offered. Power steering and cruise control are standard.

2012 Kubota GR2120 Turning

Our GR2120 came with Kubota’s 54” three-blade side discharge deck (a 48” deck is available) that begins with a 10-gauge steel deck. Like the engine to transmission, the transmission to deck is also shaft driven and is engaged by an electronically actuated wet clutch power take off (PTO). The 5” deep shell mower deck has plenty of air flow and lift, and combined with the diesel’s wide powerband, gives the GR2120/54” the ability to tackle even a neglected lawn. The deck is mulch compatible, though our test tractor did not have this option installed. Measuring the uncut circle left with the 54” deck and we came up with 35”. Not bad for a 970 lb tractor that can use all of that maneuverability without tearing up your turf. Nice. Styling is always subjective, but our reviewers universally liked the snark-nosed hood with halogen headlamps that gave the operator an excellent view, whether it was during the day or night.

Kubota, like every other manufacturer, equips the GR series with a system that prevents the operator from mowing in reverse. Longtime readers know our thoughts on this: while we believe operators should look behind them before reversing we can’t see how pressing a switch to override the system ensures that the operator does so. Anyway, the Kubota Reverse Awareness System (KRA) allows the operator to override the system by depressing a switch. While KRA is disengaged, a flashing light reminds you that reverse mowing has been selected.

The GR2120 is 77.2” long by 50.8” high and 66.9” wide with mower installed. The tires are turf, size 16×7.8-8 on the front and 23×10.5-12 on the rear and ride on a 50.4” wheelbase. Options in addition to the arm rest and mulch kits are a 46” snow blower (model GR2707), 48” front blade (model GR2705), and a 10-bushel Catch All Grass Catcher (GCK54-GR). MSRP with the arm rest kit is $9,443 and the GR comes with Kubota’s 24 month homeowner limited warranty (extended warranties are available).

So what tractors does the GR2120 compete with? This is a hard question to answer. Kubota compares both GR models to the Deere X500/534 and the Simplicity 23/50 PS 4WD (an older model). Though the size comparison is fair, when you factor in the powerful yet thrifty diesel engine, Billy Goat traction of the AWD Glide Steer system, reliability of Shaft Drive and ease of hydraulic implement lift, the GR2120 is really in a class by itself. If you are in the market for a machine of this size and class, you owe it to yourself to check out the GR Series. We think you’ll be glad you did.

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