Tractor.com first reviewed the Simplicity Legacy XL in 2012. Then, the diesel variant got high marks with the conclusion the Legacy XL was definitely a subcompact-class tractor, with a few distinguishing differences. In the two-part subcompact comparison Tractor.com ran a few weeks ago, we chose to exclude the Legacy XL due to Briggs & Stratton dropping the diesel power option and keeping the comparison apples to apples. Should the Legacy XL have been included in the comparison? Read on and decide.
The current Simplicity Legacy XL lineup consists of three variants based on two engine options: a carbureted 885cc V-Twin making 31 horsepower with 2WD and choice of 52” or 61” fabricated mowing decks, a EFI 885cc V-Twin making 33 horsepower with 4WD and 52”/61” deck choices, and the same fuel-injected engine with 4WD, a 540-rpm rear PTO, and 52”/61” deck choices. When the good folks at Brentwood Power Equipment in Brentwood, NH let us know they had a 2017 Legacy XL in stock with the 33 hp EFI engine, 4WD, a 61” fabricated deck, and front-end loader (FEL), we couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel and see what changes and improvements had been made.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2017 John Deere 2038R
Our test tractor was the 33 hp EFI model with 4WD. Power is by a Briggs & Stratton Vanguard model “Big-Block” with rated power coming at 3600 engine rpm and a torque curve similar to that of a 24 hp diesel. Output from the V-Twin is sent via shaft to a single-range Tuff-Torq K92 hydrostatic transmission with a second shaft from the transmission driving the front axle. Differential lock is standard. Modulation over the 0-9 mph forward and 0-5.5 mph reverse speed is via a twin side-by-side pedal arrangement. Automatic traction control is a nice Simplicity feature which automatically locks the rear wheels whenever slippage is detected. Combined with 4WD, the Simplicity Legacy XL is ready for challenging conditions from snow removal to ground-engaging activities. Onboard fuel is 6.0 gallons, with the filler tube easily accessed behind the seat.
Walking around the tractor, a number of new features jump out. There is now a standard ROPS (foldable) with an affixed LED light that can swivel from the tractor front to back vs. the lightless hood hoop of the previous generation. The hood now has a racier design with a muscle car-like hood scoop, LED headlights and a mesh grille. The 18” high-back seat is much thicker – think high-end z-trak – with armrests that fold when desired. And the loader, still manufactured by Kwik-Way, now is a curved-boom mid-mount design, rather than the old subframe system. Simplicity has taken care to make the new mount system backward compatible, so that older Legacy tractors can accept a newer loader, while a newer model will still be compatible with older attachments such as a snowblower. The steering wheel tilts for operator comfort. Checking the spec book and we found the tractor is still built around a heavy-duty seven-gauge frame with the front axle constructed from cast iron. 2WD tractors come with 18×8.5-10 front and 26×12-12 rear R3 turf tires, while 4WD tractors come with same-sized Terra Trac tires – a hybrid design offering the traction of tires that are often harmful to lawns while still having the turf-friendliness of a turf design.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2017 New Holland Boomer 24
Settling into that nicely bolstered and padded seat and the operator gets a clean, modern layout with the loader joystick nicely incorporated into the dash panel, a highly-readable and colorful digital dash, ergonomic lever and switch positioning, 12V outlet, cup holder/tool tray, and hand grips on both sides. The right fender houses the cruise control, light switch and 2WD/4WD lever while the left houses the cup holder/tray/12V outlet and a switch that diverts hydraulic flow from the mower deck lift system/three-point hitch (3PH) to the loader or hydraulic implement. The dash contains the throttle, key switch, reverse mow override key, and electro-hydraulic PTO engage/disengage knob.
The Kwik-Way loader is rated to lift 500 lbs and can be removed in minutes without using tools. A 48” bucket is standard and is well-matched to the tractor. A bolt-on upper lip protects the tractor hood from an inadvertent backwards spill and the whole setup is compatible with the mower deck so one does not have to be removed for the other to be used.
No Simplicity tractor review is complete without spending time on the mowing decks which deliver some of the finest cuts in the industry. Our test tractor was outfitted with the 61” fabricated deck which is made from 10-gauge steel, reinforced in all the right places, and is a drive-over design for easy removal/installation. The deck has two pivot wheels in front and a full width striping roller in the rear. Cut height is electrically adjustable from the dash with the readout graduated in quarter-inch increments from 1-4 inches. Simplicity is confident enough in the deck construction to place a step on it, along with giving fabricated decks a limited lifetime warranty. The 52” deck is of similar construction, and with the same warranty, but is not drive-over compatible.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2017 Kioti CS2510 TLB
Firing up the choke-less Vanguard V-Twin results in an 84/91 dBA idle, which rises to 90/97 dBA at PTO rpm. At idle, the hydraulics cycle nicely without jerkiness, but throttle up, and response will leave few wishing for more. Turn radius in 2WD works out to 35”, while shifting into 4WD extends the radius to 55”. Ride comfort is more deluxe lawn and garden tractor than subcompact, with a lot of that credit going to the deep-cushioned seat. The Legacy XL measures 81” long by 45” wide and is 82” high to the top of the ROPS. Simplicity tractors carry a three-year residential or one-year commercial warranty. MSRP for the Legacy XL with the 33 hp Vanguard is $12,699 with the rear PTO and $11,699 without. Initially, all tractors outfitted with PTOs will be dealer installed. Our test tractor, as outfitted, carried a MSRP of $18,093.
So, is the Simplicity Legacy XL a true subcompact or is it a heavy-duty lawn and garden tractor on steroids? Our conclusion is that there isn’t a simple answer. The Legacy XL has all the credentials of the tractors we chose to include in our subcompact comparison, less the diesel power. With a torque curve similar to that of a diesel, the EFI gasoline engine would certainly appeal to folks not interested in having a second fuel to store. Lift capacity for the loader (and we suspect the 3PH) is on the low-end when compared to the subcompact tractors we included in our comparison, but is not at all objectionable. None of those tractors, however, can attest to the Simplicity cut quality that approaches that of a properly-sharpened and maintained reel mower. While one debates the tractor classification semantics, factor in the long list of attachments that include a 50” tiller with 7” till depth, 60” rotary broom, 60” blade, 47” two-stage snowblower, and available soft-side cab. The Simplicity Legacy XL is meant to get the job done, whatever the job may be.
For a property owner, commercial mower with other tractor requirements, municipality with ballparks that need to look their best, the Legacy XL should be on their shortlist to consider. And if you’re in the vicinity of tax-advantaged Brentwood, NH, Brentwood Power Equipment would be a good place to visit, meet the nice, knowledgeable folks, check out the timely inventory, and get behind the wheel of a Legacy XL and turn that key.