Six new backhoe loaders lead a surprisingly diverse field of features

By Larry StewartJuly 27, 2022

Market-leading backhoe loader makers Deere and Case have electric backhoe loaders in late stages of development, working on customer sites, but did you know there’s a diesel-electric hybrid backhoe currently available in North America?

Developing electric powertrains is a wave that continues to break over construction equipment for good reasons, but even as once-dominant backhoe loader sales here have slipped to competition from skid steer loaders, attachments and mini excavators, manufacturers continue to advance the capabilities of conventionally powered backhoe loaders.

Distinctions between the market-leading backhoe lines can be as obvious as their various approaches to satisfying diesel emissions regulations. Some models require diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and some don’t, some have diesel particulate filters, and some use exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR). That can make a difference in fuel economy as well as maintenance and operating costs.

You’ll also find a range of control offerings, with some backhoes incorporating electro-hydraulic controls that facilitate on-the-go changes from backhoe- to excavator-style control patterns, flexibility in where the operator can work with the control station in the range between forward- and rearward-facing positions and other control-response customization. Pilot hydraulics remain among the most common and economical choices in backhoe control systems.

Manufacturers have singled out some models to offer in economy trim, using some simpler components to keep acquisition cost down while offering some surprising capabilities.

Backhoes have not only helped launch a lot of construction businesses but they’ve also gained significant popularity in developing regions around the globe. Check out these most-recent updates.

1. John Deere Construction

One of the most notable updates to John Deere’s L Series backhoes – the 310L, 310SL, 315SL, 310SL HL and 410L models refreshed in November 2020 – is that they are now equipped by a 4.5L John Deere PowerTech EWL engine. It delivers a boost in horsepower across the models, while removal of the exhaust gas recirculation system improves reliability.

The 310SL now gets the pressure-compensated load-sensing hydraulic system offered on the 310SL HL, 410L and 710L to improve improved backhoe performance and controllability at any engine speed. The 310SL is now equipped with Lift Mode. When enabled, it automatically sets the engine speed to 1,400 rpm and increases max hydraulic pressure to 4,000 psi for up to a 15% increase in backhoe lift capacity.

The AutoShift transmission is now available as a base offering on the 310SL, 315SL, 310SL HL, 410L and 710L models. And Auto Ride Control, which eliminates the need to manually turn the feature on and off during load and carry, is the only ride control option on those models.

The 310L EP is assembled to deliver value at an economical price. Key differences from the rest of the lineup include a simpler front axle design and a four-speed manual synchromesh transmission. Directional changes remain controlled with a lever for forward, neutral and reverse mounted to the steering column.

2. Caterpillar

The Cat 415, 416, 420, 420 XE and 430 backhoe loader models introduced in March 2020 bring the Cat C3.6 engine that Caterpillar says will improve fuel economy up to 10% compared to the F2 Series. Models 416 through 430 meet U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final emission standards with a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) emission solution that uses diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Model 415 satisfies Tier 4 requirements with only the DPF.

New boom cylinders on the 420 and 420 XE offer up to 15% more boom lift capacity. Seat-mounted controls on the 420 XE swivel with the operator to control loader and backhoe functions for more ergonomic and comfortable operation. The electro-hydraulic controls enable Dual Mode, which allows you to operate the loader with your right hand and the backhoe with your left with the control console in any position within its 180-degree spin. As with the F2 Series, pilot controls are standard on the 420 and 430 and optional on the 415 and 416 models.

Built with single-tilt loader arms, the 420 XE’s electronic loader controls enable selectable parallel lift to retain more material in the bucket during loading. Programmable loader kickout and return-to-dig is easily set via the LCD operator display with touchscreen control automates those routine functions.

All the new backhoe loaders feature standard four-wheel drive with rear differential lock. Selectable power management modes on the 420, 420 XE and 430 models offer the choice of Standard Mode for increased fuel savings or Standard Plus Mode to boost performance by maximizing backhoe implement speeds. Adjustable auxiliary hydraulic flow on the loader allows the operator to fine-tune machine hydraulics to power attachments like brooms and hydraulic angling snow pushes. These models now come standard with powershift transmission for easier on-the-go gear shifting.

3. Case Construction Equipment

The big advances among updates Case made to its N Series backhoe loaders in November 2018 include adding a backhoe PowerBoost function and a new PowerDrive direct-drive transmission upgrade.

A new button on the left-hand backhoe joystick activates PowerBoost – a momentary increase in hydraulic power without diminishing engine RPM so backhoe speed is not affected. Case backhoes still feature PowerLift, which boosts lifting power into a range comparable with some mid-sized excavators at lower engine speed.

On Case S-Type and H-Type transmissions, Direct Drive, engages the engine and transmission directly to improve gradeability, transport speeds and fuel economy. The PowerDrive transmission maintains its autoshift capabilities and now automatically activates direct drive in third and fourth gears based on torque demand and jobsite conditions.

A new factory-installed hydraulic thumb compatible with mechanical and hydraulic bucket couplers is available on all extendahoe models. All new extendahoe models include the new thumb mounts so it can be added after purchase without requiring any welding on the structure.

Three new switches on the loader joystick include a new declutch trigger that allows for simple declutch in repetitive operations, a new roller/rocker switch with a detent position that can be locked in the forward position for use with attachments such as brooms and snow blowers, and a new F-N-R switch that allows easy direction changes.

Enhanced roller switches for auxiliary hydraulics and extendahoe control have been added to the backhoe pilot control joysticks for intuitive control and improved metering.

4. New Holland Construction

New Holland calls the B75D backhoe loader the company introduced in October 2021 an “economy class” machine, owing in part to cost-effective emissions compliance. The 74 hp, 3.4L FPT engine satisfies Tier 4 Final limits with cooled exhaust gas recirculation and a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), which the maker says will improve fuel efficiency and throttle response.

With the Extend-a-Hoe option, the B75D reaches more than 18 feet of backhoe dig depth, and all models come standard with four-wheel drive and power shuttle synchromesh transmission.

5. JCB

JCB’s introduction in December 2019 of the JCB 1CXT backhoe loader brought an unusual configuration of the backhoe loader to the market – a rubber-tracked machine with a skid-steer-sized footprint and more than 10-foot dig depth with extendible dipper stick option.

The JCB 1CXT offers more dig depth and reach, and greater loadover (8 feet, 8 inches) and dump height (7 feet, 3 inch), than a conventional skid steer. It has similar lift capacity to a 1,466-pound skid steer, but delivers 25% greater dump angle and 15% more breakout force.

The 1CXT has two work zones like most backhoe loaders. Joystick controls mounted to the swiveling seat allow the operator to simply rotate between loader and excavator positions, and to use an intermediate operating position at 45 degrees of rotation to improve truck loading visibility.

The unit comes standard with heated and air-conditioned cab (open ROPS platform is optional) with side-entry door. Its operating weight is just under 9,600-pound.

The 49 hp diesel engine does not require DPF or DEF aftertreatment.

6. Huddig

Huddig brings to North America its hybrid Huddig 1370T, a backhoe with 14-foot, 8-inch dig depth that can run solely on its electric batteries for up to two hours. When the machine needs charging, its Cummins QSB 4.5 engine starts automatically to recharge the battery. The Swedish company has three Huddig dealers in the U.S.

The diesel-powered Huddig 1370 (a whopping 157 hp Cummins QSB 6.7) and the hybrid 1370T are the first of a new generation of machines. Huddig’s FlexLever system allows the operator to configure the functions of the electro-hydraulic joysticks. A third double-acting hydraulic outlet makes it possible to operate three hydraulic functions simultaneously.

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