What Is the Best John Deere Lawn Tractor Ever Made?

John Deere is famous for producing some of the best lawn tractors in the world. So, it’s difficult to pinpoint any one model because it depends on the size, year, make and design. That said, it seems as though the two most praised John Deere lawn tractors are the 4020 and the 318. The 318 would probably take the top spot.

But, John Deere has a host of tractors that have been excellent for farmers, horticulturists and homesteaders alike. Even though they aren’t quite like the 4020 and 318, they are top quality and reliable.

Why Is John Deere 318 the Most Popular Lawn Tractor Ever Made?

From 1983 until about 1993, John Deere produced their 318 model. This was the crème de la crème of tractors that developed a near cult-like following. Childhoods were built on this of tractor; people’s memories of family members operating a 318 are more valuable than the tractor itself.

If you poke through online farming and agriculture forums, it shows. Even after 30+ years, people commend the 318 for its dependability and reliability. Because of this, it’s difficult to find a used one because they go just as fast as suppliers can stock them.

While there were a few changes and alterations to the machine in 1986 and 1987 with the air-cooled gas engine, the whole machine was top of the line and commercial grade. The specifications and attachments for the 318 were:

  • Shaft-driven Sundstrand 90 hydrostatic transmission
  • Cutting deck sizes came in 38, 46 or 50 inches with the option for a 54-inch blade
  • 18 horsepower Onan two-cylinder air-cooled gas engine
  • 46-inch single-stage or 47 inch two-stage snow blower
  • Shaft-driven tiller up to 48 inches
  • 30-inch hydraulic tiller (with optional extension up to 42 inches)
  • Model 44 loader
  • Multiple Bagging Systems: standard two-bag, 6.5 or 13-bushel collection system

Are There Any Similar Models to the John Deere 318?

There are a few models that John Deere has that are very similar to the 318. The 316 was comparable, but it doesn’t have power steering. Other ones are the 322, 330 and 332 but they come backed by power from Yanmar.

Why Is John Deere 4020 One of the More Popular Lawn Tractors Ever Made?

The 4020 by John Deere is a fan favorite from 1963 to 1972 and is far hotter topic in online forums than even the 318. Its overall design was not only iconic but also heroic. During the earliest parts of its existence, the John Deere 4020 sold more than 177,000 models.

Because it was so innovative at the time, one of these sold at auction in 1970 for $26,000 and again in 1972 for $30,000. For the early 70s, this price was equivalent to buying a new house. The 4020’s quality and longevity speak for itself, with used models selling as recently as 2012 and 2013 for around $11,000 to $18,000.

This was a game-changer for many farmers. It saved lives with its rollover protection feature. It started from the top of the cab into the rear axle, which prevented turning the machine over on steep hills. Some of the features and attachments include:

  • Synchro-range transmission
  • Full power steering
  • Front-end options such as the Roll-o-Matic, single-wheel or tricycle
  • Variable tire sizes that were adjustable to match row cop sizes
  • Power shift transmission (allowed for gear changes without a clutch)
  • Deluxe seating
  • Hydraulic controls

Are There Any Tractors Comparable to the John Deere 4020?

While there’s nothing on the market that comes anywhere near the 4020, there are some John Deere models that come somewhat close. The 4230, 4400 and 4450 are the three that most JD fans praise in comparison.

  • 4230: Produced between 1973 and 1977, this row crop tractor came from Waterloo, Iowa. Only 33 of these were built in total. This replaced the 4020 directly and offered a row-crop tricycle front end. It had 100 horsepower and a 37 gallon gas tank with a six-cylinder engine and a 404ci displacement.
  • 4400: This compact utility tractor, produced between 1998 and 2001, offers a modern twist on an old design. Manufactured in Augusta, Georgia, this comes with a Yanmar six-cylinder diesel engine with about 35 horsepower and a 10 gallon fuel tank.
  • 4450: This row crop tractor accounted for 20% of all tractor sales between 1983 and 1988. It was the best selling tractor amid their entire 50 series line. This model introduced the concept of a caster/action front-wheel drive system. This allowed the wheels to angle up 13°, which provided for sharper turns and larger front tires.

Which Other John Deer Lawn Tractors Are the Best Ever Made?

While there hasn’t been any other John Deere tractor like the 4020 or the 318, there are several other models that still deliver JD’s notorious quality and reliability.

  1. 3028 EN: This fully-loaded tractor is best for orchards, homesteading and other smaller farm operations. There are disc brakes and power steering along with 12 gears (including reverse) and 28 horsepower.
  2. 4430: Featuring the sound-guard cab, John Deere sold 74,000 of these tractors.
  3. 4850: The first two-wheel drive tractor to break the 200-horsepower barrier and was the flagship model of JD’s 50 series.
  4. 5036 D: This tractor has an amazing hydraulic lifting capacity with a three-cylinder engine and 36 horsepower.  The engine itself has 2100 RPMs.
  5. 5045 D: The innovative technology contained within this tractor modernized farming and one of JD’s most versatile tractors. It has 45 horsepower and a 15½ gallon fuel tank that offers a reasonable machine for nearly any type of weather or terrain.
  6. 5050 D: Coming with 50 horsepower, three cylinders and a 15½ gallon fuel tank, this is a lawn tractor selection for large farming operations.
  7. 5105: Effective and efficient, these tractors are robust and economical. They have three-cylinder engines with 40 horsepower and a smooth transmission.
  8. 8850: With 304 horsepower, this tractor was the most powerful if its kind and featured four-wheel drive.