Before a new tractor model is ready to work the land, it must face the oval test track at the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory. The facility opened in Lincoln, Nebraska nearly a century ago. Back then, horses were commonly used to plow and harvest—not tractors. Early models often failed to perform as advertised. In 1919, the Nebraska Tractor Test Law required manufacturers to verify horsepower claims before a tractor is offered for sale in the state. The first tractor test was conducted in 1920, with a model that produced a mere 15 horsepower. Since then, more than 2,000 tractor models have been tested, including modern 500 hp models.
This year, the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab evaluated the all-new Xerion 5000 and 4500 tractors by Claas, putting them head-to-head with competitors in the four-wheel-drive 450-500 hp class. At nearly 25 feet in length, Xerion 5000 and 4500 tractors are among the industry’s largest. Used primarily for heavy tillage, planting and seeding, the machines offer cutting-edge features like four-wheel steering, GPS capability and a rotating cab option. Highly sophisticated technology can also be found in their powerful six-cylinder MTU Series 1300 engines (OM 571), which meet Tier 4 Final emissions standards without the need for DPF aftertreatment.
At the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab, the new Xerion tractors broke records for fuel efficiency, pull-to-weight ratio and low cab noise. The Xerion 4500 now holds the record as the most fuel-efficient tractor in its class. The Xerion 5000 and 4500 beat top competitors in engine lugging capacity, setting a record for low engine speed while providing maximum torque. In the ballasted portion of the test, the Xerion 4500 set a new 25-year pull-to-weight ratio record for 4WD tractors.
“When you’re in prime tillage season and running 10-12 hours a day, fuel efficiency really adds up. Cab noise on those long days is also a big concern,” says Sparenberg. The noise level recorded in the cab of the Xerion 4500 was a record-breaking low 68.5 decibels. The Xerion 5000 broke that record shortly afterwards with 67.0 decibels. As a comparison, that’s quieter than a Cadillac Escalade or Volkswagen Golf cruising at 65 mph (100km/h).
Manufacturers around the world use the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory as a benchmark to compare their tractors against the competition. After each comprehensive evaluation, the results are made public. As the only test lab of its kind in North and South America, it is one of the most renowned institutions in the field of agricultural engineering. “The Nebraska test lab is the only place where there is a totally independent, apples-to-apples type of comparison for tractor performance,” says Paul Sparenberg, sales manager, MTU America. “When a manufacturer sets a record here, it’s a big deal. The results are looked upon very highly in the industry.”
“At Claas, we pride ourselves in offering premium products that focus on efficiency, productivity and comfort,” says Drew Fletcher, product manager – tractors, Class of America. “Designing great products is our strength, but we also have some exceptional supply partners like MTU, that provide very efficient and productive components for our systems.”