McCormick X7.660 tractor review

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Andrew Britten

McCormick X7.660 tractor review McCormick X7.660 tractor review
McCormick X7.660 tractor review McCormick X7.660 tractor review
McCormick X7.660 tractor review McCormick X7.660 tractor review
McCormick X7.660 tractor review McCormick X7.660 tractor review
McCormick X7.660 tractor review McCormick X7.660 tractor review
McCormick X7.660 tractor review McCormick X7.660 tractor review
McCormick X7.660 tractor review McCormick X7.660 tractor review

After many ownership incarnations, design and direction, the Big Red iconic McCormick is back with its own name and on its own terms. Australian reporter Tom Dickson tests the all-new X7.660.

Cyrus McCormick is commonly regarded as the inventor of the agricultural harvester in 1831, which led to the first McCormick factory being opened in 1841. The new company thrived and is believed to be the first to offer a full money-back guarantee to any customer not fully satisfied with the product’s performance.

Over the next 180 years, McCormick has shared alliances with International Harvester, Champion, Deering, Milwaukee and Case IH. In 1999 Argo purchased McCormick and then in 2006 merged McCormick with Landini to create one company.

The McCormick Farmall is still considered the tractor that industrialised the United States. In 1922, Farmall tractors were painted red for safety reasons, which replaced its familiar grey colour and marked the beginning of ‘Big Red’.

Like a phoenix, McCormick has again risen from the ashes with the release of the brand new X7 series tractor. Built in Italy, the X7.660 is distributed in New Zealand by Agtek.

With all the bells and whistles, electronics and technology and a competitive price tag, McCormick hopes to carve a little of the tractor market for itself. But if the company truly wants to compete it will need to dot all of its Is and cross all its Ts, because I know for a fact nothing infuriates a farmer more than a piece of machinery that isn’t what it claims to be.

I certainly can’t criticise the look of the X7.660 – its striking red colour and large stature gives the appearance of power and authority. A closer look at what’s beneath its exterior shell is required.

B-Power engine

The BetaPower, or B-Power engines have been specifically designed to satisfy all the McCormick tractor’s requirements. The design of this engine originates from the technology of the highly regarded Cummins. To my knowledge, McCormick tractors have been using BetaPower engines for quite some time now, with good results for power and longevity.

The X7.660 uses a 6.7-litre version of the BetaPower engines. It is a six-cylinder turbo diesel engine with common rail injection system. Under normal circumstances it generates 165hp, 123kW, and is capable of boosting up to 175hp (130kW).

The BetaPower engine is housed beneath a large bonnet giving the tractor the appearance of a powerful looking machine but it in no way hinders visibility when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. In order to get a good look at the engine bay I have to find something to poke into a small hole in the side of the bonnet that triggers the latch. As it turns out the ignition key does the job nicely and in hindsight is obviously the right tool for the job.

While the bonnet effortlessly lifts extremely high above the engine to provide great access it does not have to be raised to perform the daily maintenance check of engine oil. It does need to be lifted however to check coolant levels and clean out the engine air filter and radiator.

Mc Cormick X7.660 Tractor -engine

Regarding cleaning, the radiator mounting assembly is definitely one of the best I’ve seen and prompts me to give the X7.660 its first big tick of approval. Each component in the cooling package hinges from the top and folds forward giving plenty of room to get in and give each a thorough clean.

Way too many times, I’ve seen the damage and loss of performance a poorly cleaned radiator can do to an engine. The BetaPower engine relies on selective catalytic reduction (SCR), AdBlue, to gain its Tier 4 interim status. As a post combustion treatment this system reduces emissions without compromising the engine’s performance. During power take-off (PTO) and road use the PowerPlus technology in the engine allows it to boost its power output up to a maximum 175hp.

Solid foundation

The engine sits within a sturdy cast iron chassis on a rubber mount assembly which firstly reduces vibrations and this in turn minimises noise through to the cabin. My opinion is that the chassis provides a solid base for the construction of the tractor without transferring stress through the engine block, especially if there is a front end loader attached. This design also allows the engine and drive train components to be removed and worked on without splitting the tractor in half.

Attached to the front of the chassis is twelve 45kg weight sets comprising a substantial total of 540kg.

The McCormick X7.660 has double wishbone independent front hydraulic suspension, one feature that perhaps will raise it above some of its more rigid competitors. Its ride position is fully adjustable electronically from the driver’s seat and coupled with hydraulic cabin suspension, creates an exceptionally smooth ride.

Pro Drive 24x24 Transmission

The Pro Drive 24x24 transmission is a six-range, four-speed electronic powershift transmission. Every gear is accessed using two electronic buttons on the multi-function controller located on the armrest of the tractor’s air suspension seat.

Pressing the up button moves up through the powershift gears within each range. Changing up to the next range requires pushing the up button and the enable button on the back of the multifunction controller simultaneously.

Every gear change from first to 24th can be made without the use of the clutch. Changing up or down through the four powershift gears is very smooth but there is a fairly substantial lag time while the gearbox transitions from one range to the next in both directions.

I imagine that if I was pulling a heavy load the tractor would lose a lot of momentum during range changes. The Pro Drive transmission also has creeper speed, which when engaged operates in the first four ranges, effectively increasing the number of forward and reverse gears to 40. To help smooth out range changes the speed matching feature automatically selects the powershift gear that best suits the ground speed of the tractor.

The transmission can also be placed in autoshift mode allowing the tractor to automatically select the appropriate gear after calculating ground speed, engine revs and load.

For safety the transmission can be put into neutral by pressing both the gear up and down buttons at the same time. If you fail to do this before leaving the cabin, the transmission will place itself into neutral automatically. Pushing down and releasing the foot clutch will reengage the gear last used.

Completing the clutchless-operated transmission is the steering column mounted forward/reverse shuttle lever. The tractor transitions between forward and reverse extremely smoothly and its rate of engagement can easily be adjusted by a modulation dial on the multi-function armrest.

Mc Cormick X7.660 Tractor -controls

Electronic fingertip control

The transmission is just one of the many ways McCormick has incorporated technology and electronics into the X7 range to improve the driving experience. Virtually every function of the tractor is now operated by electric and electrohydraulic switches.

The transmission, hydraulics, linkage and PTO have electronic fingertip control. This might not be new, as virtually every top end tractor on the market now uses electronic operation rather than the old lever and cable mechanism, but McCormick has certainly made it very user friendly. The enter/encoder dial on the side of the multifunction armrest gets me into the tractor’s computer and from here I am easily able to change the operating parameters to suit my driving style and the job I am doing.

Customising the linkage lift height and speed, Transmission shuttle modulation, screen lighting, front axle suspension, PTO modulation, and a whole lot of other adjustments are easily performed. Repetitious steps can also be programed into the headland management system to reduce driver fatigue. Two separate sequences can be recorded and stored.

The X7.660’s computer and dashboard screen also acts as a hectare meter to assist with farm management and paddock recording.

Creature comforts

From the moment I begin my ascent into the cabin, I can tell I’m heading into a very well thought-out workplace that prioritises driver comfort. A cleverly placed hand grip is mounted into the front of the rear mudguard to grab hold of on the way into the cab. The hand grip is a great addition but it needs to be sealed at the back so that mud and debris of the rear wheel doesn’t come right through.

The cabin roof seems low as I make my way in but once in the seat, there is heaps of head space. The sunroof allows lots of light in and will be great for maximum vision during frontend loader work. There is also a sun shade that can be pulled across to block out glare.

McCormick has adopted the more popular four-pillar cabin design. Both the left and right doors are a massive single piece of glass hinging at the rear. Even the fairly substantial exhaust system that caters for the SCR emissions control sits neatly behind the front right pillar virtually out of sight.

The seat is fully electronic and responds immediately as I turn on the ignition, inflating its suspension to suit my weight. It can be adjusted in every conceivable direction and even has heating and ventilation to keep the whole of your body comfy.

The interior of the cab is a real delight, having a very modern and luxurious feel featuring surround sound stereo, Bluetooth and USB connection. Beside the driver is a food storage compartment that is capable of heating and cooling meals or drinks. A small but snug passenger seat folds neatly away to the left of the driver when not in use.

With the exception of two PTO speed selection levers and a creep speed lever, every other function is controlled electronically and while this can sometimes create confusion, in this case it’s well laid out, easily identifiable and all within easy reach.

The cabin is a real winner for me except for the handbrake lever. Every time I engage it, I jam my fingers between it and the seat causing much discomfort.

Mc Cormick X7.660 Tractor -linkage And Hydraulics

Around the back

The X7.660 sports a four-speed PTO, 540/540E/1000/1000E.

The electrohydraulic engagement button is easily found because it is a bright yellow colour as are all the PTO functions. Switching between operating speeds is done by moving either the 540/1000rpm lever or the normal/Eco lever. While the PTO engages really smoothly every time, the levers occasionally need a bit of a shove to get them into position.

It is nice to see that the colour matching has been adopted for the electrohydraulically-controled remote valves as well. The first set of remotes is controlled by buttons on the handgrip and the rest are located on the armrest. Each button colour corresponds to coloured caps on the valves. The closed centre circuit offers 123 litres per minute of oil flow. Being an electronic system means the valves more often used can be assigned to buttons on the handgrip.

In addition to the normal drawbar the X7.660 comes standard with a secondary height adjustable trailer hitch. This will be great when using a variety of implements with varying hitch heights and for fine tuning PTO angle. Adjusting drawbar height is a manual operation but triggering the hitch pin can be either manual or automatic.

The adjustable hitch pin is a winner and so too is the generous amount of space between the bottom of the cabin and the drivetrain. It should make it really easy to get a pressure hose in to wash out all the mud, hay and debris that accumulate over the course of the season. Faulty components and oil leaks are much easier to find on a clean machine.

Overall I think the new X7.660 has all the ingredients to make an excellent tractor. Many of its features far exceed those in its class however in my view, there are a couple of minor issues that need to be worked on to place it ahead of the rest of its competitors.

Read the full article in the latest issue (#221) of Farm Trader magazine. Subscribe here.

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