Top Tractor 2016: New Holland TD5.90

The very reasonably priced New Holland TD5.90 tractor had the least horsepower of the bunch, but proved itself in the manoeuvrability and speed stakes.

As I contemplate where the Turkish-built New Holland TD5.90 fits into the marketplace, two phrases that come to mind are: “Good things come in small packages” and “Everything has its place”.

New Holland badges its tractors on the bonnet so that once you become accustomed to their formula it is immediately obvious what class of tractor you are looking at. The ‘5’ represents the tractor’s category. The following numbers refer to the maximum engine power rounded up to the nearest 5, in this case 90hp, and finally the D identifies it as an entry-level tractor.

At 3500kg, it’s among the lighter tractors entered into the Top Tractor Shootout. The 88hp utility loader tractor has the least horsepower of the bunch as well. Its smaller stature and lighter weight may provide an advantage when it comes to manoeuvring its way around the tight confines of a dairy farm or smaller operation, but may hold it back a bit when it comes to hauling heavy equipment or carrying multiple bales of hay and full buckets of dense material on the front-end loader.

The time trial course at this year’s event revealed some really interesting results for the New Holland. It excelled over the opposition in some areas and came up short in others.


Under the hood, the TD5.90 has a TTF Iveco (8000) 3.9-litre, four-cylinder power plant with turbocharger and intercooler, meeting an emission regulation level of Tier III. Rated power is 88hp at 2300rpm, and PTO power output is 70hp.

According to Mark Eddison and Dave Gibson, the New Holland representatives who attended the Top Tractor Shootout, the engine provides excellent power. In particular, they emphasised its ability to achieve maximum torque at low revs and hang on right though the rev range.

Maximum torque of 356Nm is reached at 1400rpm. Maintaining high torque levels through the rev range allows the operator to set the engine revs to achieve maximum power and fuel economy.


The engine air filtration system is a dual, dry element air filter with a dust ejector. An important power saver is the use of a viscous cooling fan. It only engages when required, as opposed to conventional belt driven fans that run continuously dragging valuable engine horsepower.

Service intervals for the engine remain at 300 hours, ranking it behind the other entrants who have pushed their engine service intervals out to 400, 500 and even 600 hours.

Keeping in mind that this is the brand’s entry level-spec tractor, the transmission is very traditional – 2 x 12 conventional synchro consisting of three ranges with four gears in each range.

Where some may see this as a negative, I prefer to look at it as a tractor that anyone, even those with minimal driving experience, can jump in and operate without any instruction at all.

The transmission is complemented with a hydraulic forward/reverse power shuttle with steering column mounted control lever. In top gear and the engine revving at full revs, it has a maximum speed of 30km/h. It is the slowest in the test, but unless you perform a lot of road transportation, then I can’t see it being an issue.

For me, the foot clutch seemed a bit sensitive, but in contrast, the power shuttle modulation is exceptional. Shuttling between forward and reverse is extremely smooth, and there is no annoying lag time waiting for the direction of travel to change making loader work safe and effort-free. Each range has a little bit of a speed overlap with the next range up, so you can select the perfect gear for the job.

On the hydraulics side, the system is serviced by twin gear-driven pumps. The main services pump delivers 51.7L/min of oil flow to the remotes and linkage. The rear remotes consist of two sets of double acting valves; while both have kick out only one has float.

A further two sets of mid-mount valves with kick out and float are fitted with a joystick controller for the front end loader. The second independent steering pump produces 29.6L/min.

When it comes to connecting implements, Category II quick-attach hook ends have been fitted for ease and time saving. It has a healthy 3565kg lifting capacity at the hook ends. That figure is not the highest in the group, but is ample for a tractor of this size and weight – and if you tried to actually lift more than that, you would struggle to keep the front wheels on the ground. I find it amusing that tractors often boast about their rear linkage lifting capacity, but nine times out of 10 it’s not practical to utilise it.

The TD5.90 is fitted standard with Lift-O-Matic on the linkage to help speed up operation in the paddock. This is a hand-operated mechanism located at the right-hand side of the driver. When activated it lifts implements and returns them to the ground at their pre-set position during headland turns.

Our test tractor had a two-speed, 540/540E, direct drive PTO. Direct drive has the benefit of reducing power losses, and although it doesn’t have the range of speeds of the other tractors in the competition, it would be suitable for most attachments. There is always the option of placing the PTO into 540E and increasing engine revs to achieve higher revs through the PTO.

To complete the utility loader tractor package there’s a Challenge self-levelling front-end loader. This doesn’t have any boom suspension, and the vision while attaching the bucket and forks to the loader is not great. However, operating the loader using the integrated joystick is a pleasant task.


In the cabin

New Holland has paid lots of attention to making sure the driver is comfortable and has good visibility while working. The flat cabin floor makes entry and movement around the cabin as good as any, and an upgraded air-suspension seat adjusts perfectly to suit the operator’s size and weight.

The main tractor functions, such as the hand throttle, hydraulic control levers and loader joystick, are grouped together on the right-hand console. They feel well within reach while my arm was resting on the armrest, which adds to the comfort of driving the tractor.

Visibility is very good. It’s a six pillar cabin, but the door hinging pillars are mounted a long way back to allow very large entry doors. The smaller side windows behind the doors are mounted on a 45-degree angle to provide great vision toward the rear and both sides as well. A sunroof helps maintain vision of the front-end loader at full height without having to strain your neck.

On the job

The TD5.90 got off to a flying start as it wound its way around the tight turns of the winding track. In fact, it was the fastest tractor in this part of the course, proving that it was, in fact, the most manoeuvrable tractor in the competition.

Exiting the last turn with the aid of turning brakes, I was slungshot towards the pile of bark chips. I shuttled through a total of 10 directional changes during the process of dumping three buckets full of chips into the bin.

In my opinion, the transition from forward to reverse and vice versa via the steering column power shuttle lever was the smoothest, had the best modulation, and had the least lag time of all the tractors that we drove in the competition.

Swapping the bucket for forks should have been the easy part of the course, but it actually highlighted what I would call a design flaw with the Challenge loader. I got the bucket off the loader easily enough, but found it very hard to see and therefore line up the attaching points on the loader and the forks. An easy technique is to crowd the attaching mechanism on the loader right forward where it can easily be seen, but there are two protruding pieces of pointed steel that are supposed to help guide the bucket and forks onto the loader, making it impossible to use this method.

Adding to the problems I encountered while attaching the forks was that the clutch was very sensitive. Riding the clutch a bit generally allows gentle control of movement, but each time I tried to gently ease forward to the forks, I found myself lurching forwards because the clutch would engage abruptly.

After wasting a bit of time attaching the forks, I was hoping to make up ground loading the hay onto the truck. Unfortunately, I found myself having to take a very cautious approach because there just wasn’t enough weight in the tractor to attack this part of the course too aggressively.

Trying to rush only resulted in losing traction on the rear wheels and lifting up the inside rear wheel through turns. A bit of extra ballast on the rear would have allowed the tractor to operate in a faster and safer manner.


The verdict

The New Holland TD5.90 is a great little loader tractor. To its credit, it still produced the fastest overall time for completing the course.

Its manoeuvrability around the course and excellent shuttle modulation makes it perfectly suited to navigating around narrow laneways on dairy farms, or on properties where there is not a lot of room to manoeuvre between sheds and other structures.

It is very well appointed and designed for the customer who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on frills and extras that will never be fully utilised or, in fact, required. Small to medium dairy farms, hobby and weekend farms, and orchard, vineyard and vegetable farms will make perfect homes for this tractor.


  • Manoeuvrability
  • Shuttle modulation
  • Simple operation
  • Turning circle
  • Air suspension seat


  • Clutch
  • Stability

Also check out our video review of the New Holland TD5.90.

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