Newslines Summer 2019

What is the Outcross and where does it fit? PRODUCT TEST Toro Outcross 9060 by James de Havilland 04 . news lines . summer 2019 Take a quick look at the Toro Outcross and chances are you will be struck by its unconventional appearance. The bonnet extends well forward of the front axle, with a cargo bed ahead of a rear three-point linkage. Add a front loader and a hefty ballast weight on the rear and you end up with a machine that looks like a cross between a tractor and utility vehicle. The test machine kitted out with a cab, rear load bay and a front-end loader may not grab any headlines for its looks, but once you are settled inside and start to work through what this machine has to offer it all starts to make sense. To explain why, consider the Outcross in its tested form where the initial task was to use it as a ‘tractor’ loader, the latter offering a capacity of 998kg to a maximum lift height of 2.7m. This near ‘one tonne to over two metres’ is pretty much on the money for most grounds, amenity and sports turf user needs, matching the typical demand for general handling and loading duties. Hang on a minute, though. This loader is fitted to a vehicle that is definitely more utility vehicle than tractor to ‘drive’, with a relatively low seating position that has the added ‘quirk’ of sitting the operator to the left. Working a front loader should be less easy than it would be from the central seat and raised height of tractor, right? Well yes. It does take time to adjust to using a loader from the lowered seating position. Further, the loader has simple crowd and dump, with no self-levelling. Filling a bucket or handling pallets is bound to be trickier than with the same set up on a tractor. Except that did not quite turn out to be the case. The loader is controlled via a central joystick that delivered well-weighted, proportional control. After initially being thrown using a loader from an unfamiliar seating position it only took a couple of loads to establish that actually, using it posed few problems in practice. Much of this is due to being able to see more of the front bucket and load than you would expect. Jump in and use Operating the Outcross as time progressed proved how quickly its initially unfamiliar set up becomes quite normal, making this an easy machine to just jump in and use. Part of this is down to the simplicity of the hydrostatic transmission and how Toro has designed the complete Outcross package to be operator focused. When using the loader, for example, the operator selects a dedicated mode for loader operation on the five-position selector that sets the working mode. No need to choose between high or low speeds, the ‘automatic’ loader position delivers enough torque to the wheels to power the bucket into a heap of material but remain smart witted enough to also then allow the machine to be swiftly backed out and shuttled forward at a decent lick. This ability to match the transmission to the job also shines through when you switch to the automatic high and low ‘ratio’ positions on the controller. Hydrostatic transmissions can deliver a noticeable mismatch between engine revs and travel speed. With the Outcross, the four-cylinder 59hp turbo diesel upfront was not expected to run at full engine speed when running at the all- out 20mph transport speed. Nor did it become bogged down when scaling a slope. This is further reflected in Toro offering two extra transmission settings, the first a creep speed/inching position and the second a ‘fixed’ gear setting that delivers a constant forward speed for duties such as coring. Set up and save Now matters get really interesting. The Outcross is designed to operate a broad range of attachments, as you would expect from a unit that has a 1,134kg capacity rear linkage that easily handles a ProCore 1298 with 2.5m working width, more of which to come. Where it differs from the set-up you would expect on a ‘standard’ utility vehicle or tractor is that with the Outcross, once you have set up how you want to use an attachment, you record your favoured set up and quickly restore them when you come to use the same attachment several months in the future. What is recorded goes beyond details such as fixing the forward speed, other settings such as linkage lift height can be recalled too. So can the Outcross offer tractor rivalling performance, and really be able to operate relatively heavy rear-mounted equipment? We picked up a ProCore 1298 which weighs in at 1,043kg which is not just within the lift capacity of the Outcross, but it could also be easily handled without the need for ballast to be added up front. This is where the cleverly thought out ‘nose heavy’ design of the vehicle shows its worth, the engine weight ahead of the front axle acting as a counterweight. The flip side to this weight up front does mean the ‘rear’ of the vehicle will go light when using a front loader, hence the need for the 800kg counterweight that comes as part of a front loader package. It follows you will not want to lug that big lump around when not needed but weights like this can be a bit of a pain to couple up to and remove. Which is why Toro has designed in another feature: remote hitch up. The rear linkage is raised and lowered from the cab via a crescent shaped bar under the steering wheel. It takes a while to get used to