HERE’S THE familiar Deere silhouette again – compact, chunky, bold-nosed. All the oily bits are hidden behind the full-frame chassis or under covers, the exhaust attaches to the cab, and – if you could but see it – the engine sits on rubber mounts. The bonnet panels are plastic, the rear mudguards steel with deep spats and high-set saucer lamps. On top is a short, wide cab with a new skylight. It’s easily the group’s flyweight at 6.61t.

Build quality outside and inside parallels the Fendt. Cab materials are good, trim and panel fits are above average. From the busy engine bay to the stacked rear end, the 6920 looks open for business.

Cab, noise

Second widest but average in length, the cab has an open feel and two usable doors. Dominating proceedings at seat level is a battlecruiser-sized armrest which, by hoovering up many of the side console’s functions, creates space elsewhere. Primary feature up above is a massive hatch/sunroof, which loader users will love.

Comfort’s not an issue thanks to generous adjustment in the steering column and seat, the latter swivelling well for fieldwork. Optional climate control dispenses plenty of air, albeit only from front console vents. A passenger must slot into a small space alongside the driver, but (unusually) can have a sprung seat.

Stowage is OK – an optional field office box, two cubbies in the roof and a pair of deep trays behind the main chair, although these aren’t easy to ferret among. Bottle/flask storage is an option; it should be standard.

Views are mixed. No problem to the sides and to the front wheels, but limited forward by the tall bonnet. And a short operator finds a confection of spool valves blocking sight of the lowered lift arms – very unhelpful at times.

External controls can come in on both sides, with mounts finding two sets of tapped holes. Power supplies are mean unless if you go for the optional six-outlet strip.

The seat has no driver-presence detection. That’s a particularly daft omission, because it’s very easy to brake the tractor to a stop with the CVT and then accidentally leave it moving at a snail’s pace. Along with a seat interlock, Deere should add a zero-travel position at the lower end of the speed selection gate. As things stand, Mannheim expects the driver to secure the tractor using the shuttle lever’s park position.

And noise levels? As recorded, the lowest in the test. But the potential calm – subdued engine hum and just the odd distant whine as the transmission sorts itself out – is shattered by intrusive random shooshings from the hydraulic cab suspension. Definitely needs sorting.

Engine

Deere’s own 6.7 litre, 147hp (ECE) common rail diesel supplies 137pto hp at rated speed, the lowest here. But the motor’s highest-in-test overpower (18hp) reverses the tables on the Deutz, as does the Deere’s 662lbf ft torque. Constant power is tops at 29% and spreads back to 1500 revs; torque rise is a high 41.5%. Specific consumption at rated speed and max power comfortably undercut the opposition, but the 268g/kWhr six-point average barely betters the rest. Yet at max drawbar power, the 6920 is by some way the most fuel-efficient – important in heavy draft work.

Hitch, linkage

Hardware features Deere’s single self-locking stabiliser and a finger-pinching top link clip. Average lift force is lowest in the group, but 6.3t at minimum should just be enough for heavy kit; ditto the relatively restricted lift range.

The average-feature-set hitch is directed entirely from the seat armrest, keeping everything handy. Externally, two button sets deliver tortoise-slow arm movement. Hitch response is fast and accurate, with the interactive maximum lift height knob a plus. Less comforting is the working depth slider, which in its transfer to the armrest has lost some convenience – now you reach round the corner of the armrest lid to use it.

Hydraulic services

Three standard electro-hydraulic valves link to a load-sensing supply, a fourth is optional. Markings are clear, outlet covers average. Oil flow and hydraulic power are the best in the group.

Small, very convenient tab switches in the armrest direct oil. Flow and valve timing are varied using an afterthought-looking rotary switch on the console, with settings viewed in the cramped dash display. This works, but not as cleanly as Fendt’s screen-based set-up and certainly not as quickly as the Deutz manual-knob arrangement.

Other negatives are the need to push spool tabs down and forward to find float, and the difficulty of changing flow/timer settings on the move.

Pto

Just a basic 540, 540E and 1000 speed set is offered. Deere’s selection levers are plain cranky to handle alongside the Fendt/Massey pushpad selection, but the reversible circlip-held stub is relatively easy to change and means you won’t be stranded with the wrong shaft.

Engagement is from a safe, visible tab switch on the armrest. External buttons allow remote operation once a console enable switch is set, which also triggers the hazard lamps to minimise risk.

Diff locks, 4WD

Auto operation of these systems is only possible through Deere’s optional HMS headland management. With it, 4WD can drop out and re-engage according to speed, but the back diff needs manual relocking from an old-school foot button if speed goes beyond 12kph. The front diff is self-locking.

Steering, suspension and brakes

No concerns over effort, but significant free play at the wheel and general sensitivity leave the 6920 skittish at speed. Only the Massey needs more attention on the road. The good news is the group’s tightest turning circle, 1.7m inside the long-wheelbase MF in 4WD.

Hydraulics suspend the cab and front axle. Good marks for comfort – even if the ride could be softer – but certainly not for noise during cab levelling, as detailed earlier.

Power boost operation and front axle anchors are part of the 50k CVT package, and they really do the job. The short-travel, firm pedal produces strapping retardation on the road and quickly tightens turns in the field.

Maintenance

Engine oil at 500 hours, transmission 1500 hours (66 litres). Sightglass for hydraulic oil to keep you clean, 28 greasers to keep you busy. Easy-open bonnet discloses handy battery and air filter, but rad filter screens can slide out only when front wheels are turned.

Endnote

In power terms a little out of its depth in this company, yet the 6920 makes good on economy, low weight and sheer driveability. Deere’s take on CVT operation delivers 90% of the functionality of others for 20% of the driver effort. Why can’t the rest be as straightforward?