After a few weeks of deliberation, I've finally settled on getting a 1025R.
The final group I was choosing between came down to the LS MT125, Yanmar SA324, and the Kubota BX23S. Ultimately, the main deciding factors were price, the strength of the dealer network and the available financing options.
Of all the tractors, I think the LS MT125 was the best value, if you were paying in cash. The lowest price I got was $16,200 for the TLB with 60" mower. That price also came with a number of caveats -- I would be buying from a dealer I'd only ever talked to on the phone that was located across the country. On top of that, the best financing available from this dealer was in the range of 6% and my local credit unit couldn't do any better for a tractor. My most local (still over an hour away) LS dealer offered slightly better financing, but the pricing was another $1800 higher than the out of state option. Once I factored in the total payback over the life of the loan, the relatively small savings wasn't worth not having a dealer close by. No question though, if you have the cash on hand, the LS is an outstanding deal.
The Yanmar SA324 is a very substantial tractor, but it also ended up being prohibitively expensive once the backhoe was added in.
Initially, I'd actually completely passed over the 1025R for a number of reasons -- I figured it would be priced higher than competing SCUTs and I'm also not a fan of some of Deere's consumer unfriendly business practices in the past decade or so. But, after watching an untold number of Tractor Time with Tim episodes I had to go check one out for myself.
Much like the LS MT125, the 1025R struck me as being more substantial than the BX23S. I was also surprised that it seemed to turn just as well even with being longer and wider. After checking with my two local dealers, I was able to get pricing of $19,000 for the 1025R TLB. That was essentially the same as the best pricing I'd received in the BX23S, after adding in the SSQA option. After adding in a few implements, the pricing gap widened a bit further in Deere's favor.
Ultimately I ended up with the following configuration:
- 1025R TLB
- 54D auto connect deck
- 54" quick attach blade w/ hydraulic lift, hydraulic angling and extensions*
- Frontier RT1149 Tiller
- Frontier AV20F Root Grapple
- John Deere 3rd function hydraulics