John Deere 5M versus 5R comparison

JOHN DEERE’S 5000 series tractors became the 5R, 5M and 5G series a couple of years back, split into specification levels. James Lane takes a look at the high-end 5R and mid-range 5M models.

Choosing a tractor may come down to price at the end of the day, but price differences generally mean you get more bang for your buck, especially when comparing almost like-for-like models.

We chose to take a look at John Deere’s 5R and 5M series tractors, putting them head-to-head on an Essex mixed farm to perform some general duties.

Our test tractors arrived in the following guises:

  • The 5R was the top 5100R model, which according to Deere’s literature kicks out a rated 100hp (97/68 EC) at 2,300rpm, or a maximum power of 108hp. Maximum torque is given as 416Nm.
  • The 5M was a 5090M, so it was not quite up there with the 5R in the power stakes. That said, Deere’s figures state rated power (97/68 EC) at 90hp, albeit at 2,200rpm, giving a maximum power of 91.5hp.

Incidentally, a 5100M tractor would show rated horsepower of 100 with a maximum power of 102hp if tested, according to Deere’s data. Torque on the 5090M reaches 373Nm.

The reason for the difference in the maximum and rated powers is down to the engines. While the 5M relies on Deere’s four cylinder, 4.5-litre PowerTech M mechanical injection unit, the 5R models use the PowerTech E common rail with two valves per cylinder. This means the mechanical governor on the 5M cannot quite match the 5R’s power range, which is understandable.

On the build front, both line-ups are assembled in Deere’s Mannheim facility in Germany, but feature different concepts.

The 5M uses a semi-frame design, and the rear axle is built in Deere’s Augusta plant in the US, but shipped to Mannheim for assembly.

The 5R has the full-frame setup of its larger 6030 and 7030 cousins, where engine and transmission are bolted to it. A full-frame is likely to be theoption of choice for more loader-based duties, given its greater inherent strength.

Similar appearance

The externals may not look too dissimilar on both tractors, but one noticeable difference is on top of the bonnet. The 5R displays a notable bulge near the windscreen, where the engine’s cooling package sits. This is

barely noticeable from the driver’s seat, but it helps distinguish between the different machines.

The higher specification 5R gets a superior specification in its transmission options, which run through Deere’s oil-cooled PermaClutch II. Its lesser-specified cousin has a more basic oil-cooled wet disc type. These control a choice of transmissions.

On the test 5M, we were using Deere’s 32/16 PowrReverser, which gets its speeds from a four-way range lever situated to the driver’s right. It has four speeds on the main lever, plus an awkward to use park gate. A further high/low gear choice comes from a splitter to give the 32 forward gears. An optional 0.3 to 1.6kph creeper box with 16/8 arrangement can be added for use in vegetable applications.

The 5100R arrived with the base spec 16/16 PowerQuad Plus, with just one lever offering four speeds and four speed splits via two buttons.

The lever is an altogether better unit than the one on the 5M, and features a thumb-activated de-clutch button to allow range changes without your left foot. A park gate is also fitted, which is familiar to the former 5020 series setup, and much easier to find than the 5M’s fiddly affair.

Gearbox options

The 5R’s more advanced transmission also brings soft shift, speed matching and a cruise control function.

Options such as a creeper, which adds a further 16/16 gears from 1.5kph upwards, plus AutoQuad, can be specified for those who want to increase their speed options.

In terms of comparing the gearboxes, on test we found no argument with the 5R’s PowerQuad Plus being the better unit.

Our host farmer runs a Manitou 741-120 telehandler, and was dubious about using a tractor with a front end loader, having been a telehandler convert for almost 20 years.

However, the 5R’s better shuttle and four splits per gear found favour when mucking out barns, this was felt to be the preferred choice should the farm choose a loader tractor in future.

The 5M’s more basic transmission and shuttle took more getting used to, and the lack of splits meant that shuttling was slower because more gear changes were required.

The range lever, low to the right of the seat, was awkward to use when changing range, which happened frequently during the test. That said, the 5M’s PowrReverser ‘box is simple and good and will meet the needs of most who want a ‘no frills’ machine.

Both cabs look very similar externally, bar the rounded work lights of the 5R as opposed to the square units of the 5M, but the internals are noticeably different.

The 5M’s more basic specification does not give the impression of quality as much as the 5R does, and there are some noticeable differences in cab layout too.

Cab layout

The 5M uses a fixed dashboard facia, but with telescoping and tiltable steering wheel. One LCD display sits in the lower part of the basic facia, giving just the essential information the driver needs.

A ‘Lo’ or ‘Hi’ shows to indicate which split is being used, but it is very hard to see when the sun shines, and could be a problem when entering or leaving sheds.

The 5R, however, has a dash more akin to that found on the 6030/7030 series, in Deere’s familiar beige-coloured plastic. This tilts with the wheel and is just so much clearer, especially when looking for which of the four splits you are working in.

The addition of two dials showing travel speed and engine revs offer a nicer feel than the 5M, plus there is a digital display of speed too. The 5R’s dash just ticks the boxes in this department, and simply wins over the 5M’s more basic layout.

A tractor on a livestock farm is rarely found without a loader in many cases, and both of the Deere test tractors came with John Deere 583 mechanically-levelled loaders fitted. Control for both was via mechanical levers installed in the cabs, which were both equipped with buttons for controlling the gearbox splits.

The Deere-fitted loaders are built in-house, and look robust enough, but we found that dropping off and re-fitting them was not for the novice or impatient.

Given both tractors were new, this accounts for lack of slack in the two locking pins, which will need a liberal greasing every so often. A practiced technique needs to be established here, and this would perhaps show the loader system in a better light.

There are neater and tidier systems available on loaders but, as our host farmer pointed out, when you are used to telehandlers and their simple locking systems, it does seem to take a long time.

Put to the test

To test the tractors, we found a suitably muck-laden shed to clear. Normally the Manitou will be employed with a full width muck grab and can load the farm’s muck trailer in three good attempts.

The Deeres came with a combination bucket and grab, which were not ideal for large loads. We persisted with what we had, and it turned out that the combination was an efficient way of scraping up the debris where a grab cannot.

The tractors came with a weight block for the rear linkage, and it is definitely needed. Deere recommends 900kg for this combination of loaders and tractors. Without this weight, you will not be lifting much wet muck with any peace of mind, especially not over the side of 12-tonne Marston in a slippery yard as we were.

Hopping into the cabs, both tractors offered good traction and tear out force within our test shed. Some well set manure and straw was a test for the farm’s Manitou, and both Deeres did well extracting the material.

When used to a telehandler, the reach and capacity difference was noticed by our host farmer, and was somewhat lacking, but this is to be expected.

In the mucking out test, the 5R came out on top, as expected. Having 10hp more than its contemporary, ease-of-use and more splits of the PowerQuad Plus really made it stand out.

The shuttle lever came into its own, leaving you feeling more in control of your direction changes, and when working close to the trailer when tipping a load. The thumb de-clutch button also worked nicely for stopping short of the muck trailer.

Loader controls for both machines were identical, and both fell to hand easily. As mentioned, the lever features split control buttons, but it is the 5R which makes better use of them. When shifting to or from the trailer,

cycle times were drastically reduced as the 5M often needed a gear change for going into the heap and then another to pull out or move the load to the trailer.

On transport duties, the difference in specification is clear. Hauling the trailer down to the muck pile was more of a pleasure in the higher level 5R, especially when changing ranges using the dump button.

In terms of hydraulic power, there is little to choose between the two, although we found the 5R was a little slack at tipping a full load. It was discovered that the tractor was a little on the low side when we checked the back end oil, but with a top up it performed admirably.

Hydraulic systems differ between the two tractor lines - the 5M features a standard 74 litres per minute open centre twin pump setup, with an option of 94 litres per minute. This compares well to the 5R’s maximum flow of either 56 or 65 litres per minute, although this is from a load sensing system with constant flow pump.

With only limited field work possible, both tractors were hitched up a set of folding chain harrows, a common job on the farm’s pasture, but usually carried out with the sole tractor - a New Holland T7040.

For general field work like this, the 5M distinguished itself, where the simpler gearbox is fine for motoring up and down.

Mechanical lift

The mechanical lift system fitted works well, but if you want refinement then opt for the 5R’s quadrant system, which features dials for rate of drop and maximum height, similar to that found on larger Deeres.

Position and draft knobs sit on a dial further back in the cab, and linkage up/down is on a thumb button aside the quadrant.

We suspect cultivations and ploughing will not be the main duty for a tractor of this size, so you pay your money and take your choice when it comes to linkage controls.

The 5M came with a more basic 540 and 540E setup, although 1,000rpm speed is available. Engagement is by the same lever in both models, so when it comes to the crunch, there is little to choose between if you are aiming for a general all round tractor with a loader from the Deere 5 series stable.

While the 5M offers a good engine, solid hydraulics and simple mechanical hitch system as standard, it can be specified up to have electronic linkage, but not the better PowerQuad ‘box, which is down to the tractor’s construction using a short frame and not the full frame of the 5R.

For refinement in the sub-100hp sector, the 5R does tick the main boxes and is a nice place to spend a day, although whether it is enough to warrant paying the extra cash (around £10,000) is down to personal choice. Our host farmer was adamant that if he was to choose one, the 5R would be the one staying on farm to help out on duties which the big Manitou just cannot manage, such as mowing, tedding and raking.

Engine make/typeDeere PowerTech M, mechanicalDeere PowerTech E, common injection with turbocharger rail 2 valves per cylinder with turbocharger
Displacement (litres)cylinders4.5,44.5, 4
Rated Power (97/68 EC), hp90 @ 2,200rpm100 @ 2,300rpm
Max. Power (97/68 EC), hp91.5108
Max. torque (97/68 EC), Nm373416
Transmission options (all 40k)16/16 SyncReverser, 16/16 PowrReverser or 32/16 PowrReverser Plus16/16 PowerQuad Plus,16/16 AutoQuad Plus or with 16/16 creep
Pto540/540E, or 540/540E/1000540/540E, or 540/540E/1000
Hydraulic systemOpen centre with tandem pump, 74l/min std, 94l/min optLoad sensing with constant flow pump, max. flow 56l/min or 65l/min
Maximum rear hydraulic valves33
Rear Linkage typeMechanical or Electronic lower link sensingElectronic lower link sensing
Maximum rear linkage
capacity, at hooks
ChassisShort frame designFull steel frame design
Wheelbase (mm)2,2502,250

Overall height (mm)

(on tyre size)



2,595/2,540 (low profile)


Overall width (mm)2,0181,860
Max. gross weight (kg@40kph)6,1006,600
Base retail price (and spec)£39,215 (with 32/16 PowrReverser Plus)£49,170(with PowerQuad Plus and 16.9R34/13.6R24)


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