I grew up farming with junk and less than optimum tractors, you would be surprised at what you can do with a poorly performing 3PH, I truly love the ones on my new Kubotas, but when I am done, it really looks no different than when I used some of our 50+ year old tractors. As someone else mentioned, sometimes you really don't know how something is supposed to work if you have never used one.
Well Jeff let me just put some newbie intel in for you. I did just buy my first tractor and am doing similar as you and have plenty of trees to clear. I bought the L3540 based off what most were saying here both good and bad. I'm new to tractors and the ones I have played with are 30yrs old. Oh my god! This tractor although early on in use is awesome. I usually wait till I can buy quality even if it means, in my case, another year. If you can find a 3540, or similar in the grands, get it and don't look back!
Hi, Jeff, and welcome to the forum.
I used to have an L4300 (a couple versions earlier of the L4600) and traded it to an L3540. Not apples to apples, exactly, but close. Sit on, drive, and walk around both, and you will immediately see the difference. As others have stated, the Grand L features greater weight, beefier front axle, better loaders, better controls, advanced ergonomics, telescoping side arms, tilt steering wheel, better seat, HST+, etc., that the Standard L line lacks. With my L4300 (standard L), after an hour or two in the seat, I was beat, sore, and ready to do something else. I wanted a tractor that I would WANT to keep using! The Grand L is often touted as the "bells and whistles" version, but as James K0UA and others have pointed out in the past, those are not bells and whistles, they are features that you will thank yourself for getting every time you use them. Time and time again I smile as I use my Grand L, long past the time when the smiles on my standard L would have turned to frowns. In your case the only way I would consider the L4600 is if I were going to be using the PTO a lot and really needed those extra ponies. It sounds like you will mostly be using the backhoe, so not an issue. I run the same implements (like a 6' brush hog) on my 3540 that I did on my 4300. There is not much difference in implement capability between these two tractors. I join the others in heartily recommending the Grand L.
But for using a rear rake or a box blade, pushing snow or maneuvering in the woods, having the throttle drop way down not only quiets down the tractor, probably saves a little fuel, and allows slow speed maneuvering without the engine roaring.
Easy to turn on and off.
"As someone else mentioned, sometimes you really don't know how something is supposed to work if you have never used one."
Yes, TripleR. I think most understand that they want the 3 pt hitch to operate very smoothly. My old Ford ('63 4000) and old JD ('74 301A) had very smooth operating 3 pt hitches with draft and position control, and the JD had a combo position of the two as well. The smooth hitch is nice and I tried Grand L's and B's with 1/4 inching before I purchased my L. I think I am just trying to say that if the tractor someone is looking at is the right size and price for what they need, the slightly jerky 3 pt is not a deal breaker, unless they are doing grading work and do not think they can live with it. I think you would have to be someone that their main priority is grading to have it matter that much. For me the L3800 was just about the perfect size for my current needs. The B3300SU would have been nice, but the loader lift capacity and heighth just wasn't enough. Just my :2cents: