This is my first tractor and this review is for the first time buyer. I paid $12,900 for a LS S3010 in Dec. 2009.
The LS S3010 is a solid little 4WD geared CUT with a 28.8 HP 4-cylinder Mitsubishi diesel engine which includes the loader and radiator guard. It is their "value compact" model and, as you would expect, it doesn't come with a lot of extras. But on the positive side, it way out-performs any CUT of similar engine size. I'm not going to list it all here when it's easily available at lstractorusa.com -- compare and you'll see for yourself. It only comes with a geared transmission and has 8 gears forward and back. The shuttle shift makes it really easy to change directions, but it isn't designed for detailed loader work in tight places. (If that's important to you then look at one of the HST models. Do the same if any of the potential operators are not real comfortable using a manual transmission.) It comes with R4 "industrial" type tires that are a good traction compromise between ag and turf tractor tires. It's a fairly hefty 3000 lbs with very little plastic anywhere, and none where it's important like the fenders and hood.
The good stuff in no particular order:
It has a rear axle lock heel pedal which allows you to lock up the rear axle if one of the rear tires begins to spin. That's important to me as I prefer to use 2WD unless I actually need 4WD. Locking the rear axle often gives me enough traction to do many things without changing to 4WD.
The brakes are only on the rear and are independent with separate pedals. This allows you to lock up a rear wheel to make a really tight turn. The pedals are normally locked together to act as one.
There is even a clutch pedal "lock down" feature to prevent the clutch from rusting/sticking to the flywheel when stored for an extended period. This is a very nice thing to have in a humid climate like the south Texas coast.
There is no exhaust stack to get knocked off by tree limbs and such. The engine exhausts at it's front-left and I haven't noticed any exhaust fumes unless I'm in an enclosed area. I don't know how the exhaust noise compares to other tractors, but it is a little loud to me.
The loader bucket attaches to the loader arms with the very common skid steer quick attach mounting system. It is incredibly easy for one person to change out attachments (forks, grapple, etc...) and as they are so common, skid steer attachments are less expensive.
The 24 HP at the PTO is a lot for a 28 HP tractor.
The narrow width of the S3010 lets you easily navigate into fairly dense wooded areas to clear underbrush and dead wood.
The bad, again in no particular order:
The headlights don't work well due to the loader bucket. (This may be the case for all tractors with loaders.)
There is no suspension on the S3010, therefore a suspension seat is critical. The stock seat is NOT a suspension seat even though is has a couple of little springs. Consequently, even pretty minor ground imperfections can cause unexpected nasty jolts that hurt your back. So unless the tractor is only going to be used on a smooth surface (NOT likely), you might as well count on replacing the stock seat with an adjustable-weight suspension seat for about $80-$100.
The S3010 uses the same gauge cluster as more expensive models, but many of the indicators are non-functional on the S3010. All the critical ones work, but the owner's manual needs to explain this in more detail to avoid confusion.
The ROP does not fold and at 88 inches tall it barely fits under my door. It would also be nice to be able to fold it when working in the woods.
The LS Tractor website said (when I bought it at least) the S3010 came with a rear work light. Mine did not nor did any of the others on the dealer's lot.
The S3010 comes with no hydraulic remotes. I ordered the single rear remote kit ($210 shipped -- more than reasonable) from LS and installed it myself. My advice to others considering the S3010 would be to just have the dealer install the dual rear remote kit as part of the deal.
The seat belt does not retract and just hangs down into the workings below the seat.
A rear work light, canopy (attached to ROP), retracting seat belt, rear view mirror, single rear hydraulic remote, LED work lamp (on canopy facing forward), and (most importantly) a Harbor Freight category 1, 3-point quick hitch with top link adapter.
None of the negatives listed were anywhere near a "deal killer" for me and I'm very happy with my S3010.