A subcompact tractor typically uses a two- to three-cylinder diesel engine with 15 to 25 horsepower, while a compact tractor usually has a three- to four-cylinder diesel engine with 25 to 45 horsepower. Both types are considered easy to access and operate. In terms of overall size and horsepower, subcompact and compact tractors are ranked between garden and utility tractors.
Subcompact tractors have the versatility of a larger tractor on a smaller frame. They are generally a good choice for areas larger than five acres or jobs that involve transporting multiple tons of rock, working with multiple tons of topsoil, mowing rough land, landscape grading and moving large amounts of snow. A subcompact tractor can lift approximately half its weight, carry a weight greater than its own, and push or pull several times more than its own weight. Subcompact tractors typically feature a three-point hitch and a four-wheel drive, and all use a diesel engine.
Compact tractors are versatile enough for any job on a plot of small acreage, limited mainly by the size of the attachments they can fit. Compact tractors use category 1 or 2 equipment, while subcompact tractors use category 0 equipment. Unlike subcompact tractors, compact tractors typically feature a ground clearance of 12 or more inches.