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Compact Wheel vs. Skid Steer Loaders: Who Wins?

When it comes to construction machines and heavy equipment, all contractors have a definitive preference. The question is, which machine is better based on stats and usability? We’ve compiled a list of manufacturer specs to compare the CAT 904B compact wheel loader with the CAT 262B skid steer loader; let’s see which machine comes out on top.

Operating Cost

There are two main factors that affect the cost of owning and operating heavy equipment: fuel and tires. Since the CAT compact wheel loader has a smaller engine, it is the clear winner in fuel costs. But what about tires? The CAT compact loader is actually easier on tires, too, due to the articulated front-end steering.

Operator Comfort

Of course, one aspect of purchasing equipment that some contractors find extremely important is operator comfort. The CAT compact loader, with it’s side-entry doors like a standard car, is much preferred by most contractors rather than climbing up over the bucket to get into the CAT skid steer. Now, these machines are used intermittently throughout the day, so seat comfort is much less important than the ability to enter and exit the cab quickly.


A huge aspect of which machine to buy comes from the range of functions for which it can be used. The CAT skid steer has arguably the highest number of attachments of any small loader, making it the “multi-function animal” of choice for many contractors. CAT compact loaders have a few attachments, but they are more commonly known for being bucket trucks, and not much else.


Speed isn’t the most important factor when it comes to heavy equipment, but it’s a factor to be considered. The CAT compact loader has the CAT skid steer edged out in speed, moving at a breakneck 10-14 mph versus the skid steer’s mere 7-10 mph. While that doesn’t seem like a large difference, it can dramatically cut down work times and keep projects running smoothly.


This is a very important factor for contractors; how well will the equipment move around the job site? The CAT skid steer is hands-down the best in the business as far as maneuverability is concerned. It is capable of counter-rotation in its tracks and has a low cab height in order to maneuver under low-clearance objects. There’s just no comparing the skid steer to anything else in the business; it is designed for the best maneuverability available in heavy equipment mechanics.

So, What’s the Verdict?

Between the CAT compact wheel loader and the CAT skid steer loader, there is no clear winner. Each piece of equipment is specifically tailored for certain jobs, so different jobs require different equipment. If you need help choosing what equipment is best for your project, contact us at Eagle Power & Equipment today; we would be happy to help!