Is The Raven MPV-7100 For You?
The Raven is a completely new and refreshing way to work around your property. It looks like an ATV, drives like your favorite Golf Car, mows like a commercial zero-turn and has a built-in self-propelled portable/standby generator!
Denver Global sent me a MPV-7100 to use and I’ve been working on this review for almost a month now. Not because I have so much to say, but because the weather would not cooperate. Two years ago I was planting tomatoes in April, this year my septic system was still frozen the second week in May. I’ve had the chance to use it as a yard vehicle, mulch leaves and pull logs. I’ve used the generator. Pulled a yard cart full of dirt. I went to the grocery store with it and a ride in the woods. I didn’t use it to aerate or roll my yard because my soil is primarily Frac sand but I finally had a chance to mow with it this last week so it’s time to finish my review.
But it’s good that I’ve had a chance to drive it a while before I mowed – because it does drive differently than any other mower you have owned.
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It’s Not a Garden Tractor, It’s Not A Lawn Tractor – It’s Whole Lot More!
It took me a while to figure this out, but it does not drive like a lawn tractor and if that’s your expectation you will be very disappointed. The steering is tighter than 90% of the lawn and garden tractors and a lot more accurate. The steering is better and faster. There is absolutely no slop in the steering. It’s like comparing the steering on a well used 1970 Ford Pickup to a new 2014 Subaru.
If you have never driven a lawn tractor driving the Raven will be natural to you. You put it in forward and step on the accelerator. To stop, you step on the brake. It coasts when you let off the accelerator just like your car. This is different than a lawn tractor and if you are an old fart like me it will take you some time to learn this when you first get on the Raven. When you step on the clutch or remove your foot from the drive pedal on a lawn tractor the transmission slows you down and stops the lawn tractor. Unlike lawn tractors that don’t coast, you have to step on the brake to stop the Raven. I managed to drive over my wife’s cast iron lawn chairs before I got used to this…
It is not intended to replace your old garden tractor. It is a whole new appliance that operates differently and does different chores. Yes, it also mows your lawn….well!
When the Raven was introduced last spring many of us quickly realized that we had been missing this machine for quite some time. A yard vehicle that mowed lawns and then did something else. Today we want vehicles that let us play, mow lawn and are eco-friendly. The Raven will forever change the way we interact with our outdoor power equipment.
What Makes The Raven MPV-7100 Unique?
It’s eco-friendly. It uses hybrid technology, meaning it has an on-board gasoline powered generator to charge the internal batteries on the fly, but it actually runs on electricity. All the functions including mowing and moving are run off of electronically controlled motors. The machine is so efficient that it will run for up to 10 hours on 5 gallons of fuel. (Typical single cylinder engines use 3/4 gallon per hour and V-Twins about 1 gallon per hour)
It’s quieter than your lawn Tractor. Ok, It’s not as quiet as an all electric rider but it is a lot quieter than your front engine lawn tractor. The engine is behind you and tucked down in the bottom of the unit. The muffler is HUGE (read quiet) and easily twice as large as the current Briggs and Kohler mufflers.
Did I mention – It’s quiet! Even better than the low noise exhaust is you don’t need to turn on the gas engine unless you are mowing. I run around the yard all the time now in electric mode and it’s so quiet I’ve started stalking squirrels …….
It’s a portable power source and get-you-by-in-style-emergency generator.
Everyone talks about the looks of the Raven, but it is also a great generator. This is one of the biggest features of the MPV-7100. The generator is designed as a portable power source for your 110 volt electric items. Drills, saws, miter saws, transfer pumps and such. It has 6500 Running Watts- the continuous watts produced by the generator to keep items running with 7100 Starting Watts- the temporary extra watts needed to start large motor-driven applications or multiple items.
You can take power tools to a job site. Enjoy having electricity at a camp site. Power essential appliances during a power outage.
The more wattage a generator produces, the more items it can power at once. So what can this generator power?
– It will start and run my big Craftsman Table saw. I cut 2 inch Maple boards using it just to make sure it had enough capability.
– It will run my 3/4 horse power well pump and a sump pump at the same time.
This generator will power all these items at once. Lights, charge your phone, computer, microwave, refrigerator, TV, Deep Freezer, sump pump, home security system, gas range, and gas furnace – with proper hook-up. It has five 110 volt outlets and you can run 12 or 14 ga extension cords into the house to power your essential items. It does not have a 240 volt outlet so it will not power your electric oven or well pump. You will have to cook and heat water using your gas grill or gas range.
What more can I say? Have you ever had to dig your standby generator out of the back shed and then it won’t start? The Raven is a generator that is ready all the time. No worrying about long term storage or stale fuel. No dragging 300 lbs by hand across a muddy field on small, plastic tires. You’ll be using the Raven MPV-7100 all the time so you will never have to worry about it not starting in an emergency. Carry a 50 foot cord with you in the storage compartment and it won’t be long before you are using the generator all the time.
Overall Size: It’s not as big as you think!
When you first look at the Raven MPV-7100 it looks huge! But it’s not. The Raven is just a little longer and wider than your old lawn tractor. 85 inches long by 43 inches wide. (A typical 42 inch lawn tractor is 73 by 33-38 inches.) With deck on and discharge chute down the Raven is 55 inches wide.
It will fit in the back of a standard pickup with the discharge up. It does weigh over 800 lbs so DO NOT let the rear end ride on the tailgate.
Speaking of weight. The extra width and weight make it very stable.
The Raven MPV-7100 weighs twice as much as your typical lawn tractor. At 875 lbs it is as heavy as a good commercial zero-turn. What does that mean for you? Traction and stability.
I am amazed at how different the Raven feels compared to a conventional lawn tractor. The ride is very smooth and I never feel like the unit is unstable or going to tip over on slopes. I don’t have to shift my weight to get traction when mowing around berms or around trees. The weight is low and it is distributed both over the rear and front wheels giving it excellent traction and steering. In addition, the operator’s platform is a mid-mount design like your 4 wheeler so it never feels like you are going to tip off the back or it’s going to pop wheelies coming out the top of a ditch.
It’s not too heavy. In fact I feel this may be the future of mowing your lawn. Heavy, stable mowers. The tires are wide and flat so there is a good weight distribution and it won’t groove your lawn.
Cabin (operator area) Seat height. The cabin area on this MPV is huge and larger than most golf carts. The floor board is the full width of the MPV and there are no obstructions to make you place your feet in a certain way. You sit up straight and tall which makes it feel even more spacious.
It drives like your favorite Golf Car
I absolutely love the steering and handling of the MPV-7100.
The steering geometry is exceptional. When you turn the Raven it goes exactly where you aim it without damaging the turf. The tires stay flat throughout the turn so it doesn’t try to plough furrows in your weak lawn. Going around trees it doesn’t try to “push” and slide out of the turn.
In fact it has phenomenal traction and steering. I spent quite a bit of time on bare dirt, gravel and sand testing the steering and it will not over-steer or make a mess.
The manufactures literature states a 14 inch turning radius but in reality it turns sharper than any other lawn/garden tractor (except the Craftsman Turn-Tight.) It took me a while to get used to how tight the Raven turned and how well it turned at full lock. I am so used to conventional lawn tractors that scuff the turf or leave a furrow in your lawn that I had to force myself to learn to turn the steering wheel on this MPV all the way.
I am still amazed at how well it turns! Yes, It is better than your Simplicity.
The control panel is located on your right side and every needed switch is in a natural position right by your arm. The controls are very easy to learn and it won’t be long before you are controlling this MPV by touch alone. Each switch has a separate tactile feel so it your fingers don’t get confused.
Push the motion switch to FWD to go forward. Push it to REV to back up. To mow in reverse use another finger to depress the red RMO switch at the same time as you press the REV. It’s easier than it sounds and you will quickly get used to it.
The big red button turns the deck on and off.
The last button, marked CRUISE is my favorite. It’s unlike any cruise control you have ever used. I like this button and what it controls better than the steering, the handling and every other feature of the Raven MPV-7100. I have never used a cruise control on anything that is as accurate as this one. Get moving and/or mowing at the speed you want and push it. The speed stays perfectly constant. But there’s more! You can use this cruise to go as fast or as slow as you want. You can set the cruise so the Raven is moving so slowly you can barely see the wheels turning! It’s just light-years above and beyond the mechanical cruise controls found on the current lawn tractors.
Overall Fit and Finish:
When I first looked at the Raven MPV-7100 all I saw was plastic. But I quickly realized that it’s not brittle plastic but a tough, durable polymer. The polymer gives instead of cracking or denting like the current lawn tractor hoods and fenders. My apple tree tried to break a fender and the Raven left the fight unscathed.
The fit and finish is what you expect from a high-end ATV or even a new car. It not only looks like an ATV but is quality built like your favorite. Everything fits tightly. There are no rattles or hoods popping up on uneven turf. The rear hatch latches tightly and I know it will last the life of the MPV. Everything is screwed or bolted down. I can’t find one pop rivet or rubber anti-rattle strip.
It switches from work horse to personal transport vehicle in seconds.
Everyone is talking about this feature so I am not going to be-labor it here. On the right side of the MPV, near the rear tire is a small red lever. Pull it down about 1/2 inch and the push it in about 1/4 of an inch and the transmission switches from power mode to transport mode. You go from a top speed of 8 mph to 17 mph! You don’t need to remove the deck to use this feature.
Mows Like a Commercial Zero-Turn
The Raven MPV-7100 has a fabricated deck. The deck is a welded, fabricated design. It will take a reasonable pounding and keep going.
One of the best features of using the Raven MPV-7100 hybrid mower is the blade tip speed stays constant. The blades don’t slow down in heavy grass!
When review organizations that actually mow with lawn tractors they compare them all at the same speed. The speed is about 3-4 mph. The Raven mows perfectly at 3-4 mph. What sets it apart though is it will mow as well the other lawn tractors and residential zero-turns even at 5 to 6 MPH.
The Raven will mow more lawn in one hour with it’s 46 inch deck than a garden tractor with a 54 inch deck. Why? Two Reasons. This is what makes the Raven mow like a commercial zero-turn
1. Because the blade tip speed stays constant on the Raven. It won’t lug down and lose tip speed like a conventional mower. With a conventional lawn tractor or residential zero-turn when the lawn gets thick and heavy you have to slow down to cut the grass because the engine can’t handle the load or if you push it too hard you will burn or break the drive belts.
2. It mows about 2 MPH faster than a regular lawn tractor or even the new “fast tractors.” Even though the new fast tractor will go 7-8 MPH they still only mow well at 3-4 MPH. The Raven will also go 8 mph but it also mows at 6 MPH ( 2 MPH faster.) At 6 MPH it will mow more in one hour than a 54 inch lawn tractor or residential zero-turn will at 4 MPH!
Deck Height Control: 10 positions. The deck will raise to 4 inches.
Gauge Wheels: Four gauge wheels will help the deck ride over obstructions. It’s a 46 inch deck so it doesn’t need a center nose roller.
Taking The Deck Off: Lower the deck. Unplug a power cable and remove a couple of snap pins. Raise the lift up and slide the deck out! No Belts to pinch your fingers or get on wrong. No belt keepers!
The transmission is bulletproof, cast iron with steel gears and I don’t expect you to ever have a repair.
Since this is an electric drive the transmission is not variable speed. It has a high and low but that is for top speed or torque. The motor controller and electric motor controls your speed. No worries about cold weather or overheating that causes hydrostats to fade and fail. The case is heavy cast iron and there are REAL drum brakes for each rear wheel. It’s stops quickly and controllably. It has a parking brake lever that locks the rear brakes.
You mow your lawn in low and then if you want switch the trans to high to go get groceries or for a trail ride in the woods
What I didn’t like:
This is one of the best overall lawn mowers that I have used is a very long time. But you know me…I have to tell you what I would like to change.
Seat. The standard seat sits too straight for me. The back is set at 90 degrees and that’s OK if you have good posture but I tend to slouch so I would like a seat that leans back a few degrees. Don’t be afraid to spend the extra money for the deluxe seat.
1. I thought the spreader bar on the deck was to small. But I finally realized it is just right. Why? The spreader bar is designed to keep you from pushing the front of the deck in when you hit something. I first thought it was too small but after using the MPV I realized that the front wheels are wide enough that you would have to go out of your way to hit something hard enough to bend the bar. Yes, one or two of you will bend it, but the other 99% will not have a problem.
2. I thought it left too many windrows. That it didn’t spread the grass evenly. But then I realized it’s not the deck, but the government. Get used to it…the government is always messing with you and this is a typical example. The discharge chute is designed to deflect thrown objects down so they don’t become lethal weapons. All decks have to pass very stringent test in this regard and the manufacture can’t sell you a deck that doesn’t pass the test or has been modified after it passes the tests. The newer the deck design, the more stringent the standards. (If you don’t like the way it disperses the clippings, email me AFTER you purchased your Raven and I’ll show you a simple modification that will help disperse the clippings but not circumvent the safety features)
3. Bagging & Mulching: It is going to bag well but it is not going to mulch well. Face it, fabricated decks don’t mulch well unless you install expensive baffles and mulch kits.
4. Speed limiter. Ok, I am being really picky, but I would like to see not only a cruise control but also a speed limiter. Just a little dial where I can set the mowing speed and then stomp on the accelerator. This feature would be great to keep the teenagers from mowing too fast. It’s all electric and all the rules we’ve had with a gas powered lawn tractors are now thrown out the window. Let’s think out of the box.
Better yet, let’s throw the box away!
5. Rear Hitch. This MPV is a beast and capable of much more than the rear hitch is capable of. Yes, the load limit is 550 lbs but that means 500 lbs of weight in a 50 lb trailer, not pulling a 500 lb log out of the timber. I would love to see an optional 2 inch receiver hitch that is mounted to the frame and rear axle.
The more I use it, the more I like it! I am going to have a hard time going back to a conventional lawn tractor or zero-turn. I don’t think you’ll see the Raven with an attached snow blower or pulling a moldboard plow anytime soon, but I do see it becoming your favorite work horse around your yard or acreage. I will have more to add to this review as the summer progresses!
More Info (Catalog For You To Download)
For a different viewpoint on the Raven MPV-7100 read this article from Tools In Action! Raven MPV 7100S Ten Hour Review