Wheel loaders serve as a versatile transport tool for moving material such as from stockpiles or relocating it to other areas of the job site. The wheel loader design usually features a large bucket varying in size with the size of the wheel loader itself. Wheel loaders may take other attachments as well, including forks, brooms, lifting jibs and others.
A wheel loader consists of an articulated, pivoting frame with the engine toward the back and the cab in the front. The articulated frame increases the turn radius of the wheel loader and enhances its overall mobility.
Wheel loaders are split into four categories based on horsepower. The smallest are known as compact wheel loaders, which generate 80 hp or less. The next categories are broken down into the following groups: 80–50 hp, 150–200 hp and 200–250 hp.
Today, wheel loaders are made with four-wheel drive, with optional two-wheel drive if desired. Rear-wheel and front-wheel drive are also available. Rear-wheel drive maximizes digging capability as opposed to front wheel drive, which offers increased traction while carrying a full bucket.