Competitive Comparison: Bobcat E42 vs. Kubota KX040-4 Mini Excavator

Posted on September 1, 2020

With so many mid-size compact excavators in the market, it’s important to pick a machine that will do the best job tackling your projects. Let’s take a look at two popular mid-size compact excavator models – the Bobcat E42 vs. the Kubota KX040-4.


If you’re comparing the Bobcat E42 to the Kubota KX040-4 mini excavator, here are the top things to know: 

  • An in-track swing frame lets you dig closer to the wall in the Bobcat E42 vs. the Kubota – and it keeps you from punching a hole in the wall too. 

  • You get more arm digging force from the Bobcat E42, plus three options for arm-length vs. one for Kubota. 

  • The slim cab frame gives you excellent visibility in the Bobcat E42 vs. the narrower windows of the Kubota, and the Bobcat mini excavator cab has a roomier interior than the Kubota KX040-4. 

  • Super-responsive controls make operating the Bobcat E42 feel like an extension of you, while the Kubota controls don’t. 

Keep scrolling for a more detailed look at these two models. 

Looking to buy a new mini excavator for your construction or landscaping work? You need a machine that can handle the range of tough jobs you’re going to throw at it – everything from trenching, demolition, backfilling, lifting, filling trucks and, of course, excavating. 

With so many mid-size compact excavators in the market, it’s important to pick a machine that will do the best job tackling your projects. Let’s take a look at two popular mid-size compact excavator models – the Bobcat E42 vs. the Kubota KX040-4.

Size and Performance Comparison

In this class of weight and horsepower, you expect a powerful workhorse, and both the Bobcat E42 and Kubota KX040-4 excavators deliver. These two mini excavators are relatively evenly matched in terms of operating weight and engine power – with the Bobcat E42 clocking in at 9,830 pounds and net 42 gross HP, and Kubota’s 9,020-pound KX040-4 drawing a net 40.4 gross HP. Both machines are running with turbocharged performance, the E42 specifically runs a Bobcat D18 engine

When it comes to tight maneurvering, the Bobcat E42 has an edge. While both machines use a conventional tail swing, the Bobcat mini excavator boasts an in-track swing frame. So not only can you pull up nice and cozy to dig parallel with a wall in the Bobcat model, you can swing the boom without worrying about punching a hole in the wall. Plus, the cab’s position doesn’t block the view past the tracks in offset mode, so you can see right down into the trench. Perfect for precision jobs and touchy utility work. 

If brawn is what you need, the base model Bobcat E42 delivers with 5,820 pounds of arm digging force and a whopping 9,601 pounds of bucket digging force compared to the Kubota KX040-4’s 4,112 pounds of arm digging force and 9,535 pounds of bucket digging force. There are several reasons for this: the E42’s standard arm is a bit shorter, the cylinders have more girth, and the arm rests at an angle that hugs closer to the center of the machine than the Kubota KX040-4. It follows the same principle as why you can lift a heavier dumbbell when your arm is bent closer to your body versus farther away. You simply have more breakout force. 

The Kubota KX040-4 has a max dig depth of 11.4 feet compared to 10.4 feet for the base model Bobcat E42. However, 11.4 feet is all you’ll ever get out of the Kubota model. Bobcat is known for its ability to customize the machine based on your needs, so if extra reach is important to you, simply opt for one of the longer arm configurations (up to 12.4 feet). When shopping for something as valuable as a mini excavator, that level of customization is fantastic. 

What does this mean for you on the jobsite? If you’re working in tough conditions that require a lot of muscle – hefting boulders, excavating hard-pack soil, demolishing in-ground pools or concrete, digging up tree stumps or burrowing into rocky terrain – you’re going to want more power with every lift. The Bobcat E42 also has a higher rated lift capacity than the Kubota KX040-4 – 4,921 pounds vs. 4,250 pounds – so, if you’re tackling projects where a combination of lift capacity and higher breakout forces are necessary, Bobcat has the advantage. 

Both machines can easily dump loads up and over the side of a standard 11-foot tall dump truck – the Bobcat E42 has a max dump height of 12.3 feet, while the Kubota KX040-4 is 12.8 feet. And both have impressive reach – 17.3 feet for the Bobcat E42 and 17.8 feet for the Kubota – so either can go the distance when you need to cover space between your dig site and fill pile. Plus, if you need really big reach, Bobcat’s other arm configurations put the one-size-fits all Kubota option to shame – extending to 18.2 feet or 19.1 feet in the long-arm and extendable-arm options, respectively.

Control and Accuracy Comparison

It’s great to have an excavator for brute force digging operations, but many residential landscaping and construction jobs require more finesse, not to mention the prevalence of underground gas, water and electric lines you want to avoid. That’s why it’s important to not only compare mini excavator models based on performance but also precision. 

Right out of the gate, you’ll notice that the Bobcat E42 has excellent visibility – the thinner cab frame gives you a clearer, more expansive view of the jobsite than the Kubota KX040-4. And the E42 features a large Level 1 FOPS-certified window in the cab’s ceiling, so you get a clear view out the top when loading high-sided trucks. 

Plus, the base model is depth-check ready, making it easy to integrate Bobcat’s exclusive, top-notch depth check system. Once you set your target depth, the guidance system alerts you with a series of beeps and illustrates on the display screen – similar to operating a stud-finder with display screen – to let you know when you’re getting close and have “arrived”. Kubota doesn’t have a depth guidance system, so customers who want that feature must purchase from a third-party vendor and have a dealer drill and build space to install it on the machine. 

In addition, the joystick controls on the Bobcat E42 feel like the machine is an extension of you. Not only do the controls provide quick, precise movement with low effort, there are added buttons that put helpful functions at your fingertips. For example, you can control the rearview camera and re-bench the depth check system from the right joystick, while the left joystick includes a button for secondary auxiliary hydraulics. 

Add in the fact that the E42 joystick controls are equipped with fingertip boom swing and auxiliary control, and you get a responsiveness that any sports car would envy. By comparison, the controls on the Kubota KX040-4 feel more old-school.

Excavator Attachments Comparison

Most manufacturers feature a decent selection of mini excavator attachments, that’s true of Bobcat and Kubota as well. However, Bobcat compact excavator attachments tend to be less expensive than what you’ll find from Kubota. Bobcat attachments also retro-fit to older machines. So the auger or bucket you buy for your E42 will also work for the prior model M-Series excavators. Not so for Kubota. 

One more thing to point out: the Bobcat E42 doesn’t have a third-line hydraulic return, which is a good thing. It means you can switch from a one-way attachment -- like a breaker -- to a two-way attachment -- like a clamp -- without leaving the cab. In the Kubota KX040-4, you’ll need to climb out of the cab, open the machine and turn a valve before you can make the same switch. An important consideration if maximizing operator time-in-the-seat is important to you.

Operator Comfort Comparison

No one expects a pleasure cruise when operating a mini excavator, but it sure is nice to get out of a cab at the end of a long workday without your back screaming at you. A head-to-head look at the Bobcat E42 and the Kubota KX040-4 shows some significant differences. For one thing, the Bobcat model provides a smoother ride and is easy to transport between worksites. The Kubota KX040-4 also puts its boom swing control on the floor, which adds an extra layer of movement and operator fatigue compared to putting that control into the joystick as Bobcat does. 

Perhaps most importantly when it comes to comfort: the Bobcat E42 cab is spacious, quiet and easy to climb into. The Kubota cab is noisier and its 3-inch tread plate means less ease every time you get in or out. By comparison, the E42’s tread plate is 7 inches wide, making it easier to step on. Once inside, the Kubota cab feels tighter, has less floor space and the console switches are harder to reach than the more accommodating Bobcat cab. The Bobcat E42 also features optional Bluetooth to allow for hands-free calling or listening to music from your phone. The Kubota KX040-4 supports a radio that can be ordered. 

Overall, the Bobcat E42 has a higher fit and finish compared to the Kubota KX040-4. It looks and feels higher-end.

Maintenance and Service Comparison

Maximizing uptime is critical for any mini excavator, so easy machine serviceability and maintenance needs are top considerations. Thanks to its North American parts distribution, the Bobcat E42 is easy to find parts for. By comparison, the Kubota KX040-4 relies on imported parts, which can be delayed. The Bobcat E42 can also go longer before it needs an oil change – 750 hours vs. 500 hours for the Kubota KX040-4. 

Regular maintenance tasks are also easier with the Bobcat E42. The engine hood swings open to give easy access to the engine compartment, and a side access hood gives you space to view and reach what you need to. Unfortunately, the counterweight blocks access to the pumps and starter in the Kubota KX040-4’s engine compartment, and because the hood opens from above, it’s hard to fill the hydraulic oil without spilling. 

One key feature worth noting: DPF. Designed to remove soot from engine exhaust, the diesel particulate filter (or DPF) needs to be replaced every 3,000 hours on the Kubota KX040-4. Unfortunately, the DPF filter is quite expensive, costing several thousand dollars to service and replace. The Bobcat E42 doesn’t have a DPF, so you don’t have to factor that cost into your maintenance budget. And the time-wasting DPF regen cycle you’re forced to wait through on the Kubota KX040-4 that eats into your productivity? Also not an issue on the Bobcat E42.

Picking The Right Mini Excavator For You

Choosing the compact excavator that will work best for you day in and day out is a personal decision. If you’re comparing the Bobcat E42 to the Kubota KX040-4, you’ll find a number of similarities in their basic operation, but also some key differences in performance, accuracy, comfort and service. 

One of the best ways to pick the right machine for you is to give it a test run. Use the Build & Quote tool to configure your dream E42 and connect with a dealer today, plus download this spec chart for a quick comparison of the Bobcat E42 to the Kubota KX040-4.