The In-Depth Buyer's Guide 2019

Best Riding Lawn Mowers 

Over 40+ Hours Testing & Reviewing 50 Riding Lawn Mowers.


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9.6 out of 10

With a powerful engine, wide cutting deck and extra-smooth transmission, the Husqvarna Z242F riding lawn mower is perfect for most home owners with medium- to large-sized lawns.


Test Results and Ratings

- October 2019

rank

PRODUCT Name

score

Top Pick

1

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9.6

 Best Value

2

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9.1

  Splurge

3

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9

4

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8.8

5

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8.8

6

8.8

7

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8.8

8

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8.7

9

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8.5

10

8.5

How We Decided


4 main factors come down to picking the top riding mowers.

​20 HP
Engine Power


​1-4 Gallons
Fuel Capacity


​30 inches
Cutting width

​2-5 MPH
Top Speed

Best Riding Lawn Mower 

for Rough Terrain

 Husqvarna Z242F Zero Turn Mower

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9.6
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Zero turn radius
  • High top speed and powerful engine
  • Automatic hydrostatic transmission 
  • No lifetime warranty
  • No bagger included
  • No cruise control

Why We Like It: The Husqvarna Z242F Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower is powerful, fast and incredibly efficient. With a wide cutting deck and a super-smooth hydrostatic transmission, you'll be cutting large landscapes with ease and comfort. These features make this riding mower one of the best for 2019. 

Best Riding Lawn Mower

for Hills

 Troy-Bilt TB46 Riding Lawn Mower

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9.1
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Headlights included
  • Large cutting deck
  • Super affordable price
  • Wider turning radius
  • Not a lot of special features
  • Suspension is a bit tight and bumpy

Why We Like It: The Troy-Bilt TB46 garden tractor packs a lot of punch at an extremely affordable price. It features a powerful 540cc Briggs and Stratton engine that has no problem tackling large areas with inclines. It even includes headlights so you can mow in low light conditions without running into every obstacle on the way.

Best Riding Lawnmower

for 2 Acres

 Ariens Apex 60

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9
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Zero-turning radius
  • Lightweight but heavy duty
  • Easy to use 
  • Limited commercial warranty
  • Doesn't include accessories
  • Noisier operation than other mowers

Why We Like It: The Ariens Apex 60 is a zero turn commercial mower with an incredibly powerful engine. It can easily handle 4 acre properties in under an hour due to. its high speed and added ease of use. And while it doesn't include all the accessories you may need to mow a lawn that size, it still provides a lot of value when you consider how efficient it is. 

Best Riding Lawn Mower 

Under $1500

 Troy-Bilt TB30 

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8.8
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Extra affordable price
  • Five different cutting heights
  • Small and light 
  • Wider turning radius
  • Smaller fuel capacity
  • Struggles on hills

Why We Like It: The Troy-Bilt TB30 premium neighborhood riding lawn mower offers the kind of power and maneuverability most home owners need for their small- and medium-sized yards. While it can struggle on inclines, it's faster than most garden tractor models of this size and offers five different cutting heights for all the different parts of your lawn.

Best Riding Lawn Mower

2018

 Ariens IKON-X Zero Turn Mower

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8.8
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Super durable construction
  • Smooth hydrostatic transmission
  • Powerful Kawasaki engine 
  • Expensive
  • Only 90-day commercial warranty
  • No fuel level indicator

Why We Like It: The Ariens Ikon-X is a commercial-quality zero-turn mower that is perfect for residential home owners. It features a powerful Kawasaki engine with an incredibly smooth hydrostatic transmission. The best thing about this mower is its extra-durable construction, which will last through all the wear and tear you put it through.

Consider the size of your lawn


The effectiveness of your riding lawn mower really depends on the overall size of your lawn. You don't want to purchase a commercial-grade mower for a tiny backyard, as you won't be able to maneuver well enough. For large lawns, consider buying a zero turn mower that has a large fuel tank. For small lawns, you'll be completely OK purchasing something for small yards with a smaller fuel tank and slower top speed.


Read More: Lawn mower reviews and guidelines

How We Reviewed the Mowers

The devil is in the details folks.

1

Engine Power - At Least 20 HP is Necessary 

Like other kinds of vehicles, the heart of riding lawn mowers is the engine. The whole point of purchasing a riding mower is to cut your lawn faster than you can with a push mower. The best models gives you at least 20 horsepower. 

2

Fuel Capacity - More Fuel, More Mowing 

How much fuel you need really depends on the size of your lawn. You'll want to buy a mower with at least a 2 gallon fuel capacity, which should give you enough juice to last through an entire mow. Of course, if you have a huge landscape, you'll want something with a little more capacity unless you want to fill up halfway through. 

3

Cutting Width - Wider Decks Cut More  

The size of the mower's blades determines how much grass you can cut at any given moment. Large cutting decks are ideal for large lawns, while small decks are more maneuverable, which can be said as ideal mowers for small yards. A good average is right around 30 inches, but you can go up or down depending on your needs. 

4

Top Speed - Higher Speeds Are Best for Large Yards

You may not typically think about how fast your riding mower goes, unless you're thinking about racing them. (Yes, that's a real thing and no, we didn't race the mowers we tested.) Mowing at higher speeds can be difficult for first timers, but once you get the hang of it, fast mowers can fly through larger lawns with ease. The average home owner will do just fine with top speeds in the 2 to 5 miles per hour range. 


Read More: Electric vs gas lawn mower

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Top 10 Riding Lawn Mowers Compared

We like data, too. Especially tests that show which mower is objectively the most powerful. 

#

Product Name

Engine Power

Fuel Capacity

Rating

1

22 HP

3.5 gallons

2

19 HP

1.36 gallons

3

27 HP

8 gallons

4

10.5 HP

1.3 gallons

5

23 HP

2.8 gallons

6

27 HP

8 gallons

7

25 HP

5 gallons

8

22 HP

3.5 gallons

9

Electric

Electric

10

22 HP

3 gallons

RESIDENT EXPERT CONSULTANT

Something you may not think about when purchasing a new riding lawn mower is the type of transmission the engine features. The transmission is something you'll deal with on each mow, and you'll want to make sure you get something that prove to be the best mower for your needs.


Automatic transitions are the most common, and they simply operate with the push of a pedal. This is easy and convenient. Manual transmissions are a little more difficult to operate, but they offer more versatility. Finally, hydrostatic transmissions are the cream of the crop. They offer smoother rides overall and less maintenance throughout the life of your mower.

Ryan Hansen | Riding Lawn Mower Expert

Frequently Asked Questions

If you've never operated a riding lawn mower before, they can be quite intimidating. Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions that can help you get more familiar with these tools.

answers

Do riding lawn mowers operate in reverse?

Are riding lawn mowers already assembled?

How are automatic and hydrostatic transmissions different?

Can you use attachments on riding lawn mowers?


Speed Tests

We like data, like you. Especially tests that show which mower is objectively the fastest of the bunch.  

Rank

Product Name

Top Speed  //  MPH 

1

Husqvarna 967277401

8.5 MPH

2

Ariens Apex 60

8 MPH

3

Swisher ZTR2760BS

8 MPH

4

Ryobi RY48111

8 MPH

5

Ariens Ikon-X

7 MPH

How We Reviewed The Mowers

Learn more about the considerations you should take into account when purchasing a new riding lawn mower.

  • Transmission Types
  • Durability
  • Ease of Use
  • Engine Types
  • Size Consideration

It's pretty safe to say that riding lawn mowers can be much more intimidating than push mowers. They're bigger machines with bigger blades and a lot more speed. If you've never used one before, it can be difficult to learn how. This is why it's important to consider the learning curve involved in whatever mower you purchase.


Zero turn riding lawn mowers use two steering levers to accelerate, decelerate and turn. Press both levers forward to accelerate and pull them back to slow down. Pull the levers toward you to go in reverse. To turn, you'll pull the levers in opposite directions, depending on which way you want to turn. This is the most difficult part of steering and takes some practice.


Tractor mowers use a standard steering wheel and gas pedal. These are the easiest mowers to use, as they operate very similarly to standard cars.

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Learn more about lawn care and other kinds of mowers, from our related content section.

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