The In-Depth Buyer's Guide 2019
Best Riding Lawn Mowers
Over 40+ Hours Testing & Reviewing 50 Riding Lawn Mowers.
- 1 Winner: Husqvarna Z242F
- 2 Test Results and Ratings
- 2.1 - October 2019
- 2.2 4 main factors come down to picking the top riding mowers.
- 2.3 Best Riding Lawn Mower
- 2.4 for Rough Terrain
- 2.5 Husqvarna Z242F Zero Turn Mower
- 2.6 Best Riding Lawn Mower
- 2.7 for Hills
- 2.8 Troy-Bilt TB46 Riding Lawn Mower
- 2.9 Best Riding Lawnmower
- 2.10 for 2 Acres
- 2.11 Ariens Apex 60
- 2.12 Best Riding Lawn Mower
- 2.13 Under $1500
- 2.14 Troy-Bilt TB30
- 2.15 Best Riding Lawn Mower
- 2.16 2018
- 2.17 Ariens IKON-X Zero Turn Mower
- 2.18 Consider the size of your lawn
- 2.19 How We Reviewed the Mowers
- 2.20 The devil is in the details folks.
- 2.21 Engine Power - At Least 20 HP is Necessary
- 2.22 Fuel Capacity - More Fuel, More Mowing
- 2.23 Cutting Width - Wider Decks Cut More
- 2.24 Top Speed - Higher Speeds Are Best for Large Yards
- 2.25 Top 10 Riding Lawn Mowers Compared
- 2.26 We like data, too. Especially tests that show which mower is objectively the most powerful.
- 2.27 Frequently Asked Questions
- 2.28 Speed Tests
- 2.29 We like data, like you. Especially tests that show which mower is objectively the fastest of the bunch.
- 2.30 Husqvarna 967277401
- 2.31 Ariens Apex 60
- 2.32 Swisher ZTR2760BS
- 2.33 Ryobi RY48111
- 2.34 Ariens Ikon-X
- 2.35 How We Reviewed The Mowers
- 3 Riding Lawn Mowers Related Articles
Winner: Husqvarna Z242F
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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
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How We Decided
4 main factors come down to picking the top riding mowers.
Best Riding Lawn Mower
for Rough Terrain
Husqvarna Z242F Zero Turn Mower
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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.
Engine Power 9.5/10
This superb riding mower packs a powerful punch with a 23 horsepower Kohler Confidant engine. That makes it easier for you to mow larger lawns faster, without having to worry about getting stuck on pesky inclines or hills. The engine also features an automatic hydrostatic transmission, which uses hydraulics instead of belts, giving you a much smoother ride.
Fuel Capacity 9/10
If you have a large lawn, you'll be most impressed with this mower's 3.5 gallon fuel tank, which gives you more time cutting and less time watching the fuel gauge. This is one of the highest fuel capacities on the list.
Cutting Width 9.5/10
The Z242F is equipped with a wide 42-inch cutting deck. This is perfect for large spaces, and you'll find that you can your lawn much faster with this kind of width. And that's not all. This ClearCut reinforced cutting deck is made with 10 gauge steel for added durability.
Top Speed 9.5/10
Riding mowers can be slow, but the Husqvarna Z242F will have you zipping along at a top speed of 6.5 MPH, which is much faster than most of the mowers on this list. The fast speed coupled with the zero turn feature makes cutting your lawn much easier overall.
Best Riding Lawn Mower
Troy-Bilt TB46 Riding Lawn Mower
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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.
Engine Power 8.5/10
While this Troy-Bilt 540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek engine isn't as powerful as other products on this list, it still performs exceptionally well on larger areas, even when inclines are thrown into the mix. This is especially true when you consider the overall price of the TB46. It also gives you an automatic transmission for a smoother and easier-to-use ride.
Fuel Capacity 8/10
The Troy-Bilt 540cc fuel capacity is where it struggles the most. While 1.36 gallons should be enough to handle most lawns, you may find yourself running dangerously low on large yards.
Cutting Width 8.9/10
The cutting deck on this Troy-Bilt measures in at 46 inches, which is much larger than other mowers at this price point. This comes close to the commercial-grade mowers we feature on this list, so you're getting a much more efficient cutting capability at a much more affordable price.
Top Speed 9.5/10
With a powerful engine comes higher top speeds, and the Troy-Bilt is no different. It can reach top speeds of up to 5.2 miles per hour, making your job faster and easier. And with an automatic transmission, you won't have to worry about manually shifting gears. The mower will do it for you.
Best Riding Lawnmower
for 2 Acres
Ariens Apex 60
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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.
Engine Power 9.5/10
The Ariens Apex 60 features a high powered engine, an illustrious 25 HP Kohler 7000 pro V-Twin. With 25 horsepower, this V-Twin Kohler engine gives you commercial-grade speeds and power. It also features a hydrostatic transmission, giving you the smoothest ride you can get, without having to worry about manually shifting gears.
Fuel Capacity 9.4/10
With a whopping 5 gallon tank, this mower can keep you mowing through several different lawns with ease. When buying commercial riding mowers, you should look for fuel capacities in this range, and the Ariens doesn't disappoint.
Cutting Width 10/10
A 60-inch cutting deck is enough to make any landscape enthusiast excited to hop on their mower and get cutting. The Ariens Apex 60's cutting deck is made from durable 10 gauge steel. It also gives you 15 differnet cutting heights, enough to cut on any kind of terrain.
Top Speed 10/10
This mower can move at speeds up to 8 miles per hour, which is why it can easily cut a 4 acre property in under an hour. The best part is, the mower is easy to use, so going at such a fast speed won't be a problem, even for newbies.
Best Riding Lawn Mower
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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.
Engine Power 8/10
The TB30 features a powerful 382cc OHV engine, which translates to around 10.5 horsepower. While this mower engine isn't as powerful as some of the higher-end mowers on our list, it still gives you enough juice to mow an average-sized lawn without any hills. The rear engine riding mower does struggle a bit on hills, but otherwise performs well.
Fuel Capacity 8/10
The fuel tank is where this mower struggles the most. With only a 1.3 gallon fuel tank, the Troy-Bilt TB30 can only mow for so long. If you have a large yard, you may find yourself refueling halfway through the process.
Cutting Width 9/10
The 30-inch cutting deck featured on this mower is viable in a ton of different circumstances. It's small enough to maintain maneuverability but large enough to still cut a lot in one go.
Top Speed 9/10
With an impressive 6-speed transmission, the TB30 can reach speeds of up to 4.25 MPH. This is an impressive amount of speed for such a compact mower, and it rivals some of the industrial models.
Best Riding Lawn Mower
Ariens IKON-X Zero Turn Mower
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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.
Engine Power 9.5/10
This riding lawn mower features a powerful 23 HP Kawasaki engine, which is a major selling point. This engine helps you mow your lawn like a professional. It also features a hydrostatic transmission, which gives you the ultimate smooth ride.
Fuel Capacity 8.5/10
For a zero-turn riding mower that acts mostly like a commercial-grade product, it has a smaller fuel capacity than you may expect. At 2.8 gallons, you can mow most medium-sized lawns, but may need to refuel for exceptionally large landscapes. Unfortunately, the mower doesn't feature a fuel level indicator.
Cutting Width 9.5/10
The Ikon-X features an extra-large cutting width at 52 inches. With such a large cutting deck, you cut more lawn simultaneously, lessening the amount of time you spend working. Keep in mind that a larger cutting deck reduces the amount of maneuverability you have, especially around fences and other obstacles.
Top Speed 9.5/10
This riding lawn mower can drive up to seven miles per hour, which is must faster than other mowers on this list. The fast speed and zero turn radius can be a little hard to get used to, but once you get a handle on it, you'll be mowing your lawn faster than you ever have before.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do riding lawn mowers operate in reverse?
Yes! All riding lawn mowers operate in both forward and reverse. Make sure you always pick the best electric lawn mower for your needs accordingly. Can you imagine getting stuck in a remote part of your lawn with no way of getting out?
Are riding lawn mowers already assembled?
For the most part, riding lawn mowers are already assembled. The only exception to this rule is that you'll typically need to attach the steering wheel and seat yourself.
You can also usually purchase the White Glove Delivery option, where a service technician will assemble the mower for you.
How are automatic and hydrostatic transmissions different?
Automatic transmissions on mowers are incredibly similar to the transmissions you would find in your car. You simply control the overall speed with a gas pedal and the gears are shifted for you.
Hydrostatic transmissions are similar to automatic transmissions, but they use fluid instead of belts for the transfer of power from the engine to the wheels. Hydrostatic transmissions require less maintenance.
Can you use attachments on riding lawn mowers?
Yes! However, most mowers only work with attachments from the same manufacturer, so be aware of that before you purchase extra accessories.
We like data, like you. Especially tests that show which mower is objectively the fastest of the bunch.
Top Speed // MPH
Ariens Apex 60
How We Reviewed The Mowers
Learn more about the considerations you should take into account when purchasing a new riding lawn mower.
- Transmission Types
- Ease of Use
- Engine Types
- Size Consideration
Any riding mower you purchase will feature one of three different types of transmission. The transmission is what transfers the power from your engine to the wheels.
Manual Transmission: Like cars, manual transmissions on riding mowers just means you have to tell the mower when to shift to higher or lower gear. Manual transmissions give you more versatility and allow you to control how much power you want to deliver to the wheel. However, unlike a car, there are plenty of mowers that allow you to shift without stopping or needing to use a clutch. These are the best kind of manual mowers.
Automatic Transmission: On mowers with automatic transmissions, you don't need to worry about shifting gears. The mower does it for you. Simply press the gas pedal and adjust the pressure to go faster or slower.
Hydrostatic Transmission: Hydrostatic transmissions work exactly like automatic transmissions on the surface. You press the pedal to go and the mower figures out the power needed for you. Under the hood, though, is completely different. Instead of belts, hydrostatic transmissions use fluids to deliver the power transfer to your wheels. This gives you a smoother ride and doesn't require nearly as much maintenance.
The way your lawn mower is made is incredibly important, especially considering the amount of wear and tear it can potentially experience throughout its life. Some of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to durability are the cutting decks, the moving parts and the seat. These are the parts that will see the most action, and you'll want to be sure you purchase something with durable parts.
Consider cutting decks that are made with at least 10 gauge steel and seat materials that can stand up to weather. Hydrostatic transmissions are the most durable of the lot and require a lot less maintenance overall.
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.
The type of engine you get depends on the mower you purchase. There are a few different engine manufacturers, but the most common types of engines tend to be Briggs & Stratton, Kohler and Honda. These are all excellent engine manufacturers and you can't go wrong with any of them. Of course, as you start to use your mower more, you'll start to gain a preference for one over the other.
You should also consider mowers that have V-Twin Pro engines, as these will give you more power and a much smoother ride. Some engines are single cylinder engines, which aren't as good, but can still give you some good power.
Another important factor to consider is how large your lawn is. Different kinds of yard tractors are better suited for large lawns while some are much better suited for smaller spaces.
Zero turn mowers are perfect for large lawns since they are faster and easier to maneuver, but they really struggle in small lawns.
Lawn tractors have a smaller cutting width, which means they can cut closer to fences and other obstacles. Unfortunately, they tend to have wider turning radiuses, making them a little hard to maneuver.