The best riding lawn mower
Riding lawn mowers make cutting large lawns a far less daunting task. They're also the perfect prop to sit on while waving to your neighbor as he labors with his unwieldy push mower. Whatever your motivation for getting a lawn tractor, let us help you narrow down the choices to the best available.
While riding lawn mowers may seem fairly straightforward, there is a lot to think about when choosing one. If you want to get a riding lawn mower that will serve all of your needs and more, like our top choice, the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series, read our buying guide for the best possible advice.
Considerations when choosing riding lawn mowers
The amount of land you need to mow has an impact on the type of mower you choose. For up to one acre, you're best served to use a riding lawn mower with a 30- to 40-inch cutting deck. For one to two acres, a 38- to 48-inch cutting deck is preferable. For more than two acres, use a 46- to 54-inch cutting deck.
The two types of riding lawn mower bodies are the traditional mower body and the ZTR, or zero turn radius body. The advantage of a ZTR model is that you can make tight turns, spinning the mower to avoid wide turns that can make you miss spots. ZTR mowers, though, are more difficult to master at first.
Gas vs. electric
While the vast majority of riding lawn mowers are gas powered, there are a few electric options starting to appear on the market. Unfortunately, most of the electric mowers are still expensive and not as convenient as the traditional gas models. Nevertheless, electric riding mowers will likely improve with time and may soon be a more viable competitor to gas mowers.
Just like when you show up at work with a new haircut, everyone seems to have a strangely aggressive opinion on the automatic vs. manual transmission debate. Those who stop and start often while mowing will likely prefer an automatic gearbox, while traditionalists cling tightly to their preference for a manual gearbox. It all comes down to personal preference. Some mowers also incorporate what's called a hydrostatic transmission, which uses hydraulic oil. Mowers with hydrostatic transmissions are sturdy, but costly.
That's right, we said cruise control. Keeping your foot pressed tightly on the gas pedal for long periods can get tedious and uncomfortable. If you plan to mow for long periods and want to give your foot and ankle a rest, then seek out a riding lawn mower with cruise control.
Early morning and late afternoon are usually the coolest parts of the day, which makes them prime lawn cutting time. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see during these times. Having headlights on your riding lawn mower makes mowing around dawn and dusk a much safer and easier task.
Automatic parking brake
An automatic parking brake engages whenever you leave the seat of your riding lawn mower. This is convenient because sometimes you need to hop off the machine in a hurry, and having an automatic parking brake makes it easier to do so.
Riding lawn mower prices
Most riding lawn mowers cost between $1,000 and $4,000. Spending this amount on a piece of lawn equipment is a serious investment. As such, it's important that you get one that will give you all of the functionality and features you need.
Q. What additional attachments can I get for my riding lawn mower?
A. Dozer blades, snow throwers, and lawn dethatchers are some of the most popular attachments for riding mowers. These machines can do so much more than just cut grass, so make the most of your investment by adding these accessories.
Q. Are there different types of blades for riding lawn mowers?
A. Yes. Most riding lawn mowers will have either a 2:1 blade or what's called a mulching blade. Mulching blades cut grass into finer clippings, eliminating the need to collect them. However, mowers with mulching blades also need to be driven slower, which makes the process take longer.
Riding lawn mowers we recommend
Best of the best: Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series
Our take: Almost every available feature is packed into this rock-star mower.
What we like: Its powerful 24-horsepower motor and 12 cutting heights can handle any task you give it.
What we dislike: The oil drain plug is not convenient to reach.
Best bang for your buck: Craftsman T150 19-Horsepower Briggs and Strattton Gold Riding Lawn Mower
Our take: High reliability at a low price.
What we like: It requires minimal assembly from the get-go, so you can start cutting ASAP.
What we dislike: Feels less sturdy than some others, but not in any major way.
Choice 3: Ryobi 38-Inch Riding Mower
Our take: Battery-powered bad boy that runs smooth and clean.
What we like: The battery-powered brushless motor is quiet, making cutting a more pleasant experience.
What we dislike: Doesn't deliver the same power as traditional gas-powered mowers.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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