8 Best Riding Lawn Mowers Reviewed, plus Buyers Guide

The best lawn tractor is not just a great investment for commercial users, but it also serves you well if you have tracks of lawn that you need to clear in record time.

It is even better when you live in a farm or a sunny state where it is mowing season all year round. Next up are 8 of the biggest brands of riding mowers at the moment.

  1. Husqvarna YTH18542 Riding Lawn Mower

Husqvarna is known for making some of the best residential and commercial lawn mowers, and so Husqvarna YTH18542 is no exception.

It looks sturdy because the company uses standard steel to make it, and the cutting deck width, 46 inches, is enough to ensure great cuts for an average-sized lawn.

image of husqvarna YTH18542 mower

It comes with a 2.5-gallon fuel tank, which is smaller by a gallon compared to most others of its size, but a full tank will still complete a medium-sized lawn without refill.

Its air induction technology enhances air flow through the deck to keep grass lifted for efficient cutting.

The cutting deck is made of flat-stock steel, and so it can take a beating, and the 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine is a sure bet for anyone who knows about mower engines.

You want to be fully in control of the steering wheel when you work your lawn, which is why the mower’s transmission is pedal-operated and hydrostatic to move with your feet.

It starts at the push of a button, and so it is instant. This mower’s front wheels are small and without tread to facilitate fast movement while the rear thick treaded wheels keep it stable and make it possible to take 180-degree turns for cleaner cuts.

Though the deck is quite wide, the rest of this mower is quite compact for storage.

Sure it will take up more space than a push mower, but you simply have to pack and leave it. It has a comfortable seat that is accompanied by a safety feature that shuts down the mower if you get off the seat while it’s still on.

Pros

  • Large deck for quick clean cuts.
  • Pedal-controlled.
  • Technology that conserves fuels.

Cons

  • Quite large for storage.
  • Limited fuel capacity.
  1. Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52″ Zero Turn Mower

This mower has a 23hp Kawasaki twin engine and the cutting deck is all of 52 inches wide and 4.5 inches deep. It is made of 10-gauge steel to handle all the rough treatment it is bounds to receive when cutting grass, and being a zero-turn, it can turn at the drop of a hat.

With this machine, you don’t have to worry about overlapping as you would with a push mower.

The manufacturer throws in a 3-year warranty and you can find dealers in almost each part where the machine is sold.

image of ariends 915223

Ariens 915223 has a hydro-gear transmission that does not require manual change, and so you can move forward at 7mph. It has controls for speed especially when going downhill, and because t drives like a car, you can be sure to avoid obstacles with ease and reverses at 3mph.

The 52-inch fabricated cutting deck ensures you get through mowing in record time, and as per the makers records it can go through 1 to 6 acres lawn without a fuel refill stop, but of course that would depend on terrain and grass thickness.

It is adjustable up to 13 different cutting positions to suit different grass levels.

For riding in comfort, especially when working on large lawns, the high-back padded seat in this mower is handy.

It does get a little bumpy on rough terrains even with air suspension, but for the most part it is comfortable.

No cup holder, unfortunately. And as for fuel running out while you are still working, that won’t happen as the fuel sight gauge shows you the state of things.

Pros

  • 180-degree turns to maneuver any part of a lawn
  • Fuel sight gauge to tell you the level of fuel left.
  • 7 mph forward speed.

Cons

  • Quite the emitter that it is banned in California.
  1. Husqvarna MZ61 61 in.

This mower from Husqvarna uses a 24hp Briggs & Stratton engine and it has a 61-inch cutting deck that ensures clean, swift moves through a large lawn.

image of husqvarna mz61 mower

It weighs well over 700 lbs and measures 42 x 76 x 75.5 inches, and so it does take up some storage space. Its wheel is padded and placed quite high up, but you can manipulate it with a lever.

Some reviewers complain of getting thrown up and down when working rough terrains, but this seat works well on normal flat grounds.

The engine is a well-known brand, and it does a top 8.5 mph forward speed which the manufacturer translates to 4.2 acres per hour. Chokeless start is something that any lawn mower would expect from such a performer to start the engine immediately whether cold or warm.

Also notable among safety measures on this mower is it won’t start until you are seated. If you get up or leave the seat when it is still on, it goes off automatically.

The front 6-inch wide front caster wheels are unmarked, which would make someone expect them to skid especially on wet grass. That is not really the case as this nature is only meant to make them move smoother.

The rear wheels measure 12 x 10 x 10, and they are treaded for stability, especially when the mower turns 180-degrees. The dual levers which you use for steering vibrate on impact to help you control the speed of the mower.

They take a while to get used to, but the manual that comes with this machine explains everything you need to know.

Pros

  • Sturdy front and rear wheels for speed and stability.
  • Sturdy build and great engine.
  • Easy 180-degree turn.

Cons

  • Steers take a while to get used to.
  • Fuel consumption is high.
  1. Craftsman T135 18.5 HP

Bearing a Briggs & Stratton 18.5hp engine, this mower is powerful and a great asset for both residential and commercial users. It has a 46-in steel deck, and weighs a little over 500lbs when assembled.

Because it is a 180-degree turn mower, it is easy to maneuver and turn, and after learning how to control it you no longer have to worry about overlapping.

The deck ensures quite yet effective cuts, with enough air being sent into it to lift and cut with a sharp set of twin blades.

image of craftsman t135 mower

It is bagger-capable, although the kit is sold separately. It moves at 5.5mph at the top of its speed, and it reverses at the same speed.

The steel-made cutting deck is covered in a 2-year limited warranty as the rest of the mower. It turns at a radius of 18 inches, eliminating the worry for overlapping.

It has a seat that, though quite comfortable as it is padded, can be a bit turbulent when working on rough terrains. Still, one of its safety measures prevents the machine from moving until the rider is comfortable on the seat.

This mower’s 15” front wheels are paired with 20” rear wheels that control its smooth movement and stability. The tread on those rear wheels is not so deep that it will tear up your turf, but it is sturdy enough to stabilize it and enable efficient turning.

Thanks to its ready-start technology, this mower moves as soon as you push the right button, and the steering wheel makes it feel like you are driving a car.

Pros

  • Easy to start.
  • Sturdy engine and deck.
  • Easy to clean after use and to maintain.

Cons

  • Stiff foot pedal.
  • Seat doesn’t adjust smoothly.
  1. Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series

The Cub Cadet Enduro Series has a lot going on for it; 18-horsepower engine, chokeless start, and hydrostatic (auto) transmission to take the concern over transmission off your mind.

image of cub cadet enduro mower

These features make it one of the easiest riding mowers to use, and then topping it all up off with a 42-inch deck seals this deal. It is one of the best-selling riding mower by residential users.

This mower is quite agile as it turns at 16-inch turning radius, and this is partly made possible by its front and rear wheels that work to complement each other.

The front wheels are smooth and you would even expect them to slide when you work on wet grounds, but that is not the case as this feature only makes them glide smoothly.

The rear thicker and treaded wheels are for stability when you take those sharp turns. At 16-inch turning radius, you don’t have to measure how far to move for the perfect overlap, and the tread will not go deep enough to ruin your lawn.

The wider deck covers the blades perfectly, allowing you to mow fast and efficiently. With 12 cutting height adjustments, you can cut grass of just about any height, and the horsepower will also allow for tough terrain maneuvering.

Prefer working at night? Well, the headlights are a touch you will appreciate, as is the fuel gauge warning you when your tank is dangerously low.

The high-back seat on this mower is padded for comfort, and the lever on the side will enable any adjustments you need to make. That said, you can expect the normal bumps when the terrain gets tougher.

Pros

  • High-back seat that you can adjust to suit height.
  • Fuel gauge.
  • 18-horsepower engine
  • Chokeless start.

Cons

  • Hectic assembly.
  1. Ariens 991151 Apex

Ariens 991151 Apex has a large 60-inch cutting deck, and is fitted with a 24 HP Kawasaki engine. You can tell it is sturdy just by looking at it, thanks to the steel deck that has been welded to it.

It has an engine guard too and a rare bagger sold separately.

The deck is made of 10-Gauge steel that will last long. You have cutting options as it is a 3-in-1 (Side-Discharge/Bag/Mulch). You can adjust the cutting deck in 15 Positions to cut grass at any level.

image of ariens mower

Its spindles are made of aluminum and the three blades inside are well covered for optimal protection of the user. They deliver clean cuts at a go, thanks to the 60-inch deck that allows in as much air as the blades will need to get the job done.

These features make this mower ideal for commercial use.

The hydrostatic transmission makes the controls much easier so you don’t have to engage it manually. It also starts easily at the press of a button, which greatly reduces the learning curve.

It comes with 3-year and 1-year consumer and commercial warranties respectively, but you would have to buy headlights separately as they are not part of the package.

Though this mower packs a massive 853 pounds, it is compact enough to store in a regular garage. The aftercare is also quite easy as you only have to clean the parts and drain gasoline.

The manufacturer sells it with a comprehensive manual so you don’t struggle too much with controls, which take a while to learn for complete newbie users.

Pros

  • Keyless start.
  • Thick treaded rear wheels for stability.
  • Sturdy build, good engine, and wide steel cutting-deck.
  • Mulching, cutting, and bagging capabilities.

Cons

  • Limited warranty for commercial users.
  1. RedMax New RZT48

This mower features a 23Hp Kawasaki FX series engine, 48-inch cutting deck, and has cutting, mulching, and discharging capabilities, though the accessories are not included in the package.

The engine is designed to reduce emissions and to use fuel efficiently.

image of redmax new mower

The deck, which is made from 10 gauge steel for longevity, houses the three blades that make everything happen.

This mower uses gasoline, and it its tank – that is mounted on the side – has a 3.5-gallon capacity, enough to take you through one mowing session for between 1 and 6 acres of lawn.

For comfort while mowing, it features a 15″ padded high back seat that you can adjust using controls on the side of the seat. It also has a cup holder. The mower is designed to stop immediately it detects the seat has been vacated.

The steers vibrate on touch to give you even better control especially on speed. The rear thick tires have defined tread that prevents them from skidding without burrowing into the lawn to ruin your grass.

They give the mower much-needed stability especially when making abrupt turns. The front wheels are unmarked to facilitate fast movement. It weighs 592 lbs and is compact.

Overall, this mower is sturdy and a worthy investment for residential and commercial users. The brand is relatively new and not very well known yet, but reviewers are saying good things about it.

Pros

  • Chokeless start.
  • Low emissions.
  • Compact – takes up minimal space.

Cons

  • Quite expensive.
  1. Craftsman Z560

Craftsman Z560 is no different from all other mowers from the company. Year after year, Craftsman releases a study, competitive machine that has others playing catchup.

This one, featuring a 24 HP Briggs and Stratton twin-cylinder engine and a 54″ reinforced stamped steel deck is bagger enabled and allows you to add a host of accessories that aren’t included in the initial package.

It measures 84 x 59.8 x 34.8 inches and weighs 700 lbs, but it is compact and not such a hustle to store if you have a wide garage.

Backed by a 2-year limited warranty, the craftsman z560 zero turn mower cuts with three blades and well-covered under the deck. It uses gasoline, naturally, and so you will have to contend with a bit of emissions.

image of crafts z560 mower

It is quite noisy too, and so the headlights don’t mean all that much if you like in close proximity with other people. Being zero-turn, it takes graceful 180-degree turns to eliminate guess work while overlapping.

This mower is a fast one, advancing at 8 Mph tops and reversing at 4 Mph. Instead of the usual steers on most mowers, this one has a steering wheel like that of a car. It is easy to control since you are free to use your hands, thanks to the foot pedal.

It will move unless you are seated on the padded high seat, which acts as safety measure. The rear and front wheels are of different dimensions, naturally – 11×6/20×10.

The front, smooth, unmarked wheels make movements swift and easy while the rear ones balance the mower without ruining your lawn.

Pros

  • Quick start.
  • Wide cutting deck made of steel.
  • Steering wheel for easy controls.

Cons

  • Emits quite heavily.

Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Lawn Tractor

There are four things to look out for before buying a tractor mower, whether for residential or commercial use.

  • The Engine Capacity

All the brands of reputable mowers out there are fitted with engines from companies such as Briggs and Stratton, Kohler, Kawasaki, and the rest if the big names.

One of the things you should look out for is the horsepower, as it describes the engine’s output. Power is usually distributed among the various components of the mower such as blades and drive transmission.

The more the horsepower, the better a mower will be at working with thicker grass and mowing uphill.

For residential users with smaller lawns on relatively flat grounds, 18.5hp and above is okay, while commercial use could require 24hp and above so it can handle the expected longer hours of use.

  • Fuel Capacity

This describes the amount of fuel a tank can hold, which naturally correlates with the size.

You want a mower with a large enough tank to hold fuel that will take you through the entire mowing session without you stopping to refill. This will also depend on the size of your lawn.

  • Deck Width

Cutting decks differ in sizes. Compact mowers that go as low as 30” are ideal for residential work, but the larger ones that are over 50”are better for commercial use or those with large tracks of lawns.

You will choose this depending on the size of your lawn. As larger cutting decks handle longer blades that get the job done in less time. They also allow in lots of air that the mechanisms of the mower need to lift grass and enable the blades to work their magic.

  • Transmission

Transmission of a mower transfers power from the engine to that the machine can propel itself forward and backwards in reverse. The three options available to mower user are manual, automatic, and hydrostatic transmissions, with manual operations being mostly on older models.

Think of it as driving an older car where you use the clutch to shift between speeds and gears. While some people still find it authentic – and it is as it engages all your faculties – most would prefer easier operations.

Automatic transmission gives you better control of your mower, and it only gets better when you can use the foot pedal to manipulate speed and go around obstacles as you work. It is also easy to maintain.

Final Words

Husqvarna YTH18542 Riding Lawn Mowertops the list for us as it is not only a great product in terms of features, but it is also reasonably priced.

The other brands, as they appear on the list, are just as great and we would not hesitate to recommend them to buyers who want to make a worthy investment.