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If you have a big yard, a riding lawn mower makes maintenance a whole lot easier, as you can sit back and simply steer the machine around your property, instead of pushing it by hand. However, there are a variety of riding lawn mower styles to choose from, including lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers, so you’ll want to think about your particular needs before you make this big investment. We've found the lawn mowers on the market for a variety of needs, so you can pick the right one for you.
For a mid-priced riding mower that excels in performance and versatility, you can’t go wrong with the John Deere E160 Gas Lawn Tractor. This machine is powered by a 24 HP V-Twin extended life series engine and sports a wide 48-inch deck, and it has a variety of other features that make it comfortable and convenient to use.
The John Deere E160 has a deep deck design with three blades for a better cut, and it offers ¼-inch increment cutting height adjustments between 1 and 4 inches. There are ten different seat positions to help you stay comfortable, and for ease of use, the tractor features a hydrostatic transmission with cruise control, electric blade engagement, and two-pedal foot controls. Plus, because it’s a lawn tractor, you can purchase separate accessories like baggers, carts, aerators, spreaders, and more, using your new machine to help you with even more tasks around the yard.
"With the ultra-powerful motor and speed (up to 5.5 miles per hour), we were able to mow three acres in one hour and 15 minutes. That was about 20 minutes shorter than previous mows with a less powerful machine."—Kimberly Holland, Product Tester
Riding lawn mowers are significantly more expensive than walk-behind models, and but it's not impossible to find one that won't break the bank. One of the best affordable riding mowers out there today is the Craftsman R110, a six-speed manual mower powered by a 10.5 HP Briggs and Stratton engine.
This riding mower doesn’t have as many features as higher end models, but it will still get the job done with its 30-inch steel deck, five cutting height adjustments, and the included mulching kit. It has a soft-touch steering wheel and mid-back seat for comfort, and it cuts cleanly and is ideal for smaller yards.
If you want the best in terms of power, comfort, and performance, the Toro Titan is an absolute workhorse, thanks to its 24.5 HP commercial engine, large 60-inch deck, and pro performance blades, which spin over 18,000 feet per minute. This high-end, zero-turn radius mower is expensive, but it can handle up to seven acres of lawn, making it a worthwhile investment for those with a lot of property to maintain.
The Toro Titan can travel at up to 8.5 MPH, and its cutting height can be adjusted between 1.5 and 4.5 inches. This riding lawn mower is made to last with a reinforced deck, wide front axle, and three-year warranty, and it features commercial-grade features like a canister-style air filter and drop-pin cutting height adjustment. Plus, it’s incredibly comfortable to operate thanks to its smooth steering, high-back seat, arm rests, and step-through front end.
While gas-powered lawn mowers typically have more power, electric mowers are easier to maintain, more eco-friendly, and significantly quieter. If these benefits sound appealing to you, consider a product like the top-rated RYOBI Electric Riding Lawn Mower, which is powered by 75Ah batteries and offers up to two hours of runtime per charge.
This fully electric mower can be charged via a standard 120-volt outlet, and it’s equipped with three brushless motors for superior power and performance. Its 38-inch deck has two blades and 12 height positions that can be adjusted manually, and it comes with a variety of useful features, including cruise control, a USB charger, and LED headlights. Additionally, there are no belts, spark plugs, or filters that need maintenance, making this product easier to care for than its gas-powered counterparts.
"We tested the mower’s cutting abilities several times, starting with a two-acre plot in a large field, then moving on to the front yard and a section of heavy, overgrown lawn. In each task, we found that the RYOBI exceeded expectations, cutting and handling just as well as a commercial-grade gas mower."—Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Zero-turn mowers provide much better maneuverability than standard riding mowers, thanks to their swiveling front wheels. This style of mower is one of the most expensive you can buy, but their zero-turn radius can be beneficial if your yard has tight spaces or obstacles. If you’re in the market for a zero-turn mower, you’ll definitely want to look into the John Deere Z345M Gas Dual Hydrostatic Riding Mower, which delivers smooth, powerful performance, even at higher mowing speeds.
This mower has a 42-inch deep mower deck for improved cut quality, and it’s powered by a 22 HP V-twin engine. It can travel up to 7 MPH, and it has a heavy-duty welded steel frame for durability. It offers cutting heights between 1 and 4 inches, and reviewers say it’s stable, easy to start, and a breeze to handle. The only downside is that attachments, such as baggers, are pricey.
Best for Large Yards: Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZT2 60 in. Fab Deck 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin Zero Turn Mower
For those with several acres of lawn to maintain, a mower like the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT2 will make quick work of even the biggest yards. This mower has an impressive 60-inch deck, allowing you to cut larger paths on each pass, and its zero-turn radius lets you turn on a dime, navigating around obstacles with ease.
This mower is powered by a 24 HP twin-cylinder engine, and its dual hydrostatic transmission delivers speeds up to 7.5 MPH. It has a heavy-duty, triple-blade deck for finer clippings and fewer clumps, and it offers 15 deck heights between 1 and 4.5 inches. The high-back seat is ergonomic and fully adjustable for unbeatable comfort—even the hand grips are ergonomically designed to reduce operator fatigue. These are just a few of the many features that come with this high-end mower, and while it may be overkill for those with small yards, you can’t beat the convenience the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT2 provides if you have 5 or more acres to mow.
If your lawn has one or more hills, you’ll want to be sure you purchase a riding lawn mower that’s designed to handle inclines. One of the best options for sloped yards is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1, a zero-turn riding mower with a 42-inch deck. It can handle inclines well thanks to its 20-inch premium rear tires, and overall, it gets top marks from buyers thanks to features like its powerful 22 HP engine and comfortable high-back seat.
The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 has dual hydrostatic transmissions and can travel up to 7.5 MPH in forward, and its steel cutting deck has 15 heights, ranging from 1 to 4.5 inches, that you can adjust with its foot-operated deck lift. The mower’s front wheels have a smooth tread to prevent turf damage, and it comes equipped with a variety of other useful features, including electronic blade engagement, a three-way adjustable ergonomic lap bar, SmartJet deck wash system, and more.
If you want flexibility in your mower for a good price, the John Deere E160 Lawn Tractor offers the most accessory options to clean up your yard, and lots of features to make mowing your lawn more comfortable. But if you need something with all of the bells and whistles, the Toro Titan has a wider deck and travels up to 8.5 miles per hour, so you can get your lawn mowed in no time.
Power source One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy a gas- or electric-powered riding lawn mower. Gas mowers are generally more powerful, but they’re louder, less eco-friendly, and require more maintenance. Electric mowers, on the other hand, are typically less powerful with a shorter run time, but they’re quieter, easier to start, and better for the environment.
Deck size The deck size of a lawn mower dictates how wide a path it cuts—larger decks cut wider paths on each pass. A deck size of between 30 and 60 inches is recommended for most homeowners. Bigger decks are better for lawns with few obstacles and turns, while smaller decks will be helpful if you have to mow around trees or garden beds.
Grass clipping Don’t forget to consider how the lawn mower handles grass clippings. Some machines simply spit clippings back out onto your lawn, while others have options to bag or mulch the cut grass. The best option for you simply depends on how you prefer to handle your clippings.