The 7 Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2023

Our top pick is the RYOBI 48V Brushless 38 in. Electric Riding Lawn Mower

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Ryobi Electric Riding Lawn Mower 7

The Spruce / Camryn-Rabideau

A riding lawn mower is ideal for anyone with a large yard, requiring less time and energy to operate than a traditional push mower. Over the last four years, we've spent hours researching and testing riding mowers from the top brands, evaluating maneuverability, safety features, noise level, and overall value.

Here are the best riding lawn mowers that provide an efficient and reliable cut for your lawn.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

RYOBI RY48111 48V 38-Inch Electric Riding Mower

RYOBI 38-Inch 100Ah Electric Riding Mower


What We Like
  • Generous run time

  • Great performance, even in thick grass

  • Quiet operation

  • Easy to maintain

What We Don't Like
  • No mulching capabilities

  • Uncomfortable seat

It may surprise some people, but our top pick is this battery-powered model from RYOBI. The zero-emissions model easily matches gas mowers in terms of power, cutting through thick grass with ease while demonstrating impressive maneuverability. Plus, it's fume-free and practically silent, generating only minimal noise. (Our tester put a similar model from RYOBI to work on her 10-acre farm and was blown away by the results.)

The RYOBI electric mower has a 38-inch deck, and its 48-volt batteries can run for two and a half hours per charge, allowing you to cut up to 2.5 acres in a single session. The two-blade deck has 12 different cutting heights, and the mower offers convenient features like cruise control, LED headlights, and USB charging. There are no belts, spark plugs, or filters, making it easier to maintain than a traditional riding mower.

Our only complaints? The seat gets uncomfortable if you're mowing for long periods, and it doesn't have a mulch setting. Still, if you're in the market for a reliable ride-on mower and ready to switch to a battery-powered model, this is your best bet.

Price at time of publish: $3,199

Cutting Width: 38 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 678 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, side-discharge | Size of Yard: 1 to 2 acres

Best Gas

Cub Cadet LT42 XT1 Enduro LT 42 in. 19.5 HP Hydrostatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Tractor

Cub Cadet LT42 XT1 Enduro LT 42 in. 19.5 HP Hydrostatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Tractor


What We Like
  • Hydrostatic transmission eliminates shifting

  • Adjustable seat

  • Tight turning radius

  • Compatible with a variety of attachments

What We Don't Like
  • Complicated to mow in reverse

For a powerful—and versatile—gas mower, you can’t go wrong with the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT Lawn Tractor. It’s powered by a 541cc engine that offers 19.5 HP, and its 42-inch deck has a twin-blade system that side-discharges grass clippings. The tractor and deck are made from heavy-duty materials, and Cub Cadet backs it with a three-year warranty with no hour limit.

This mower has a hydrostatic transmission that eliminates the need for shifting—just push the pedal and go—and there are 12 cutting height positions to choose from. It has a tight 16-inch turning radius as well as cruise control and LED headlights, and because it’s a lawn tractor, it can be outfitted with a variety of multi-season attachments.

Price at time of publish: $2,399

Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 570 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: 0.5 to 2 acres

Best Lawn Tractor

John Deere S120 42 in. 22 HP V-Twin Gas Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor

John Deere S120 42 in. 22 HP V-Twin Gas Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Tractor

The Homede Pot

What We Like
  • Durable construction

  • Adjustable seat

  • Wide range of accessories available

  • “30-second oil change” system

What We Don't Like
  • Bagging and mulching kits sold separately

Lawn tractors like the John Deere S120 offer more flexibility for homeowners—in addition to mowing, this gas-powered machine can be used to spread grass seed, sweep your lawn, and even snow blow in the winter. It’s compatible with a wide range of multi-season accessories, and it’s also a solid riding mower with a 22 HP engine and 42-inch deck.

This lawn tractor has a fully-welded steel frame and 13 different cutting heights. The seat can be adjusted to 10 different positions to keep you comfortable, and the tractor’s 30-second oil change system makes it easier to maintain. The mower has a new easy-read fuel gauge, and it even has cruise control for effortless mowing in large yards.

Price at time of publish: $2,699

Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 444 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: 0.5 to 2 acres

Best Zero Turn

Ryobi RY48140 48V 54-Inch Electric Zero-Turn Riding Mower

Ryobi Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower

The Home Depot

What We Like
  • Low maintenance

  • Charges through standard 120V outlet

  • Side discharge and mulching capable

  • Ergonomic control panel

What We Don't Like
  • Learning curve with handles bars

  • Must be recharged before each use

This Ryobi Electric Riding Lawn Mower offers consistent cutting power for up to two and a half hours on one charge (enough time to cut as much as 3.5 acres). You'll also appreciate the low maintenance ease of caring for this mower since it doesn't have belts, spark plugs, or filters to maintain like its gas counterparts. This mower also has a wide 54-inch cutting deck that has an adjustable height, so you can maintain the ideal cut on your lawn.

The maximum speed is 7 mph going forward and 4 mph in reverse, and it's easy to turn thanks to the long handle bars. However, some people may experience a learning curve with the handle bars compared to a traditional steering wheel. In addition to its powerful cutting options, this mower's control panel is incredibly user-friendly and includes settings for headlights, speed adjustments, battery level, and more. While we love how easy this electric mower is to use, we recognize that keeping it charged may be a chore for some users. Be sure to recharge before each use for optimum cutting time. For your convenience, this mower does plug into a traditional 120-volt outlet.

Price at time of publish: $5,999

Cutting Width: 54 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 796 pounds | Cutting Options: Adjustable cutting height, reverse mowing, mulch, side-discharge | Size of Yard: 2 to 4 acres

Best Attachment Capability

Husqvarna YTH24V54 54-Inch 24-HP V-Twin Riding Lawn Mower

Husqvarna YTH24V54 54-Inch 24-HP V-Twin Riding Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Good value

  • Tight turning radius

  • Wide cutting deck

  • Hydrostatic transmission

What We Don't Like
  • Accessory kits sold separately

The Husqvarna YTH24V54 V-Twin Riding Lawn Mower is powerful enough to easily cut an average lawn, but also delicate enough to conduct tight turns and perform several other tasks thanks to its accessory compatibility. If you choose, or need to purchase, this mower's additional accessories, you'll have the capabilities of a mulcher, tow-spreader, bagger, and scoop all with one piece of equipment. Aside from its impressive and reliable Intek V-Twin motor, this mower is also impressively affordable compared to other larger deck mowers on the market.

While operating, you'll experience the ease of the ergonomic steering wheel and hydrostatic transmission, which ensure a smooth ride every time. The electric cutting deck engagement also allows you to simply flip a switch on the dashboard to engage its function while maintaining steady control of the mower. The high back seat also offers a comfortable ride, if you have a particularly large yard. Our only recommendation for this mower is to use caution when mowing on particularly uneven terrain as the wide-cutting deck is harder to navigate.

Price at time of publish: $2,999

Cutting Width: 54 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 494 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge, mulch, reverse mowing | Size of Yard: 2 to 3 acres

Best for Hills

Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. 19 HP Automatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. 19 HP Automatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Automatic transmission

  • Good traction on hills

  • Tight turning radius

  • Compatible with a variety of accessories

What We Don't Like
  • Bagging and mulching kits sold separately

  • Limited cutting heights

You’ll be able to power up steep hills with ease on the Troy-Bilt Bronco 42-Inch Gas Riding Lawn Mower. It has an automatic transmission (just like a car!) that makes it easy to drive, and its 20-inch rear wheels offer superior traction for sloped terrain. The lawn tractor has a 42-inch deck with anti-scalp wheels to prevent turf damage, and the machine’s 19 HP 544cc engine will make quick work of overgrown grass. 

The Troy-Bilt Bronco has a step-through frame that offers more leg room, and it offers a mid-seat back and rubber footpads to keep you comfortable. The machine has a rear hitch to pull garden carts, sprayers, and spreaders, and there are also bagging and mulching accessories available separately. However, the one downside is that this mower only offers five cutting heights, with the lowest setting at 1.25 inches.

Price at time of publish: $2,199

Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 520 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: 1 to 2 acres

Best Small

Cub Cadet 30 in. 56-Volt MAX 30 Ah Battery Lithium-Ion Electric Riding Lawn Tractor

Cub Cadet 30 in. 56-Volt MAX 30 Ah Battery Lithium-Ion Electric Riding Lawn Tractor

The Homedepot

What We Like
  • Generous run time

  • Easy to store

  • Charges quickly

  • Includes mulching kit

  • Built-in USB chargers

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

For a riding mower that won’t take up too much space in your shed, this battery-powered model from Cub Cadet is small yet powerful. It has a 56-volt battery that offers up to 90 minutes of runtime, and it actually charges back up in around four hours—much faster than larger models. The mower has a 30-inch deck that can side-discharge or mulch grass clippings, and it also boasts a tight 18-inch turning radius that lets you navigate around obstacles with ease.

This compact mower is designed to easily fit through gates, and the brand claims it only takes up the space of two garbage cans. It has a high-back seat for comfort as well as cruise control and two USB charging ports, and you can’t beat its low-maintenance design.

Price at time of publish: $2,399

Cutting Width: 30 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 362 pounds | Cutting Options: Mulch, side-discharge | Size of Yard: 1 to 2 acres

Final Verdict

The RYOBI 48V Brushless 38 in. Electric Riding Lawn Mower is a top choice among riding lawn mowers thanks to its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, powerful performance, and ease of maintenance. If you prefer a gas mower, consider the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 42 in. 19.5 HP Gas Riding Lawn Tractor, which boasts a hydrostatic transmission and can be used with a variety of multi-season accessories.

What to Look for in a Riding Lawn Mower

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. While electric mowers may require consistent charging, they often don't require as much maintenance compared to gas models that have spark plugs, belts, and filters that must be maintained over time.

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 to 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. Keep in mind that a mower's deck size will also impact its turning radius—except for zero-turn mowers, which can manage wider decks thanks to their overall design—and will also make it more challenging to navigate uneven terrain.

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. Some mowers will come with mulching accessories, and others will require a separate purchase for mulch kits.

  • Are zero-turn mowers faster than riding mowers?

    The defining feature of zero-turn mowers is a zero-degree turning radius. These mowers turn more sharply and are typically faster than lawn tractors. While a zero-turn mower can go as fast as 10 mph, a slower speed allows for a cleaner cut. These mowers are also more expensive than traditional riding mowers and tractors. 

  • What type of lawn is best suited for a riding mower?

    Riding lawn mowers are typically preferred for lawns that are 1 acre or larger. They are faster and more comfortable to operate than walk-behind mowers. However, if you have an especially hilly or uneven yard, you need to carefully consult a riding lawn mower's terrain capabilities before purchasing.

  • How fast do riding lawn mowers go?

    The speed for standard riding lawnmowers ranges from 4 to 6 mph. Zero-turn mowers are much faster, ranging from 8 to 10 mph. While speed is a great factor to consider if you prefer to quickly complete outdoor tasks, a speedy job does not always result in a better cut.

  • How do you transport a riding mower?

    The easiest way to transport a riding lawn mower is with a trailer. Mowers can be driven up a ramp into a low trailer and towed behind a vehicle. You may also transport riding mowers in the bed of a pickup truck, but special ramps are required.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance contributor for The Spruce. As someone who grew up on a 70-acre farm and owns a 5-acre parcel herself, she’s no stranger to lawn mowers, and she’s written extensively on them. She’s also personally tested the RYOBI 38 in. 75 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower and used other riding lawn mowers from RYOBI and Husqvarna.

While selecting lawn mowers for this list, she looked at factors such as their deck size, power source, special features, comfort, and warranty period. She also spoke with Caroline Skelton, Go-To-Market Manager for Riding Lawn Equipment at John Deere, for insights on choosing and maintaining a riding lawn mower.

Emma Phelps, updates writer for The Spruce, added new picks to this roundup to reflect consistency across The Spruce's lawn mower library. In addition to considering each mower's deck size and power source, Phelps also looked at their attachment, terrain, and acreage capabilities.