The 6 Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2022

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. 

Our favorite is the RYOBI 48V Brushless 38 in. Electric Riding Lawn Mower, a stand-out for its quiet operation, easy maintenance, and performance, especially on rough terrain. 

Here are the best riding lawn mowers.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: RYOBI RY48111 100 AH 38" Electric Riding Mower

4.8
Ryobi 38 in. 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

Courtesy of Home Depot

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

Who else recommends it? Bob Vila also picked the RYOBI Electric Riding Mower,

What do buyers say? 1,300+ Home Depot reviewers rated this 5 stars.

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 two and a half 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 XT1 Enduro LT 42 in. 19.5 HP Kohler 5400 Series Engine Hydrostatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Tractor

Home Depot

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: $2,499

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

Best Zero Turn: Toro 75746 42 in. 22.5 HP TimeCutter Commercial V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower

Toro 42 in. 22.5 HP TimeCutter Commercial V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower

Courtesy of Home Depot

What We Like
  • Extremely powerful

  • Ideal for large yards

  • Built-in washout ports

  • Includes white glove delivery

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

The Toro 42-Inch TimeCutter Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower is ideal for anyone who has a large yard with many obstacles. Its zero-turn design gives you the ability to turn on a dime, and it’s powered by a 22.5 HP engine that can handle virtually any condition. Plus, the 42-inch steel deck allows you to cut wider paths, and the brand claims this model can help reduce your mowing time by up to 50 percent. 

This lawn mower offers speeds up to 7 miles per hour in mow mode and 5.5 miles per hour in towing mode, and it’s decked out with features to keep you comfortable, including an under-seat storage compartment, built-in cupholder, and step-through front end. The zero-turn mower comes with white glove delivery, saving you from having to do any assembly, and the brand offers a three-year residential warranty with unlimited hours.

Price at time of publish: $3,599

Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 502 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge | Size of Yard: 1 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 Lawn Tractor

Courtesy of Home Depot

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: $2,599

Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 444 pounds | Cutting Options: Side-discharge | Size of Yard: 0.5 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 Drive Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor

Courtesy of Home Depot

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 4 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: $3,199

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

Best for Hills: Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. 19 HP Automatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. 19 HP Briggs and Stratton Engine Automatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Mower

Courtesy of Home Depot

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: $2,099

Cutting Width: 42 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 520 pounds | Cutting Options: 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.

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. 

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.

FAQ
  • What’s the difference between a zero-turn mower and a riding mower?

    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. However, they are more expensive than other riding mowers. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • How fast do riding lawn mowers go?

    The speed for standard riding lawnmowers ranges from four to six miles per hour. Zero-turn mowers are much faster, ranging from eight to 10 miles per hour.

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.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The best riding lawn mower for hills and uneven yards. Bob Vila. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-riding-lawn-mower-for-hills/