7 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (Guide & Reviews)

For most people, cutting grass is a chore that they could well do without, but some lucky people have a yard so big that they need a riding lawn mower. Riding lawn mowers are a lot of fun, and they get the job done in double-quick time.

So, we decided to find the best riding lawn mower, rating the 7 best models on various criteria including price, features, and cutting width.

The 7 Best Riding Lawn Mowers

#1.  Cub Cadet (XT1 Enduro Series LT 50 in. Fabricated Deck 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Gas Hydrostatic Front-Engine Lawn Tractor)

This Cub Cadet has a 24 horsepower motor and a triple-blade deck. It has a maximum cutting height of 4 inches, and thanks to its optimized steering system, it has responsive handling.

You get push-button cruise control, an easy-fill 3-gallon fuel tank, and 12 adjustable cutting height settings. The blade deck has a jet wash system that removes grass build-up and keeps the blades moving freely.

The blade span is 50 inches, which is suitable for a maximum plot size of 2 acres, but this riding mower only suits primarily flat ground, so if you live on an incline, it might be better to look at a different option. 

The seat is positioned to give you the maximum height, and you also get additional back support, plus the steering wheel is rubberized for the ultimate grip. 

#2. Troy Bilt (Pony 42 in. 439 cc Auto-Choke Engine 7-Speed Manual Drive Gas Riding Lawn Tractor with Mow-in-Reverse)

Unlike the Cub Enduro Series, this Troy Bilt model has 2 blades with a cutting width of 42 inches, so it’s slightly narrower. However, the reduction in cutting width doesn’t affect the amount of ground you can cover. This one cuts up to 2 acres. 

You get an 18-inch turn radius, a 7-speed transmission with easy-to-read dash controls, and a top speed of 5.5 MPH. The cutting height is a maximum of 3.75 inches, and you get automatic headlights for nighttime mowing. 

While this mower lacks some features, it is considerably cheaper than the Cub Cadet, retailing at half the price. That said, you still need to part with a lot of money to own any of the riding mowers. 

It has a unique Step-Thru frame making it easier to get on and off, especially for those with mobility issues. You also get a rear hitch for additional pull-along attachments. 

#3. Cub Cadet (Ultima ZT1 50 in. Fabricated Deck 23 HP Kawasaki FR Series V-Twin Gas Engine Zero Turn Mower with Lap Bar Control)

This Cub Cadet ZT1 steps it up a gear. You get a top speed of 7.5 MPH, a cutting width of 50 inches, and a maximum cutting height of 4.5 inches. 

You get 23 horsepower and a 3-blade cutting deck, capable of cutting up to 2 to 4 acres. It loves flat ground but will cope with some hills; plus, you also get a jet wash system to keep the AeroForce cutting deck clear of blockages. 

This mower differs from the other Cub featured because the mower’s maneuverability is controlled by two levers that enable you to turn on a pinhead. For this reason, this model is recommended for use in situations where there are several obstacles.

The glaring problem with this mower is the price. It costs almost 3 times that of the Troy Bilt mower and $1,000 more than the other Cub mower. You do get the same comfort seating and high ride position, plus dual LED headlights for working after dark.

#4. John Deere (E180 54 in. 25 HP V-Twin ELS Gas Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor)

There are a few names associated with quality and prestige, and John Deere is one of them. The excellence starts the moment you take delivery when a John Deere specialist instructs you on how to use the mower and maintain it. 

You get a 25 horsepower motor, which is the most powerful so far, and a maximum cutting height of 4 inches. There are 3 blades on the cutting deck, which has 4 wheels and a width of 54 inches. 

The top speed is 5.5 MPH, and the fuel capacity is 2.4 gallons. You get a high-backed seat with additional lumbar support and cruise control for maintaining your speed over longer distances. 

This John Deere tractor mower is suitable for hilly ground with multiple obstacles thanks to the adjustable 1 to 4-inch blade height and the 18-inch turning radius. The only downside to this machine is the cost. It isn’t as expensive as the Cub, but it’s close. 

#5.  Ryobi (48V Brushless 38 in. 75 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower)

If you want to make your lawn cutting as green as the grass, go electric with this Ryobi Brushless 38-inch mower. And because it is electric, it is also low maintenance with no belts, spark plugs, or filters.

You get up to 2 hours runtime, which should be enough to cut 2 acres, and you also get 12 adjustable settings for the 2-blade deck. It has a cutting width of 38 inches, so it is shorter than the gas-powered models, but you do get complete silence with the motor.

You can charge this mower from a standard 120V outlet, and it even has cruise control for longer-distance cutting. The maximum cutting height is 4.5 inches, and it has a top speed of 8 MPH. 

This Ryobi mower is suitable for flat surfaces, although it does cope with obstacles, thanks to the 16-inch turning ratio.  

#6.  Craftsman (CRAFTSMAN E150 30-in Lithium-Ion Electric Riding Lawn Mower Mulching Capable)

We continue the electric mower theme with this Craftsman E150. It might lack some of the power and runtime of the Ryobi, but this is still a capable mower. 

It has a fast-charged Lithium battery with at least 1-hour of runtime. That should be enough to cut up to an acre of ground. The turning ratio is 18 inches, and it has cruise control for longer distances. 

This mower only has a single blade, so it doesn’t match the capabilities of other featured mowers, and the asking price is high considering you are limited to cutting time and distance. 

The brushless motor delivers a top speed of 5 MPH, and it has an LED headlight for nighttime mowing.

#7. Husqvarna (Z254F 23-HP V-twin Dual Hydrostatic 54-in Zero-turn Lawn Mower with Mulching Capability)

This Husqvarna is a zero-turn mower, so you can tackle obstacles with ease, and it is a 23 horsepower engine, which gives you all the power you need. 

You get a 54-inch cutting width and a maximum cutting height of 4 inches. The cutting range extends to 3 acres, and the deck is made from 10-gauge steel. This mower lacks some of the features that come as standard on other models. 

You don’t get cruise control or a headlight, but you do get operator-controlled reverse mowing and a 726 cc Kawasaki engine.

It has a top speed of 5 MPH and 3 blades, plus a patent-pending braking system that activates automatically when the steering levers are moved outward or inward. The anti-slip footrest and comfort seating make the ride a better experience,  

Types of Riding Lawn Mowers

Ride-On Mowers

Ride-on mowers look like mini tractors. They have a seat and steering and are typically powered by petrol or electric engines. They are excellent if you have large expanses of grass that needs cutting as they can get the job done in a single day.

If you attempted to use a walk mower, it could take several hours longer and a lot more effort. Your budget determines what features you get on your chosen mower. 

You should expect 20 to 25 horsepower, a maximum cutting height of about 4 inches, and a cutting distance of 1 to 4 acres. Most have a turning ratio of between 16 and 18 inches and prefer flat to slightly hilly ground with minimal obstructions.   

Walk Mowers

Walk mowers do what their name suggests; you walk behind the mower pushing it along. They take more effort than sit-on mowers, but they are better for getting into smaller areas and edges. There are several types of walk mowers:

Cylinder Mowers

Cylinder mowers are better suited to shorter and softer grass. They are pretty efficient on uneven surfaces and in tall grass. They work like a pair of scissors, with the mower trapping the grass and cutting it using cylindrical blades at the front of the mower.

Rotary Mowers

Rotary mowers are the most popular variety. They have a single blade that rotates at high speed to cut the grass. While these are popular, they are not as efficient as cylinder models, and they don’t cut as precisely either. Rotary mowers are efficient at cutting medium to long grass. 

Push Mower

Push mowers are the most labor-intensive machines. As you push the mower, it winds the mechanism, which then rotates the blades to cut the grass. Because these mowers are mechanical rather than electrical, they are a great budget option. 

Self-Propelled Mowers

These mowers operate at a consistent speed, giving them a neater cutting action. They use transmission power to generate the torque needed to propel them forward. All you need to do is guide them in the direction you want. 

Mover Mowers

Mover mowers are often referred to as hover mowers because they generate a bed of air and sit an inch or so above the ground. If you want an easy-to-operate mower, this is the one to go for. It requires minimal effort to control. 

Mover mowers are ideal for small obstacles, and they are an affordable option; however, they might not be the best on large yards. 

Zero Turn

Zero-turn mowers can turn on a pinhead. Unlike regular sit-on mowers, these models are nimble and agile. They are the best ride-on option if you have a lot of obstacles in your yard. 

Zero Turn mowers are also great if you have an irregular-shaped lawn.

Mulching Mower

Mulching mowers are great for keeping your grass in tip-top condition. They cut the grass, and instead of dumping large deposits of clippings, the special blade tears the grass into small bits and scatters it over your lawn as food for the soil. 

Lawn/Garden

Lawn tractors have a front-mounted engine and are much larger than other models. These mowers have up to 25 horsepower, making them extremely powerful. They have one or 2 cylinder motors and adjustable cutting deck heights. 

Rear Engine

This mower has a rear-mounted engine and is ideal for medium size lawns. They also have single-cylinder engines with a continuously variable transmission. 

Best Riding Lawn Mowers Buying Guide

Price

Firstly, if you want a riding mower, you need to be prepared to spend big. How big depends on the make, model and its features, but none of the options are as cheap as a walk mower. You can expect to pay anything from $1,000 to $4,000 or more.

Maintenance

All gas-powered mowers require maintenance, just like your car. Oil needs to be changed, filters need to be replaced, and the engine inspected. This is an added cost that you need to factor in when buying a riding mower.

Electric versions are almost maintenance-free, so if you are not mechanically-minded, go for a brushless mower with a Lithium-Ion battery. You don’t have filters or oil changes to contend with. They are also almost entirely silent.

Yard Size

The size of your yard plays a role in the type of mower you need. If you have an acre or two, get an electric model, and it should be adequate, but anything larger and you will need a gas-powered version. 

And it’s not just the size of your yard that counts because some mowers like flat ground, while others can cope with hills and obstacles. 

Most gas-powered mowers can cope with 2 to 4 acres in a single cutting session. 

Durability

The good news is that most riding mowers are durable, regardless of whether they are electric or gas-powered. Of course, your mower’s durability depends on how well you look after it. 

Plus, Lithium batteries lose charge in cold conditions, so when you are storing the mower overnight, try and keep the batteries warm. 

Cutting Width

The cutting width determines how many sweeps of the field you need to take to get the job done. Most cutting widths range between 30 and 54 inches. The wider the width, the faster you can get the task done. 

Also, the number of blades makes a massive difference to the efficiency of your mower. Some have single blades, while others have 2 or 3. 

Engine

The engine powers the mower and delivers the performance you need. Most have between 400 and 800 cc motors, with some front and some rear-mounted. 

You get electric and gas-powered engines. Electric versions are almost silent, deliver fume-free cutting and require practically zero maintenance. However, they have runtime limits, need charging every couple of hours, and are just as expensive as gas versions. 

Gas-powered engines don’t need charging and can run and run without stopping. For this reason, you can tackle larger plots using a petrol mower instead of an electric one. 

Horsepower

Horsepower determines how potent your mower is, using horses as a measure of power. Most engines have between 20 and 25 HP, which is more than enough to tackle the most significant jobs. 

Fuel Capacity

How much fuel your mower holds affects the mowing distance and runtime. Most gas-powered models have between 3 and 4-gallons, so you shouldn’t run out anytime soon. 

However, fuel capacity could also refer to the amount of juice a Lithium battery holds. Most electric riding mowers give you 1 to 2 hours of usable time between charging. So, while it does restrict you to about an acre or two, it should still be enough to finish cutting the grass. 

Maneuverability

If you want maneuverability, go for a zero-turn model. They can swivel on a pinhead with the minimum of effort. Most regular mowers have a 16 to 18-inch turning ratio, so while they are still maneuverable, they will be more challenging to turn in tight spots. 

Safety

Look for non-slip flooring and pedals, as well as automatic breaks. The seat should be elevated to give you a decent view around the mower, and you should also consider ergonomic steering and added lumbar support in the seat. 

Extra Features

Look for headlights and adjustable blade height. Consider the number of blades and the construction material.  

Some blade decks are controlled with a lever, while others have an automatic transmission, and how you get on the mower makes a difference too. For those with mobility issues, a Step-Thru frame makes it easier to mount and dismount.

How to Use a Riding Lawn Mower

What is the safest way to use a riding lawn mower? Let’s find out.

1. Prepare The Mower

Before attempting to get on the mower, make sure the oil and fuel are topped up and check the engine, testing the tension of the belts and the other moving parts. 

2. Start It Up

Never start up the mower while you are standing next to it. Climb aboard and place one foot on the clutch and the other on the brake. Turn the key and let it idle for a couple of minutes. 

3. Set The Blade Height

The adjustment lever is located near the seat. This will take some trial and error to get the height right. 

4. Put It In Gear

Use the gear shifter and select a low gear. Release the brake and clutch at the same time, and the mower will start to move forward. When cutting, it’s better to stick with a low gear. 

Most ride-on mowers have 5 or 6 gears, each with a different maximum speed. You can fine-tune your speed by selecting the right gear using the level selector.

5. Drive Onto The Grass

Push the blade engagement button and head for the lawn. Stop the mower by pressing the brake and clutch at the same time while you do this, and then simply release your feet, and the mower will start to move. 

6. Start Cutting

Now you are ready to start cutting the lawn. It’s better to work in lines, moving up the garden and then turning to make your way back down. You cover more ground this way, and you get an even cut. 

Best Riding Lawn Mowers FAQ

How much does a riding lawn mower cost?

You can expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000 for a domestic riding mower, but if you want a commercial vehicle capable of tackling even larger jobs, you could pay a whole lot more. 

Which brand of riding lawn mower is best?

It comes down to personal choice when deciding which is the best. You should check out the customer reviews to get the whole picture. Also, look at the features, price, and what you get for your money. 

John Deere comes highly recommended, with a high customer satisfaction rating.

What is the most reliable riding lawn mower?

The Cub Cadet Enduro and The Troy Bilt come highly recommended among users for reliability. Also, the John Deere models come with first-class after-sales service, including a white glove delivery service that includes training and maintenance lessons. 

What is the number one riding lawn mower?

The Husqvarna ranks pretty highly, as do the John Deere models and the Cub Cadet. The best riding mower is a matter of opinion; however, for sales, the Troy Bilt takes the crown as the best selling riding lawn mower included on the list. 

Make Mowing Fun

Instead of gritting your teeth and heading to the garage to dust off the walk mower, why not hop, skip, and jump to the garage, ready for a fun-filled day on the riding mower. 

What was once a chore is now hours of the most fun imaginable, and you get a nice trimmed lawn in for the bargain. 

Okay, we get that ride-on mowers are not cheap and also not suitable for everyone, but they are a great investment if you have a big yard.