The 10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers for the Money in 2018
If you’re looking to find the best riding lawn mower then you’ve come to the right place. These powerful machines can take the work out of mowing a large lawn and are incredibly easy to operate. They’re great for large properties and for users who don’t want the hassle of pushing a heavy gas mower across their grass. But deciding which option is right for you can be confusing. Riding lawn mowers are the perfect alternative to standard walk-behind mowers (much like reel mowers), allowing you to drive the machine around your yard, much like you would an automobile. As an alternative, you may wish to look at our top 10 list of Electric Lawn Mowers (read review here).
Since you’re not required to push these models, they’re the perfect option for anyone looking to save time and energy when mowing their large garden. A good sturdy wheelbarrow will also save you time! But since a riding mower comes with a wide-variety of features, specs, and designs, it can be tough finding the right model for your needs. Shopping in the winter months? You might be looking for a snow blower instead.
Table of Contents
- View the Best Riding Lawn Mower on the Market, Below.
- What is the Best Riding Mower for Hills?
- What are the Best Lawn Tractor Brands?
- What is the Best Rated Riding Lawn Mower Engine?
- How to Start a Riding Lawn Mower?
- What to Look for When Buying a Riding Lawn Mower?
And that’s not to mention the large number of reputable brands out there. Put all of that together and purchasing one of the yard tools can be just as difficult as buying a new car. But luckily, we’ve done the legwork for you. We’ve reviewed the top mowers on the market and looked at their design, performance, features, specs, and reviews.
What we’ve come up with is our list of the top 10 riding lawn mowers of 2018.So if you’re ready to hop on a riding mower so that you can finally make cutting your grass a breeze, just keep reading. We’re confident that after reading through our list, you’ll be able to find the model that’s perfect for you. Looking for the overall Best Lawn Mower? Click here.
|Picture||Riding Lawn Mower||Engine Horsepower||Cutting Width||Fuel Capacity|
|Husqvarna Z246||20 HP||46 inches||3.5 Gal|
|Husqvarna 960450057||24 HP||52 inches||4.0 Gal|
|Troy-Bilt 382cc||12 HP||30 inches||1.3 Gal|
|Cub Cadet XT1 V-Twin||24 HP||50 inches||3.0 Gal|
|Poulan Pro 960420182||15.5 HP||42 inches||1.5 Gal|
|Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series||18 HP||42 inches||3.0 Gal|
|Poulan Pro P46ZX Briggs V-Twin||22 HP||46 inches||3.5 Gal|
|Husqvarna LGT2654 Hydro Light||24 HP||54 inches||4.0 Gal|
|Poulan Pro 960420170||20 HP||46 inches||2.5 Gal|
|Husqvarna YTA24V48||24 HP||48 inches||3.0 Gal|
Buyers Guide Questions
What is the Best Riding Mower for Hills?
A sloping or hilly landscape might add tons of character to your property but it’s certainly not easy to mow. In fact, a lawn with hills can be up to 20 times tougher to maintain that a flat yard especially if you’re trying to use a walk-behind model to mow uphill or downhill. Luckily, this is why these mowers are so convenient. While these powerful models make mowing the grass easy, it’s best to make sure that you purchase one that is perfect for uneven terrain. This will ensure that your rider is both efficient and not prone to slipping or tipping over.
One of the best options for tackling hills on the market is the Husqvarna GTH52XLS Yard Tractor. This brand is a leader in tractors, riders, and other outdoor equipment and this model is capable of tackling any demanding lawn easily. The GTH52XLS features a powerful 24 HP Briggs & Stratton engine and a pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission which allows you to drive this mower without shifting gears.
A heavy-duty chassis and cast iron axles provide the support that you need to navigate the slopes of your grassland while its 52” cutting deck makes quick work of even the largest piece of property. And thanks to this model’s rear differential, it offers increased traction when you’re driving on inclines or wet grass. Stable, reliable, and powerful, this impressive mower by Husqvarna offers fantastic performance and is one of the best options if you’re looking for a riding mower that can handle the hilly terrain.
What are the Best Lawn Tractor Brands?
Since a reliable, high-quality lawn tractor can cost up to $3,000, it’s important to make sure that the model that you’re planning to invest in is up to the job. One smart way to ensure this is to stick to one of the best brands making riding mowers today. By purchasing a mower designed by one of these reputable brands, you can expect dependability, high performance, power, and quality results. Some of the best brands out there today are Poulan, Cub Cadet, and Husqvarna.
All three of these leading manufacturers have built a solid reputation for themselves thanks to their knack for offering high-quality, powerful outdoor power tools. All three brands offer well-designed, sleek mowers that are built from sturdy materials and are capable of delivering years of quality performance. Under the hood, all of these manufacturers offer impressive specs with powerful engines and smooth, automatic transmissions.
Husqvarna and Poulan design their models with industry-leading Briggs & Stratton engines while Cub Cadet’s models tend to rely on the ample power supplied by dependable Kohler engines. This power allows you to easily tackle any yard in no time, delivering impressively precise results. And with versatility and ease-of-use in mind, you can’t go wrong buying a mower from one of these brands.
Most offer the ability to use a variety of accessories that will allow your machine to do much more than simply mowing the lawn. And since these brands have designed their mowers with all of the controls within easy reach of the operator’s fingertips, you simply drive the mower across your turf like a car, letting the machine do all of the hard work.
What is the Best Rated Riding Lawn Mower Engine?
A quality riding lawn mower engine needs to hit a few checkboxes. The engine has to have the power you need to achieve the perfect cut, even on large lawns. It needs to be reliable, offering consistently quick starts with no hassle. And it needs to be made from durable components that will allow it to last for years. Briggs & Stratton engines hit all of these requirements and are some of the best engines for mowers on the market today. These engines were designed to deliver high-quality performance with a minimum of hassle.
And with a range of options available, such as single-cylinder and v-twin engines, these powerhouses can give basic riders, zero-turn mowers, and full-scale tractors with large cutting decks, the optimum power they need to get the job done right every time. The reliability and performance offered by B&S is why many of the top brands out there, such as Poulan and Husqvarna, rely on their engines to serve as a backbone for their lawn-cutting workhorses.
How to Start a Riding Lawn Mower?
Starting a ride on tractor is actually incredibly easy. Thanks to electronic systems, powerful engines, and smooth automatic transmissions, most of the models on the market today can be started in a matter of seconds. To start your mower, you simply need to adjust the cutting height of your cutting deck to your desired setting. Most models now included fender-mounter levers that allow you to adjust this setting easily.
Then simply climb into the seat of your rider and, depending on the model you own, either press the start button or turn the on/off switch. Thanks to their automatic transmission, these mowers don’t require you to shift gears or operate a clutch when changing speeds or switching from forward to reverse. Instead, you’ll normally just have to use a foot pedal to increase and decrease your speed. And thanks to several models now offering cruise control, manufacturers have even made that task easier than ever before.
What to Look for When Buying a Riding Lawn Mower?
Riders are one of the best ways to tackle large yards easily, delivering professional results while requiring just a fraction of the effort that comparable walk-behind mowers would demand. But before you go out and purchase one, there are several factors that need to be considered. By looking at each of these items, you’ll be able to find the right option for your lawn and what type of riding lawn mower you want to purchase.
Engine horsepower, or HP, is the measurement used to describe the engine’s power output. This power output is what’s available to be shared between the various components of these mowers such as the drive transmission and the cutting blades. The more HP the engine provides, the more power that can be distributed between tasks such as moving the vehicle across the lawn or up hills, while also providing the cutting power needed to make quick work of heavy grass conditions.
Due to the power needed to perform both of these tasks simultaneously, mowers with a power output around 20 HP or greater is usually perfect for demanding or large properties.
- Engine Horsepower ( HP )
The cutting width of ride on mowers measures how wide a swath of grass the tool can cut in one pass. Smaller, more compact mowers can have a cut width as low as 30” while larger mowers can have cutting deck widths of up to 50” or more. What needs to be considered is the size of your yard. If you have a smaller property or one with hard-to-reach spots and obstacles like trees that you’ll need to maneuver around, then a smaller cutting width is great.
But if you have a large property with a relatively open layout, a larger model will allow you to tackle the job easily and in less time.
- Cutting Width ( inches )
The fuel capacity of riding mowers describes how much gas each can hold in the tank. This generally correlates with the size of the model. The main thing to be concerned with here is that you don’t want to purchase a model that doesn’t have the fuel capacity required to adequately tackle your turf. The last thing you want is to have to stop in the middle of mowing to refuel. Because of this, while mowers with a small fuel capacity are perfectly fine for medium-sized yards, mowers with a large fuel tank are better suited for large properties.
- Fuel Capacity ( Gal )
The transmission of a mower is what transfers power from the engine to the wheels, allowing the machine to drive forward or in reverse. The three options available are manual, automatic, and hydrostatic transmissions. Manual transmissions have a range of set speeds that you can select. Older models might require you to shift between speeds by using a clutch or even stopping. This isn’t practical. So if you are choosing a manual model, make sure that it allows you to easily shift without using a clutch while your grass tractor is moving.
Similar to the transmission in a car, an automatic transmission allows you to control the speed of your tool with a gas pedal. This is great if you want easier control over your ride or need to frequently slow down to drive around obstacles. A hydrostatic transmission is similar to an automatic one. The difference is that these systems use fluid instead of belts to transfer power from mowers engines to their wheels. This fluid-based system delivers the smoothest ride on the market and normally requires the least amount of maintenance.
Our list of the top models covered several incredibly impressive mowers but our recommendation for top pick on the market today is the Husqvarna Z246 23 HP 46” Zero Turn Mower. This lawn-cutting dynamo boasts a powerful 23 HP Briggs & Stratton V-Twin engine and a smooth, low-maintenance transmission for terrific performance. Thanks to its sturdy 46” cutting deck, it can make wide swathes, reducing the time needed to cut large yards.
And with zero-turn technology, this model can navigate any tight turn, making it a great option to tackle yards with trees or other obstacles. The Z246 was designed to last but is also incredibly easy and comfortable to operate. You can easily reach everything on the ergonomic control panel right from your seat, allowing a once tedious task like mowing turf to be remarkably easy and enjoyable.
The Z246 delivers great power, smooth performance, and impressive results. It’s one of the most user-friendly models out there. And at only $2,799, it’s one of the best buys available on the market today.
If you’re looking for a premium option, one of the best mowers available on the market today is the Husqvarna GTH52XLS Yard Tractor. This is one of the most reliable and powerful models on the market and is perfect for any homeowner who wants to make mowing their large turf as simple and quick as possible. A powerful Briggs & Stratton 24 HP engine drives this workhorse and, thanks to its pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission, it runs smooth and is virtually maintenance-free.
Plus, the 52” twin blade, 11 gauge steel cutting deck can make impressively wide swathes for a faster work time. Designed to be durable, this model features cast iron axles and a heavy-duty chassis. And if you intend to mow on sloping terrain or wet grass, the rear differential has got you covered, preventing you from slipping and providing better traction than its competitors.
With a comfortable seat, electric cutting blade engagement, and fender-mounted deck lever, everything is within reach. This means that all you have to do is turn this lawn tractor on and get to work. At $3,349, the GTH52XLS is certainly one of the more expensive models available in its class but it’s also one of the best on the market and will deliver impressive results for years to come
If you’re on a budget and are looking for the best deal on the market, the best value today is the Troy-Bilt 382cc Premium Neighborhood. This model is capable of tackling a medium-sized garden easily. And, since it’s also incredibly compact, it’s easy to store and can even navigate tight spaces and narrow areas. With a 6-speed transmission and a 382cc auto-choke OHV engine, this model can reach a top forward speed of 4.25 MPH and, for easy start-up, doesn’t require you to meddle with a choke. Click here for the Lawn Mower emissions study.
A 30” 14-gauge cutting deck is perfect for making quick work out of your turf while allowing you to maneuver around obstacles like trees or walkways. And a 5-position cutting height lever allows you to choose the perfect cutting height for your type of grass. With a high adjustable seat and ergonomic steering wheel, this rider is incredibly comfortable to operate.
And thanks to its simple design, this is one of the most user-friendly models on the market. Compact, powerful, and durably-built, this model costs only $1,249 (click here for mowing costs study) and is one of the best buys on the market today.