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. See push mowers here! 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 like you would an automobile. As an alternative, you may wish to look at our top 10 list of Electric Lawn Mowers.
Since, unlike push mowers, you’re not required to push these models, they’re the perfect option for anyone looking to save mowing time and energy when mowing their large yard. 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 to find the right model for your needs.
(Shopping in the winter months? You might be looking for a snow blower instead.)
That’s not to mention the large number of reputable brands out there. Put all of that together, and purchasing one of these 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 weighed up their design, performance, features, specs, and reviews.
We’ve come up with a list of the top 10 riding lawn mowers of 2021. So if you’re ready to hop on a riding mower, finally making cutting your grass a breeze, 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?
The Best Riding Lawn Mower
- Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT 46
- Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 Zero Turn Mower
- Troy-Bilt TB 30 in. 382 cc Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower
- RYOBI 75Ah Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower
- Husqvarna YTH22V46 22-HP V-twin Riding Lawn Mower
- Troy-Bilt Pony 42 Riding Lawn Mower
- John Deere S160 V-Twin ELS Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor
- Husqvarna Z254F Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
- John Deere Z345M Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding
- Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 Zero Turn Mower
1. Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT 46
Best Mower for a Smooth Ride
Cub Cadet makes our list of the top models on the market today with their XT1 Enduro Series LT Mower. This power-packed dynamo delivers impressive performance and a smooth, hydrostatic transmission that eliminates the need to shift gears. With an impressive 22 HP Kohler 7000 engine and 46” cutting width, this is one of the finest mowers in its class. It cuts grass easily with clean, precise results.
Its rear-wheel drive offers great traction and handling. The 16” turning radius is great for getting into those hard-to-reach corners. Raising or lowering the cutting deck is easy. The cruise control allows you to focus on steering instead of worrying about maintaining the perfect speed. This model from Cub Cadet is incredibly comfortable to operate with adjustable seating, an ergonomic steering wheel, and even a cup holder. Its built-in headlights ensure you’ll be getting optimum mowing conditions any time of the day or night.
If you’re looking to mow lawns with slightly uneven terrain, this 22 HP model is one of the greatest models out there. It delivers exceptional performance and an impressively smooth ride. It's one of the most affordable buys on the market today. Cut grass with ease.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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2. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 Zero Turn Mower
Best Mower for Those Who Want Something Professional
The Cub Cadet Ultima boasts a 23 HP 726cc engine, twin-cylinder OHV from Kawasaki, with a 50 in. cutting deck. One great bonus is that you can mow in reverse! The lap bar control, plus foot-controlled height adjustments, allow precise trimming and uniform cuts from 1 to 4.5 inches.
This zero turn lawn mower performs well over hills and slight inclines with fatigue-preventing ergonomic controls, seating, and handles. The 2 in. by 2 in. frame is made from tough, tubular steel. This makes it very resilient, although not quite commercial grade. There are plenty of adjustable attachments sold separately (bags, mulchers, etc.).
Zero turn mowers are better for larger lawns. This is a perfect model for suburbanites with commercial lawn mower envy and sloped lawns. Both the zero-turn and high acreage per gallon are ideal for expansive lawns with tight corners.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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3. Troy-Bilt TB 30 in. 382 cc Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower
Best Budget-Friendly Riding Mower
The Troy-Bilt is a smaller riding lawn mower with amazing power and quality for the budget. Manual transmission allows 6-speed shifting and easy adjusting as you mow. This mower gives plenty of “oomph,” despite the compact size. It features a 382cc engine and 30 in. cutting blades. With a reasonably tight turning radius of 18 in., this Troy-Bilt riding lawn mower has been around in one form or another since 1937, so you know it is reliable. It's perfect for those who want a riding mower but only have room in their garage for a walk-behind size.
This is the most budget-friendly of our best riding lawn mowers without being cheaply made. Being able to switch from mowing clippings on the side to mulching directly from behind is a huge perk!Check Price on Amazon ➞
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4. RYOBI 75Ah Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower
Most Eco-Friendly Riding Mower
Welcome to the future of mowing with this electric mower! The “greenest,” most eco-friendly of our riding lawn mower options includes 75Ah rechargeable batteries with incredibly easy charging access at the rear end. It's virtually silent, gas-free, and fume-free. There are 12 cutting heights to choose from with manual desk adjustment. This modern-looking and convenient lawn mower also includes a USB charging manifold for smartphones, Bluetooth headphones, or speakers. It has a fantastic appearance and impressive cutting power for an electric mower model! It runs for about 2 hours and roughly mows 2 acres per charge.
This electric riding lawn mower keeps up with gas-guzzlers. It's a triple-threat for its sleek appearance, excellent power, and quiet operation. The nature fans will love it!Check Price on Amazon ➞
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5. Husqvarna YTH22V46 22-HP V-twin Riding Lawn Mower
Most Compact Riding Mower
Fantastically formidable power from this Husqvarna’s 22 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek V-Twin Hydrostatic engine combines perfectly with a compact size, making it one of our best riding lawn mowers.
You can mow bagless or attach accessories, like mulch kits or carts for grass clippings and yard debris - but be aware, these are not included. Power through even the dampest of grasses, at any speed and any height. The tight 16 in. turning radius gets close to every nook, cranny, and obstacle for a clean mow. This gas-powered mower also includes air induction mowing technology which channels better airflow to the blade deck for more effective rotation and trimming.
Be aware that these type of riding mowers are better for flat lawns.
Gas powdered machines are always powerful and this is no exception. Husqvarna’s brand reputation is always infallible, with very few negative reviews. This powerful yet compact lawn mower still fits away well in most garages and sheds.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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6. Troy-Bilt Pony 42 Riding Lawn Mower
Best Mower for Ease-of-Use
If you’re looking for the most affordable riding mower on the market, then the Troy-Bilt Pony 42 Riding Lawn Mower is one of the best options out there. This powerful machine earns the 6th spot on our list, delivering reliable performance, durability, and features you’d only expect to find in many of the more expensive models out there. With a single 18HP Troy-Bilt OHV engine and a large 42” cutting deck with two blades, this Troy-Bilt mower can tackle large properties easily.
Its 7-speed transmission dash panel allows you to see clearly and to and adjust. The front axle and 18” turning radius allow you to navigate rough terrain and make tight turns for less trimming work. The 5-position cutting height feature helps you adjust the tractor’s cutting deck to match the desired length of your grass. And with the purchase of optional attachments, you get an incredibly versatile grass-cutting machine.
The Troy-Bilt 18 HP is one of the most affordable buys available on the market today. It’s capable of tackling difficult terrain. It provides the power and smooth, reliable performance that you’d expect from some of its pricier competitors. If you’re looking for a simple but efficient mower that is easy to use but capable of easing the burden of mowing your grass, this is one of the smartest buys that you can make.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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7. John Deere S160 V-Twin ELS Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor
Best Small Mower for Power
No best-rated list of American-made engine-powered tools is complete without a John Deere. Deere’s Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor doesn’t exaggerate its name, matching the convenient smaller size with surprising power for lawns of all sizes. There's a high up-front cost, but you know by the brand name that it’ll last longer than most other riding lawn mowers. While not a quiet option, you get plenty of acreage per gallon for something with this cutting power.
Lawn hobbyists with big budgets will get tons of satisfaction and mileage out of this option. It's especially good for large lawns and those who want a riding lawn mower to last years and years.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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8. Husqvarna Z254F Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Best Riding Mower for Power
Your top dollar is worth every inch of this solid hydrostatic Husqvarna. It's one of the best riding lawn mowers out there, boasting an impressive 23 HP engine power with superior and uniform cutting. It chugs along at speeds up to 6.5 MPH. Any detachable accessories like mulching kits, bags, and carts are sold separately. You'll feel like a landscaping pro, tackling over 2 acres in one tank. The zero-turn capabilities include braking safety mechanisms to help comfortably and safely mow the tightest terrain with speed and confidence.
This is one of the most powerful workhorses you can buy. It's a long-lasting, non-commercial zero-turn that’s well worth forking out the money— especially for big country living lawns.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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9. John Deere Z345M Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding
Best Mower for Heavy-Duty Work
This mower features a 3-blade drive powered by a 22 HP V-twin engine. It keeps up consistent cutting power no matter how fast this riding lawn mower is going - and it can go fast! Hours of mowing are possible with each 2.1 tank. It goes by quickly and comfortably with an 18 in. back-supporting seat and adjustable armrests. You can easily adjust the cutting heights with the crank of a handle, from 1 to 4 in., while the zero-turn allows you to cover snug corners and borders swiftly.
This is one of the best riding lawn mowers for heavy-duty mowing on flat terrain with amazing speed, precision, and comfort. Includes mulching capabilities as well as add-on bagger sold separately.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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10. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 Zero Turn Mower
Best Riding Lawn Mower for Comfort
If you live in a hilly area, don't worry about it! This zero turn lawn mower is perfect for mowing over small inclines and rough terrain, so you can cut your grass whatever the landscape. Maintaining your mower has never been more simple. The Cub Cadet features an open frame design with a removable floor pan, giving you easy access to the engine. Furthermore, the tubular steel frame design ensures strength and durability, no matter what you're mowing.
In terms of blades, the 42 in. twin blade deck gives you advanced cutting and bagging performance. If you know you'll be working for a long time, you can do it in comfort. The command center is adjustable for your own comfort, making mowing a breeze.
This is one of the best riding lawn mowers for comfort. If you're mowing over rough ground or working for a while, the Cub Cadet Ultima zT1 42 is for you.Check Price on Amazon ➞
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Riding Lawn Mower Buyer’s Guide
What is the Best Riding Lawn 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 than a flat yard, especially if you’re using a walk-behind model to mow uphill or downhill. Trusty push mowers won’t be able to deal with it. You need to look at riding mowers such as zero turn mowers or self-propelled mowers to get the job done.
Luckily, this is why these mowers are so convenient for tidying up your lawn and collecting grass clippings. While these powerful models make mowing the grass easy, it’s best to make sure you purchase one that’s 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 hilly areas is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 Zero Turn Mower. With a command center optimized for comfort, you’ll find this riding mower a breeze for mowing over rough 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 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 built from sturdy materials, capable of delivering years of quality performance. From zero turn mowers to rear engine mowers, you’re sure to find one for you.
Whether you want a foot-operated deck lift for your mowing deck, something smaller that resembles a push lawn mower to avoid your flower beds, or another feature, find it with these brands. 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 mow the lawn. And since these brands have designed their mowers with 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 are 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 need to adjust the cutting height of your cutting deck to your desired setting. Most models now include 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 have to use a foot pedal to increase and decrease your speed. And thanks to several riding lawn tractor models now offering cruise control, manufacturers have even made that task easier than ever before.
Related; Battery Powered Lawn Mowers.
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 demand. But before you go out and purchase one, several factors need to be considered. By looking at each of these items, you’ll be able to find the right option for your lawn.
Engine horsepower, or HP, is the measurement used to describe the engine’s power output. This power output is 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 it distributes 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.
Your rear engine mower needs a lot of power to perform both of these tasks simultaneously. That’s why zero turn mowers (or similar) with a power output around 20 HP or greater are usually perfect for demanding or large properties.
(Top tip – if your engine won’t start, check the air filter! It’s always wise to replace your air filter once every few months to keep your engine running smoothly. Failing that, check the spark plugs!)
The cutting width of ride-on mowers measures how wide a swath of grass can be cut. Smaller, more compact mowers can have a cut width (or mowing deck) as low as 30” while larger mowers can have cutting deck widths of up to 50” or more. You need to consider the size of your yard. If you have a smaller property or one with hard-to-reach spots and obstacles like trees, then a smaller mower deck is great. See; Best Lawn Mowers for Small Yards.
But if you have a large property with a relatively open layout, a larger model with a bigger mowing deck will allow you to tackle the job easily and in less time.
We’ve talked about the mowing deck and the engine. But now it’s time to consider fuel. Your standard riding lawn mower will probably be gas-powered. 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. You don’t want to purchase a riding lawn tractor model that doesn’t have the fuel capacity required to 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.
The way to byass fuel completely is to consider electric mowers or battery powered mowers. Although a battery powered motor might not be as powerful as gas mowers, they’re a good eco-friendly option. They don’t give off any of the fumes emitted by gas lawn mowers, and they’re quieter too! If you have a smaller yard, then consider looking at electric riding mowers.
(If you’re starting to think your lawn might be too small for zero turn mowers or the like, check out our page on push lawn mowers! A push lawn mower is excellent if you have a small lawn and want to keep things eco-friendly.)
The transmission of a mower transfers power from the engine to the rear wheels, allowing the machine to drive forward or 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 you may even have to stop. This isn’t practical. So if you’re choosing a manual model, make sure it allows you to shift without using a clutch.
Similar to the transmission in a car, an automatic transmission allows you to control the mower’s speed with a gas pedal. This is great if you want easier control over your ride or are frequently slowing 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.
Riding mowers come with a range of features, and the best one for you will depend on what you need out of it. If comfort is a priority, consider a riding lawn tractor with an adjustable seat. You can also opt for steering levers over a steering wheel. If you’re conscious about the emissions that gas mowers give off, then consider looking at electric mowers. Zero turn mowers are better for larger lawns, whereas other types might be better for smaller yards. If you know you’re going to be tackling your yard in the snow, you’re bound to find a model with snow blades. And if you want to cart your wheelbarrow around, make sure you can attach a rear hitch. Whatever you need, you can find the perfect riding mower for you.