Best Riding Lawn Mower 2018

Show us a person who loves mowing lawns and we will point you in the direction of the nearest lunatic asylum. It is time-consuming, exhausting and we can swear that as soon as you are done the grass needs to be mowed again. That is if you don’t have a ride on lawn mower. Bag one of these babies and the family is going to be scrambling to cut the lawn.

Why use a riding lawn mower you ask? Contrary to popular belief they are not for lazy people; they are for people who have figured out one of the biggest secrets to a happy life, which is quite simply worker smarter, not harder. We figure if there is a piece of equipment that can simplify your life and add value then why not take advantage of it. Besides, the lawn ain’t going to mow itself while the game of the season is on TV.

We’ve put together a list of what we consider to be the contenders for the ‘best riding lawn mower for 2018’ award. Ok, it isn’t really an award but if you choose any one the riding lawn mowers in this review, you will certainly feel like a winner – and your lawn will look like one.

Best Riding Lawn Mowers 2018 – Compared

Here’s an overview of the best riding lawn mowers for sale right now. It’s updated to make sure the latest riding lawn mowers that are worthwile, are added to the list. These are the best riding lawn mowers 2018.

Best Riding Lawn MowerCutting WidthPower Source
Troy-Bilt 420cc OHV 30 Inches Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower30 inches Gas powered
Poulan Pro 960420186 Briggs 24 HP Automatic Hydrostatic Transmission Drive Riding Mower54 inches Gas powered
Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower 54 inches Gas powered
Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series Lt 42 Inches 18 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-engine Riding Mower 42 inches Gas powered
Yard Machines 13A326JC700 190cc Gas 24 Inches Riding Mower42 inchesGas powered
John Deere Z335E 42 Inches 20 HP Dual Hydrostatic Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower42 inchesGas powered
Poulan Pro 967331001 P54ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 24 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower54 inchesGas powered
Swisher ZTR2454BS Response 24HP 54 Inches B&S ZTR Mower54 inchesGas powered
Husqvarna 967323903 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn MowerGas powered
High-Performance Briggs & Stratton 190cc Professional Series Engine Rear Engine Riding Mower with Mulch Kit24 inchesGas powered

Eeny Meeny Miny Mow, What Kind of Riding Mower Should You Buy?

You have decided you are getting a riding lawn mower, but what kind is the right one for you? Not only are there a lot of makes and models available, there are also different types that come in different sizes and styles to cater for different needs – your backyard, for smallholdings or for businesses such as resorts or hotels. The types of riding lawn mowers you can choose from include:

Riding lawn mower – This is the most straightforward or basic of the riding lawn mowers. They function pretty much the same way a traditional push mower does, except there is a chair for you to sit on, there is a better level of control and the final result is a more even mow. And you can do it with a cold one in hand.

Zero turn mowers – The zero-turn riding lawn mower looks like any other, except that they have a turning radius of zero, which means it turns or rotates on the spot. These are perfect for tight spaces, sharp turns and smaller properties.

Lawn and garden tractors – These might cost more, but you are getting more for your money. The lawn and garden tractor looks like any other riding lawn mower but it is more powerful and has attachments for different jobs. In most cases the attachments are sold separately but you are able to use the machine for more than just mowing and all-year round.

Whichever one you decide on you must make sure it suits your needs, your budget and lawn size. Don’t buy a small ride-on to save money when you know you have a large area that needs to be mowed; it isn’t going to do the job properly and will ultimately leave you feeling annoyed and frustrated.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the riding lawn mowers we’ve selected.

1

Troy-Bilt 420cc OHV 30 Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

best riding lawn mower 2017

The Troy-Bilt 420cc OHV 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower is the perfect example of not judging a book by its cover, or a lawn mower by its looks. When you first see the Troy-Bilt, you wouldn’t think it is a heavy-duty grass-munching ride-on mower that delivers excellent results. But as soon as you start the engine you will be amazed by its performance, durability and power.

The 30-inch cutting deck makes it perfect for medium sized lawns and the 420cc engine generates around 15HP of power, which means you won’t have to spend an entire day mowing the lawn. The Troy-Bilt won’t only leave your lawn green and in immaculate condition, it is also green in that it conserves fuel and operates with the minimum amount of emissions.

We like that it can be stored in a standard sized shed or garage and it has added features like the fuel sight window to check the gas levels, a five height adjustable blade and a manual power take-off. It comes with a 2-year warranty to give you extra peace of mind.

This compact little mower delivers a rugged performance on fairly even terrain and is one of the best-selling riding lawn mowers currently on the market.

PROS
  • Mulch, bag and side-discharge
  • Comfortable seat
  • 5 Convenient height positions
CONS
  • It has a manual transmission
  • We thought it had too wide a turn radius
  • Don’t like the plastic foot rest area
2

Poulan Pro 960420186 Briggs 24 HP Automatic Hydrostatic Transmission Drive Riding Mower

best riding lawn mower 2017

If you have a medium to large sized lawn that is fairly uneven, then the Poulan Pro 960420186 is a good option for you.

There are so many features that make this riding lawn mower a very smart choice, from its performance, to the ‘Electric Blade Engagement’ system and the maintenance reminder that lets you know when it is due for a service, right down to the convenient cup holder. The mower has a ReadyStart+Y16 System that allows the machine to adjust the fuel accordingly and the automatic hydrostatic transmission makes it easy to adjust the speed. Six height positions mean it can cut most grass levels and terrains.

You know you are looking at a good quality piece of equipment when it comes with a 10-year limited warranty on the deck. It comes highly recommended as one of the best riding lawn mowers.

PROS
  • The Poulan is easy to use with an easy to install mowing deck
  • Doesn’t need a lot of maintenance
  • Good speed and good traction on the back tires
  • Good value for money
CONS
  • It is quite a heavy mower
3

Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724cc

best riding lawn mower 2017

Established in 1689, Husqvarna has over 320 years of innovation and design under their belt with experience across commercial and home products.  The Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724cc is the perfect combination of stylish design and excellent performance that features a Briggs and Stratton 24HP V-twin endurance engine with air filtration, chrome plated valves and a huge fan for cooling.

There are four anti-scalp rollers and an electric clutch that contributes to easy blade engagement. The 54-inch stamped cutting deck is reinforced with flat-stock steel, giving the mower strength and durability. This riding lawn mower has managed to combine proven performance, innovative features and cutting edge design resulting in a machine that cuts edges in style. We particularly like the new and improved features which include an anti-slip foot area, a bumper with integrated led headlights, an automatic park brake system and a rear engine guard to make the Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724cc the perfect addition to our list of the best riding lawn mower picks.

Mowing the lawn with this beauty isn’t as much of a chore as it is an occasion.

PROS
  • Comes with some impressive features
  • Powerful motor
  • Leaves the lawn with a good cut quality
CONS
  • Attachments are optional
4

The Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series Lt 42 Inches 18 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower

best riding lawn mower 2017

Don’t let the bright and sunny color of the Cub Cadet Riding Mower fool you. It is designed for use in any kind of weather and is suitable for any environment. Cub Cadet is a well-known and respected brand and you will regularly find any one of their models on ‘best of’ lists.

The Cub Cadet Enduro Hydrostatic Gas Front Engine garden tractor has an exclusive maintenance app for your smart phone that allows you to keep track of your mower’s maintenance schedule. By using Bluetooth technology, the app syncs with your mower and keeps an up-to-date record as to when the next service is due. Instead of having it break down on you you’re able to do preventative maintenance. Already a well-priced little mower, the Cub Cadet is also a multi-tasker and performs as well as any small tractor would but unlike traditional riding lawn mowers that can only be used in spring and summer when the grass needs maintaining, the Enduro has a range of optional attachments that can be purchased separately. These include a snow thrower, sun shade and snow cab, a snow blade, a mulch kit, a twin bagger, steel and poly carts and a rear spreader, to name a few.

The guys over at Cub Cadet haven’t only focused on the quality of the riding mower cum tractor; they’ve also made it as comfortable as possible, with a high-back seat for extra support and an anti-vibrating rubberized comfort grip steering wheel. You’ll be forgiven for driving halfway to the mall in it thinking it’s the family car.

PROS
  • Comes with some impressive features
  • Powerful motor
  • Leaves the lawn with a good cut quality
CONS
  • Attachments are optional
5

Yard Machines 13A326JC700 190cc Gas 24 Inches Riding Mower

best riding lawn mower 2017

Another case of dynamite coming in a smallish package is the Yard Machines 13A326JC700 190cc Gas 24 inches Riding Mower. It provides a good cut and maneuvers well around any obstacles, trees and hedges, can be stored in a standard sized shed or garage and fits through residential gates easily. Powered by a 190cc Briggs and Stratton engine, it has plenty of power to maintain up to an acre of lawn and a 6-speed transmission gives you excellent control of the riding mower.

The Yard Machines 13A326JC700 is missing a few features that you would find on more expensive riding mowers, like flexible grass management – it can’t bag or mulch – but considering the power and performance we’ll let that go.  

For one of the more affordable lawn riding mowers on the market a lot of thought has gone into it, from the low back seat that allows you to move around easily while you are mowing, to the excellent speed, ensuring a hassle-free experience, to the reliable engine and steel cutting deck. This mower will stand you in good stead for years to come.

PROS
  • The engine is quiet and the ride is comfortable
  • Reliable riding lawn mower
  • We think it has a good turning radius
  • It’s well-priced
CONS
  • Fuel tank too small
  • It can’t bag or mulch
6

John Deere Z335E 42 Inches 20 HP Dual Hydrostatic Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower

best riding lawn mower 2017

No list is complete without John Deere, the well-known farm equipment manufacturer. The riding mower designed especially for homes is in the trademark bright green with a bright yellow seat and deck. With a fairly small footprint the zero-turn riding lawn mower is efficient and has an EZtrak heavy-duty frame, conventional two-handle controls and large tires.

The powerful 20 horse power V-Twin hydrostatic gas motor with a 42-inch cutting deck gets the job done in minimum time – in under two hours it can cut over 2 acres of lawn – with brilliant results.

As with all John Deere products, when your mower is delivered you are given a complimentary demonstration on how to operate it to get the best results, as well as how to maintain it to ensure its longevity.

In our opinion you can never go wrong with a JD.

PROS
  • The John Deere is an excellent zero turn mower and it’s a trusted name
  • Cuts grass well and easy to handle
  • Can buy attachments separately
CONS
  • It is very expensive
7

Poulan Pro 967331001 P54ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 24 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower

best riding lawn mower 2017

Yup, it is a Poulan again. The Poulan Pro 967331001 P54ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 24 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower is a ‘mow-fo’ of a mower that combines durability and performance. Powered by a Briggs and Stratton professional series engine, the mower has a top speed of 6 miles per hour and the 54-inch reinforced deck the Pro 967331001 demolishes up to 2.8 acres per hour.

The riding lawn mower from Poulan has six cutting heights – 1.5 inches up to 4 – and the hydro gear EZT transmission ensures a bump-free ride. Other features that we particularly like include a 15-inch-high–back seat for added comfort, foam padded control grips, 18 inch back tires and an easy to operate electric clutch blade engagement.

If you want a brand you can trust this is the one. It is reliable and durable and it comes with a 10-year warranty on the deck. As far as we’re concerned you can’t go wrong with this riding lawn mower.

PROS
  • We found it’s easy to set up and use
  • Well-priced and excellent performance
  • Can cut wet and dry grass
  • Manages inclines and slopes well
  • Good maneuverability
CONS
  • We found it a little pricey
8

SWISHER ZTR2454BS RESPONSE 24HP 54” B&S ZTR

best riding lawn mower 2017

If superheroes traveled on riding mowers the Swisher ZTR2454BS Response would be a Bat ‘Mow-bile’. It is fast, powerful, and good for larger lawns and professional landscapers. Equipped with a Briggs and Stratton engine it is reliable and hardy and the zero-turn technology makes it very easy to use.

The 24HP, Briggs and Stratton engine gives the riding lawn mower its power and ensures it operates quietly compared to other engines. Key features of the Swisher ZTR2454BS includes a 54-inch cutting deck with three gator mulching blades, hydro gear 2800 transmissions, an Ogura clutch as well as a heavy-duty steel frame.

Additional features that make this an awesome riding lawn mower include a full engine wrap, 12-volt adapter, composite fenders that have storage, a cup holder and battery compartment, full engine wrap, front and rear hitch. We like that the Swisher has a digital hour meter, which lets you know when your mower needs maintenance or a service and that the low center of gravity gives you added balance and stability, making it a very safe piece of equipment.  Of course, the zero-turn feature means you can easily rotate 360 degrees and maneuver around any obstacles, flower beds, trees or kids’ toys.

PROS
  • The Swisher is easy to drive, cuts well and leaves the lawn with a professional appearance
  • Excellent for medium to large lawns
  • It has a 54-inch cutting deck and a well-sized fuel tank
CONS
  • Fairly big and heavy
  • Pricey
9

Husqvarna 967323903 V-Twin 724cc Zero Turn Mower

best riding lawn mower 2017

The Husqvarna 967323903 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower gives a superior cut while being fast and efficient. The mower is powered with a Briggs and Stratton engine which should give you peace of mind and a comfortable ride.  There are a few additional features to the Husqvarna 967323903 including the automatic park brake system, the anti-slip foot area as well as the rear engine guard. There is also a spring-assisted height adjustment that makes it easier to have everything within reach, manage the controls and just add to the overall comfort and convenience.

PROS
  • Very powerful and easy to maneuver
  • Good capacity fuel tank
  • Tires have good traction
CONS
  • No arm rests and no fuel gauge
10

High-Performance Briggs & Stratton 190cc Professional Series Engine, 24 Inch Rear Engine Riding Mower with Mulch Kit

best riding lawn mower 2017

The high-performance Briggs & Stratton 190cc Professional Series riding mower gives you excellent maneuverability with a six-speed shift system that allows you to change speeds while driving, and the steering column has an 18-inch turning radius. The mower has a rear engine, and while it can be a little back heavy and not suited for uneven terrain with sharp slopes and inclines, it’s more than capable on flatter surfaces.

The 190cc Briggs and Stratton engine is quiet and gives a smooth ride, and even though this particular riding mower is smaller than most it is perfect for residential gardens, handling tight corners and spaces with ease and fits into a standard garage or shed. It comes with a mulching kit, which is handy

PROS
  • Simple to start and switch off
  • A convenient 6-speed shift-on-the-go transmission
  • Good turning radius
  • The mulch kit helps put nutrients back into the soil
CONS
  • There is no speed control
  • Small fuel tank

Best Riding Lawn Mower - Buyer's Guide

What Makes One Riding Mower a Cut Above the Rest?

A riding lawn mower isn’t a small-ticket item so if you’ve decided on getting one for your home or business then there are a few things you need to look out for. What makes one ride-on mower better than the rest? How do you decide which one is a cut above the rest?

Have a look at our buying guide to see what features you should pay particular attention to, to give you the best value for your money.

Durability and Comfort

For the best possible experience with your riding mower you need to consider how well it works to how long it lasts and to how comfortable it is. A lot of mowers have different types of seats: some have high one, some have seats with lower backs and some are roomy. Try the chair out when deciding on one because, trust us, there is no point to getting a ride-on lawn mower that is so uncomfortable you don’t actually want to use it.

Lawn Size

Consider the area that needs to be mowed. Different riding mowers are available for different sized lawns so be sure to get one that suits your needs. If you have a small to medium sized backyard or lawn, then a standard sized riding mower will be more than sufficient. If, however, you have a farm or a larger than average grass area then you might want to think about a garden tractor. There are also different motors for different spaces – small areas will do well with a 16 Horsepower or less while medium areas will need a 20 Horsepower and anything bigger than that will do well with a 25 Horsepower engine, or bigger.

Deck Size

You have a mower that is durable, well-made and comfortable, it also has the right sized engine and now you need to decide on the deck size. There are different sized mower decks, from 42 inches, 46 inches, 48 inches, 54 inches, 60, and 66 all the way up. It goes without saying a small space will need a deck size of 42 inches, while 2-3 acres will do well with 46 inches to 54 inches and anything bigger will need 60 inches plus.

Terrain Type

As a rule of thumb riding lawn mowers do better on level, even surfaces with thin grass, but of course this isn’t always possible. Usually there are slopes, the grass has thicker patches here and there and there isn’t much space to maneuver. So, take note: thicker grass will need a mower with at least four blades; if you have sloped hills and inclines then look for a mower with a smaller deck as this will allow for better maneuverability and will be easier to control, and if you are mowing in small spaces with very little room to turn then consider a ride-on with zero turn technology.

Transmissions

Exactly like a car, riding lawn mowers have different transmissions – manual, automatic and hydrostatic. Manual and automatic are self-explanatory: manual needs gears to be changed manually and automatic is controlled with a gas pedal. Hydrostatic however is a bit different – it works more like an automatic but it uses fluid instead of a belt to transfer the power. Just like different transmissions in cars appeal to different people it’s the same when deciding on how you want to ‘drive’ your mower. But we can tell you that automatic and hydrostatic are the most popular, with automatic being easier and hydrostatic giving a smoother ride.

Other important factors to consider include:

Price

Riding lawn mowers aren’t cheap but if you do your research and shop smartly you will find one to suit your budget and needs. Perhaps up weigh up the pros and cons, work out how much time and money it will save in the long run and then see if it is worth the price tag. We think it is.

Adjustable cutting height

Not only should the ride-on have adjustable cutting height but it should be quick and easy to adjust. Most will have a hand-lever and a foot assist in order to do this.

User-friendly

Keeping in mind that your riding lawn mower is there to make your life easier you need to make sure the one you decide to buy is user friendly for you. Most come with additional features that make the experience more comfortable and convenient so have a look and see which will suit you. The last thing you want is a mower that is so complicated to use it has you stressed out and annoyed.

Tire width

Believe it or not but the tire width does make a difference. Wider tires help distribute the weight evenly over a larger area, which means a smoother ride, better traction and stability. We like 4-ply-rated tires, which are considered to be the best by the experts.

Speed

Obviously the faster the mower the quicker the job is complete, but make sure that along with the speed it has all the necessary safety features. Most professional landscapers or maintenance people prefer the higher speeds because it means you get the job done quicker and are able to move on to the next project or task. If it’s your business this would mean increased profits.

Cutting Width

The wider the blade the more grass is cut which again helps finish up the job quicker, but some riding lawn mowers with wide blades might be too big to maneuver easily and comfortably. Be sure to check all the areas where the mower will be, including gate entrances and even the storage area.

Zero Turn Design

Having zero turn technology (ZTR) on your lawn mower means it has the tightest turning radius when compared to those without it. What this means in terms of operating the mower is that it doesn’t need additional space in order to turn around and it can maneuver easily around trees, hedges and shrubs or any other obstacles. Just be careful though, zero turn mowers have some trouble on slopes and sharp inclines because they tend to turn too sharply.

Engine placement

Engine placement determines the mower’s power. Front-engine tractor models tend to have larger engines which translates into more power and cutting ability while rear engine models have less power and size – generally zero turn mowers have rear engine placement. It is important to keep this in mind when deciding on a mower and what you will need from it.

Attachments

Riding lawn mowers that come with attachments mean you have a piece of equipment that can be used all year round. Attachments include baggers, rollers, snow throwers, snow blades, spreaders, moss rakes, utility cart trailers, garden dump carts plus a whole lot more. While they are usually available separately it’s worth getting one or two, depending on your needs. This way you are getting more value for your money and better use of your riding mower.

Conclusion


Hopefully this has helped you decide whether you should get a riding lawn mower, and if so, which one. There is a wide range to choose from and while some might be a little pricey, there are a few that are very reasonably priced. Given how much they can do, and the convenience they add to your life, it’s definitely an investment, especially if you get a few attachments and are able to use it for more than a few months in a year.

We get that they cost more, but they do come with a lot of advantages that justify the price. The wide selection available means you can choose one to suit the size of your garden as well as your pocket. Zero turn mowers allow you to get around in the tightest of space while tractor types help maintain larger lawns and small holdings or farms.

If you have a business that requires well-manicured lawns it is a no-brainer – a riding lawn mower or garden tractor will help you do more in less time, giving you time to grow your client base or increasing your income by getting from one job to the next in good time. If, however, you want one for your backyard, there are smaller ones that will make the job of mowing a lot more fun.

Whichever type you choose you can be sure they have far more benefits than a normal push mower and once you weigh up the pros against the cons you will see they offer excellent value for money, and in the long run, it will end up saving you money.

Are you already a proud owner of a riding lawn mower? Which one have you got and would you recommend it?

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