10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (2024)

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10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (1)

ByAnthony O'Reilly

Updated: Jun. 14, 2024

    Want the best riding lawn mower on the market? Check out our top picks to make your lawn the best in the neighborhood.

    Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.Learn more.

    10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (2)TYLER O'ROURKE FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

    Most people agree that a riding lawn mower is a major homeowner flex, but being the coolest yard worker on the block is far from the only perk these machines offer. Marc Mayer, lawn expert and TruGreen’s director of technical operations says, “Commonly, homeowners explore a riding lawn mower to save time and/or energy if they have a large lawn area that takes a lot of energy to utilize a walk-behind mower.”

    Those with a large lawn but little patience for pushing a lawn mower should upgrade to the best riding lawn mower for their yard. Instead of walking behind the lawn mower, the operator sits on top as the blades whirl in the cutting deck below. Riding lawnmowers come in many sizes and styles, offering plenty of options to fit your budget and needs.

    We’ve tested multiple riding mowers in our backyards in North Carolina, Minnesota, and other states. We also spoke with several gardeners and lawn care experts for their take on gas-powered and battery-operated riding mowers, zero-turn riding lawnmowers, and what to look for to find the best option for your yard.

    10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (13)

    Tyler O'Rourke for Family HandymanTYLER O'ROURKE FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

    Best Overall Riding Lawn Mower

    Husqvarna TS 242XD

    Pros:

    • Kawasaki motor
    • 42-inch cutting deck
    • Easy to turn
    • Powerful and reliable
    • LED lights
    • Comfortable seat and high backrest

    Cons:

    • Expensive

    Cutting width: 42 in. | Max speed: 5.2 mph | Power type: Gas (4 gal. tank) | Weight: 564 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    We consulted with more than five expert riding lawn mower experts, and the Husqvarna TS 242XD was the most recommended option. Many of their opinions aligned with what we said in our Husqvarna TS 242XD review, in which longtime homeowner and riding mower expert Tyler O’Rourke called it a “beast” that cut his mowing time from two to three hours to just a half hour.

    Expert gardener Mike Drouin calls it a reliable mower, which he and other experts attribute to the powerful Kawasaki motor. This is the crème de la crème of riding mower motors (Tyler compared it to The Hulk). “The sturdy build and user-friendly design cater to both experienced and novice gardeners,” he says. “I endorse this mower for its durability and feature set, which includes a hydrostatic transmission, allowing for smooth speed and direction changes.”

    All the experts pointed out that the high backrest and padded seat made it one of the most comfortable riding mowers. It has a 42-inch cutting deck, LED lights and works well on hills. It’s not a zero-turn mower, though Tyler says you’ll still be able to get into tight spaces with ease.

    “While its form factor is that of a smaller riding mower that would usually be a good fit for a lawn of one acre or less, it packs the power of a much bigger mower,” says Ryan Farley, CEO of LawnStarter. “This means that you can really open up the throttle, especially on smooth, level lawns, and cut much more quickly than other mowers would be able to.”

    10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (14)

    CAROLINE LUBINSKY/FAMILY HANDYMANCAROLINE LUBINSKY/FAMILY HANDYMAN

    Best Electric Riding Lawn Mower

    Craftsman TurnTight Electric Lawn Mower

    Pros:

    • Five-inch turning radius
    • Environmentally friendly (doesn't require gas or oil)
    • Quieter than conventional riding mowers
    • Has cruise control
    • Built-in LED headlights
    • Made in the USA

    Cons:

    • Can't mow in damp conditions

    Cutting width: 42 in. | Max speed: 6 mph | Power type: Battery-operated (56-volt battery) | Weight: 420 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    The 56V Craftsman TurnTight electric riding lawn mower took the electric riding mower top spot after extensive testing by our senior editor Caroline Lubinsky. Caroline says it’s a powerful machine that’s easy to use. “In total, there are five pushable buttons and a display screen on the vehicle control module,” she says. “There’s also the spot to insert the key and a parking brake lever underneath. That’s it.”

    Apart from a tight five-inch turn radius, it’s also zippy. “The mower can really move,” Caroline notes. “It’s a dream on a giant, flat patch of grass where you can set the cruise control, glide along at pace and sip a drink that you’ve stored in the cup holder. The maneuverability is great for such a big machine. When you get to the end of a row, the mower turns well and you’re quickly tackling the next lane.”

    Caroline isn’t the only homeowner impressed by this electric riding mower. Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn, says it’s just as powerful as some gas-powered riding mowers. “I must say that I was thoroughly impressed,” he says.

    Bailey points out that electric mowers may not be the best option for larger yards since most batteries only last up to two hours, though it can vary based on factors such as the thickness of your grass or if it has to drive up steep hills. “If you have an extra large yard, you might need a gas-powered mower,” Bailey says, though some municipalities are banning gas-powered lawn equipment.

    It’s also an electric mower, so you’ll need to keep it indoors or get a high-quality lawn mower cover to protect it.

    Best Gas Riding Lawn Mower

    Cub Cadet Gas Enduro Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:

    • Heavy-duty engine
    • Adjustable cut
    • Optional multi-seasonal attachments
    • AGM battery has longer lifespan and lower maintenance

    Cons:

    • Requires some assembly upon arrival

    Cutting width: 42 – 50 in. | Max speed: 5.5 mph | Power type: Gas (3 gal. tank) | Weight: 570 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    The Cub Cadet Gas Enduro Riding Lawn Mower is a classic lawn tractor model that previously topped our list, though it’s still a powerful workhorse that cuts through thick grass and large yards like a hot knife through butter. It has a front engine, which allows it to go up hills and make smoother turns than mowers with engines in the back.

    This mower is compatible with many different types of lawn mower attachments, from a snow blade to a dump cart. Additionally, Cub Cadet offers a range of accessories to help keep your yard looking fantastic.

    This lawn tractor can handle various landscapes with its 42-inch cutting deck and 19.5 horsepower Kohler engine. It has LED headlights for optimal visibility no matter what the weather is like, cruise control for consistent mowing and 12 cutting height positions for perfectly-cut grass. The cushioned seat features a 15-inch back, which makes the Cub Cadet comfortable for the user. We’re also impressed with the three-year warranty and a nationwide network of Cub Cadet service centers.

    “These models are known for their cutting precision and comfort features for extended use,” says landscaping expert and outdoor designer Taylor Green.

    If your area still allows gas-powered mowers, you may want to check out our best gas lawn mowers roundup.

    Best Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower

    Cub Cadet Ultima Kawasaki Mower

    Pros:

    • Mows up to four acres
    • Parking brake
    • Mow-in-reverse option
    • Premium twin-cylinder engine
    • Adjustable lap bars with ergonomic hand grips

    Cons:

    • Blades need to be sharpened/replaced frequently

    Cutting width: 54 in. | Max speed: 7 mph | Power type: Gas (3.5 gal tank) | Weight: 600 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    Many zero-turn riding lawn mowers are marketed toward professional landscapers. The Cub Cadet Ultima Riding Lawn Mower features popular zero-turn traits without the industrial upgrades that make pro-level mowers so expensive.

    This mower offers a 54-inch deck and a 23-horsepower V-Twin Kawasaki engine. The foot-controlled deck height adjusts in one-fourth increments, and a seat suspension system reduces user fatigue.

    Have a late-night job to complete? No sweat—the dual-LED headlights let you work into the evening. The 3.5-gallon fuel tank means you won’t have to stop mowing to refuel before finishing an average-sized yard. Plus, Cub Cadet offers baggers and mulchers compatible with this machine.

    10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (17)

    Via MerchantVIA MERCHANT

    Best Budget Riding Lawn Mower

    Craftsman R110 Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:

    • Affordable
    • Mid-back seat and soft-touch steering wheel
    • Six-speed transmission
    • 18-inch turn radius
    • LED headlights for nighttime visibility

    Cons:

    • Manual transmission

    Cutting width: 30 in. | Max speed: 4 mph | Power type: Gas (1.3 gal. tank) | Weight: 330 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    Generally speaking, a rear-engine riding lawn mower will cost significantly less money than other types of riding lawn mowers. This rear-engine mower from Craftsman is a simple yet durable mower. Best of all, at under $2,000 it’s an affordable option when compared to other riding lawnmowers.

    This single-cylinder engine mower features a 30-inch cutting deck that puts it closer in size to a wide push mower, allowing you to easily fit through gates and tight spaces. But for all that compact size, this mower can still tackle big yards; the manufacturer recommends it for up to one acre.

    10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (18)

    ALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMANALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

    Best Riding Lawn Mower for Large Yards

    Toro TimeCutter Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:

    • Mows up to four acres
    • Zero-turn steering
    • Thick steel body
    • Super fast blades
    • Lever-controlled cut height

    Cons:

    • Expensive

    Cutting width: 42 in. | Max speed: 7 mph | Power type: Gas (3 gal. tank) | Weight: 504 lbs. | Cutting options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge

    For the biggest yards, we love the Toro TimeCutter Riding Lawn Mower. The sizable 54-inch cutting deck dramatically reduces the number of passes needed, and the mower comes stacked with features. Have a tight corner? It’s a zero-turn mower, meaning it can be maneuvered very precisely when needed.

    “It rides smooth for a mower and is incredibly maneuverable,” says Dan Bailey of WikiLawn. “There’s a bit of a learning curve to how it handles, but with how evenly it cuts the grass, I highly recommend the Toro Timecutter.”

    Toro has been in business for over 100 years, so it’s no surprise they’ve found ways to make mowing more enjoyable. Toro’s MyRide suspension system reduces the bumps and bounces that come with uneven terrain, and its Smart Speed settings let you choose between straight-out mowing (top speed), towing (medium speed) or trimming (low speed).

    This mower ships with a padded back seat, armrests and a cup holder. Plus, it’s backed by a three-year warranty, so you can feel confident in your purchase.

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    Via MerchantVIA MERCHANT

    Best Riding Lawn Mower for Medium Yards

    Troy-Bilt Super Bronco

    Pros:

    • OCR system allows mowing in reverse
    • Built-in headlights
    • Cuts in poor weather conditions
    • Front bumper
    • Adjustable high-back padded seat

    Cons:

    • A little slow on flat ground

    Cutting width: 50 in. | Max speed: 5.5 mph | Power type: Gas (3 gal. tank) | Weight: 630 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    When it comes to keeping an average-sized healthy lawn, the best tool is dependable, powerful and flexible. Between a commanding twin-cylinder 679cc engine and a 50-inch cutting deck with 12 adjustable cutting heights, the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco is perfect for medium-sized yards.

    A super-tight 16-inch turning radius and an OCR system that allows mowing in reverse means there’s no need to worry about fenced-in yards or an abundance of trees. The hood and body panels come from tough American-made steel and it comes with a front bumper built-in for extra safety.

    Additionally, LED headlights and a comfy padded seat make this the perfect pick for routine lawn maintenance.

    Best Riding Lawn Mower for Small Yards

    Greenworks Electric CrossoverZ Zero Turn Mower

    Pros:

    • Waterproof operation
    • 4G-connected service identifies and troubleshoots issues
    • 90 dB sound is quieter than gas mowers
    • No belts or transmission
    • Handles hills up to a 15-degree incline
    • Comes with six lithium-ion batteries

    Cons:

    • In order to change gearbox oil, drive wheels must be removed

    Cutting width: 42 in. | Max speed: 8 mph | Power type: Battery-operated | Weight: 456 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    While most folks with smaller yards opt for a standard push mower, splurging on the Greenworks Electric CrossoverZ Zero Turn Mower means boiling down a one-hour task to just a few minutes. With a max speed of eight miles per hour, plus a midsize 42-inch cutting deck that works on wet grass, it’s well worth snagging if yard work isn’t your favorite chore.

    With five extra batteries, there’s plenty of fuel to complete any sized yard. Each of the included lithium-ion batteries is also compatible with other Greenworks equipment, like their self-propelled and push mowers. Better still, the nearly nonexistent turn radius simplifies starting a new row when there’s not much space to turn around. You can always invest in one of the best reel mowers if you need a little extra precision.

    10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers (21)

    Via MerchantVIA MERCHANT

    Best Riding Lawn Mower for Uphill

    Bad Boy MZ Magnum

    Pros:

    • 200-pound towing capability
    • Seat lifts for easy maintenance and cleaning
    • Large five-gallon fuel tank capacity
    • Baffling system maximizes airflow

    Cons:

    • Steering only controls back wheels

    Cutting Width: 54 inches Max Speed: 6 MPH Power Type: Gas (five-gallon tank) Weight: 665 lbs. Cutting Options: Side-discharge

    When it comes to mowing on hills, it’s important to find a mower that is safe and handles inclines well. Typically, zero-turn mowers work best on flat yards because they use back-wheel drive. However, the Bad Boy MZ Magnum offers a few surprising bells and whistles that make it our top pick for inclines.

    Thanks to an adjustable left- or right-side deck lift pedal and superior torque, the lawn mower tackles side hills under five degrees, inclines under 10 degrees and declines under 15 degrees. When it’s time to prep the lawn for fall, simply attach a lawn sweeper to the rear for easy leaf pickup.

    A strong all-steel rail frame sits low on the welded deck for better traction. Reinforced edges, a baffling system that maximizes airflow and a generous five-gallon fuel capacity make it hard to beat, especially for the price.

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    JOE CHURCHILL FOR FAMILY HANDYMANJOE CHURCHILL FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

    Best Lawn Tractor

    John Deere Lawn Tractor

    Pros:

    • Made in the USA
    • No-tools oil drain valve
    • Easy to use
    • Easy to service or repair

    Cons:

    • Doesn't do well going up steep hills

    Cutting width: 42 in. | Max speed: 5.5 mph | Power type: Gas (3.3 gal. tank) | Weight: 542 lbs. | Cutting options: Side-discharge

    We like the John Deere S100 because it offers the best bang for your buck. John Deere is a well-known and trusted brand name with over 100 years of experience building and designing tractors, plows and other agricultural equipment. Smart innovations—such as an anti-vibration system, full-pressure lubrication and oil filters for cleaner oil—help this lawn mower last for years to come.

    Longtime lawn care expert Joe Churchill reviewed the X300 series of the John Deere Lawn Tractor and said it had good maneuverability and is easy to start and use. “Its well-designed steering and geometric configuration help keep the uncut circle to about 18 inches,” Churchill says in his John Deere Lawn Tractor review. “This is impressive for a conventional belly-mount lawn tractor style.”

    Additionally, you get a four-year warranty and you’re purchasing an American-made piece of equipment. This gas-powered lawn tractor is just as powerful as the electric John Deere mowers.

    What to Look for When Buying a Riding Mower

    Dylan Fox, assistant product manager at Greenworks, says “when choosing a mower, homeowners should consider a variety of factors, such as the yard size, obstacles in the yard, terrain, cutting deck size, power and budget.”

    To find the right riding lawn mower model for you, he highlights these important factors:Cost: The price depends on the brand and features. A good starting budget is around $2,000. The mowers on this list run between $1,899 and $5,499. For the budget-conscious, an electric mower is pretty wallet-friendly. “The cost of gas, oil and maintenance of a gas riding lawn mower quickly adds up to a lot of money over the span of its life,” says Fox.

    Attachments

    “Attachments are extremely useful to have and make tasks around the lawn much easier,” says Fox. “Some useful attachments include dethatchers, aerators, lawn sweepers, lawn carts and seed spreaders.” Many DIYers find baggers and mulchers helpful to clear grass clippings and waste material. Ensure the model you choose accepts attachments.

    Terrain

    Each type of mower suits specific kinds of lawns. Rugged, uneven terrain demands a garden tractor, while small yards or lawns with many curves and corners will do well with a rear-engine rider. For the average lawn, a lawn tractor is the ideal choice. “Lawn tractors are better suited for yards with multiple obstacles and uneven terrain. Zero-turn mowers offer greater maneuverability and speed making them ideal for large open spaces,” Fox notes. However, while zero-turn mowers navigate tight spaces, their speed shines on large, flat ground.

    Comfort

    Look for a high-back seat to provide lower back support and vibration reduction to absorb the bumps and shakes of the job. There are also other considerations, such as steering wheels for the lawn tractors versus the lap bars of the zero-turn. “Lawn tractors are easily controlled with one hand while the zero-turn requires you to use both,” says Fox.

    Engine

    “Power and performance are shown by the difference of kilowatts and size of the mower. In terms of power, brushless motors provide instant power, torque and cutting speeds compared to traditional gas riding mowers,” Fox notes.

    Cutting Deck Size

    This determines the mower’s cutting swath. A large deck cuts a lawn in fewer passes, but a narrow deck makes maneuvering through tight spaces easier. Don’t make the mistake of buying a mower with a deck too large to pass through your gate!

    Maintenance

    All gas-powered riding mowers require maintenance, but some make it easier than others. Look for easily accessible oil filters and spark plugs. Clear out grass clippings to prevent clogs. A cutting deck with a garden hose attachment saves time by letting you blast the deck and blades with water to free clippings. As for electric mowers? “No belts, no oil, no gas, no sparkplugs, no filters, no problem,” says Fox.

    Noise

    Most manufacturers don’t make the noise levels of their mowers easy to find. Gas mowers are particularly loud, requiring hearing protection. To avoid excessive noise, consider an electric riding mower. They aren’t silent, but they’re far quieter than even the least noisy gas mowers. Fox notes that electric mowers are “over two times quieter than gas-powered riding mowers. Your ears and your neighbors’ ears will thank you.”

    Cost

    The price depends on the brand and features. A good starting budget is around $2,000. The mowers on this list run between $1,899 and $5,499. For the budget-conscious, an electric mower is pretty wallet-friendly. “The cost of gas, oil and maintenance of a gas riding lawn mower quickly adds up to a lot of money over the span of its life,” says Fox.

    Yard Size

    Yard size will dictate the size of the mower the customer should buy. If someone has only a quarter of an acre, then they most likely would not need a 60-inch zero-turn mower.

    Lawn expert Mark Mayer suggests exploring the following when searching for a new riding mower:

    • Would my lawn support a riding lawn mower in terms of size and terrain? Lawns that are too small or have slopes and hills can create a challenging and dangerous mowing experience.
    • A riding mower can be expensive, and it’s important to ensure you are comfortable behind the wheel. Mayer suggests homeowners research and evaluate items like safety, durability and size based on their lawn area—partnering with a professional service is a good idea. Don’t be afraid to hop in the seat and take a mower for a test drive—comfort and safety are important to ensure you feel confident in maneuvering the mower without any concerns.
    • Do you want to mulch and recycle the grass clippings from your lawn or bag them? Depending on a homeowner’s point of view, that can contribute to what the best riding lawn mower for them would be. Mulching helps to limit grass clipping collection and recycles nutrients back into the soil.
    • All grass types can tolerate a riding mower. But remember that these machines are heavier and can cause soil compaction. In cases where you are maintaining high-quality low-cut turf, there are also more sophisticated mower options, which are often seen on golf courses.

    Why You Should Trust Us

    We’re a team of homeowners and gardening experts who have used riding mowers in several states, including North Carolina and Minnesota. Additionally, parts of this post was written by Mary Henn, MFA, a shopping editor at Family Handyman with expertise in interior design, home decor, gardening and outdoor trends.

    Other contributors include Emily Way, a shopping editor with experience researching products and recommending the best designs to consumers, and freelancer Anthony O’Reilly, an award-winning journalist. Both Emily and Anthony researched and updated this piece. Emily interviewed experts Marc Mayer of TruGreen and Dylan Fox, assistant product manager at Greenworks.

    Anthony spoke with Mike Drouin, expert gardener and founder of Reefertilizer; Ryan Farley, CEO of LawnStarter; Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn and landscaping expert and outdoor designer Taylor Green.

    Much of the information about our picks for the best riding lawn mowers came from hands-on testing by homeowners.

    How We Found the Best Riding Lawn Mowers

    When shopping for a pricy lawn care tool like an accessible lawn mower, it’s important to ensure shoppers spend cash on a find that will last through years of use. That’s why we personally tested our favorite electric mower, determining that its value, features and quality are consistent with our standards. We personally tested four of the models on this list, using them for a few weeks to test the turning, run time, maneuverability, comfort and efficiency.

    Then, we consulted industry experts and asked them to weigh in on our other top picks. Between rigorous testing and expert thoughts, we’re confident that these 10 picks are the best riding lawn mower finds on the market.

    Types of Riding Lawn Mowers

    According to Dylan Fox, assistant product manager at Greenworks, while the basic concept remains the same, riding lawn mowers fall into four categories:

    • Lawn tractors: Lawn tractors feature a front motor and most of the weight is towards the front. These lawn mowers have a little less power than garden tractors and specialize predominantly in mowing the lawn. The cutting widths on these are typically 42 to 54 inches. This kind of lawn mower can cut one to two acres but does not have the same maneuverability as a zero-turn. Many models offer accessories like baggers and lawn sweepers.
    • Rear-engine ride: Rear-engine riding mowers are typically smaller in cutting widths in comparison to the other riding mowers on this list. The cuttings widths are typically from 30 to 36 inches. Rear-engine riding mowers are agile and respond well to tight spaces while maintaining power and performance. These mowers offer versatility for getting the job done much quicker than walk-behind mowers and take up less space compared to zero turns and tractors. They’re great for yards up to 1.5 acres.
    • Zero-turn radius mowers: If you need a quick mower, Zero-turn mowers have the ability to go from forward to reverse in no time. Zero-turn mowers cut precisely and offer the most power and performance at the quickest cutting speeds.
    • Garden tractor: The line between lawn and garden tractors can be fuzzy. In general, garden tractors excel in lawn mowing and typically showcase more power to support the demands of multiple tasks around the house. These are great for hauling carts and using heavier attachments for various projects.

    FAQ

    What is the average life of a riding lawn mower?

    Riding lawn mowers can last anywhere from 500 to 1,000 hours, depending on the motor and how it’s maintained.

    What’s a good brand of riding lawn mower?

    Most of the gardening and lawn care experts we spoke to said Husqvarna was their favorite riding lawn mower brand, though other reliable brands include Craftsman, Cub Cadet and John Deere.

    What riding mowers have the least problems?

    In our research, Husqvarna riding mowers had the least problems due to their reliable and durable Kawasaki motors.

    Sources:

    • Marc Mayer, director of technical operations at TruGreen
    • Dylan Fox, assistant product manager at Greenworks
    • Mike Drouin, expert gardener and founder of Reefertilizer
    • Ryan Farley, CEO of LawnStarter
    • Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn
    • Taylor Green, landscaping expert and outdoor designer

    Originally Published: March 01, 2023

    Author

    Anthony O'Reilly

    Anthony is an award-winning writer who grew up in the Big Apple but always dreamed of being closer to the mountains, and that's just one reason he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. He writes shopping content and in-depth product reviews and is always on the hunt for a good deal.

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