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5 Best Riding Lawn Mower for the Money – 2017 Reviews

6 Best Riding Lawn Mower Reviews

If you have a medium to large sized property, trying to keep it maintained can prove to be quite difficult with an ordinary lawn mower. Pushing a mower around uneven terrain can be time-consuming, physically demanding, and expensive if you choose to pay a professional to do all of the hard work for you.

But instead of struggling to keep your grass under control or spending large amounts of money on a continual basis, a ride-on mower is a great gardening investment.

A ride-on mower requires less energy, and it means that your mowing chores are done faster, and you can still get that highly desired professional look.

Our pick

THE BEST RIDING LAWN MOWER

Raven MPV7100 Hybrid Riding Lawn Mower

The Raven is fast and it excels at cutting tough grass and has a good turning radius, which makes it as good as a zero-turn mower. A multi-purpose vehicle, it can tow a trailer with a load of up to 550 lbs, and it has LED headlights for working in low light conditions.

Before you set out to buy your shiny, new gardening best friend, there are a few gardening and mechanical specifications to look out for. So ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What is the size of your yard and what kind of terrain does it have: small, medium or large, flat, gradual, steep inclines, hilly?
  2. What kind of obstacles are there (trees, bushes, flower beds)?

Choose the size of your ride-on mower

Generally speaking, ride-on mowers are ideal for properties that are ½ acre or more, but there are smaller models that can used in smaller yards as long as you have a gate that is wide enough to let the machine through.

The size of the ride-on mower relates to the size of mower's cutting deck.

So whether you own a residential property, acreage, or an estate, the size of the cutting deck can make all the difference to your mowing experience.

Consider the following guide that can help you decide on the right size of mower for your property.

30”. This size is ideal for small to medium sized properties that have a flat lawn and if you have to negotiate your way through a narrow gate.

42": This type of ride-on mower will work effectively on flat lawns and medium properties up to 2 acres, and they can maneuver well around detailed landscaping and trees.

46”- 48”. This size is ideal for medium to larger sized properties, and will have no trouble getting underneath bushes and for mowing up gentle to medium sloping gradients or hills up to 15 degrees.

Remember: any slope or hill that is over 15 degrees can be dangerous with such a heavy piece of machinery.

50”+”. Larger sized ride-on mowers are ideal for properties over 3 acres or more. They can handle moderate slopes, large open areas and rougher terrain.

Choosing a transmission

Ride-on mowers can either be operated by a manual, automatic or hydrostatic transmission.

Manual transmission. The beauty of manual transmission is that it offers you a range of set speeds you can select and gives you more control over the movement of the mower. Look for mowers that let you shift up or down without having to stop or use a clutch.

Automatic transmission. The automatic transmission in a ride-on mower is similar to the automatic transmission in a car. You can control the speed of the mower just by stepping on a pedal.

Hydrostatic transmission. Mowers with hydrostatic transmission uses fluid rather than a belt to shift the power from the engine to the wheels. This type of transmission offers you a smoother ride and the mower will require less maintenance.

Handy operator and mechanical specifications​

Engine horsepower. Horsepower (HP) measures the power output of the ride-on mower engine. The more horsepower the more work the mower is able to do. Ride-on mowers that have a higher horsepower are faster and can handle rough terrain.

Cruise control. Just like the cruise control can take the stress out of driving on a long stretch of road for a long period of time, it is much the same with a ride-on mower. Cruise control allows you to stay on one speed while you are mowing along in one stretch.

Cutting blades. If you have a lot of grass, especially high grass and tough weeds, it is best to choose a mower with more than one cutting blade. Some of the small tractors have only one blade, but there are lawn tractors have two or three blades. Although, with the powerful engines that are on most models, you can still get a good cutting performance out of one blade.

Anti-scalping wheels. Anti-scalping wheels give you better traction on the ground. They are especially ideal for driving over uneven terrain and for traveling up hills.

Turning radius. The turning radius describes how tightly you can turn the mower. A smaller turning radius means you can make sharper turns, which is especially useful if your lawn has a lot of obstacles and tight corners.

Extra attachments. Some ride-on mowers allow extra attachments to be fitted, which enables you to do additional gardening maintenance like: mulching ridging, and edging. Also, there are ride-on mowers that function like a tractor and you can use them for clearing your driveway clear of snow or you can attach a trailer.

Operator comfort features. Most ride-on mowers come with extra comfort features like a high-back seat with lumbar support, extended leg room, an easy to access control panel, cup holders, and LED headlights for low light conditions.

Warranty information. Just like any other mechanical power tool, especially large machines with lots of moving parts, it is a good idea to look for a warranty that covers the mower for 2 years or more.

Some manufacturers offer a generous 4 year warranty, but it might be a limited warranty, so it is best to read the fine print, which can be accessed through their website.

12 Lawn Mower Safety Tips

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 80,000 injuries are treated because of unsafe operation of gardening machinery. For many homesteaders operating a large gardening machine is a mandatory part of their weekly chores, but by practicing some safety tips, you can stay injury-free.

1. Operator Manual. Always read your Operator's Manual thoroughly before operating your mower.

2. Wear protective eyewear. Even though you will be seated high up off the ground on the mower, there can be flying debris. If you are mowing in an area that has a lot of low hanging branches, it is a good idea to wear protective head gear or at least a hat.

3. Mowing in daylight hours. If you can, try to mow in daylight and when the grass is dry. Although a lot of ride-on mowers have LED headlights, a mower can still get into trouble when they are mowing through wet grass or muddy areas.

4. Check your work area. Check your yard or property for any debris or objects that are lying around and could cause damage to the mower and to yourself when you mow over them.

5. Children/Pet Alert. Make sure that there are no children or pets or livestock around while you are mowing.

6. Drive Safe. Always look three to four feet directly ahead of you just like you would when you are driving your car.

7. Negotiating difficult terrain. Take care when mowing up hills and inclines. It is best to mow up and down an incline and not across.

8. Operating Safety. Turn off the mower when you need to get to cross a driveway or to open and close a gate, and do not leave the mower unattended.

9, Cleaning the mower. If you need to clean out any grass from the grass chute, switch off the mower first.

10. Fixing the mower. Do not try to fix the mower while it is running

11. Hot engines. Stay clear of a hot engine.

12. Mowing in hot weather. If you are mowing for long periods on a hot day, make sure you are wearing a hat and have water with you.

5 Best Riding Lawn Mower Comparison and Reviews

There are so many good ride-on mowers that are available on the market, but here are five of the best.

1. Troy-Bilt 420cc OHV 30 Inch Premium Ride-on Lawn Mower

The Troy-Bilt Ride-on Lawn Mower is the ideal choice for those homesteaders who have not used a ride-on mower before, and for a property that is up to ½ acre with flat terrain. The mower is compact, yet sturdy, and the 30 inch cutting deck means the machine can pass easily through a narrow gate opening.

Although it is one of the smaller sized mowers with a maximum speed of 4.25 MPH, It has a powerful Troy Bilt Powermore 420cc engine and 6 speed transmission, which makes it easy to handle. It has a good turning radius of 18 inches, which means that the machine is quite easy to maneuver when you are doing sharp turns.

The manual power transmission allows you more control over the speed of the mower and gives you a faster take-off. You have a choice of 5 different height positions of the blade, so that you adjust the blades to fit the type or level of grass you will be cutting.

The fuel tank capacity includes a 1.3 gallon tank with a fuel sight window, so that you can keep your eye on the gas levels. For operator comfort, the adjustable seat can be raised to mid-back position to accommodate people with longer legs. The 13-inch steering wheel has a soft grip wheel and the steering column can be adjusted to your preferred height.

What we like:

  • Ideal for small properties with even terrain
  • Easy to assemble
  • Compact
  • Powerful engine.
  • Manual power gives you more operator control
  • Good turning radius
  • Good cutting ability
  • Adjustable seat

What we don't like:

  • Slippery foot rest
  • Seat has only one spring, which is flimsy.
  • Gear shift is awkward to move
  • Not ideal for lawns with very high grass

2. Husqvarna 960430211 YTA18542 42 Inch 18.5 hp Tractor Mower

The Husqvarna name is synonymous with high-quality home and garden power tools. They specialize in mechanized ride-on mowers that are easy to drive and built to last.

The 18.5 horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine gives you just the right amount of power you need to mow a medium sized property up to 2.5 acres with slight inclines and uneven terrain, and with a top speed of 7.4 MPH, you will have your mowing done quickly.

Driving this sturdy mower is so easy with the CVT automatic transmission. There is no need to fiddle with a temperamental clutch, you can easily control the forward and reverse speed with just the push of pedal. The sturdy 15 inch front and 20 inch rear tires gives you that much-needed traction for traveling over uneven terrain .

You can be assured of a superior cut every time as the air induction technology improves the flow of the air from the top and bottom of the deck.

Husqvarna has your operator comfort in mind as you can easily adjust the cutting height of the deck as the adjustment lever is mounted conveniently on the fender, which is within arm’s reach of your seat. There is a handy hour meter that shows you how many hours you have been working and when it is time for you to service the machine. For those longs hours working on a large property there is no need to uncomfortable in your seat as the mower has a 13-inch vinyl slide spring assisted seat.

The mower is also low maintenance and really easy to keep it clean, so after a full day of cutting and mowing, you can connect a water hose to the underside of the deck and hose the machine down.

If you are an early riser or prefer to work in the twilight, the Husqvarna ride-on mower has got you covered with LED headlights.

As well as providing you with an overall high-quality mowing and cutting performance, Husqvarna has also designed this ride-on mower to accept other attachments, so you can use it for ridging, edging, and dethatching.

What we like:

  • Fast
  • Good value for money
  • Ideal for medium sized properties with slight inclines
  • Powerful engine
  • Easy to operate
  • Good steering
  • 3 year limited warranty
  • 5 year consumer warranty

What we don't like:

  • Foot pedal needs constant pressure
  • No anti-scalp wheels.
  • Not ideal for mowing around obstacles

3. Poulan Pro 960420186 54 Inch 24 hp Automatic Gas Riding Mower

If you have a medium to large sized property with uneven terrain, this is the ideal ride-on mower for you. It offers you a reliable mowing and cutting performance due to the 24 horsepower Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Automatic Engine, which gives you the power you need. The pressurized lubrication and the cross flow cylinder head gives you a better cut, reduced vibration, quieter operation and it reduces overheating.

The ReadyStart+Y16 Starting System means that there is no need to prime the machine as it adjusts itself to just the right amount of fuel, and the automatic hydrostatic transmission makes it easy to adjust your speed.

The machine is ideal for various mowing conditions as there are 6 height positions to choose from, which can be easily adjusted for whatever kind of terrain or grass level you have on your property.

The oscillating front axle and 16-inch turning radius means you will have no problems maneuvering around trees or the other obstacles. Reversing is also a breeze with this ride-on mower as the innovative ‘Mow In Reverse’ option allows you to perform a quick 2-step process in order to keep the blades engaged while you shift in and out of the reverse mode.

This mower is pretty tough with a strong 54-inch steel reinforced deck and the spring assist deck lift allows you to easily adjust the cutting deck to your desired height.

When it comes to cutting thick grass the ‘Electric Blade Engagement’ system can be operated by just a pull of the lever that is located on the control panel. The Maintenance Minder reminds you when it is time to service your tractor, and there is a convenient cup holder.

What we like:

  • Ideal for medium sized properties up to 3 acres
  • Powerful
  • Good speed
  • Cuts well
  • Smooth operation
  • Good turning radius
  • Sturdy construction
  • 10 year limited warranty

What we don't like:

  • Expensive
  • Not ideal for steep inclines

4. Raven MPV7100 46 Inch Multi-Purpose Hybrid Ride-on Lawnmower

The Raven Hybrid Ride-on Lawnmower is one of those gardening machines that will have you wondering how you ever managed to maintain your property without it. This is one serious multi-purpose machine that not only functions as a mower, but due to the innovative gas/electric hybrid technology, it can be used as a gasoline-powered electric generator that has a runtime of 8 hours at 50% load.

The mower is powered by a single cylinder 4 Cycle 420 cc engine with an output of 6,500 running watt range and a surge of 7,100 watts.

The smart red and black Raven can tackle tough mowing conditions as it has a strong 46 inch fabricated welded removable deck with 10 cutting height positions to choose from, up to 4 inches. Riding over uneven terrain is easy for this machine as it features ATV-style off-road style tires that provide you with that much-needed traction on the ground.

The turning radius is 14 inches, which is as good as a zero-turn mower, so you easily reverse the machine and maneuver in tight corners, and with a speed of up to 17 mph, your mowing will be done quickly. You can even attach a trailer when you need to haul away debris as it has a towing capacity up to 550 lbs.

Driving the Raven is a delight as it features an easily accessible all-in-1 control panel, 5 onboard power outlets, cruise control up to 6 mph, a storage bed for all your extra gardening tools, an adjustable seat for driver comfort, cup holders, and LED high-intensity lights for working in low light conditions.

The Raven is ideal for small to medium sized properties that have uneven terrain and slight inclines or slopes, but it is not designed for rough trails or steep hills as it can lose power.

What we like:

  • Powerful
  • Fast
  • Great cutting performance
  • Very good turning radius
  • Works best on slight inclines
  • Multipurpose mower
  • Towing capabilities
  • LED headlights
  • Cruise control

What we don't like:

  • Not ideal for heavy duty mowing/cutting or on rough roads
  • The generator can be noisy
  • The pedal position is awkward for people with long legs

5. Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series Lt 42 Inch. 18 Hp Ride-on Lawn Mower

Cub Cadet is one of the most trusted manufacturers of home and garden power tools. Their newly designed Enduro Series mower combines the high responsiveness of a ride-on mower with the sturdy workhorse modus operandi of a tractor.

This sturdy machine can be used in any working environment and in almost any sort of weather as the e-coat corrosion defense system (with a five-year warranty) protects the machine from wear and tear.

It has plenty of power with an 18 horsepower professional-grade Kohler® Courage OHV engine, and the hydrostatic transmission means there is no awkward shifting of gears, you just press down on the pedal and off you go.

The 16-inch turning radius and new responsive steering system gives you increased maneuverability so that you can negotiate tight corners and move around obstacles with ease.

The Cub Cadet can cut through the toughest grass and weeds with the 42-inch mowing deck that has 12 cutting height positions to choose from, which can be smoothly engaged by a single lever.

This gardening workhorse has been designed with some extra safety specifications like an operator presence sensor, brake pedal lock, and a reverse safety switch.

Maintaining your Cub Cadet is so easy as it has a quick connect deck wash system that provides you with high-pressure water whenever you need to wash away any accumulated grass and mud.

This versatile mower/ tractor can also be used all year round, as there are multi-seasonal attachments that are available separately. You can use the machine to clean your driveway from snow with a snow thrower or snow blade, attach a twin bagger or a mulch kit, and if you are working in the heat of summer, you can even attach a sun shade.

When you are operating such a large machine for long periods, it can be tiring, but Cub Cadet has got you covered with some super operator features: push button cruise control, an easy-fill 3 gallon fuel tank with a gauge that is mounted at the operator's level so you can keep your eye on it. A high-back seat with elevated back support, and a soft touch, rubberized comfort grip steering wheel.

If you prefer to do your mowing in the early morning or late evening, the Cub Cadet also comes with LED headlights.

The only downside of this machine is that the seat is flat and you can it can be slippery if you use the machine for mowing down steep slopes, but this can be remedied by purchasing another seat or armrests. There is no bumper bar, so if you need one, you can purchase one separately.

What we like:

  • Ideal for medium to large properties with uneven terrain
  • Good value for money
  • Lots of power
  • Solid construction
  • Easy to raise and lower the deck
  • Good turn radius
  • Excellent cutting ability
  • Seat is comfortable
  • 3-year warranty (unlimited hours)
  • 5-year warranty on chassis & front axle (check details on manufacturer's website)
  • California compliant

What we don't like:

  • Requires some assembly
  • Seat is flat
  • No bumper bar

Our Top Pick

Our top pick (and it was hard to choose) for the best ride-on mower is the Raven Multipurpose 46 Inch Hybrid Mower/Generator. As well as being a smart looking, sturdy and powerful mower, it can also be used as a gasoline-powered electric portable power source.

Our pick

THE BEST RIDING LAWN MOWER

Raven MPV7100 Hybrid Riding Lawn Mower

The Raven is fast and it excels at cutting tough grass and has a good turning radius, which makes it as good as a zero-turn mower. A multi-purpose vehicle, it can tow a trailer with a load of up to 550 lbs, and it has LED headlights for working in low light conditions.

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