4 Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2023
Want the best riding lawn mower on the market? Check out our top picks to make your lawn the best in the neighborhood.
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If you have a large lawn but little patience for pushing a lawnmower, consider upgrading to a riding lawn mower. You know the deal: Instead of walking behind the lawnmower, the operator sits on top as the blades whirl in the cutting deck below.
Riding lawn mowers come in many sizes and styles, offering plenty of options to fit your budget and needs. We’ve done our research to find the best riding lawn mower on the market right now. Keep reading to see our top picks.
Best Overall Riding Lawn Mower
Cub Cadet Gas Enduro Riding Lawn Mower
At the top of our list, the Cub Cadet Gas Enduro Riding Lawn Mower is a classic lawn tractor model with a front engine, steering wheel and brake. 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.
- Heavy-duty engine
- Adjustable cut
- Optional multi-seasonal attachments
- AGM battery has longer lifespan and lower maintenance compared to traditional batteries
- Requires some assembly upon arrival
Best Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower
Cub Cadet Ultima Kawasaki Mower
Many zero-turn riding lawnmowers 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 50-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.
- Mows up to 4 acres
- Features parking brake and mow-in-reverse option
- Premium twin-cylinder engine
- Adjustable lap bars with ergonomic hand grips
Best Budget Riding Lawn Mower
Craftsman R110 Riding Lawn Mower
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, 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 1 acre.
- Mid-back seat and soft-touch steering wheel
- 6-speed transmission and 18-inch turn radius
- LED headlights for nighttime visibility
- Manual transmission might require additional driving skills from operator
Best Riding Lawn Mower for Large Yards
Toro TimeCutter Riding Lawn Mower
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. While you can find larger zero-turn radius mowers, this is the ideal choice for the average person.
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 even backed by a three-year warranty, so you can feel confident in your purchase.
- Mows up to 4 acres
- Zero-turn steering
- Thick steel body and super-fast blades
- Lever-controlled cut height
How We Found the Best Riding Lawn Mowers
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject-matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
Types of Riding Lawn Mowers
Riding lawn mowers fall into four types:
- Lawn tractors: The classic front-engine riding mower, controlled much like an automobile, with a steering wheel and a brake. Many models offer accessories like baggers and lawn sweepers.
- Rear-engine ride: These are lighter and more agile than lawn tractors. The engine, mounted in the back, clears the operator’s line of sight and allows for tighter turns and precise cut lines. Like lawn tractors, rear-engine riders employ a standard steering wheel and a brake pedal.
- Zero-turn radius mowers: Instead of a steering wheel, these mowers feature a pair of levers called “lap bars” that let the two drive wheels turn at different rates for exceptionally precise turning and cutting. If you need to cut along an arcing flower bed, a zero-turn mower may be for you.
- Garden tractor: The line between lawn and garden tractors can be fuzzy. But garden tractors often have more power, better stability and optional attachments for everything from tilling to snow plowing. They also cost more than other riding mowers.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Riding Lawn Mower
To find the right riding lawn mower model for you, look at these factors:
- Attachments: Many DIYers find baggers and mulchers helpful to clear grass clippings and waste material. Be sure the model you choose accepts attachments.
- Terrain: Each type of mower suits specific kinds of lawns. Zero-turn mowers navigate tight spaces, but their speed shines on large, flat ground. 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.
- Comfort: Look for a high-back seat to provide lower back support and vibration reduction to absorb the bumps and shakes of the job.
- Engine: Consider the power source—generally gas, though some cordless riders are available—as well as the horsepower of the engine (hp).
- 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. You’ll need to 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.
- 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.
- Cost: The price depends on brand and features. A good starting budget is around $2,000. The mowers on this list run between $1,899 and $5,499.
Why won’t my riding lawn mower start?
There could be several reasons why your lawn mower won’t start. But if it’s been sitting idle all winter, the leading culprit could be a dirty carburetor. Of course, you also want to make sure you have gas in your mower, or—if you have an electric mower—you’ll want to test the battery.
Other common causes for lawnmowers not starting are a dirty or disconnected spark plug (which you should always disconnect before examining the blade) or a potential need to change the air filter, fuel filter or oil.
How fast do riding lawn mowers go?
Most riding mowers have a maximum speed of around 4 to 6 mph. A zero-turn mower can usually hit up to 8 mph, sometimes 10 mph.
Are zero-turn mowers faster than riding lawn mowers?
Yes. Zero-turn mowers are faster than other riding lawn mowers, offering the same precise cut at a quicker speed. Zero-turn riding lawn mowers are known for being faster, lighter and able to spin 360 degrees in one spot because of their superior technology. Generally, that technology comes at a price—zero turns fall at the higher end of the riding lawn mower cost spectrum.
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