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Best Riding Lawn Mowers — Tested and Reviewed

by Jack Grover
riding lawn mower
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Riding lawn mowers are perfect for handling large properties.

However, with the growing market, the number of available options has become overwhelming.

To help you make a well-informed decision, we have compiled a list of the best riding lawn mowers — according to our experiences and research.

Each mower has been carefully selected based on its performance, ease of use, durability, and value for money.

Whether you’re a professional landscaper or a homeowner, these mowers will make mowing your lawn a breeze.

Our Top Choices

Our Top ChoiceHusqvarna YTH18542
Runner-UpJohn Deere 1570 TerrainCut
Best Electric Riding MowerRYOBI RY48111
Best Gas Riding MowerToro 42″ Timecutter
Best Value Riding MowerTroy-Bilt Pony 42
Easiest to ManeuverCub Cadet XT1 LT42E
Best Versatile Riding MowerHusqvarna YTH24V54
Best for Thick GrassJohn Deere S120

How We Selected Those Mowers

Our expert team has spent long hours scrutinizing the most popular products on the market to bring you informed recommendations.

We began our review process by looking closely at what customers are saying. User reviews shed light on real-world performance and satisfaction.

Next, we pore over the nitty-gritty details: product specifications tell us about features, quality, and design.

Sometimes, our experts have firsthand experience with the products themselves. It offers valuable insights that we also took into account.

Husqvarna YTH18542

Husqvarna YTH18542 lawn mower

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Securing the top position on our list of the best lawn mowers is the Husqvarna YTH18542.

This remarkable riding mower stands out as one of the finest models that money can buy, and it’s not an exaggeration.

Featuring a 42-inch cutting deck with two sets of blades, this mower delivers consistent and even cuts.

With the option to fit a mulching kit or bagger attachment, tidying up after mowing becomes a breeze. You won’t have to worry about going back with a rake and picking up bits of grass left behind ever again.

A deck wash feature is also handy, allowing you to clear the dried grass clippings and maintain optimum performance.

The cutting height can be set at six different positions, ensuring a perfectly groomed lawn throughout the season. You may first need to experiment with different settings to find the ideal setting for your yard, but it’s a simple process.

On top of that, the hydrostatic transmission of the Husqvarna YTH18542 makes operating it similar to driving a car, with the mower speeding up as you put more pressure on the pedal.

This feature makes it much easier to handle than the traditional variable-speed models.

+ Easy to ride
+ Numerous attachments and accessories available
+ A wide 42-inch cutting deck
+ Powerful headlights
– Very loud
– Produces a lot of vibrations

John Deere 1570 TerrainCut

John Deere 1570 TerrainCut lawn mower

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The John Deere 1570 TerrainCut is a top-of-the-line, commercial-grade lawn mower that is designed to handle big areas, such as golf courses, sports complexes, and public parks.

Still, if you’re a rural homeowner with a 5- to 10-acre property to maintain, this mower can be an invaluable asset to have in your garage.

The 1570 TerrainCut is only available through local dealers or the official John Deere website, where you can customize the mower to suit your needs.

Although it is outrageously expensive ($28,000 or more), this model allows you to choose between rear or side discharging decks in either 60- or 72-inch lengths

With a gas tank that can hold up to 16 gallons (60.6 liters) of diesel fuel, you can spend more time working and less time refilling your tank.

+ Handles hills with ease
+ A powerful diesel engine
+ Easy-to-operate controls
– Very expensive
– Requires a lot of storage space


RYOBI RY48111 lawn mower

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RYOBI RY48111 is an excellent pick if you’re into low-noise and eco-friendly mowing but don’t want to compromise on effectiveness.

This battery-powered model is a zero-emissions mower that matches the power of gas mowers while demonstrating impressive maneuverability. It operates fume-free and practically silent, producing only minimal noise.

The RYOBI electric mower comes with a 38-inch deck. Its 48-volt batteries can run for two and a half hours per charge, allowing you to cut up to 2.5 acres in one go.

The two-blade deck offers 12 different cutting heights, and the mower boasts convenient features like cruise control, LED headlights, and USB charging.

Unlike traditional riding mowers, there are no belts, spark plugs, or filters, making the mower much easier to maintain.

Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that if you’re mowing for long periods, this model’s seat may become quite uncomfortable.

+ Tight turning radius
+ An eco-friendly choice
+ Little to no maintenance required
– The seat could be more comfortable
– Operating it takes some getting used to

Toro 42″ Timecutter

Toro 42" Timecutter lawn mower

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The Toro Timecutter series is the perfect choice for those seeking a lawn mower that adjusts to their pace. Its “Smart Speed” system is an innovative feature that automatically adapts to the sensitivity of the lap bars, ensuring a comfortable and efficient mowing experience.

The system has three modes of operation that redirect engine power, allowing you to mow, tow, or trim with ease.

  • In mow mode, the Timecutter is designed for speed, topping out at 7 mph.
  • Tow mode focuses on wheel torque, allowing you to haul heavy loads at a top speed of 5.5 mph.
  • The trim mode directs power to the cutting deck, reducing the top speed to 4 mph and making it easier to cut through thick patches of grass.

Beyond the Smart Speed system, the Toro Timecutter series also boasts other exciting features, such as a cupholder and under-seat storage cubby in the cab.

Tire fenders protect the engine and the operator from mud and debris, while shock-reducing dampers keep the steering bars steady when encountering bumps.

Toro offers a 3-year warranty for extra peace of mind.

Although the 42-inch model made its way to this list, the other types are also definitely worth your attention.

For those with larger yards, Toro also offers a 23hp 50-inch version and a 23hp 54-inch model, providing greater versatility and efficiency.

+ Perfect for making tight maneuvers around flower beds
+ The dedicated mulching kit works great
+ High-capacity fuel tank
– No armrests

Troy-Bilt Pony 42

Troy-Bilt Pony 42 lawn mower

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If you want a cost-effective rower capable of managing lawns up to two acres, the Troy-Bilt Pony 42 is worth considering.

With its 42-inch deck, it can easily mow smaller lawns. Plus, its compact size makes it ideal for those with limited storage space.

The 7-speed transmission is easy to operate, and its unique feature of a separate lever allows you to mow in reverse, which is not that common even among the more expensive mowers.

The mower’s deck has two anti-scalping wheels that minimize the chances of leaving behind patches of “scalped” grass as you mow. This factor makes the Pony 42 suitable for those who have to mow on uneven or hilly terrain.

The rear-tow hitch is included in this model, so you can easily tow a small trailer or cart for your other gardening projects.

Furthermore, the Pony 42 is versatile and can be used with bagging and mulching kits, as well as sun shades, snow blades, and tire chains.

While its tractor-style body lacks the zero-turn capabilities of the higher-end mowers, its slim 18-inch turn radius allows it to be reasonably maneuverable.

+ Pretty good maneuverability
+ Starts quickly
+ Surprisingly good at cutting thick patches of grass
– A bit noisy
– Occasional reports of transmission issues

Cub Cadet XT1 LT42E

Cub Cadet XT1 LT42E lawn mower

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The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT42E is a remarkable electric riding mower, earning a spot among the best electric lawn mowers available on the market.

Equipped with a powerful 56V built-in battery, it can be charged with a standard wall outlet, eliminating the need for a special charger. A full battery charge can deliver up to 90 minutes of continuous runtime, allowing you to tackle even quite large lawns.

Recharging the battery is quick and effortless, taking only about four hours to reach 100% charge. This way, you can quickly charge it while taking a break or doing other outdoor chores.

The 42-inch deck of the XT1 Enduro LT42E includes dual blades for an even and consistent cut.

Its mow-in-reverse feature enables you to navigate tricky areas or go back over missed spots while the blades are still running.

You can customize the deck with 12 different height adjustments to suit your preferred cut for every terrain and season.

Overall, it’s a top-of-the-line electric riding mower, delivering power, convenience, and exceptional performance for an effortless lawn care experience.

+ One of the quietest mowers on the market
+ Quick and straightforward charging
+ Offers a stable ride, even on a hill
– Quite expensive
– Some parts are hard to get
– Rides a bit rough

Husqvarna YTH24V54

Husqvarna YTH24V54 lawn mower

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Another Husqvarna mower on this list, YTH24V54, is a powerful and versatile machine that can easily cut through an average-sized lawn.

With the option to purchase additional accessories, such as a mulcher, tow-spreader, bagger, and scoop, this mower offers a range of capabilities.

The best part?

Despite its impressive and reliable Intek V-Twin motor, this mower is affordable compared to other larger deck mowers on the market. You should be able to find it going for around $3,000.

As you operate the mower, you’ll experience the ease of its ergonomic steering wheel and hydrostatic transmission, which ensure a smooth ride every time.

The electric cutting deck engagement also provides added convenience. You can simply flip a switch on the dashboard to engage the function while maintaining steady control of the mower.

However, it’s recommended to stay extremely careful when mowing on uneven terrain, as the wide-cutting deck may make it harder to navigate.

+ Great value for money
+ More than capable of handling medium-sized yards
+ Surprisingly tight turning radius for a 54-inch cutting deck
+ Works well on hills
– The seat is hard, which is an issue during long mowing sessions
– Some replacement parts are hard to get

John Deere S120

John Deere S120 lawn mower

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If you’re dealing with thick, tall grass on your property, the John Deere S120 mower can be the perfect solution, offering heavy-duty power at an affordable price.

With a high-torque engine, this lawn tractor can easily cut through thick grass and haul heavy loads. Despite its smaller size, the S120 outperforms more expensive models with ease.

John Deere offers a range of tow-behind and front-mounted accessories for this model, such as spreaders and snow plows.

The S120 features large 22-inch rear wheels and an 18-inch turning radius, allowing for easy maneuverability in tight spaces.

The high-back seat is fully adjustable, including lumbar support. It guarantees a comfortable ride even during extended mowing sessions.

In addition to the S120, the 100-series includes the budget-friendly S100 and the highly acclaimed S180.

The entire line is compliant with CARB California emissions standards and comes with John Deere’s 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, providing peace of mind and added protection for your investment.

+ Rides very smoothly
+ Great turning radius
+ Rear tires provide excellent traction
+ Handles thick grass patches with ease
– A few reports of belt issues

Our Verdict

Husqvarna YTH18542 takes the cake as the best riding lawn mower on our list. Its simplicity and effectiveness provide an unmatched mowing experience.

Still, other mowers on our list aren’t far behind.

If you are in the market for an electric mower, consider the RYOBI RY48111. What makes it great is that it operates quietly and boasts several convenient features to make your mowing experience better.

On the other hand, if a zero-turn mower is what you need, the Toro 42″ Timecutter is the way to go. It consistently delivers at an even speed, making sure your lawn gets that smooth, uniform cut. Plus, maneuvering around corners and obstacles is a breeze with this mower.

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