Riding mowers are generally the way to go for lawns of half an acre or more. And your options fall into one of three broad categories. Rear-engine riders are the smallest and are usually built with a 30-inch cutting deck. They also tend to be cheapest and are a smart choice if you have limited storage space.

Traditional lawn tractors turn with a steering wheel, and most feature a 42-inch cutting deck. They typically top out around 4 to 5 mph, and they tend to be more stable than zero-turn-radius (ZTR) mowers on hills.

Top 10 Riding Lawn Mower

Bestseller No. 1
Worx WG794 Landroid Pre-Programmed Robotic Lawn Mower with Rain Sensor and Safety Shut-Off
150 Reviews
Worx WG794 Landroid Pre-Programmed Robotic Lawn Mower with Rain Sensor and Safety Shut-Off
  • Fully programmed out of the box for easy set-up and use
  • AIA technology allows Landroid to make intricate cuts and navigate narrow passages
Bestseller No. 2
Husqvarna TS348 (48') 24HP Kohler Lawn Tractor 960430239
1 Reviews
Husqvarna TS348 (48") 24HP Kohler Lawn Tractor 960430239
  • 24hp Kohler Engine
  • Pedal Operated Hydrostatic Transmission
Bestseller No. 3
Troy-Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower
244 Reviews
Troy-Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower
  • Powered by a 382cc Auto Choke OHV engine with top forward speeds of 4.25 MPH and a 6-speed transmission
  • The 30-Inch cutting deck featuring 5 adjustable settings couples the benefits of a standard riding mower with...
Bestseller No. 4
Husqvarna YTH1942, 42 in. 19 HP Loncin Hydrostatic Gas Riding Lawn Mower
3 Reviews
Husqvarna YTH1942, 42 in. 19 HP Loncin Hydrostatic Gas Riding Lawn Mower
  • Reinforced cutting deck delivers superior durability, season after season
  • Pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission improves performance and control
Bestseller No. 5
Husqvarna YTH20K42 20HP 725cc Kohler 7000 42' Lawn Tractor #960430274
1 Reviews
Husqvarna YTH20K42 20HP 725cc Kohler 7000 42" Lawn Tractor #960430274
  • 20HP Kohler 7000 Series V-Twin OHV Engine
  • Pedal-Operated Hydrostatic Transmission
Bestseller No. 6
Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
4 Reviews
Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • 26 HP Kohler engine provides reliable startups and a max speed of 6.5 MPH
  • A patent-pending park brake system automatically activates or deactivates as the steering levers are moved...
Bestseller No. 7
Troy-Bilt 540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek Automatic 46-Inch Riding Lawnmower
4 Reviews
Troy-Bilt 540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek Automatic 46-Inch Riding Lawnmower
  • Powered by a reliable 19 HP/540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek engine and a Foot-Pedal automatic transmission
  • Featuring power and operator comfort, this automatic mower is ideal for mowing large areas
Bestseller No. 8
Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
8 Reviews
Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • Husqvarna 61 in. zero-turn lawn mower from the MZ series delivers commercial-grade power and amazing...
  • 27 HP Briggs Endurance engine provides reliable startups and high ground speeds
Bestseller No. 9
Ertl John Deere 1/16 X320 Mower
28 Reviews
Ertl John Deere 1/16 X320 Mower
  • Features include flip-forward seat, detachable mower deck
  • steerable front tires, and die-cast construction.
Bestseller No. 10
Craftsman T150 19 HP Briggs & Stratton Gold 46-Inch Gas Powered Riding Lawn Mower
  • POWERFUL BRIGGS & STRATTON GAS ENGINE WITH READYSTART: Powerful gas engine suitable for larger yard jobs while...
  • 46-INCH CUTTING DECK WITH INCLUDED DECK WASH: Lawn tractor comes equipped with wide 46-Inch cutting deck for...

Riding mowers are generally the way to go for lawns of half an acre or more. And your options fall into one of three broad categories. Rear-engine riders are the smallest and are usually built with a 30-inch cutting deck. They also tend to be cheapest and are a smart choice if you have limited storage space.

Traditional lawn tractors turn with a steering wheel, and most feature a 42-inch cutting deck. They typically top out around 4 to 5 mph, and they tend to be more stable than zero-turn-radius (ZTR) mowers on hills.

ZTRs are sized like tractors, but instead of a steering wheel, most have arms for turning and navigation. ZTRs can turn in place, nimbly maneuver around obstacles such as trees, and reach higher top speed than tractors. They’re also generally more expensive and a little unsteady on hills.

“In our lawn tractor ratings, we divide traditional tractors and ZTR models into a standard size and those with extra-wide decks,” says Courtney Pennicooke, the CR market analyst who oversees lawn mowers and tractors. “If you’ve got acres of lawn to cut, you’ll want to jump right to wide-deck tractors and ZTRs, which cut much more with each pass.”

How CR Tests Mowers and Tractors

Each year we send a team of experts to our dedicated mower-testing facility in Fort Myers, Fla., where the climate enables us to grow grass in January. This makes it possible for us to test all the newest models and publish ratings in time to help folks who need to make a purchase. We plant a blend of grass, cut acres and acres in all three cutting modes (mulching, bagging, and side-discharge), and look at convenience features on every model we assess. We also note how easy each tool is to handle and maneuver.

CR Mower Testing by the Numbers

What does all that testing really look like?
• 4,900 pounds of grass seed planted, predominantly annual rye, which is prized for the density with which it grows.
• 58,651 miles traveled by CR experts and staff to test mowers.
 991,800 square feet of grass cut. We cut on level turf, slopes, and in ditches to get a feel for each and every model.
 2,000 pounds of clippings bagged. If composted and returned to your lawn, this amount would eliminate the need for 1,300 pounds of commercial fertilizer.

What to Consider Before You Buy

Lawn Mowers

Landscape needs. Consider the size and scope of your yard to find the perfect walk-behind mower.

Washout port. When it’s time to clean up, a washout port accepts a hose connection for clearing clippings beneath the mower deck without the need to tip the machine.

Electric start. On gas models, this feature lets you power the engine with push-button ease, rather than yanking a pull cord. All electric mowers start this way.

Folding handle. Models with a folding or collapsing handle require less space to store.

Upright storage. Nearly all electrics can be stored vertically in a cramped garage. Some gas models have special engine seals that allow for upright storage too, without the risk of oil or gas leaking out.

Uniform wheels. Some mowers boast larger rear wheels. Skip them. Our tests confirm mowers with uniform wheels are easiest to maneuver.

Lawn Tractors

Landscape needs. Get a tractor that best matches the size and scope of your property. And, if your yard resembles an agility training obstacle course, you might want to consider a Zero-Turn-Radius model favored by professionals.

Hour meter. This indicates how long the engine has run since the last oil change or other maintenance. A few models can link to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, to keep track of maintenance and order parts.

Easy mode changes. For tractors, this feature is less common and takes a single blade through multiple mowing modes rather than needing to change blades. Mulching or bagging with a riding mower usually requires a kit costing $50 to $500.

Ability to check fuel. A tractor with a cutout that allows you to see your fuel level—preferably from the seat—is ideal.

High-back seat and cup holder. The first is more supportive and comfortable than a conventional seat, and the second is for when you’re sweltering in the hot sun—you’ll appreciate it.

Cruise control. As with a car, cruise control lets you lock in a ground speed with a riding mower.

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