Best Riding Lawn Mower in 2020: Top 5 Picks By Gardeners

Best Riding Lawn Mower

Are you sick of cutting your grass with your slow, dull push mower? Not only is mowing your lawn “the old fashioned way” boring, but it can also be downright exhausting. If you’ve ever thought that buying a riding lawn mower would be too cost-prohibitive, think again.

Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to buy one of the best garden tractors – the best riding lawn mower for you might be waiting right around the corner. There are plenty of options to choose from, and it’s not difficult to find top-rated riding lawn mowers for sale – and we’re not just talking about cheap riding lawn mowers, either. 

If you are ready to invest in the best lawn tractor for your needs, it’s time to get shopping. However, it can be tough to know which ride-on lawnmower is right for your budget, lawn size, and landscape type. It can take serious amounts of time to scour all the riding lawn mower reviews on the Internet, so we’ve done the hard work for you.

Here’s everything you need to know to be able to invest in the best riding lawn mower  – so you can get your lawn care chores done in half the time.

Best Products Comparison

John Deere E180 54 in. 25 HP V-Twin ELS Gas Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor Husqvarna YTH24V48 24-HP V-twin Hydrostatic 48-in Riding Lawn Mower Cub Cadet CC30H 382CC Rear Engine Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Rider 30 in. 382 cc OHV Engine Manual Drive Gas Rear Engine Riding Mower Troy Bilt Pony 42.in Riding Mower
Best Overall Best Lawn Tractor Best Rear Engine Best Value Best Cheap Riding Lawn Mower
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Pros:

1. Can be equipped with chains for hilly terrain and other attachments

2. Raised deck helps you stay clear of debris

3. Hydrostatic transmission eliminates the need to shift
Pros:

1. Husqvarna produces many attachments that are compatible with this mower

2. Has a hydrostatic automatic transmission for minimal maintenance

3. Durable construction with a 2.5-gallon fuel capacity
Pros:

1. Compact design makes it easy to maneuver into tight spaces

2. Has LED headlight for enhanced visibility in dark or otherwise poor weather conditions

3. 3-year limited residential warranty
Pros:

1. Comes with mulching capability

2. Compact and easy to turn with an 18-inch turning radius

3. Ability to shift into reverse mowing function
Pros:

1. Compact design makes it easy to maneuver into tight spaces

2. Has LED headlight for enhanced visibility in dark or otherwise poor weather conditions

3. 3-year limited residential warranty

What to Look for in a Riding Lawn Mower

As you’re preparing to buy a new riding lawn mower, you might be asking yourself, “Okay. There are all these options – but what’s the best riding lawn mower?”

Once you start shopping, you will need to take the following features into consideration. 

Type of Mower

There are essentially three types of riding mowers you can choose from  – rear engine mowers, zero-turn mowers, and front-engine lawn tractors. For the sake of simplicity, this article will deal only with rear engine and front-engine lawn tractors. If you’re interested in learning more about zero-turn mowers, be sure to check out our review of the best zero-turn mowers here. 

Brand

You should think carefully about the manufacturer who is building your lawn mower. A good way to make sure you are investing in a high-quality riding lawn mower is to stick to brands that are reputable and well-known in the industry. Some to consider include Cub Cadet, John Deere, and Husqvarna. 

The leading manufacturers have a solid reputation and are known for making high-quality, reliable outdoor equipment. They offer sleek riding lawn mowers that will stand up to the test of time. 

Engine Horsepower

Horsepower refers to how powerful your engine is. While you don’t need a ridiculous amount of horsepower just to cut your grass, you should look for an engine that has enough horsepower for whatever your size lawn you might have.

A small lawn might only need a riding lawn mower with a horsepower of 16, while larger lawns could require over 24 horsepower. Your horsepower will contribute to the way in which fuel is distributed to components of the motor, so that’s something else to consider if you have very thick or irregular grass types. 

Cutting Width

Cutting width is important to consider when you are thinking about buying a riding lawn mower. Think about the size of your yard. If your lawn is small (perhaps less than an acre), you don’t need a riding lawn mower with a massive cutting width. This is especially true if you have many hard-to-reach spots or obstacles like fountains, trees, or flower beds to mow around. A cutting width of 30” will likely suffice. If, however, your lawn is quite leather, you might prefer a riding lawn mower with a cutting width of 50” or more.

Fuel Capacity

Fuel capacity, as determined by the tank size of your mower, is an important feature that should not be overlooked. Your tank size will tell you exactly how much mowing you will be able to do before you need to fill the tank. The larger your tank is, the fewer fuel refills you will need to get the job done.

While small riding lawn mowers generally have small tanks, making them suitable for small lawns, you may not always need a big tank – this can significantly increase the price of your riding lawn mower. Therefore, tank size may not matter to you much unless you are mowing a massive chunk of grass.

Transmission

The transmission transports power from the engine of the riding lawn mower to its wheels, allowing you to drive it. When you purchase a riding lawn mower, it will likely be available in an automatic, manual, or hydrostatic transmission. A manual transmission will have a range of preset speeds, with older models requiring you to shift between them using a clutch. 

An automatic transmission, on the other hand, allows you to control the speed with your gas pedal, allowing for easier control over the ride. Hydrostatic transmissions are similar, but they use fluid instead of belts and require minimal maintenance on behalf of the owner.

Warranty

Regardless of whether you plan to use your riding lawn mower for residential or commercial use, you will want to consider whether it comes with a warranty. Warranties can be as long as a lifetime or just barely enough to cover the first thirty days. You might want to consider riding lawn mowers that have warranties longer than three years – these are generally considered good warranty policies. 

Wheelbase

The wheelbase on your riding lawn mower refers to the distance between the rear and front axles. While this may not sound like a major factor, it’s incredibly important- to determines the placement of both the engine and the driver’s seat. You want the engine to be large enough to handle your lawn, but not to obstruct your view-  therefore, a longer wheelbase is ideal in most cases.

Keep in mind, though, that a longer wheelbase can affect the position of your seat. This can make it more challenging to navigate around tight corners. If you want a mower with finely tuned control, a longer wheelbase may not necessarily be ideal.

Reverse Capability

Some – not all – riding lawn mowers have a reverse feature. This isn’t necessarily a must-have trait in a good riding lawn mower, and in fact, many older used riding lawn mowers aren’t equipped with this technology at all. 

However, if you have the option to purchase a riding lawn mower with reverse capabilities, this can be extremely handy. This is especially true if you have a hard-to-navigate lawn that makes it difficult to turn around. It could save you both time and money required for the extra fuel needed to do so.

Traction Control

You should look for a mower that has exceptional traction control. This is usually determined by the size and style of the tires on your riding lawn mower. Good traction control will ensure that your mowing is straight, neat, and safe  – which will save you fuel as well as added stress.

Attachments

While many small riding lawn mowers don’t come with attachments, some of the best deals on riding lawn mowers come with the ability to add these attachments at the time of purchase or even later on. Some mowers come with the attachments, which helps improve the value of the mower, while others can be purchased separately. 

If you want to perform other tasks with your mower, you will need to have a clear idea of this ahead of time. For example, some riding lawn mowers come with baggers that you can use for collecting leaves and grass for mulching and composting. Others come with snowblower attachments, seed spreaders, garden carts, or even aerators. Having these attachments built into your mower can save you some money. 

Best Overall - John Deere E180 54 in. 25 HP V-Twin ELS Gas Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor

Look at any John Deere Riding Lawn Mower reviews, and the E180 will likely come up again and again. Although it is a little on the pricier side, it’s well worth it when you consider that this is a premium, top-rated riding lawn mower with an impressive 25 horsepower. 

This lawn mower is considered the best garden tractor on our list because it has a hydrostatic transmission that makes it easier to move and less difficult to shift. It has a 54-inch cutting deck, providing for a large swath of mowing so you can get the job done more quickly. It also has a unique ReadyStart system that allows you to start the mower without choking – this is a good feature to have if you want a reliable mower that will start every time.

This riding lawn mower is also comfortable to use. You can engage the blade simply – all you need to do is pull knob and the mower deck will allow you to choose between heights of one to four inches. There’s even a cruise-controls setting so that you can maintain your speed while mowing large passes – without tiring out your foot. 

With a steel frame and a cast-iron axle, this riding lawn mower is built to last. It is strong and with a fade-resistant hood, you likely won’t be painting it any time soon, either. It comes with a two-year or 120-hour warranty, but if you want to work on it yourself, that’s easy to do, too. It even has a handy wash port under the deck so you can clean it out with ease

What We Liked:

  • Can be equipped with chains for hilly terrain and other attachments 
  • Raised deck helps stay clear of debris 
  • Hydrostatic transmission eliminates the need to shift 

What We Didn’t Like:

  • One of the more expensive riding lawn mowers

Best Lawn Tractor - Husqvarna YTH24V48 24-HP V-twin Hydrostatic 48-in Riding Lawn Mower

This ride-on lawn mower is frequently mentioned in Husqvarna riding mower reviews. It has a sturdy build and offers impressive performance with remarkable versatility Husqvarna is a top name in riding lawn mowers, and this product is no exception. 

It has a 24 horsepower Briggs & Stratton Intek V-Twin Engines – these are one of the best and most efficient motors you will find. It has an automatic hydrostatic transmission to make it easier to cut any lawn down to size. It has a smooth froward function as well as a reverse function – neither of which require you to shift gears. With a reinforcer 54” cutting deck, this small riding lawn mower cuts one of the widest swaths of grass you’ll see. 

This has a unique cruise control feature so that you don’t have to worry about your speed –  instead you can focus on steering this hardworking machine around your yard. It has a fender-mounted cutting height adjustment as well as electric blade engagement. Hsi makes the mower easier to control. It even has built-in headlights so that you won’t need to rely on your yard’s solar lights – or worse, the light of the moon! – to mow your yard. 

What We Liked:

  • Husqvarna produces many attachments that are compatible with this mower
  • Has a hydrostatic automatic transmission for minimal maintenance
  • Durable construction with a 2.5-gallon fuel capacity 

What We Didn’t Like: 

  • Has a tendency to go through bearings quicker than other riding lawn mowers

Best Rear Engine - Cub Cadet CC30H 382CC Rear Engine

The Cub Cadet CC30H is the best lawn tractor for people who are looking for a small riding lawn mower. If you read rear engine riding mower reviews, you might hear people complaining about the inability of any lawn mowers to fit into small storage areas – or even through wider gates. 

The Cub Cadet CC30H offers the perfect compromise between a too-small, too-weak mower and a bulky, inefficient, and clunky riding lawn mower. It is just over five foot long, taking up minimal floor space in your garage. This rear-engine mower maneuvers easily in tight spaces around gates and can cut your mowing time in half. 

This riding lawn mower has a 382 cc Cub Cadet OHV engine and a hydrostatic transmission for easy driving. It also has a feature that allows you to mow in reverse. You can purchase additional attachments for ht mower, too, such as a cover. It includes a mulching kit so you can easily fertilize your lawn as you mow, too. 

What We Liked:

  • Compact design makes it easy to maneuver into tight spaces
  • Has LED headlight for enhanced visibility in dark or otherwise poor weather conditions
  • 3-year limited residential warranty

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fuel tank is only 1.3 gallons

Best Value - Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Rider 30 in. 382 cc OHV Engine Manual Drive Gas Rear Engine Riding Mower

If you only have a few acres to mow, it might not make sense for you to purchase a large hulk of a riding lawn mower. That can certainly feel excessive! But if you’re looking for the perfect compromise between your old-fashioned push mower and a larger lawn tractor, this small riding lawn mower is a good choice.

The Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Rider is a tight, compactly built mower that can handle jobs of up to 1.5 acres, as long as those acres are comprised of mostly flat ground. It doesn’t have a ton of features but offers everything you need to get the job done. With a 30-inch cutting deck and a fine turning radius of 18 inches, this mower will allow you to work your way around trees, garden storage equipment, or other obstacles with ease. It has five different adjustments for height and a six-speed transmission.

The transmission on this mower makes it easy to shift quickly without having to worry about your clutch. The mower can be used with the reverse feature if necessary and the rear hitch lets you put on lightweight attachments or even tow light carts. It’s only about 62 inches wide and 42 inches high. At only 30 inches wide, this riding lawn mower is easy to fit into most storage areas. 

What We Liked:

  • Comes with mulching capability
  • Compact and easy to turn with an 18-inch turning radius
  • Ability to shift into reverse mowing function

Best Cheap Riding Lawn Mower - Troy Bilt Pony 42.in Riding Mower

In the market for cheap riding lawn mowers? You don’t have to resort to poring through used riding lawn mowers descriptions in order to find an inexpensive option. The Troy Bilt Pony 42 inch Riding Mower is the perfect choice. 

This affordable mower will allow you to cut a couple of acres smoothly and efficiently. It is powerful and can make quick work of small yards but also work well with bigger areas, too. It has a Briggs & Stratton motor for reliable functionality, and it also has a seven-speed manual transmission. This lawn tractor has a five-position deck height adjustment and an 18-inch turning radius, allowing you to cover a large area in a short amount of time. It can even mow in reverse!

This lawn tractor has a ton of features to make mowing your lawn more comfortable. It has automatic headlights, a cup holder, and a low-back seat. It’s even compatible with mulching kits, bagging systems, and other accessories. 

What We Liked: 

  • Compatible with mulching kit and bagging attachment
  • Five-point deck height adjustment
  • Has all the horsepower you need to cut a small lawn

What We Didn’t Like:

  • It can take some time to learn the unique brake-clutch system of this lawn tractor

Recap

There isn’t one best riding lawn mower for everyone. The best product for you will depend largely on the size of your lawn, your comfort preferences, and your budget. However, these are some of the best riding lawn mowers you will find. 

If you are in the market for a new riding lawn mower, consider purchasing one of the best riding lawn mowers to get the most for your money. These lawn tractors aren’t only efficient, but they’re comfortable to ride. If you’ve ever viewed mowing your lawn as a chore, we can almost guarantee that you won’t – not after you hop on one of these lawn tractors, that is.

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