Best ride-on lawn mowers: 7 top tries worth the investment

From zero-turn to electric, here are the 7 best ride-on lawn mowers money can buy

best ride-on lawn mowers
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Whether you’ve got a yard big enough to get lost in, or are finding it a struggle to push a mower around your lawn, our pick of the best ride-on lawn mowers (also known as riding lawn mowers) may come in handy.

Ride-on mowers are great for larger properties with acres to cut, but can also be a real help for those with mobility concerns who are still keen to keep their grass neat and tidy themselves.

However, making sense of the best ride-on mowers on the market is hard work. They are stacked with features and different types will be better suited to different yards. And this is not an insignificant purchase – a ride-on mower will set you back into the thousands of dollars – so you want to be sure you’re getting it right.

Thankfully we’ve done the legwork for you, finding the best ride-on mowers you can buy. Read on for our best picks.

best ride-on lawn mowers

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1. Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 42 in. 547 cc Engine with IntelliPower Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Lawn Tractor

The best ride-on lawn mowers: the best option for an overall ride

Power: 18HP
Deck width: 42-inch
Fuel capacity: 3 gallons
Reasons to buy
+Powerful 18HP engine+Large 42-inch cutting deck+Good turning radius+Comfortable
Reasons to avoid
-Assembly required

This ride-on mower from Cub Cadet has it all. Not only does it offer uploads of features, with all you could want in terms of specs and performance, but it still comes in at an affordable price.

For a start, it has a 42-inch cutting deck for covering a decent amount of ground with every pass, and 12 cutting levels that deliver a clean and precise finish.

It also promises a 16-inch turning radius, making the Cub Cadet a little more useful in smaller spaces than a lot of ride-on. It won’t challenge the very best zero turn mowers in this respect but it helps to reduce the amount of re-mowing required.

We’re impressed at how comfortable the seat remains even over long use, while its three-gallon gas tank will ensure you don’t have to fill up too often either.

Thanks to an 18-horsepower engine, it has plenty of power for residential use, plus its automatic transmission means there’s no shifting required – just select the cruise control option and enjoy the ride.

best ride-on lawn mowers

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2. John Deere E120

The best ride-on lawn mowers: the best for ease-of-use

Power: 20HP
Deck width: 42- inches
Fuel capacity: 2.4 gallons
Reasons to buy
+Effective cutting+Good turning circle+Easy operation+Well designed
Reasons to avoid
-Fuel gauge is a little tricky to read

If you have a couple of acres to maintain, the John Deere E120 is the perfect backyard companion.

Not only is its performance effortless, thanks to its powerful 20HP engine and superb turning circle, but it’s also been well thought out in the design department. Everything you need, from steering and levers to foot pedals have been ergonomically situated for easy access, while the high-back seat is easily adjustable, with 10 possible positions.

It’s easy to get started, thanks to its choke-free ReadyStart technology, and offers a 42-inch cutting system, with a deep deck design that helps to lift the grass for a superior cut. You can choose from heights between one to four inches to get the finish you prefer.

Cruise control is on board for keeping a constant speed when mowing larger areas, and there are nice little extras for helping you keep on top of maintenance too, like the company’s EZ Change 30-second oil change system.

best ride-on lawn mowers

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3. RYOBI 38 in. 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

The best ride-on lawn mowers: the best electric ride-on

Power: N/A
Deck width: 38 inches
Fuel capacity: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Eco-friendly+Quiet+Low maintenance+Good performance
Reasons to avoid
-Batteries are expensive when they need replacing      -Run time won’t be enough for bigger lawns

Gas-powered ride-on lawn mowers might be the go-to for most due to the added power they offer, but electric is worth a look if you prefer lower maintenance, less noise, and better eco-credentials.

The Ryobi 38in is powered by 75Ah batteries and offers up to two hours of runtime. That should be enough to get around a couple of acres with ease, and it can be charged via a standard 120-volt outlet when it needs it, which is handy. It’ll take about 14 hours to charge from the flat.

It features three brushless motors and a two-blade 38-inch deck, with 12 different cutting heights. It cuts well too, plus the ride is smooth, quiet, and fume-free.

Cruise control and automatic transmission are on board for an easy ride, plus there’s a battery indicator on the control panel that’ll tell you how much juice is remaining at a quick glance.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that for all the time and hassle you’ll save in servicing your mower as often as a gas one requires, the batteries of your electric mower will need replacing every now and then. They should last a fair few years though, so it’s far from a pressing concern.

the best ride-on lawn mowers

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4. Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower with 42-Inch Deck and 547cc Engine Tractor

The best ride-on lawn mowers: the best value ride on

Power: 17.5HP
Deck width: 42 inches
Fuel capacity: 1.36 gallons
Reasons to buy
+Wide 42in cutting deck+18-inch turning radius for minimal re-mowing+Good power for the price+Seven speeds
Reasons to avoid
-Manual transmission-Fuel capacity on the smaller side

Despite its affordable price, the Troy-Bilt Pony 42" offers all the power and features you’ll need to manage a few acres of lawn.

With a good engine onboard and 17.5 horsepower to deal with, there’s plenty of power to go around, though you’ll need to know how to use a manual transmission, with seven speeds to work through.

The 42-inch deck ensures you’re cutting a good amount of grass with every pass, with five cutting positions to choose from. There’s also an 18-inch turning radius, to ensure minimal re-mowing, plus the ability to mow in reverse, which isn’t a feature you see on a lot of the competition.

Other features include automatic headlights, a cup holder, and a comfortable low-back seat, with the option to add other accessories like bagging and mulching kits to make it a really handy mower indeed.

best ride-on lawn mowers

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5. Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

The best ride-on lawn mowers: the best overall zero-turn mower

Power: 26HP
Deck width: 54inches
Fuel capacity: 3.5 gallons
Reasons to buy
+Large 54-inch cutting deck+Powerful and reliable+Zero-turn for no re-mowing+Precise cutting performance
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than ride-on option

Husqvarna has an excellent reputation in lawn care, and the Z254 sits at the top of the Z200 zero-turn range.

With a 54-inch cutting deck and a powerful, durable 26HP engine, it offers a huge cutting area that’ll make keeping on top of larger lawns up to four acres quick and easy. It turns on a dime, is simple to use, and smooth in operation, making every mow straightforward and hassle-free.

There’s an oversized cooling fan for keeping the mower running efficiently during longer mows, which also aids the built-in Air Induction Mowing Technology. This lifts the grass before cutting to ensure consistent, neat cutting heights. Precision is key with this mower.

An ergonomic control panel puts everything you need for operation at arm’s reach, while the padded seat, generous legroom, and large accessible handles make for a comfortable ride and easy handling too.

best ride-on lawn mowers

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6. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 in. Fabricated Deck 23 HP Kawasaki FR Series V-Twin Gas Engine Zero Turn Mower with Lap Bar Control

The best ride-on lawn mowers: the best option for going up hills

Power: 23HP
Deck width: 50 inches
Fuel capacity: 3.5 gallons
Reasons to buy
+Powerful commercial-grade motor+Hydrostatic transmission+Large 50-inch deck+Good on hills
Reasons to avoid

If your lawn is on the hilly side, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a machine that’s up to the job. The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is a great option for situations like this, with 20-inch rear tires and a powerful commercial-grade 23HP engine to really give it the extra oomph and control it needs up slopes.

With a large 50-inch cutting deck and all the precision a zero-turn mower offers, it should cut a strip of lawn in a single pass, with 15 cutting heights in quarter-inch increments to choose from.

It also has a 7.5mph forward speed, with a 3.5mph reverse speed helping you to make quick work of those larger jobs, as well as a hydrostatic transmission for straight forward operation.

It’s a really comfortable ride too. There are a full adjustable lap bar and high-back seat as well as ergonomic handgrips and electronic blade management at the touch of a finger.

7. Toro Titan 75303 60in

The best ride-on lawn mowers: the best investment option

Power: 24.5HP
Deck width: 60 inches
Fuel capacity: 5 gallons
Reasons to buy
+Commercial grade power+Large cutting deck for larger lawns+Comfortable+Reliable
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Controls are very sensitive

If you have the money to spend, and the space to make the most of what it’s capable of, the Toro Titan is a beast of a machine, and nothing short of a powerhouse.

Offering a commercial-grade 24.5HP engine, with a large 60-inch deck and upgraded blades it’ll make quick work of acre after acre. You should be fine servicing lawns of up to seven acres with this machine, be that your own or a client’s.

With a maximum speed of 8.5mph, you can cover a decent amount of ground pretty quickly with this mower, and hills are tackled without issue, even in less-than-ideal conditions.

You can choose between cutting heights of 1.5 to 4.5 inches and enjoy a number of thoughtful features that make it incredibly comfortable to operate. This includes a step-through front end for easier obstacle clearing, smooth steering, and a comfortable padded seat and armrests.

How do I choose a riding mower?

There are several things to consider when buying a ride-on mower, including engine power, deck size, transmission, and ease of use. You might also want to look into how ergonomic the seats are and how grass clippings are collected, and of course, you can choose between gas and electric.

Our picks are largely gas-powered, due to the extra power and run-time they offer. However, if you don’t need those things, there are some great electric options out there that will be cheaper to run, easier to start, and quieter too.

You’ll see some of our choices split into a ride on and zero-turn. Regular ride-on lawn mowers have a wider turn radius, which will require a little bit of going back over already-cut grass to complete the job. A zero-turn mower, however, can turn 180 degrees to leave no strip of grass uncut, saving you time and effort. You’ll pay for the privilege of this, of course, but prices are coming down, and those with larger lawns may find it worthwhile.

Most homes will be served by a residential-grade riding mower, but for those with significant acreage, there are commercial-grade mowers that have been better designed for very large areas. Of course, you can expect to pay a lot more for them, but if your needs warrant it, then it could be worth the investment.

How much should I spend on a riding mower? Can I negotiate on price?

While you can pick up the most budget ride-on mowers for upwards of $1000, good riding mowers for residential use will generally start around the $1500 mark and can go up to around $3000-4000. If you step into the more commercial-grade territory, you can be looking to spend $5000 or more, so this is no small purchase, to say the least.

Negotiating the price will be dependent on where you go to buy your mower. You’ll probably find some of the best prices from online retailers, and they will be non-negotiable. Go to your local dealer though and there may be some movement, based on how old the stock is and whether you’re paying cash or credit.

Don’t expect significant savings, but there might be something to be gained by asking. A good local dealer can be a handy contact when it comes to servicing your mower too.

Do I really need a riding mower?

It really depends on how big your lawned area is, or how much you need to reduce the physical activity of pushing a mower around your yard. There’s also your budget to consider too.

Those with many acres of grass to cut would almost certainly benefit from the speed and ease a riding mower offers, as would those struggling to get around as easily. However, if you don’t have the budget to spend on one that’ll do the job well, it may be worth paying for a gardener to do it instead.

Got the money to spend? Do it. Unless you’ve got a seriously small lawn, a riding lawn mower takes the time and stress out of keeping your grass neat and tidy.

How do I look after a riding mower?

Keeping your riding mower in good working order is essential to ensure it operates at its best, and one of the key parts to this is simply keeping it clean. Ensure the mower deck is clear of grass and leaves, take a look under the hood to brush off any debris, and do a general check of the outside too, ensuring wheels are free of twigs and hazards.

You can avoid too much wear and tear on your mower’s moving parts by using a grease gun to keep them lubricated while keeping your mower topped up with oil will ensure a good performance too.

You’ll want to carry out an annual change of your spark plugs and air filter to keep your mower running at its best, plus you should keep an eye on your riding mower belts to ensure the correct tension.

You can do all of this maintenance yourself with a little know-how but you may prefer to find an experienced local dealer who can do it instead.