Best Riding Lawn Mower for the Money
Riding lawn mowers or lawn tractors are by far the best machines you can use to cut grass on your lawn quickly. A walk-behind lawn mower is physically demanding. Walk-behind mowers are not ideal for homeowners with medium to large properties, they are only good for properties with smaller yards.
However, choosing the right riding mower can be somewhat overwhelming since there are many of these machines on the market. Well, you’re in luck. We made things easy for you by picking out 6 of the best riding mowers in the market today.
This article is a review, comparison, and buying guide on the front-engine ride-on lawn mower. The items on this review are within the $1500 to $2500 price range.
What’s the best ride-on mower to buy?
There’s no definitive answer as it all depends on the needs of each homeowner or the size and terrain of the property. Instead, here’s what you should consider when shopping for ride-on lawn mowers.
- Types of terrain
- Cutting deck size
- Types of transmission
- Engine Horsepower
- Cruise control
- Anti-scalping wheels
- Turning radius
- Extra attachments
- Operator comfort features
Types of terrain
The type of riding mower you choose must be suitable to the size of your property and its terrain. Here are guide questions that might help:
- Do you have a small, medium, or large property?
- Is it flat, gradual, hilly, or has steep inclines?
- Are there any obstacles such as flower beds, bushes, or trees?
Cutting deck size
The size of the cutting deck corresponds to the size of the lawn tractor. Here are cutting decks sizes relative to the size of the property.
- 42”. Mowers with this cutting deck size are suitable for medium to larger properties with flat lawns. They can maneuver well around trees and on some detailed landscaping.
- 46”- 48”. This cutting deck size will work effectively on medium to larger sized properties. Mowers within this size range will have no problem getting underneath bushes.
Also, they are suitable for mowing uphill of up to 15 degrees of slope. Keep in mind that a slope of over 15 degrees can be dangerous if you’re using a heavy piece of machinery.
Furthermore, if you have a small yard, consider using walk-behind mowers and zero-turn mowers.
Types of transmission
- Manual transmission. Manual transmissions offer a range of set speeds that a user can select. This allows you more control over the mower’s movement. Manual transmission mowers let you shift up or down without using the clutch or having to stop.
- Automatic transmission. A ride-on mower’s automatic transmission is much similar to a car’s automatic transmission. You can control the mower’s speed using the foot pedal.
- Hydrostatic transmission. This type of transmission uses fluid instead of a belt to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. A hydrostatic transmission offers a smoother ride and low maintenance.
Engine horsepower (HP)
This is the measure of the mower’s power output. The higher the HP the faster they get the job done and they will also have no trouble handling rough terrain.
If you’re mowing on one, long stretch for a long time, cruise control allows the machine to run at a constant speed. This feature can take the stress out of mowing a large property.
These types of wheels provide lawn tractors better traction on uneven or rough terrains. They are also ideal for traveling uphill.
Turning radius means how tight a mower can turn. Ride-on mowers with the least turning radius can make the sharpest turns. This is ideal if your lawn has many tight spaces and obstacles.
Some brands of riding mowers allow extra attachments that can be fitted to the unit. They can help you do additional landscaping maintenance such as edging, ridging, and mulching.
Moreover, extra attachments can make lawn mowers function like tractors. You can attach a trailer or use them for clearing your driveway from the snow.
Operator comfort features
Many riding mowers have additional comfort features such as:
- Cup holders
- Extended legroom
- An easy to access control panel
- High-back seat with lumbar support and
- Automatic LED headlights for low light conditions
What is the best riding lawn mower for 2020?
There are a lot of good riding mowers available on the market today, but here are 6 of the best from our list. This is our review and comparison of the 6 best front-engine riding lawn mowers in 2020.
The Husqvarna YTH18542 is an affordable, side discharge, 42-inch double-blade riding mower that you can easily use and store. This compact, high-performance lawn tractor can endure rough terrain and continuous operation thanks to its solid cast-iron front axle.
Its compact but powerful Stratton® Intek and 18.5 hp 540cc Briggs engine make mowing, mulching, and hauling tasks fast and easy. Also, its hydrostatic transmission allows variable (forward/reverse) speed changes and smooth acceleration.
The CVT automatic transmission is controlled by a foot pedal, which allows you to keep your hands on the wheel. And thus, enabling you to maintain full control over your direction and driving speed.
It also offers a 16-inch turning radius and its decent responsive steering makes effortless maneuvering around trees and obstacles.
It is equipped with the choke-free ReadyStart technology that lets you turn the “Start” pushbutton and drive it like a car. It also has the Advanced Vibration System technology that guarantees smooth riding and greater comfort while you work.
This YTH18542 model has two special features that you won’t find in any other Husqvarna riding mowers. It has full-pressure lube systems and Advanced Debris Management deflect/eject system that contribute to its longer engine-life.
This model also features air induction tractor mower technology that helps bring out clean, consistent cutting as a result of an improved deck airflow.
Along with its conveniently-located cutting heights lift lever and its easy step-through design, the YTH18542 also features:
- Ergonomic steering wheel
- “Reverse” operation switch on top of the steering wheel
- 13-inch, mid-back, and an extra-wide adjustable seat that provides comfort regardless of the operator’s height
- Anti-scalp wheels
- 5 gal. fuel tank
- Cup holder
The Husqvarna YTH18542 riding mower has multi-season attachments that help it perform better in any season. Here are YTH18542 towable accessories that are sold separately:
- Lawn fertilizer mulch kits
- Snowblades and blowers
- Baggers for collecting grass clippings
- Powerful engine
- Washout port included
- Requires low maintenance
- 5 gallons of fuel capacity
- Powerful Briggs & Stratton Motor
- Ergonomic seat and controls
- Sturdy 42-inch cutting deck
- Rear diff for gripping on uneven terrain
- Easy to access lever for increased functionality
- No hour meter or gas gauge
- Headlights may get dim once in a while
- Not recommended for large plots of lands like golf courses
The Troy-Bilt Bronco is a powerful and durable riding mower that has a 42-inch, twin-blade with a side discharge. Getting on-and-off this machine is so easy thanks to its 13-gauge, fully-welded steel StepThru frame design.
A reliable 19HP 540cc single-cylinder Briggs and Stratton® Intek engine powers this easy-to-use riding mower from Troy-Bilt.
Operating the Troy-Bilt Bronco is like driving a car. It features a transmission system that you can control with a rubber foot pedal. The rubber on the pedal help absorb vibration and thus provide an operator-controlled reverse and a smooth forward speed change.
This lawn tractor has 5 easy-to-adjust cutting positions for selecting the cutting heights. It also offers an 18-inch turning radius, which makes steering around trees and obstructions quick and easy.
Moreover, Troy-Bilt mowers have a rust-resistant deck system that ensures longer engine life and durability.
Troy-Bilt Bronco mowers are compact yet powerful rear-wheel-drive machines. Along with their 11-inch, mid-back adjustable seats, they also have:
- deck wheels
- automatic headlights for better visibility
- lawn grooming and
- two 5-inch anti-scalp system
The Bronco has multi-season attachments that are sold separately. These optional attachments are:
- Baggers (for collecting the grass clippings) and
- Mulch kits (for returning nutrients to the soil to carts)
- Powerful engine
- Easy to assemble
- Efficient cutting deck
- Unique Step-Thru frame
- Exceptional turning radius
- Automatic Headlights
- Soft-touch steering wheel
- Ideal for medium to large estates with rough terrain.
- Slippery footrest
- Belt is not durable
- Seat is not designed for small people
- Not recommended for lawns with very tall grass
The Craftsman T225 is equipped with a high-performance, “ready-start” 19 horsepower, 540 CC Briggs and Stratton engine. This means there’s no need for choking or priming before proceeding to mow the lawn.
This gas-powered riding lawn mower is suitable for bigger lawns like golf courses. Also, refueling only takes a few minutes while electric mowers need at least 30 to 60 minutes to fully recharge their batteries.
Its 46-inch cutting deck is quite wide, which makes mowing less time-consuming. You can get the job done in just a few sweeps. The cutting deck includes a deck wash that helps save time when you need to clean the unit.
This Craftsman T225 model has 15-inch and 20-inch wheels at the front and back respectively. It can maneuver over thick grass without any issues. It even has a hefty, long-life lawn tractor battery.
Its large rear and smaller front wheel design ensure that it won’t roll over easily when navigating through a hilly driving range. Likewise, the front and back wheels have excellent clearance, which makes maneuvering over rough or uneven terrain a lot easier.
One of the best features of the Craftsman T225 is it supports mow-in-reverse. This allows you to reverse the mower to avoid bumping into obstacles. This feature comes in handy when you are too close to an obstacle and you can’t steer the machine.
It also has a supportive high-back seat that is well-cushioned to provide optimum comfort. Moreover, it is equipped with foot-adjustable hydrostatic transmission. Furthermore, the unit comes with a 2-year warranty.
- 540 CC gas engine
- 19 HP engine power
- 46-inch cutting width
- 20-inch wheels at the back
- 15-inch wheels at the front
- variable-speed adjustable transmission
- cast-iron front axle
- Fast and powerful
- Comfortable seat
- Mow-in-reverse function
- Ready-start technology
- Excellent turning radius
- Works best on slight inclines
- High intensity LED headlights
- Outstanding cutting performance
- People with long legs may find the pedal position a bit awkward.
- Screws come loose easily especially those under the seat.
- Not recommended for heavy-duty cutting/mowing on rough roads.
- Not suitable for very steep hills since the unit is quite bulky.
The John Deere X320 is part of the JD X300 lawn mower series, which includes the John Deere X324 and John Deere X360 models. It is designed for an even cooling, lugging, and durability.
The JD X320 mower is powered by the Kawasaki V Twin gasoline engine equipped with the John Deere iTorque™ system. It is a 22 hp engine that is air-cooled and has a displacement of 0.7 liters.
Compared to its previous models, the JD X320 has no gears, which allows for easy operation of the unit. Its K58 automatic transmission system easily transfers 22 hp to the wheels.
This machine has a top speed of 5.8 mph and a top speed of 3.5 mph when on reverse mode. It has a fuel tank that can hold up to 3.5 US gallons (or 13.2 liters) of gasoline.
Even though the unit is 72 inches long and 38.5 inches wide, it has excellent maneuverability in small gardens via its 2WD chassis and its turning radius of 15.748 inches.
The JD X320 ride-on lawnmower has 3 hitching points. The obvious one is the rear hitch and the other 2 are the fender and mower deck.
This JD lawn tractor comes with Edge Xtra Decks that have 4-point mounting systems, 0.25-inch cut-height increments, and wider anti-scalp wheels. Another purpose of this mower deck design is to evenly discharge grass clippings.
One of the distinct features of this mower is its CargO Mount attachment system at all 3 points. This mounting system allows for various attachments to be used on the JD X320.
Optional attachments for the John Deere X320 includes:
- Front blades
- Mid-mounted blades
- Harrow discs
- Utility carts
- Snow blowers
- Tractor shovels
- Sprayers and
- Soil aerators
- Comfortable seat
- Quick and easy steering around obstacles.
- The 48-inch deck is ideal for large properties.
- Does not restart easily
- Has fuel system issues
For a compact ride-on mower, the Husqvarna YTH24V48 48-inch 24 HP has a durable Briggs & Stratton V-twin engine and a pretty wide cutting deck. The 48-inch deck provides an excellent cut while the cruise control mode offers a smooth and comfortable lawn mower ride experience.
The compact size of the YTH24V48 is a huge advantage since larger lawn tractors would get stuck in tight spaces.
The 24 HP engines from Briggs & Stratton are durable and powerful. The compact V-twin design vibrates less than the other two-cylinder engines. It also features ReadyStart for quick and consistent easy starting.
The ride-on tractor’s 48-inch cutting deck offers a comparatively wide cutting scope. It also has a cutting adjustment and an electric blade engagement mounted on the fender. Cutting your grass will be faster with beautiful results.
Designed for easy, shifting speeds both forward and in reverse, the hydrostatic pedal transmission makes driving the Husqvarna YTH24V48 exceptionally smooth. Also, you have complete control while operating the machine. You won’t feel overwhelmed or feel that the mower is jerky.
The cutting deck of the YTH24V48 model has air induction mowing technology that allows for increased airflow within the deck. The outcome is a cleaner, consistent cutting that’s great for your lawn.
Even if you’ve been mowing for long periods, the ergonomic steering wheel of the Husqvarna YTH24V48 remains comfortable to operate. Likewise, the cruise control mode in the gear transmission offers a smooth mowing experience.
The Husqvarna YTH24V48 is a versatile machine that has a range of towable accessories that are sold separately. Accessories like the mulch kit can be attached for better lawn fertilization.
- Exceptional cutting power
- Versatile, you can also mow through the mulch
- Made from good quality material
- The hydrostatic transmission offers easy operation
- Works best on larger yards
- Back and front-wheel design is perfect for small turning circles
- You can’t easily tell how much fuel is left
- Mowing along thick grass can be hard
- Awkward placement of height adjustment system
- May require regular servicing
The T105 has a smaller cutting deck than the T22 model. It is also less powerful than the T225’s 540 CC gas engine, but it is still suitable for large yard work. It is equipped with a 439cc gas engine and a 42-Inch cutting deck.
The T105’s 439cc Single-Engine is suitable for larger yards than an electric-powered riding mower. It is time-efficient since refueling only takes a few minutes. Its 42-Inch wide cutting deck is excellent for trimming, clipping, and cutting grass in one quick sweep.
This lawn tractor has a turning radius of 18 inches that allows it to maneuver through trees, rocks, and other obstacles with ease. Also, its gear transmission has 7 different speed options that suit your needs.
Just like the T225 model, this riding mower has 15-Inch front wheels and 20-Inch rear wheels. This gives the lawnmower better clearance and effortless maneuvering around any yard.
The tires are designed to prevent skidding or damaging sod. And in turn, prevents damage to your lawn while mowing.
The Craftsman T105 has a mow-in-reverse function that can make the mower steer easily in and out of difficult spots on your lawn. Also, the comfortable low-back seat design provides support during long periods of yard work.
- 439 CC gas engine
- Cast-iron front axle
- Mow-in-reverse function
- 20-inch wheels at the back
- 15-inch wheels at the front
- Variable-speed adjustable transmission
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty
What is the best lawn tractor for the money?
Our best pick is the Husqvarna YTH18542 model. We selected this machine for overall value, premium build, durability, and affordability.
The Husqvarna YTH18542 is a versatile lawn tractor that can effectively mow 1 to 2 acres of flat, steep, and uneven terrain. It features a rear diff for traction over uneven grounds and a powerful 42-inch cutting deck. Moreover, its user-friendly controls and ergonomic seat make it an excellent choice for homeowners with medium to large yards.
The Husqvarna YTH18542 model comes with a 3-yr. bumper-to-bumper warranty. One caveat though, the Prop 65 warnings apply if you’re using this riding mower in California.
Do riding lawn mowers go on sale?
Riding lawn mowers do go on sale and the best time to find the best deals is in the early season. June and July can be difficult times to find a deal. Shopping in March ensures you’ll get to choose from a wide selection of best performing models.
You can look again for riding mowers in August and September if you miss out on the early season. However, you can only choose from a few selections of models. Nevertheless, this is a perfect time to find deals with steeper discounts. This is because most stores will be rushing to get rid out of old merchandise to make way for snowblowers.
Where to buy riding lawn mowers?
There are plenty of options if you want to shop for riding mowers. Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and Tractor Supply are just some of the sites where you can shop for ride-on lawnmowers online. Or you can visit local businesses near you that specialize in yard equipment.
By now, you should have already made a decision and picked a ride-on mower from our list. If you haven’t, then why not choose our best pick?
The Husqvarna YTH18542 is perfect for medium to large-sized lawns and it’s ideal for larger estates as well. It’s the perfect option for homeowners and lawn contractors that want an affordable, durable, premium model for lawn mowing work.
A lawn tractor does not only help you cut grass fast with beautiful results, but it also helps you do multiple jobs via multi-season attachments. We hope you find this review helpful in choosing the right machine for your gardening needs.