Warranty & Support
Best Gas Lawn Mowers
Which Gas Lawn Mower Is the Best?
After 220 hours of researching and testing 10 gas lawn mowers’ performance and features, we found that the Honda HRX217VKA is the best option for most people. It cuts smoothly and mulches well, and its variable speed system is comfortable and easy to control. While it is more expensive than most models we tested, its quality is unmatched, and Honda engines have a reputation for longevity.
The Cub Cadet SC 500 HW is also a good option. It is very easy to maneuver and has a comfortable variable speed handle that adjusts to your walking speed. It also runs quieter than most gas lawn mowers, though still not as quietly as an electric lawn mower.
The Snapper 12AVB2A2707 has a convenient lever to raise and lower the cutting deck. It is also easy to clean and creates an exceptionally even cut for a mower under $400, making it a good midrange choice.
If you are on a tight budget, less expensive lawn mowers like the Troy-Bilt TB200 or the Craftsman 37441 are quality choices. They don't have as many features as the top-rated lawn mowers, but they cut well and cost much less. However, the Troy-Bilt and Craftsman mowers will most likely need to be replaced sooner than other machines we tested.
Gas Lawn Mowers: What We Investigated, What We Found
We put the lawn mowers through their paces by mowing grass, and we noted how they compared to each other in a variety of ways. For example, we evaluated the features they have to deal with different grass types and thicknesses. In addition, we tested how responsive each mower is, how well it performed with tall and short grass, and how evenly it can cut the lawn. We found that the best gas lawn mowers excelled in the following categories:
Lawn mowers all perform the same function, but they differ in how well they cut and the width of their cutting paths. Our testing showed mowers with a cutting path of 21 inches or more reduced the time it took to mow the lawn.
You should take the type of grass you have and your personal preferences into consideration when you look at a lawn mower’s shortest and tallest cutting height. Some grass varieties can handle being cut super short, while others look best at a long or medium length. The mowers we tested can go as low as 3/4 of an inch and as high as 4 inches, depending on the model.
If you have a big yard, the size of the grass bag is also important, especially if you don’t mow for a few weeks and need to bag the grass to get rid of it. You don't want to have to stop mowing every five minutes to empty a bag full of clippings. Lawn mowers with a two-bushel bag hold enough clippings without impeding your mowing. How often you need to empty your mower bag is also proportional to the length of your grass, so be sure to mow often if you don't want to overburden your trash can.
Each mower is unique, and while they look similar, there are differences that can make it easier to mow your yard. A mower’s weight can affect how maneuverable it is. Lightweight and small lawn mowers are good for people who have physical limitations and struggle with big and average-size models. These light machines make mowing a large or hilly yard much easier, especially if you have to mow around flowerbeds and trees.
Engine size can make a big difference in how well the mower cuts your grass, although it doesn’t need to have the biggest engine to get the best results. Mowers that have at least a 150 cc engine have plenty of power to cut the average yard.
Handle height and cushioning are also major contributors to how comfortable a mower is to use. If you are over 6 feet tall, be sure to look for a mower with an adjustable handle, such as the Craftsman 37744 and Husqvarna, so you can mow without hunching over. Handles that have some foam or rubber padding reduce hand and arm fatigue considerably compared to those that do not.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers
Mowing doesn't have to be a taxing exercise, especially if you choose a lawn mower that has built-in self-propulsion. Guiding a self-propelled lawn mower around the yard is almost effortless, so it’s easy to push, regardless of how strong you are. If you are looking for a walk-behind lawn mower that helps you get some exercise, we have also reviewed push lawn mowers.
The mowers we tested are equipped with a few different types of propulsion: front-, rear- and all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is best when the mower has plenty of weight in the front to keep the wheels on the ground. However, unless you are mowing up an incline constantly, you may have to push more to keep a front-wheel drive mower moving.
Rear-wheel drive is the most common propulsion system, and it’s effective because the weight of the bag helps give traction to the wheels. All-wheel drive is great for mowing around obstacles, but it often makes the mower harder to pull back or move when it is off.
Self-propelled mowers generally have a single speed, but the best ones have variable controls that adjust to your walking speed. Some have thumb controls or, like the Cub Cadet SC 500 Z, a handle that adjusts with the pressure you place on it.
Best Mulching Lawn Mowers
Lawn mowers with mulching features have a blade that chops up grass clippings into fine pieces as you pass over them while mowing. Because the clippings are cut into such small, fine pieces, they dry and decompose quickly, providing nutrients to the roots of the grass. Many states and communities have restrictions on green waste disposal, with possible fines for including grass clippings with your regular trash. A great way to avoid fines and fertilize your lawn is to use your gas lawn mower in mulching mode.
Mulching is most effective with a maintained lawn and dry grass. Trying to mow and mulch with wet grass results in clumps and a frequently blocked blade. While all the mowers we reviewed can mulch, some are better at it than others. The Honda models have exceptional mulching capabilities thanks to their specialty blades, and the Toro lawn mower does a fine job as well.
Gas lawn mowers simplify the chore of trimming your grass with convenient features like self-propulsion. If you carefully select one that suits the type of grass and terrain in your yard and also meets your physical requirements, mowing the lawn is easy, and your yard will be the envy of the neighborhood.
Contributing Reviewer: Danny Chadwick