It doesn’t matter how big your backyard is when you own one of the best riding lawn mowers. Rather than doing the hard yards with a push mower, riding lawn mowers are far more suitable for large and hilly lawns. In fact, once you’re in the driving seat, all you need to do is start the engine, steer, and use features such as adjustable cutting heights or deck positions to your advantage.
The best riding lawn mowers can accelerate to as fast as eight miles per hour, helping you to leave no stone unturned. As well as helping you finish things up quickly, hills are no barrier for the top riding lawn mowers either, especially those with a great deal of horsepower and speed. The most powerful riding lawn mowers are those that are powered by gas, but if you’re concerned with keeping your purchase as eco-friendly as possible, zero-emission mowers powered by batteries are a great option. These help to keep the noise down, good news if you have young children, pets or neighbors close by.
The best riding lawn mowers for anyone on a budget are typically among the best gas lawn mowers (opens in new tab), especially those that are smaller and lighter in weight. If you have obstacles such as swing sets, outdoor furniture, barbecues or hot tubs to maneuver around, a slimmer model with zero-turn features will also be handy.
For other mowers that will tackle lawns of all shapes and sizes, take a look at our guides to the best electric lawn mowers (opens in new tab) and the best lawn edgers (opens in new tab).
The best riding lawn mowers
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We've examined the best riding lawn mowers that are currently available to buy, from some of the most well-respected brands around. We're currently in the process of reviewing all of the products in this guide. While most of them have reviews, some are currently without. However, for these particular products we've taken into account brand reputation, user reviews and specs to help break down what the best riding lawn mower would be for you.
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Editor's note: The John Deere S180 currently seems to be out of stock at most major retailers. However, our special deal-finding system will search the internet for stock and display it above if it's available. In the meantime, the options below are also fantastic riding mowers.
This machine makes quick and easy work of cutting any size yard, and it easily navigates terrain other mowers may struggle to traverse. It features a front-mounted V-twin engine that produces up to 26 horsepower and can reach speeds up to 5.5 miles per hour. The fuel gauge sits in plain view as you mow so you know exactly how much gas you have left.
The John Deere S180 has an impressively wide cutting path of 54 inches. You can adjust the blades to 11 different height positions, anywhere between 1 inch and 4 inches, and it has a turning radius of 18 inches. These features make it easy to customize the cut to your lawn so it looks just the way you want.
The machine’s hydrostatic transmission is pedal-operated, so you don’t have to take your hands off the steering wheel while you drive. This John Deere mower also has a cruise control that lets you set the speed you want to mow at. Both of these features limit distractions, so you can focus on your lawn and not the lawn mower.
A full review of the John Deere S180 is being compiled, in the meantime this review of the previous John Deere E180 (opens in new tab) is available.
You might assume that battery powered rider lawn mowers can’t compete with their gas counterparts, however the EGO POWER ZT4204L seeks to change that. How come? With its 22 horsepower engine and maximum eight mile an hour speed. It’s the best choice for anyone who wants to avoid the muckiness of refueling with oil while doing your bit for the planet too.
The riding experience of the EGO POWER ZT4204L not only aims to deliver on power but on the specificities of the riding experience. There’s the adjustable seat, the super bright headlights, and even an onboard USB port for charging your phone. You can enter into different modes via the LCD interface, and choose from Sport, Control and Standard, to whizz around at whatever pace you feel is necessary.
It has zero-turn technology (essential for ride-on mowers) and a 42-inch cutting path. The one downside to this model, excluding the high price, is that it is capable of holding six lithium batteries but only comes with four upon purchase. That’s something worth remembering if you do decide that this is the model for you.
- Read our EGO POWER ZT4204L rider lawn mower review (opens in new tab)
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Storage space for large equipment such as a riding lawn mower is often limited, so you may be left with the choice of sacrificing power and utility for a machine that has a smaller frame. With the Cub Cadet RZT-L, you can have all three. This riding lawn mower is compact yet still delivers power, speed and versatility. You’ll pay a premium, however: it is one of the most expensive riding lawn mowers we evaluated.
This machine is constructed of very durable materials. Its 12-gauge steel body enhances protection against the occasional collision with rocks, trees and other lawn debris. The drive deck uses a Kevlar belt, which increases efficiency, performance and lifespan. The deck also incorporates a float system that keeps your mower level as you travel across rough terrain or inclines.
One of the things we look for in this category is zero-turn technology, which this lawnmower boasts. It can navigate around trees, shrubs and other obstacles without leaving uncut grass around them. The engine found in this lawn mower is impressive for a machine of its size. You get a 725-cc Koehler engine that delivers 23 horsepower and reaches a speed of 7 mph. Some of the full-size lawn mowers can’t compete with those specs. It also has a 2.8 gallon gas tank, which is large for a compact mower.
- Read our Cub Cadet RZT-L 42 Lap Bar Zero-Turn Rider review (opens in new tab)
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The Cub Cadet CC30E electric mini riding mower is aptly named, with one of the smaller cutting widths in this list. It runs on a 30Ah lithium-ion battery that can be charged using a standard power outlet, so you won't have to faff around with oil changes or topping up fuel like a gasoline-powered model.
Scoring 4 out of 5 stars in reviews on the Home Depot website, the Cub Cadet CC30E electric riding lawn mower was rated excellently for small to medium lawns, and many users were pleased with how long the 1500-Watt-hour lithium-ion battery lasted. The only downsides noted were around mowing over bumps and hills in the lawn, as some users found the wheels would spin in these situations.
This mower can last up to an hour, or around one acre, on a single charge, and then it takes around 4 hours to recharge again. What's neat though is that you can charge devices like a smartphone while mowing, thanks to two dual built-in USB ports. An LED light enables you to mow at dawn or dusk, which is great if you’re busy during the day.
When it comes to driving control, the Cub Cadet CC30E is easy to use, with a push button to start it up, and an automatic transmission that gets rid of the near for gears. The cruise control features maintain a constant speed so that you can mow precisely, and a push of the pedal works for forward and reverse motion. The 4 mph maximum speed isn’t as fast as others, but we think the Cub Cadet CC30E is worth its price tag.
The Ryobi RY48111 riding lawn mower is a rare find, as it’s both super powerful and better for the planet, with its batteries providing the riding experience you need. This mower also utilizes zero-turn technology in order to create a machine that’s easy to maneuver and will take less time to take care of your yard.
The cutting path of the Ryobi RY48111 is 38 inches, which makes it ideal for larger backyards rather than wide-open spaces. This model also has a 12-position manual deck adjustment so you can get your lawn to its premium height, as well as enough charge to serve you for two and a half hours’ worth of mowing.
One of the best features about the Ryobi RY48111 is its quiet running. With just 70 decibels of sound emitted, it runs only a little louder than an average conversation, so both your family and your neighbors can safely inhabit the garden without being disturbed.
- Read our Ryobi RY48111 riding lawn mower (opens in new tab) review
The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 attempts to ensure maximum durability with its design. That includes its fabricated deck and tubular high-strength frame. It also aims to go the extra mile with comfort, with its ergonomic, fully adjustable chair, as well as lap bars and hand-grips. All of these things should reduce operator fatigue, and make for a more enjoyable riding lawn mower experience.
The zero-turn technology with this riding lawn mower also aims to be faster than competing models and combined with the 50-inch cutting path, it’s safe to say that user reviews are confident in this mower’s ability to knock the hours off your mowing time. The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 also aims to prevent refueling trips, with 3.5 gallons of fuel tank capacity available for use. It can also reach up to speeds of 7.5 miles per hour and has a 23 horsepower dual cylinder engine for providing maximum power.
- Read our Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 riding lawn mower (opens in new tab) review
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The Toro 75742 is a beast of a riding lawn mower, which earns its very high price tag through solid build quality and feature-rich specs. The 42-inch cutting deck is made from 13 Gauge Steel, and the available cutting heights range from 1.5 - 45 inches, giving you a precise cut depending on your needs.
This riding mower is designed for comfort and includes extras like a padded seat with back support, an under-seat storage cubby, as well as cup holders on the front. The design is practical too, as the protective tire fenders protect you and the engine from tire spray and backsplash.
We've labelled the Toro 75742 TimeCutter Commercial Riding Mower as the best for user ratings. Customer reviews on the Home Depot website show that this mower is recommended by an amazing 93% of users, thanks to its cutting precision, comfortable suspension and smooth ride. Out of the very few negative reviews, one or two users complained that the model was difficult to steer on hillier ground. However, Home Depot lists it as being suitable for terrain that's "Flat with Obstacles," so this isn't surprising.
Mowing your lawn shouldn’t take all day, and Toro promises to cut mowing time by up to half with its zero-turn feature – something that’s also present on other high-end mowers in this guide. Speaking of speed, it maxes out at a reasonable 7 mph in mow mode, and 4 mph in trim mode, and to save more time you can get on and off the mower from the step-through front end, should you need to pick up any yard debris.
The Toro 75742 certainly isn’t the cheapest riding mower, but it manages to combine space-saving dimensions with commercial-grade features and put them in the hands of residential homeowners.
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The Troy-Bilt Mustang Z54 is a rugged and dependable riding mower with a wide 55-inch cutting width to tackle larger lawns. It’s ideal if you have 4 or more acres to mow, and the zero-turn performance should make mowing faster and more efficient – just like other models in this guide. It features anti-scalp wheels to prevent damage to your grass, plus a fully welded tubular frame that’s designed to absorb impact from the engine for a smoother ride.
The Troy-Bilt Mustang Z54 averaged a commendable score of 4.7 stars out of 5 from a number of retailers, with users praising its power, precision and comfort during rides. Users noted that the mower is delivered in a crate by truck and that there's some basic assembly required to attach the battery cables and seat, but this wasn't seen as a negative. The majority of low reviews were to do with delivery and after-care, rather than the quality of the mower itself.
The Z54’s 3.5-gallon fuel tank is half the size of the 7-gallon Toro Titan MAX 76601 below, but it’s still capacious enough to allow for extended mowing times. When it comes to handling, the controls take the form of a lap bar, with foam grip steering for extra comfort. A parking brake lets you stop the mower quickly if you notice an obstacle, which is a nice feature to have if you’re mowing around pets.
Cleaning excess grass clippings from the underside of a lawn mower isn’t an enjoyable job. That’s why we love to see that it’s possible to attach a standard hose to the wash port on the cutting desk of the Troy-Bilt Mustang Z54, to get in clean in no time (or effort).
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The Toro Titan MAX 76601 is one of the fastest riding lawn mowers in this guide and offers one of the widest cutting widths at 60 inches. In short, it will make light work of mowing yards over 4 acres – if you can afford it, that is. For the hefty price, you do get plenty of commercial-level features, including a rapid blade speed of 18,908 fpm which should be more than capable of ripping through wet grass without clumping together.
The Toro Titan MAX 76601 received a star rating of 4.7 out of 5 from over 100 reviews on the Home Depot website. Users said it impressive amount of power, and that it was comfortable enough to mow around 3 acres without stopping – in rapid time. A handful of customer reviews complained that the mower was loud, and one unfortunate user had the tire pop on the first mow. However, these issues seem to be in the minority.
When you’re spending this much, it’s about the little details, too. The Toro Titan MAX 76601 has a built-in cup holder, and a high-back seat with armrests so that you can mow in total comfort. It comes with a 500-hour limited warranty for extra peace of mind around your investment, which is valid for four years in total.
Toro is proud of its build quality, and the 23-inch drive tires are suitable for slightly bumpier terrain. The 10-gauge steel deck and steel frame are incredibly hardy, and elsewhere, there’s a 7-gallon fuel capacity for longer coverage. If you want a “big, bad and powerful” riding mower, with solid, semi-pro build quality, the Titan MAX 76601 is the right choice.
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A cheap riding lawn mower doesn’t really exist, but if you're conscious of how much you can spend, the Troy-Bilt TB30 B is worth considering. With a lower price than many rider lawn mowers, it’s more accessible to an average homeowner. It’s good for lawns of around 1 - 2 acres and has many, but not all, of the features we look for.
From more than 240 reviews on the Home Depot website, 68% of users from would recommend the Troy-Bilt TB30 B riding lawn mower. Most enjoyed how easy it was to maneuver around trees and other objects in the yard, and felt that it was the perfect width mower to fit through gates. Some users said they felt it was best used on a flat yard, as it could tip over easily on an angle.
With a compact design, the Troy-Bilt TB30 B combines the convenience of a riding mower with the storage size of the best electric lawn mowers, so that you can keep it safely stowed away in a shed or garage. Its 30-inch cutting deck is the ideal width for smaller yards, especially if you need to fit through gates too.
There's a 10.5 horsepower engine, which delivers a maximum speed of 4.25 mph in a forward and backward direction. You can fully operate the reverse system and even mow the grass while reversing – saving more time when it comes to tidying those lawns. Thanks to the soft touch steering wheel which minimizes vibrations, the Troy-Bilt TB30 B should be comfortable to use. It even has a cup holder to keep you hydrated or caffeinated during the ride.
How to choose the best riding lawn mower
How we picked the best rider lawn mowers
As we evaluated each mower, we accounted for things like speed, cutting width, overall design, engine power and transmission type. Since these are very expensive machines, we also considered price, so we could find the best riding lawn mowers that offer the greatest value.
Our top choice had a favorable balance among all of these criteria. While we believe it is the best riding lawn mower for most people, it isn’t necessarily the best fit for kind of terrain or purpose. For example, if you own a lawn care business, you need a machine that is built to handle more than the weekly mow.
Every model we feature was subject to scrutiny based on its specifications, feature set, and feedback from real-life users. Our final choices represent the best riding lawn mower each brand offers.
We also reached out to professionals who use riding lawn mowers on a daily basis. We spoke to Steve Hough of Hough Landscaping, who has used a dozen different types of riding lawn mowers for more than two decades, about what he looks for when he buys a mower for his business.
When he selects a new riding mower for his service, Mr Hough considers productivity, price, and the lifespan of the machine. Other considerations include serviceability, reliability and down time. For professional situations he prefers eXmark machines (opens in new tab) because they’re lower priced and functional.
However, for his personal use he does prefer John Deere because “It's been a trusted name across multiple generations; always reliable, high-quality service from the dealer, and eliminates a lot of headaches.”
We've identified criteria that can help you select the best riding mower for your projects. Speed, cutting width, zero-turn design, engine placement and transmission are key factors when determining which one is right for you.
What to look for in a good rider lawn mower?
There’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re selecting a great rider lawn mower. One place to begin is with its power, as this will determine how fast your ride is. You can tell how powerful the engine is by checking out its horsepower first and foremost, but it’s also key to look at how long the battery lasts. Most electric mowers will give an estimate as to how many minutes they can last without a recharge. Just be sure to choose a model with an easy-to-access charging port too.
Feeling calm and collected in the drivers’ seat is always key with riding lawn mowers, which is where digital or manual user controls come into play. Usually, this boils down to personal preference, but digital user controls can feel more intuitive. Ergonomic chairs that will properly support your spine are another handy design feature, as are grip bars if you’re expecting quite a bumpy ride.
When it comes to the cut quality, cutting width is the number one thing. The higher the number, the more grass you can work your way through in one go.
How much do the best riding lawn mowers cost?
The best riding lawn mowers don’t necessarily come cheap. However, with premium horsepower, minimum effort and a design that’s comparable to a small tractor, that’s to be expected. If you’re trying to keep your spending as low as you can, it’s possible to get your hands on a riding lawn mower for as little as $1,200.
The more features and the greater the horsepower, the more pennies you’ll part with. The same goes for esthetics, as snazzier designs will also add to the overall cost of your riding lawn mower. Models from Cub Cadet and other top brands, for instance, have a price tag of up to $3,000. Considering that most riding lawn mowers last between 10 and 20 years, this is a mower that will stick with you for a good chunk of your life. Plus, it’s a very valuable tool for lawns that are too hilly or large for a classic push mower to handle.