A fairly no-frills model, the Craftsman Six-Speed Rider Mower is a good one for homeowner use.
This mower sports a 420-cc engine that delivers a top speed of 5 mph. The blade's cutting width is 30 inches, which gives you a fair-sized swath while still fitting around and through most yard obstacles.
A six-speed, shift-on-the-go transmission provides easy shifting with a hand-operated gear selector that lets you focus on your job instead of working a clutch pedal and shifter knob. You can mount small slopes via the rear-mounted engine, although large hills are beyond the capacity of this riding mower.
One or two trees in the yard aren’t a problem for this riding lawn mower’s 18-inch turning radius. You need to watch out for smaller things like fountains and shrubs, though, and you may need to finish off the grass around these by hand. Some mowers we evaluated have a turn radius of just 14 inches or employ zero-turn technology, which all but eliminates the problem of navigating around obstacles.
With 14-gauge steel frames, this ride-on mower doesn't take the heaviest abuse but easily handles residential work. It features deck wash vents for easy maintenance. Standard cruise control allows you to focus on steering. The machine isn't rated for heavy work but can tow some attachments, such as a two-bin bagging system.
The tires feature an anti-skid design that doesn't mar or scalp your lawn. The steering wheel has deluxe padding, so you can comfortably steer. The riding mower doesn't come with armrests, though, so large yards aren't an attractive prospect.
You have the option of mulching or using the side discharge to eject clippings. The blade height adjusts by a hand lever to five different positions, from 1.5 inches to 4 inches. With the option to attach seed spreaders and aerators, this mower works well for laying down new lawn and maintaining it as it grows.
Of all the riding lawn mowers we evaluated, this is one of the least expensive models. You can pick one up for about $1,000. That’s a great deal considering our top pick runs about $2,800.
One thing to note about this riding lawn mower is that it doesn't meet California Air Resource Board standards. So, you may not find one available for purchase in that state.
While it's as versatile or maneuverable as some of the other lawn mowers we looked at, this model is inexpensive and provides adequate performance. It’s a great choice if you have a medium-sized lawn.