Riding mowers are more than just a practical choice for maintaining large properties—they can also make mowing the lawn an enjoyable activity regardless of the size of your yard. By eliminating much of the physical effort involved in cutting your grass, the best riding lawn mowers allow you to relax and even have fun while completing this essential outdoor chore.

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Different Types of Riding Lawn Mower

As you search for a riding lawn mower, you’ll need to decide which of the three main mower designs best fits your needs.

Front Engine Mower

Front engine riding mowers are more powerful than rear engine mowers, with engines designed to pull attachments and tackle large jobs. With speeds topping out at about 8 miles per hour, they can handle larger properties, but may not be nimble enough to dodge obstacles like trees and bushes.

Rear Engine Mower

Rear engine riding mowers are generally the smallest and least powerful type of mower, with relatively narrow cutting decks and maximum speeds of about 5 miles per hour. Their compact size makes them easy to store in your shed or garage and are best for properties less than 3/4-acre.

Zero Turn Mower

Zero turn radius mowers combine premium performance with high speed and agility. Their steering systems are designed to make 360-degree turns in tight spaces, so they’re ideal for lots with trees, bushes, play structures, sheds and more. They’re also the fastest of the riding mowers, with top speeds of 13 miles per hour and wide cutting decks to quickly cut large swaths of turf.

Our Picks For The 12 Best Riding Lawn Mowers

When compared to the long list of options on the market, the 12 mowers below ranked the best in the areas of performance, value and ease of use. If you’re planning to invest in a new riding mower, you can’t go wrong with the models reviewed here.

Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series

cub cadet xt1 enduro seriesThe Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series hydrostatic gas front-engine riding mower offers impressive performance at an affordable price. An 18 HP Kohler OHV engine packs plenty of muscle, while a 42-inch cutting deck and 16-inch turn radius offer precise, efficient cutting performance.

Its rear wheel drive hydrostatic transmission delivers excellent traction and smooth shifting, and push-button cruise control lets you set a speed and forget it. You’ll enjoy a comfortable ride thanks to its adjustable seating, soft-grip steering wheel and cup holder, and integrated headlights give you the flexibility to mow at any time of day.

Features of the Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series

  • Horsepower: 18 HP
  • Width of Cut: 42 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 3.0 gallons

Things To Like About Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series

  • Muscular 18 HP Kohler OHV engine with automatic hydrostatic transmission
  • Lever-adjusted cutting deck height
  • Convenient push-button cruise control
  • Wide 42-inch cutting deck
  • Smooth steering with tight turning radius

Our Final Verdict

With a price tag under $2,000, the Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series riding mower is an outstanding value. Its rear wheel drive and 18 HP engine can handle slightly uneven terrain with ease, and it’s one of the most comfortable rides on the market.

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Husqvarna Z254

husqvarna z254This zero-turn mower from one of the most respected brands in the industry is the riding mower equivalent of a luxury car, with its sleek exterior build, ergonomic control panel and premium 24 HP Kohler 7000 Series engine, which includes chrome-plated valves, advanced air filtration system and an extra-large cooling fan.

Its 54-inch steel cutting deck is designed to draw air from both above and below the deck, lifting the grass to deliver an incredibly precise cut every time you mow. Three anti-scalp rollers are included to prevent damage to your lawn, while bumper-mounted headlights and an automatic parking brake keep the operator safe.

Features of the Husqvarna Z254

  • Horsepower: 26 HP
  • Width of Cut: 54 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 3.5 gallons

Things To Like About Husqvarna Z254

  • 54-inch 12-gauge steel cutting deck
  • Premium 26 HP Kohler 7000 Series engine
  • Maintenance-free transmission
  • Zero-turn design is ideal for irregularly-shaped yards with lots of trees or bushes
  • Air induction mowing technology improves grass lift for superior cutting performance

Our Final Verdict

For a surprisingly affordable price, the Husqvarna Z242 zero-turn mower delivers a best-in-class mowing experience. Durable, high-quality construction and premium components promise years of reliable operation, and it’s so comfortable, you’ll actually look forward to mowing the lawn.

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John Deere E100

john deere e100The John Deere E100 Lawn Tractor is one of the most versatile front engine riding mowers on the market, with a sturdy 17.5 HP engine, tight turning radius and a cutting deck height ranging from one to four inches.

Its cab is designed for maximum comfort, with easy-to-reach controls and an ergonomically-angled seat and steering wheel. Most importantly, it’s designed with the legendary quality and performance of the John Deere name, so you’ll feel confident in your choice.

Features of the John Deere E100

  • Horsepower: 17 HP
  • Width of Cut: 42 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 2.4 gallons

Things To Like About John Deere E100

  • Two cutting blades shear grass with precision and efficiency
  • Comfortable operator station with supportive seat and convenient beverage holder
  • Responsive steering handles tight turning angles
  • American-made at the Tennessee John Deere factory
  • Affordable price and reliable performance

Our Final Verdict

Over its long history, the John Deere name has become synonymous with high-quality lawn and garden equipment, and the E100 lives up to its legacy. It offers excellent performance, a durable build and a comfortable ride, all at a price tag you’ll love.

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Troy-Bilt TB30

troy bilt tb30Designed for medium- to large-sized residential properties, this compact rear-engine riding mower features a modest 30-inch cutting deck with five height settings.

An 18-inch turning radius delivers excellent maneuverability, and the 6-speed transmission and reliable OHV engine offer impressive performance. The adjustable seat and large soft-grip steering wheel create a comfortable operator environment.  

Features of the Troy-Bilt TB30

  • Horsepower: 12 HP
  • Width of Cut: 30 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 1.3 gallons

Things To Like About Troy-Bilt TB30

  • Reliable 382cc, 6-speed OHV engine
  • Compact size and 30-inch cutting deck are a good fit for most residential properties
  • Multiple cutting height settings
  • Nimble operation with tight turning radius
  • Very affordable price

Our Final Verdict

This budget-friendly pick is ideal for smaller jobs, and its modest size and narrow cutting deck make it easy to store in most sheds and garages.

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Poulan Pro PP19A42

poulan pro riding mowerWith a sturdy 42-inch reinforced steel cutting deck, muscular 19 HP Briggs & Stratton engine and smooth, pedal-controlled automatic transmission, the Poulan Pro PP19A42 front engine riding mower is a solid performer in a crowded class.

Its spring-assisted deck lift offers six variable cutting heights to fit your lawn, and its tight 16-inch turning radius maneuvers easily around trees, bushes and other landscaping features. Anti-scalp deck wheels and rear tires with Turf Saver tread maintain traction without damaging grass.

Features of the Poulan Pro PP19A42

  • Horsepower: 19 HP
  • Width of Cut: 42 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 2.5 gallons

Things To Like About Poulan Pro PP19A42

  • Six cutting height options ranging from 1.5 to 4 inches
  • High-performing Briggs & Stratton engine
  • Mow-in-reverse feature allows for continuous mowing while changing directions
  • Convenient features like headlights and onboard beverage holder

Our Final Verdict

This powerful yet nimble riding mower offers quality craftsmanship and an impressive 10-year deck warranty. With variable speeds and cutting height options, you can customize your mowing experience to your preferences and landscaping needs.

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Husqvarna YTH18542

husqvarna yth18542In the brand’s second showing on our list, the Husqvarna YTH18542 is a muscular, high-performing workhorse that can stand up to big jobs and challenging conditions. An 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine and pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission minimize maintenance needs, and it starts smoothly every time you turn the key.

The YTH18542 front engine lawn tractor is designed with user comfort in mind, equipped with features like fender-mounted cutting height adjustment, ergonomic soft-grip steering wheel and adjustable high-backed seat. Like all Husqvarna riding mowers, it uses air induction technology to lift grass for a precise, consistent cut. A 13-gauge steel cutting deck, cast-iron front axle and sturdy chassis ensure years of durability.

Features of the Husqvarna YTH18542

  • Horsepower: 19 HP
  • Width of Cut: 42 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 2.5 gallons

Things To Like About Husqvarna YTH18542

  • Built for comfort, with easily-accessible controls and adjustable sliding seat
  • Air induction technology provides enhanced lift for a cleaner cut
  • Anti-scalp wheels prevent damage to grass
  • Stamped, reinforced steel cutting deck enhances strength and durability

Our Final Verdict

The Husqvarna YTH18542 is packed with premium features and impressive quality at a price tag that’s probably lower than you’d expect. Combining both power and precision, this user-friendly riding mower is an investment that’s sure to last.  

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Snapper 2911525BVE

snapper riding mowerThis classic rear engine riding mower provides a compact, lightweight tool for maintaining residential lawns in almost any size. Its innovative stand-on-edge design allows for storage in small spaces, yet its powerful engine is sufficient to handle large-scale mowing jobs.

The HI VAC mower deck not only cuts grass efficiently, but also sucks up clippings to deliver a remarkably clean finish. A straightforward, no-frills disc drive transmission offers years of reliable performance; however, its 28-inch turning radius makes it best-suited to lawns with minimal complications.

Features of the Snapper 2911525BVE

  • Horsepower: 11.5 HP
  • Width of Cut: 28 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 1.35 gallons

Things To Like About Snapper 2911525BVE

  • Unique stand-on-edge storage capability
  • HI VAC mower deck clears clippings for a clean finish
  • Comfortable, ergonomic design with easy-reach controls
  • Five cutting height options provide flexibility and control

Our Final Verdict

This time-tested workhorse may not have as many bells and whistles as its competitors, but it’s built to last and capable of tackling almost any size lawn. If your storage space is limited or you simply want a basic mower that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, the Snapper 2911525BVE riding lawn mower is a clear winner. 

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Husqvarna YTH24V48

husqvarna yth24v48If you’re ready to go to the next level in riding mower performance, the Husqvarna YTH24V48 is sure to impress. A 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek two-cylinder engine, pedal-controlled automatic transmission and chokeless start deliver a smooth ride and powerful results. Husqvarna’s unique air induction design provides excellent lift for consistent cutting performance.

User-friendly features like a fender-mounted cutting height adjustment lever, electric blade engagement system, ergonomic steering wheel and soft yet supportive seat make it a true pleasure to operate.   

Features of the Husqvarna YTH24V48

  • Horsepower: 24 HP
  • Width of Cut: 48 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 3.0 gallons

Things To Like About Husqvarna YTH24V48

  • Muscular 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek engine
  • Smooth, maintenance-free automatic transmission
  • Durable 48-inch reinforced cutting deck
  • Versatile unit is compatible with accessories like towing, mulching and snow removal kits
  • Three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty provides peace of mind

Our Final Verdict

This powerhouse mower delivers outstanding value, with options to add towing, snow-clearing and mulching capabilities for year-round use. Even if you simply use it to mow your grass, its best-in-class performance makes it well worth the additional investment.

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Troy-Bilt Pony 42X

troy bilt ponyThis budget-friendly front engine riding mower combines reliable performance, a durable build and a surprising number of features at an affordable price.

The dual-blade 42-inch cutting deck can handle large properties, while an 18-inch turning radius allows you to maneuver it smoothly around small, irregularly-shaped spaces and obstacles. Five cutting height positions and an intuitive control panel provide added flexibility and control.

Features of the Troy-Bilt Pony 42X

  • Horsepower: 18 HP
  • Width of Cut: 42 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 1.36 gallons

Things To Like About Troy-Bilt Pony 42X

  • Tough 18 HP Troy-Bilt OHV engine
  • Five cutting height options to fit your lawn’s needs
  • Wide cutting deck with tight turn radius
  • Step-Thru frame design with extra leg room enhances comfort
  • Easy speed adjustment with 7-speed shift-on-the-go transmission
  • Anti-scalp deck wheels prevent turf damage

Our Final Verdict

The Troy-Bilt Pony 42X is a well-rounded workhorse with a modest price tag. It navigates challenging terrain with ease and delivers a consistent, efficient cut time after time, making it one of the best buys on the market today.

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Husqvarna Z242F 42

husqvarna z242fIn yet another appearance among our best riding lawn mowers, this model from Husqvarna combines the precise handling of a zero turn mower with a 42-inch stamped steel-reinforced deck, allowing you to complete your mowing in record time. Its premium Kawasaki engine delivers quiet, reliable power with a smooth electric start and durable components.

Its spring-assisted, six-position deck lift lever is located within easy reach of the comfortable ergonomic seat, and an anti-slip foot area, rear engine guard and automatic parking brake system put operator safety first.

Features of the Husqvarna Z242F 42

  • Horsepower: 19 HP
  • Width of Cut: 42 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 3.5 gallons

Things To Like About Husqvarna Z242F 42

  • Zero turn radius navigates precisely around obstacles and into tight areas
  • Hydrostatic drive system delivers consistently smooth operation
  • 18 HP Kawasaki engine offers quality construction and premium components
  • Six deck height options
  • Multiple safety features

Our Final Verdict

You’ll love the efficient yet precise mowing ability of the Husqvarna Z242F, made possible by its wide cutting deck and zero turn radius design. This luxurious mower combines a plush ride with potent performance and is worth every penny of its premium price tag.

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Husqvarna YTH24V54

husqvarna yth24v54This high-end garden tractor from Husqvarna is among the most powerful riding mowers on our list, with a front-mounted, heavy-duty 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek V-Twin engine and smooth-shifting hydrostatic automatic transmission.

This mower offers a mind-blowing list of features, including cruise control, hour meter with service minder, fender-mounted cutting height adjustment, headlights, beverage holder, reverse operating system and high-back ergonomic seat—just to name a few.

The Husqvarna YTH24V54 Garden Tractor makes our list of the best riding mowers available in 2020 thanks to its sturdy build, impressive power and performance, and amazing versatility. Husqvarna has been manufacturing terrific riding mowers for years and this model is no exception to the rule.

With a powerful 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek V-Twin engine and automatic hydrostatic transmission, the YTH24V54 is powerful and offers a smooth forward and reverse speed without the need to shift gears. A reinforced 54” cutting deck provides added strength while being able to mow down a large yard in less time than smaller riding models on the market.

Features of the Husqvarna YTH24V54

  • Horsepower: 24 HP
  • Width of Cut: 54 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 2.5 gallons

Things To Like About Husqvarna YTH24V54

  • Muscular 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek V-Twin engine
  • Low-maintenance hydrostatic automatic transmission
  • Durable 54-inch cutting deck with air induction technology for precise, consistent cutting performance
  • Cruise control feature lets you relax and enjoy the ride
  • Optional attachments for snow-clearing, towing and mulching add versatility and value

Our Final Verdict

First and foremost, the Husqvarna YTH24V54 is a powerful mower that delivers both outstanding cutting performance and efficient operation, thanks to its 54-inch deck and innovative air induction technology. It’s also one of the most impressively-equipped riding mowers on the market, with every possible feature to enhance comfort, safety and longevity.

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Troy-Bilt 13AJA1BZ066

troy bilt super broncoThis front engine riding mower from Troy-Bilt has it all: massive 50-inch reinforced cutting deck, XP twin-cylinder engine, pedal-controlled Tuff-Torq hydrostatic transmission and tight 16-inch turning radius.

Its built-in headlights, high-back seat and comfort-grip steering wheel add convenience and comfort, and a cast-iron front axle lends durability and strength. The Super Bronco 50 XP also comes with Troy-Bilt’s long history of quality, performance and reliability dating back to 1937.

Features of the Troy-Bilt 13AJA1BZ066

  • Horsepower: 24 HP
  • Width of Cut: 50 inches
  • Fueling Capacity: 3.0 gallons

Things To Like About Troy-Bilt 13AJA1BZ066

  • 24 HP XP twin-cylinder engine
  • Wide 50-inch cutting deck with easily adjustable deck height
  • Tight turning radius
  • Reliable performance and smooth handling

Our Final Verdict

The Super Bronco 50 XP delivers the reliability and quality you’d expect from a Troy-Bilt riding mower with power and performance that are sure to impress.

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Best Riding Lawn Mowers Buying Guide

Things To Look For in the Best Riding Lawn Mowers

When selecting your riding mower, you’ll need to compare the following features to find the model that’s best for your property.

Horsepower of the Engine

Engine horsepower (HP) describes the power output of the engine, which is shared among all of its components, including the transmission and cutting mechanism. The higher the horsepower of the engine, the more power it has to distribute among the various tasks involved in the mower’s operation. If your property is particularly large, hilly or rugged, look an engine that delivers at least 20 HP.

Width of Cut

The cutting deck width of a riding lawn mower reflects how much of your lawn it can cut in a single pass. For small or irregularly-shaped properties, a mower with a narrower cutting deck will be easier to maneuver into tight spaces. If you’ll be mowing a large area, a wider cutting deck can help reduce how long it takes you to complete the task.

Fuel Capacity

Fuel capacity matters most if you’ll be mowing a large area on a regular basis, since having to stop and refuel mid-mow is both inconvenient and inefficient. If your yard is relatively small, the size of the fuel tank is less consequential.

Transmission Type

The mower’s transmission moves power from its engine to its wheels to move it forward and in reverse. Riding mower transmissions fall into three categories: manual, automatic and hydrostatic. Manual transmission mowers operate much like manual transmission automobiles and may require you to use a clutch to shift between speeds.

Automatic transmissions typically use a gas pedal to control the speed and are more efficient and easier to use than manual transmissions. Hydrostatic transmissions use fluid instead of belts to transfer power between the engine and the wheels for smooth, low-maintenance operation.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Best Riding Lawn Mowers

When looking for the best riding lawn mowers for your needs, you are likely going to have ample questions about your purchasing decision. Below are some of the most common questions we have received from readers.

Which mowers are the best riding lawn mowers for hilly terrains?

No matter what type of mower you choose, hilly or uneven terrain can make the task of mowing significantly more challenging. When selecting a riding lawn mower, look for features like high-traction wheels, heavy-duty chassis, powerful engine and hydrostatic transmission to ensure the mower can handle the rugged landscape without tipping, slipping or losing power.

What riding mower brands have the highest quality products?

Riding mowers are a significant investment, with prices ranging from less than $1,500 to more than $3,000. To ensure you get the best value and long life from your riding lawn mower, be sure to choose a reputable brand with a long history of quality products, excellent performance and reliable customer service.

With four entries on our list, Husqvarna is obviously one of the standout brands, but Troy-Bilt, Cub Cadet and John Deere are also well-known and well-loved by customers.  

Which engine is best rated?

Your riding lawn mower’s engine needs to produce sufficient power to navigate your property and deliver a precise cut. It also needs to deliver reliable starts and consistent performance, with quality components that will last for years, even with heavy use.

Briggs & Stratton engines, which you’ll find in many of the mowers on the list above, tend to meet or exceed all of these requirements, although Kawasaki and Troy-Bilt manufacture respectable engines as well.

How to start a riding lawn mower?

Most riding lawn mowers are as easy to start as a car, with either a push-button or electric switch starting mechanism. Before powering up your mower, be sure to set the deck at your desired cutting height. Once you get the mower going, you’ll use the foot pedal or cruise control to adjust and maintain your speed.