Best Riding Lawn Mowers 2018 – 2019: Top Rated Garden Tractors, Zero Turn Mowers and Automatic Lawn Mowers for the Money

Best Garden Tractor Reviews 2019

Welcome to our best riding mower reviews for 2018 – 2019!

Our mission is to help you determine the best riding lawn mower for the money for you and your property in particular.

In order to do that, we tested all of the top riding lawn mower brands as well as many different individual models. We also focused on context so that we could inform you of the best riding lawn mower for small yards, the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain and so forth.

Additionally, we wanted to complete our buying guide by the answering the kinds of questions that first-time and even experienced buyers often have.

To do that, we talked with many consumers as well as studied the questions and best garden tractor reviews posted by users online. The process took months, but we’re finally here and proud to present you with our top 11 picks and a lot more.

Top Rated Riding Lawn Mowers Comparison Chart 2018 – 2019

Below you can compare and analyse the 11 best riding lawn mowers, garden tractors and zero-turn radius riding mower machines.

RankingNameTypePowerCutting DeckPrice
1Husqvarna YTH22V42Lawn Tractor22 HP42 inches Check Price
2Troy-Bilt Pony TB2454Lawn Tractor24 HP54 inches Check Price
3Yard Machines 420ccLawn Tractor15.5 HP42 inches Check Price
4Troy-Bilt 382ccRear-Engine Mower15 HP30 inches Check Price
5Ariens IKON-XZero-Turn Radius23 HP52 inches Check Price
6Snapper 560ZZero-Turn Radius25 HP52 inches Check Price
7Husqvarna MZ61Zero-Turn Radius27 HP61 inches Check Price
8Poulan Pro P46ZXZero-Turn Radius22 HP46 inches Check Price
9Husqvarna LTA18538Lawn Tractor18.5 HP38 inches Check Price
10Ryobi Electric Rear-EngineRear-Engine Mower100AH Battery38 inches Check Price
11Troy-Bilt HydrostaticLawn Tractor19 HP50 inches Check Price

#1. Best Overall Riding Lawn Mower: Husqvarna YTH22V42

This Husqvarna is our pick for the best riding lawn mower under $5,000 as well as the best riding lawn mower under $3,000. It’s also our pick for the best riding lawn mower of 2018 – 2019 overall.

The Husqvarna YTH22V42 features a tried and true Briggs & Stratton engine that generates 22 horsepower. The cutting width is 42 inches, and it has a hydrostatic transmission. It’s pedal-operated and can achieve nearly 3 miles per hour in reverse.

This a well-made garden tractor, and the brand supports it well. It comes with a five-year warranty on the frame/chassis and front axle as well as a three-year warranty all other aspects. Husqvarna has a reputation for being easy to work with when it comes to warranty and the like.

Not all Husqvarna riding mower reviews posted online by users are positive. We don’t want to ignore this but at the same time we feel as if this is a vocal minority. Often, people choose a tractor for the wrong purposes. This is not the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain.

This model is, however, a superb choice for residential mowing. Not only is the mower excellent value, but it’s quite compact for the performance it delivers, and that makes usage and storage more convenient. It is worth noting that some assembly is required but nothing major.

Note that while this model can accommodate a bag, it doesn’t include one at this price. It does come equipped to support all manner of front- and rear-mounted lawn and garden equipment. Husqvarna makes a wide range of branded accessories, but you can opt for third-party accessories as well.

#2. Best Overall Runner-Up Riding Lawn Mower: Troy-Bilt Pony TB2454

It was a tough choice between the Troy-Bilt TB2454 and the Husqvarna, and its worth mentioning that this model can be quite a bit cheaper—as much as $500 or more at times.

The TB2454 is our pick for the best riding lawn mower under $1,500, and if spending more than that is outside your budget, then you should feel fine about this selection since it’s a great pick.

This is not a rugged, all-duty tractor. Troy-Bilt makes options for that. This is, however, arguably the best riding lawn mower for the money for residential use. It’s among the best riding lawn mowers for small yards, and it’s among our top choices for reasonably flat areas up to several acres or so.

This tractor features a 17.5-horespower engine from Briggs & Stratton. It’s mated with a seven-speed transmission, and the tractor can achieve speeds up to 5.5 miles per hour.

A mulch kit, bagger and bumper are not included, but they are supported and available at the time of purchase or down the road. This vehicle also supports a broad range of front and rear attachments.

Something that we really liked about this machine was the ability to mow in reverse. If you have some difficult areas that you often need to hit a few times, this option makes that a lot easier.

Some other features worth noting are the high-back chair, which we found more comfortable than the Husqvarna garden tractor seat, as well as the integrated deck wash system. Just being able to hook up a hose and clean out the deck like that makes regular cleaning and maintenance a lot easier.

#3. Best Value: Yard Machines 42-Inch Riding Lawn Tractor

This budget-friendly option was a pleasant surprise among our riding mower reviews!

It’s a 42-inch 420cc lawn tractor from Yard Machines that delivers excellent value. We prefer the Troy-Bilt as the best riding lawn mower under $1,500, but this model is a lot closer to $1,000, and when it goes on sale, it becomes the best riding lawn mower under $1,000 by a wide margin.

It’s more than just price that makes this arguably the best riding lawn mower for the money.

The build quality and feature set are comparable to tractors that costs hundreds more. It’s suitable up to two acres of yard and features a 42-inch cutting deck, which is a little on the small side but more than adequate. It also has a seven-speed transmission and features mow in reverse, which makes this the cheapest riding lawn mower that has that feature that we’re willing to recommend.

The Yard Machines tractor also surprised us with how it handled rugged terrain. This shouldn’t be your top choice for a difficult mow, but if you have some small hills and ridges, we think you’ll be impressed with how well this model handles them. This is a big part of why it’s our value pick.

It features a side discharge by default but a mulching kit and a bagger are supported and sold separately as well as a host of front- and rear-mounted attachments. With the bagger, we believe this machine is also in the discussion for best riding lawn mower with a bagger value-wise.

#4. Best for Casual Use: Troy-Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Premium Riding Lawn Mower

The Troy-Bilt 382cc is our pick for best lawn tractor with a rear-engine configuration!

If you’re new to ride-on mowers, think of rear-engine models as the gateway between regular lawn mowers and ride-ons. They’re not ideal for heavy-duty use, but if you’re a casual user who just wants to make mowing his or her yard faster, easier and more fun, you’ll find a lot of value here.

You have to be careful with rear-engine mowers since there are more than a few cheap cheaply-made options on the market, but here you’re getting a Troy-Bilt, which is among the best riding lawn mower brands and, in our opinion, second-to-none when it comes to rear engines.

A 30-inch single-blade cutting deck and an 18-inch turning radius makes cutting most yards up to an acre or so a joy to mow. It has 16-inch rear and 13-inch front wheels that make this mowing machine a lot more agile than it may look at first glance. You can adjust the deck between 1.25 and 3.75 inches.

It offers side discharge and mulching by default, and like all of the best riding mowers, it supports a bagger, which you’ll have to purchase separately. You can also opt for a mulch kit and a hauler attachment, which we liked a lot, but there aren’t many attachment options beyond that.

The medium-back seat is really comfortable as well, which probably isn’t the norm on these smaller machines. You likely won’t be riding this lawn mower for multiple hours at a time, but it’s nice to know that you can go at least a couple without your back and behind feeling stiff and numb.

#5. Best Garden Tractor: Ariens IKON-X 52-inch Zero Turn Mower (ZTR)

Let us introduce you to a beautiful beast: the Ariens IKON-X!

This is the point in our garden tractor reviews where we graduate from ride-on mowers to tractors. This is a heavy-duty machine that’s not quite commercial-grade but features commercial elements, such as a four-point dual-arm deck hanging system. The IKON-X is our pick for best riding lawn mower under $5,000, and it’s the best riding lawn mower under $3,000 when on sale or depending on where you buy it.

The IKON-X features a 42- or 52-inch cutting deck, which makes handling multiple acres a breeze. This is also a zero-turn machine (ZTR), which means it can turn in place. This allows you to use your IKON-X in smaller areas as well as to cut around trees and navigate practically any kind of landscaping feature.

Ariens has selected an ultra-comfortable high-back chair. When you sit in it, you feel like you’re sitting in a cockpit. You just feel good, and the control arms are right where they should be. The drive is incredibly smooth—as it should be at this price level—and the machine is very responsive as well, and that not only makes it easy to operate but easy to learn how to operate if your new zero turn or lawn tractors in general.

The tubular steel frame construction is impressive. Both the Kohler 7000 and Kawasaki FR engines are powerful and dependable. The difference is negligible as far as we could tell: 24 versus 23 horsepower and 725 vs 726 cc. Ariens also provides a superb three-year warranty. These garden tractors have a stellar record as does Ariens when it comes to doing right by a customer when something does go wrong.

#6. Best Garden Tractor Runner-Up: Snapper 560Z 52-Inch Zero Turn Lawn Mower (ZTR)

The Snapper 560Z may be the best riding mower for the money!

This is a commercial-grade machine, and what’s impressive about it is that it delivers that build quality and level of performance at a very competitive price for the commercial market. It may not, however, be a reasonable price for the average homeowner. When you can get a ZTR mower like the ICON-X for several thousand or thereabouts, it may be hard to justify this Snapper for a couple more.

If the Snapper is in your price range, though, then this is the kind of garden tractor you can invest in and own and use for decades if you keep up with the per-use and seasonal maintenance required.

The seating area has more of an upright design than with the ICON-X. We preferred the ICON-X seat itself, but we preferred the positioning here. You’re directly on top of what you’re doing, and that makes it easier to mow and to navigate around various landscaping obstacles.

This best riding lawn mower of 2018-19 features a huge 52-inch deck, which really helps to chew up the feet when mowing multiple acres. It also has a 25-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, which is powerful but not quite the largest we tested to make our riding lawn mowers reviews.

The deck is constructed of 10-guage steel. You can achieve speeds up to 9 miles an hour, and the deck lift makes it easy to adjust the cut height from as low as 1.5 inches to as high as 4.5 inches.

Snapper provides an excellent warranty, including a limited lifetime warranty on the metal construction. A benefit of owning a Snapper is that there’s an authorized service nearby no matter where you live (in the U.S. at least) and that’s not always the case with some of the other best riding lawn mower brands.

#7. Also Consider: Husqvarna MZ61 27 HP ZTR Mower

The Husqvarna MZ61 is a fantastic ZTR mower that brings a lot to the discussion, including a 27-horsepower engine—the largest featured in our rankings—and a massive 61-inch cutting deck.

It’s MSRP is what stops it from being among the best riding lawn mowers for the money. It’s priced like the Snapper just without reaching that same level of commercial performance and polish.

That’s not to say it’s far off. It isn’t. But we feel that this would be a much more interesting discussion if it was priced nearer the ICON-X or at least somewhere between the X and the Snapper.

Price aside, we really loved this Husqvarna. It is extremely comfortable to drive. The control arms are well-positioned, and in terms of fine control and responsiveness, this zero-turn mower is in the discussion for the best we tested. Along with powerful engine, it really makes it easy to cover a lot of distance in a short period.

Something else that stood out about the MZ61 was the engine start. We purposefully tested preowned lawn tractors wherever possible because of how notorious ride-ons are for being difficult to start down the road. This Husqvarna was particularly well-used and was the easiest start of all the vehicles we tested.

We know that price will be an issue for many, but if you have multiple acres and difficult terrain, including brush and pine trees, for instance, you can’t go wrong here. This ZTR mower will take a beating and keep on delivering the kind of performance that you need.

#8. Also Consider: Poulan Pro P46ZX Zero Turn Radius Riding Lawn Mower

The Poulan Pro is in the discussion for the best riding lawn mower under $2,500, and it shares a lot in common with the Snapper we ranked earlier. Sure, it may not feel and look as commercial-grade across the board, but it’s also about half as expensive, which make it a really nice option at this budget level.

A lot of elements make the Poulan Pro the best riding lawn mower under $2,500. These include a rugged steel frame, an ample 46-inch cutting deck and a Briggs & Stratton engine that delivers 22 horsepower.

This garden tractor is lever-operated and features a dual hydrostatic drive system. It’s also responsive and easy to operate, and the bars have comfortable padded grips and are positioned just right over the lap area.

If you have two acres of yard or more, then a zero-turn tractor like this will save you a lot of time. It achieves speeds up to 6.5 miles per hour, and coupled with the large cutting deck, that lets you mow large areas of yard quickly and efficiently. It has 18-inch rear tires as well, and you can cut about 2.5 acres an hour once your comfortable and experienced with your tractor.

There’s also a lot of little extras that make a big difference and put this among the best lawn mowers of 2019 – 2018. Engage the mower blades with just the flip of a switch. An on-board system reminds you of maintenance and service requirements, and you can clean the deck just by attaching a hose.

#9. Also Consider: Husqvarna LTA18538 18.5HP Lawn Tractor

This Husqvarna is an excellent option for the consumer who wants more than a rear-engine lawn tractor but doesn’t need a massive or commercial-grade machine. The LTA18538 is well-priced too. It’s arguably the best riding lawn mower under $2,000, and it can be a lot less than that when on sale.

It’s a small lawn tractor, which makes it ideal if you’re seeking a ride-on for a half to one acre. It has a 38-inch cutting deck, which is a bit on the small side. It’s fine for about an acre, but we think it will prove to be much too small much beyond an acre or if you’re mowing multiple yards in a day.

Like many of our top-rated lawn mowers, this one features a Briggs & Stratton engine. The 18.5 horsepower that it delivers is powerful and efficient enough for the scenarios described earlier. The CVT automatic transmission makes it simple to set your desired speed.

What perhaps impressed our team the most and convinced us to include it as a best lawn mower of 2019-18 is how well it handles hills and other rugged terrain. It’s responsive and easy enough to drive to get into tight spots, navigate around landscaping obstacles and go up and down slopes with ease.

The cherry on top is that this Husqvarna is fully equipped for both front and rear attachments. You can opt for a bagger and mulching kit but also dump carts, scoops, brush guards and much more.

#10. Also Consider: Ryobi Electric Rear-Engine Riding Lawn Mower

Although we didn’t expect an all-electric ride-on mower to make our list, here we are with the superb Ryobi 38-inch 100Ah rear-engine riding lawn mower. This mower gives you enough juice for about 2.5 hours of runtime or 2.5 acres depending on how you want to look at it.

There’s also a 75Ah version of this model, but the savings are slight, and we really don’t see any scenario in which saving a couple of hundred is worth giving up more than 30 minutes of operating time.

Both models charge via any standard 120-volt wall outlet. If you have one conveniently located in your garage or shed, it makes it easy to keep this riding mower topped off and ready to go.

Our team was impressed with the overall design. Rather than be configured like most rear-engine models, Ryobi designed it like a standard lawn tractor. It’s about the same length and perhaps a bit narrower, but the result is very easy to steer and offers more traction than we expected.

The design also allows for a rear hitch that is part of the frame rather than a separate piece. This allows you to use a cart and a wide range of other rear-mounted accessories, and we were delighted with how well this machine pulled rocks and was able to cut through dense grass.

#11. Also Consider: Troy-Bilt 42-Inch Lawn Riding Mower

The 42-inch hydrostatic lawn tractor from Troy-Bilt is a well-designed and well-made all-purpose tractor that’s suitable to all types of properties. It’s agile enough to be used on a half-acre lot but also powerful and durable enough to be used in challenging areas with slopes and other obstacles.

It’s also aggressively priced. It usually sells far below its list price and is often just a bit higher than being in the discussion for the best riding lawn mower under $2,000.

That combination of price and build quality and performance is what puts in the discussion for best riding lawn mower. It delivers everything you expect from a Troy-Bilt in this regard. It also has a large cutting deck and a more powerful engine than you’re usually going to get at this price point.

This Troy-Bilt is among the easiest drives we tested as well. It’s a bit slow in reverse for our liking but excellent otherwise, and most people will be able to knock out an acre of typical residential property in about 20 minutes or so. It also has a number of safety features built in that make this one of the most beginner-friendly lawn mowers we tested, so that’s something to consider if this will be your first garden tractor.

#12. Also Consider: Worx WG794 Landroid Robotic Lawn Mower (Non-Riding)

The Landroid by Worx isn’t a ride-on mower. It’s a robotic lawn mower. We tested a number of these robotic mowers, and this was the one we liked the best.

Robotic mowers are steadily improving but still have a long way to go. If you’re thinking robotic vacuum cleaner, know that mowers aren’t at that level of sophistication yet. When you factor in the relatively high prices as well, then it’s difficult to recommend them as an alternative to a ride-on or walk-behind.

This model uses bump-and-turn navigation, and although we’ve heard some garden destruction horror stories, it worked quite well in our experience. An issue with this precaution is that it will miss some areas, which can be big patches at times. You’ll definitely have to perform touchup with a trimmer, and you’ll probably want a push mower than can let you hit those areas that the robot mower misses.

Also, be aware up front that this mower cannot create those attractive parallel lines that a human using a ride-on or push or walk-behind mower can. That’s a shame. On the plus side, this robotic lawn mower was surprisingly easy to get set up and mowing. It even has a rain sensor that lets it seek cover.

We feel as if you have to plan your yard around the use of a robotic mower to get the most out of it. If you do that, then the performance can be exceptional. If you’re not willing to do that, however, then the mower will never deliver a good enough mow to make the investment worth it in our opinion.

 

Note: Our team very much wanted to include a best riding lawn mower under $500 but nothing made the grade. You may also notice that we didn’t include a Craftsman garden tractor or a Cub Cadet garden tractor. We know that they’re quote popular and tested many of them but didn’t like any one model enough to include it.

How the Top Riding Law Mowers Were Tested and Selected?

Our team was able to secure ourselves an area of land that comprises many acres and was in desperate need of mowing. The area was quite varied too, which let us test all of these mowing machines in various grass lengths and when dealing with various different terrain challenges. All of the testing was performed over the period of about a week, and we had experts on hand, including landscapers and mechanics.

Perhaps our biggest challenge in selecting the best riding lawn mower was determining which models to test. The sheer number of models on the market was practically overwhelming. Although we knew that many models were just slight variations over others. It’s not unusual for what is essentially a single model to have a half dozen model numbers or more due to configurations and yearly iterations.

In order to make our riding lawn mower reviews manageable, what we ended up doing was speaking to the manufacturers we were considering and asking their input. We wanted to know what were the lawn tractor models that they felt best represented their brands in each of the various segments.

From there, we tested performance, and as mentioned, in various conditions. We assessed these garden tractors objectively but also subjectively. For the subjective rankings, we used the opinions of professional landscapers, experienced home users and beginners as well as taking into consideration the aggregate lawn tractor reviews from consumers that we were able to compile online.

In ranking them, we wanted to provide you with context, so that if you were seeking the best riding lawn mower for hills, for instance, we could help in that regard. Our team also tested a large selection of automatic mowers, but these may have a long way to go still and are really only to augment rather than replace. Only one model that we tested managed to get included and did so as an honourable mention.

Who Should Consider Riding Lawn Mowers, Garden Tractors or ZTR Mowers?

Old man using his ride-on mower to cut grass in his garden

Ride-on- Mowers 2018 -2019

When considering a garden tractor, there are some common considerations, such as is my budget too small, is my yard too small and is my property too unusual or obstructed. In trying to answer the question in the header, we’re going to attempt to deal with these common concerns.

The first point is a matter of budget. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a small fortune—as many suspect—and there excellent small riding lawn mower options on the market. If you’re seeking the best riding lawn mower under $1000, then that really is a realistic goal. If, on the other hand, you’re seeking the best riding lawn mower under $500, then a self-propelled lawn mower is probably a better option, or if you already have one, consider saving more until you can get into that higher price range.

As for lawn size, many people underestimate their area that needs mowing. Our rule of thumb is that we don’t recommend a ride-on lawn mower if you have less than a half-acre. If you have more than a half-acre, it’s a worthwhile consideration, and if you have an acre of land or more, then the best riding mowers are very worthwhile just in terms of the sheer amount of time and energy it will save you.

The final issue is whether the yard is too unusual. The truth is that this is rarely the case. The best lawn tractor models are rather easy to control and can go in and out of obstacles with ease. If you have a lot of detail work you want to accomplish, then you may want to consider the zero-turn approach.

As for the best riding lawn mower for hills, most of the products that we ranked are quite suitable in sloped environments. This is more about lawn mower riding technique than the equipment itself. There is a learning curve, and it helps to go slow until you get comfortable with that kind of mowing.

Important Factors to Consider Before Buying a Good Riding Lawn Mower

Once you’ve settled on a budget, you’ll need to determine which kind of mower you want. The best riding mowers come in three common configurations: rear-engine, lawn/garden and zero-turn.

Rear-engine riders tend to be the least expensive and the easiest to drive. Think of them as bridging the gap between riders and the kind of mowers that you push and walk behind.

The best lawn tractors and garden tractors — which are two terms often used interchangeably—are the next step up and a lot more versatile. You can not only mow more faster, but you can do a lot more than just mow particularly as you add attachments and whatnot. There’s more of a learning curve to operating these, but once you have it, slopes and similar challenges will be a lot easier as well.

Zero-turn radius (ZTR) tractors are the next step up. They offer finer handling and higher speeds. They’re often much more stable, and perhaps the most distinguishing features is the ability to turn in place, which makes them a lot easier to circle trees and bushes and weave in and out of obstacles.

You’ll also want to pay attention to the various features available and what may or may not be important to you. Handling of clippings is often particularly important and may play a large role in what is the best riding lawn mower for you and your property. A side discharge is the most common configuration, but bagger-capable and mulching-capable mowers may be worth the investment.

Finally, consider creature comforts. If you use your mower a lot or it takes you an hour or more to complete your yard, then those little perks can make your experience a lot more enjoyable. Popular options include cup holders, extended leg room, armrests, seats with high backs and so forth.

How to Video

Check out the video below to know how to choose the best riding lawn mower for the money.

Are Riding Lawn Mowers Worth It?

We mentioned earlier that we generally don’t recommend even the best riding lawn mowers if you have less than a half-acre of land. They’re just generally not worth the investment, and in such a small area, a ride-on mower, even small riding lawn mowers, can make cutting your lawn take more time.

If you have more than a half-acre of land, then yes, they are absolutely worth. Even if you’re under an acre, they will end up saving you time even if not so much money. Additionally, there’s the fun factor, and let’s face it: the fun of driving yard tractors is a thought for everyone considering a purchase.

If you step up to the best garden tractor level, then versatility is a factor as well. For anyone who has a large yard and perhaps a garden and does most of the maintenance themselves, the best lawn tractors can make a big difference. One of the best attachments for the money is a cart, which lets you carry just about anything around your yard: rocks, plants, mulch and so much more.

Safety Tips for Riding Lawn Mower Usage

riding lawn mower accident

Riding Lawn Mower Accident

Any machine present risks, and it’s necessary to approach the best riding lawn mowers of 2019 with the necessary respect and safety precautions. These are not toys and should be treated as such, and children should never be allowed to use these machines without adult supervision.

Perhaps the biggest risk when it comes to yard tractors is them overturning. A lawn tractor that overturns can injure an operator in a number of different ways, including crushing them. The largest risk of overturn with the best lawn tractors only really occurs on uneven ground. For this reason, you should operate on slopes slowly and without any attachments and never when your anxieties may be an issue.

Read your owner manual thoroughly before operating your mower for the first time. Never operate a ride when you are intoxicated. Learn the safety checklist for your rider, and perform the complete safety inspection each and every time you intend to ride it.

Be mindful that slopes should always be mowed up and down and never across. Avoid sudden turns and stops, and be careful about accidentally throwing your rider into gear. That can cause the rider to lurch and cause discomfort at best and actually throw you from the garden tractor at worst.

Finally, you need to be aware at all times. Watch for kids, and keep an eye out for all manner of obstacles. You definitely don’t want to ride your lawn mower over small obstacles just because you can. Yard missiles are a real risk that can break windows, dent cars and cause a wide range of other damages.

Final Thoughts About our Top Picks of Best Riding Lawn Mowers

best rated riding lawn mower 2019

Woman riding on top of the garden tractor

Well, there you have it. Hopefully, we’ve answered the questions you arrived with and our garden tractor reviews have highlighted the best riding lawn mowers on the market for you.

Choosing a lawn mower tractor can be a big step, and the rear-engine models are great first step for first-time buyers.

Something else to keep in mind is that best lawn mower brands hold their value really well if the rider is well-maintained.

You can always begin with a rear-engine, and then when you’re ready to move up to a tractor, put that rear-engine riding lawn mower up for sale to offset some of that cost.

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