Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Zero Turn Radius Lawn Mower Reviews:
- What is zero turn radius?
- Benefits of ZTR mowers
- Best ZTR mowers today
Mowing your lawn should be easy and most of us don't have that much lawn to mow anyways. For the lucky(?) few that have an acre or more that needs to be cut each week during the peak growing season, having a zero turn radius (ZTR) mower could be the solution. Lawn tractors are recommended for those with a 1/2 acre of lawn or more but they are not very good at getting around obstacles such trees, shrubs, or rocks. The ZTR mowers are the ultimate in maneuverability but they will cost you quite a bit.
The popular John Deere Z235 ($2500) is highly recommended by many professional landscapers, although there are several brands like Toro, Dixon, and Snapper which also have capable models. What is a ZTR mower? ZTR's are rear engined and give you rear-steering which is something you'll need to get used to. The cutting swath on these mowers is typically between 42 to 48 inches although some mower decks are closer to 60" if you need a wide cut. The zero turn radius mowers also perform well at side-discharging, mulching, and bagging. Often the bagging kits run an additional $400 to $800, so be prepared for the price to increase dramatically if you go with those add-ons.
As an intro, check out the video below to see how the Deere compares to the Toro in a ZTR "race" - and get a feel for how ZTR mowers work:
ZTR Mower Reviews:
While hearing what some guy in Texas has to say about his mower might be helpful, chances are individual reviews can be a bit biased. For this reason, we usually like to get broader opinions and feedback when it comes to big ticket purchases like a zero turn mower. We found some excellent online reviews and expert opinions on sites like Popular Mechanics, Consumer Search, and Compacttractorreview.com. Forums on Gardenweb.com and Lawncafe.com provide in-depth comments and feedback from owners and prospective buyers, which lets you learn from multiple, actual owners what they have to say about the model they selected.
Consumer Reports does a yearly article on lawn mowers and they tend to focus on lawn tractors and self-propelled mowers since that is what most homeowners go with. If you have never seen a ZTR mower, just think about what the professional landscapers drive around in business parks and that is what they are. The one complaint from residential owners of the ZTR mowers is that they don't always cut very evenly compared to tractor mowers, especially when you continue cutting while turning the mower.
Nevertheless, the ability to mow a lawn as you turn around trees, shrubs, and rocks is why the zero turn lawn mowers are bought so often. Pricing varies quite a bit as the popular Toro TimeCutter sells for close to $2600 and it's barely rated higher than the EZtrak Z225 from John Deere. We read some positive reviews for the Dixon series of zero turn lawn mowers in forums, but the tests done by Consumer Reports (CR) showed the Dixon lacked handling and the ability to bag very well. Sears carries ZTR mowers from Craftsman, Swisher, Snapper, and Husqvarna. The Craftsman ZTS 7500 sells for $2500 and gets fairly solid reviews for a 42-inch deck. The 20 HP Briggs & Stratton engine powers the mower and the Electric Starts keeps it easy to start up. Many manufacturers of ZTRs make models for either residential or commercial purposes. The commercial ZTRs have more powerful engines and a wider cutting swath. The residential zero turn radius lawn mowers are slowly getting cheaper, but don't expect pricing to come down dramatically any time soon. We have provided some comparison and "best of class" awards down below based on magazine articles, online forum reviews, and expert opinions from Consumer Reports. You can view the most popular zero turn radius mowers online here
ZTR MaintenanceWhen it comes to ZTR operation and maintenance, we've collected a few additional resources so you can know what to expect as an owner - click the image below to go to video guides.
Best Residential ZTR Mower:
Just a few years ago the John Deere EZtrak mowers were perhaps your best dollar for dollar deal on a ZTR mower for residential purposes. Some new models like theTroy-Bilt Mustang mowers are also getting top rated reviews from companies like Consumer Reports. The Mustang is offered with a 42" and 50" deck size and their overall performance numbers are excellent compared to the competition. The John Deere Z235 still rates quite high - especially on a value basis. We found online reviews of the latest Husqvarna ZTRs to get the best feedback from owners and experts. Priced at roughly $2500, the Husqvarna line rate solidly for mulching, bagging, handling, and ease of use. The RZ4623 is the top selling model with a 725cc Kohler Courage engine, twin maintenance free transmissions, and heavy duty front casters. Owners say the 'controls are comfortable' and 'makes mowing a breeze'. Check out the best selling ZTR mowers for residential use here.
Top Rated Zero Turn Radius Lawn Mower:
The Toro TimeCutter ($2500) rates well for side discharging, mulching, bagging, handling and ease of use. It is slightly cheaper than the comparable John Deere (above), but reviews show that Toro is a better performer (by a slim margin). You get commercial grade features on the Z4200 like the heavy-duty dual hydrostatic drives, twin-cylinder engines and 42" mowing decks. Although the Z225 cuts more evenly, the Z4200 performs other tasks much better. It truly is a professional zero turn radius mower at a residential price. You get a 3 year warranty, a high back seat for the ultimate in comfort, adjustable armrests and control levers, 3 blade cutting performance. The Toro.com website covers all the details of their lawn mowers and gives you a dealer locator search function so you can find the store nearest to you that carries the Toro zero turn radius lawn mowers.
60-Inch Deck ZTR:
The Swisher ZT2660 ($3800) is an excellent zero turn radius lawn mower sold at Sears stores. The Z-Max XZT60 comes with a 26 HP Briggs & Stratton engine. The ergonomic steering handles make driving this ZTR a synch. It features an automatic parking brake, dual 2 gallon fuel tanks, high back seat with arm rests that is adjustable, 8 cutting height levels, and a wide 60-inch cutting deck for making quick work of any lawn. Swisher has been around since 1945 making yard machines, but they have never gained as much popularity as the John Deere and Toro brands in the zero turn radius mower arena.
Buying a zero turn radius lawn mower shouldn't be an impossible task. Once you expect a baseline price of $2500-$3000, there shouldn't be any major surprises from there. You can't go wrong with the major manufacturers - but even with a major purchase like this, it often comes down to the features and accessories that appeal the most to you.
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