Riding lawn mowers turn the difficult work of pushing a heavy mower over the lawn into the nearly effortless experience of comfortably driving over the lawn. Riding mowers are also faster, with wide decks and higher speeds making mowing the lawn quicker and more convenient than ever. The very best riding mowers offer all these features plus solid construction, good handling and a near-perfect cut that leaves your lawn practically glowing.
John Deere LA 115 and 105
The LA 115 and LA 105 by John Deere are two of the best riding lawn mowers available, according to Consumer Reports. Both feature 19 horsepower and a 42-inch deck to tackle big lawns. Both can switch from mulching to bagging without a blade change and do both tasks well, with an even cut. Both also feature a two-year warranty. The main difference between the two is in the drive. The slightly more expensive LA 115 features a hydrostatic drive that improves handling. The LA 105 has a gear shift, which makes it a bit more difficult to operate and downgrades the handling from excellent to good, according to Consumer Reports.
Cub Cadet LTX1040 13RX90AR
The Cub Cadet LTX1040 13RX90AR was rated equal to the top John Deere models by Consumer Reports. Although this riding mower does require a blade change to switch from bagging to mulching, it is very good at both and particularly good for bagging. This 19 horsepower, 42-inch deck mower is highly rated all-around, combining good handling with ease of use and evenness of cut. The Cub Cadet features a continuously variable automatic transmission, but does need to be manually shifted from forward to reverse unlike some other models. The brand is somewhat less dependable than John Deere, according to Consumer Reports, but the mower is backed by a generous three-year warranty.
Hustler Zeon Electric Mower
Traditional lawn mowers are loud, smelly and polluting, but electric power has advanced to the point where there are quieter and more environmentally conscious alternatives. Rated as one of the most brilliant inventions of 2009 by Popular Mechanics, the Hustler Zeon Electric Mower brings high performance mowing into the electric age. The all-electric mower has a zero turn radius for excellent control, and a 42-inch-wide blade driven by two deck motors. The mower has precise, continuously variable control and the ability to move along at up to 6 mph. It can only operate for 80 minutes, making it unsuitable for really large lawns, but perfect for acre lots. It is 34 percent quieter than other mowers, according to the company, has zero emissions and is nearly maintenance free, unlike gas riding mowers. It is also backed by a three-year residential warranty.