John Deere X304
Automatic drive lawn tractors are easier for homeowners to operate and run more smoothly than manual tractors, and the John Deere X304 is the best of the automatic models, according to Galt Home Buying Guides. For mulching use, this lawn tractor requires a special mulching kit, but once this kit is installed, it is capable of some of the most even mulching of all lawn tractors. The 17-horsepower motor and 42-inch cutting deck makes mowing multiple acres in one day possible. Four-wheel independent steering makes it almost as maneuverable as a zero-turn radius riding mower, leaving only a 16-inch half circle of grass at the end of each cut row.
With a 48-inch cutting deck, a 23-horsepower engine, and a price about half of the John Deere X304, the Husqvarna YTH2348 may be the best choice for homeowners with limited lawn maintenance budgets, says Consumer Reports. This lawn tractor has a slightly larger cutting radius, leaving 18 inches of uncut grass at the end of each row. The YTH2348 is capable of mulching without extra attachments but creates a slightly less even spray of clippings than tractors that use mulching attachments; a blade change is also required. Larger decks cut faster, but around 50 inches, lawn tractors begin to have trouble cutting evenly over lawns with bumps or hills. For flat landscapes that need to be mulched as quickly as possible without the maintenance of additional attachments, the YTH2348 is the best option.
Craftsman YT 4000 28990
For cutting up to five acres in one use, the YT 4000 28990 offers the best value, according to TodaysMower.com. The tractor features a 54-inch cutting deck and 26-horsepower engine, but the larger cutting deck means less even cutting over uneven landscapes. High horsepower from this model allows for the use of a wide variety of optional attachments. Blades must be changed to switch between mulching and side discharging modes, but both are included with the tractor. Homeowners who expect to stay clean after trimming multiple acres may not appreciate the tendency of this model to throw clippings towards their back during mulching.
Snapper 7800545 LT130
For the best combination of maneuverability and efficiency, the Snapper 7800545 LT130 combines a four-wheel independent steering system for tight turns with anti-scalping wheels that won't damage your lawn while running over uneven ground, according to HomeGardenExpert.com. This makes it a good choice for hilly lawns. The anti-scalping tires are usually optional on other models and cost hundreds of dollars. The 46-inch cutting deck trims evenly but quickly, and the 23-horsepower engine is more than powerful enough to reach 5 or 6 miles per hour during mowing.