9 Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2021 [Reviews]

Man on an orange riding mower

Buying a riding lawn mower (aka ride-on lawn mower) is a significant investment, and figuring out which of the hundreds of options is best for you can be frustrating and time-consuming. To make your decision easier, we’ve rounded up the 9 best riding lawn mowers based on price point, engine power, and overall performance. 

Big yard, small yard, tight purse strings, or bottomless budget — whatever your needs, our top picks include a riding mower that’s perfect for you. Even if you aren’t quite sure what you’re looking for, we have you covered. We also have put together a buyers guide with everything you need to know when shopping for riding lawn mowers. 

Top 9 Riding Lawn Mowers – Reviews

*Note: All prices listed are subject to change. 

1. Husqvarna YTH24V54

Husqvarna YTH24V54 54 in. 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Riding Mower

Our overall top pick is the YTH24V54 lawn tractor model from Husqvarna. Its 24-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine with easy starting technology, 54-inch reinforced cutting deck, and variable-speed hydrostatic transmission all add up to top-notch performance, even for the largest and most difficult yards. 

This mower isn’t all about power and size. It’s also comfortable for the user, which is pretty important for a machine you’ll be using regularly for hours at a time. Husqvarna designed this model’s adjustable, comfortable seat and easy-to-use controls with ergonomics in mind.

Other special features of the YTH24V54 include a tight 16-inch turn radius for improved maneuverability and exclusive air induction technology that improves airflow in the mowing deck, creating a cleaner cut. The mower is compatible with several Husqvarna accessories, including a mulching kit for grass clippings. 

Specifications: 

  • Power: 24 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 54 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 3 gallons
  • Max speed: 5.5 mph

Pros:

✓ Powerful, reliable engine
✓ Wide cutting deck
✓ Easy to operate

Cons:

✗ Slow compared to similar models
✗ Some users reported issues with the blades clogging 

2. Husqvarna Z254

Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

Husqvarna takes the No. 2 spot on our list, too, with the Z254 zero-turn lawn mower. Like its lawn tractor cousin, the Z254 has a 54-inch cutting deck (the widest on our list) and special air induction technology. This zero-turn model is faster and more powerful, though, with a 26-horsepower engine and a max forward speed of 6.5 mph. 

Even among other zero-turn mowers, the Husqvarna Z254 stands out. It features a convenient park brake system that automatically activates and deactivates as you shift the steering levers. It also has 3-in-1 capabilities for disposing of grass clippings through mulching, bagging, or discharging (although mulching kit and bagger attachment are sold separately). 

With the Z254, Husqvarna combines high-quality construction, ease of use, and exclusive features with an affordable price tag. It’s perfect for large areas and yards with lots of obstacles to maneuver around. 

Specifications:

  • Power: 26 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 54 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 5 gallons
  • Max speed: 6.5 mph

Pros:

✓ Powerful, reliable engine
✓ Wide cutting deck
✓ Patent-pending park brake system
✓ Large fuel tank for long jobs

Cons:

✗ Slow compared to other zero-turn mowers

3. Husqvarna YTA24V48

Husqvarna YTA24V48 24V Fast Continuously Variable Transmission Pedal Tractor Mower, 48"/Twin

Yet another Husqvarna model makes the top tier of our list: the YTA24V48 lawn tractor. This mower has a lot in common with our top pick, but it’s a little smaller (so it takes up less storage space in the garage or shed) and in return, significantly faster. 

Rest assured, this riding mower has the same top-of-the-line Briggs & Stratton engine as other Husqvarna mowers. It also features a fast-starting auto transmission that requires less power to drive than similar models, using less gas. 

For more convenience, the YTA24V48 has an electric clutch and a spring-assisted deck-lift lever that makes raising or lowering the mower deck easier. It also has cruise control for mowing large lawns and a tight turn radius for maneuvering around obstacles. 

Specifications:

  • Power: 24 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 48 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 3 gallons
  • Max speed: 7.75 mph

Pros:

✓ Powerful, reliable engine
✓ Auto transmission
✓ Fast

Cons:

✗ More expensive than our top pick from Husqvarna
✗ Smaller cutting width than the other mowers already listed

4. Snapper 560Z zero turn lawn mower

Snapper 560Z 52-Inch 25HP Briggs & Stratton Commercial Engine Zero Turn Lawn Mower, 5901557

The Snapper 560Z zero-turn lawn mower is made for commercial-grade jobs. Its powerful Briggs & Stratton engine packs 25 horsepower, and its steel front axles and bumper deal with rough terrain smoothly. With a max speed of 9 mph, the 560Z is the fastest mower on our list, making it ideal for extra large properties of several acres.

Even though this mower can handle commercial-level jobs, its controls are easy enough for any homeowner to use. The adjustable deck-lift cutting height lever, fuel indicator, and other controls are simple and within convenient reach. 

Of course, you are going to pay extra for this mower that combines the power and durability of a commercial model with the convenience of a residential model. If you aren’t dealing with rugged terrain or a very large yard, a less expensive riding mower should meet your needs just fine. 

Specifications:

  • Power: 25 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 52 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 5.5 gallons
  • Max speed: 9 mph

Pros:

✓ Durable construction for rough terrain
✓ Powerful, reliable engine
✓ Fast

Cons:

✗ Expensive

5. Swisher Response ZTR2454BS

Swisher ZTR2454BS-CA Response Gen 2-24 HP/54 B&S ZTR Zero Turn Mower, 54", Black

If you’re looking for a premium zero-turn lawn mower for large, difficult jobs, the ZTR2454BS model from Swisher might be your best option. Its 54-inch mower deck, huge 8-gallon fuel tank, and 8 mph max speed in forward and reverse make it perfect for massive properties that usually take several hours to mow. 

Even if your property has a lot of obstacles (trees, gardens, etc.), the Swisher Response can handle it with ease. This model boasts impressive maneuverability for its size, with the fluid 360-degree turns expected of a high-quality zero-turn mower and a low center of gravity. 

As with the Snapper 560Z, expect to pay a lot more for a mower of this caliber than for other mowers on this list. And again, if you have a small- to medium-sized yard with easy terrain, there’s no need to splurge on something this expensive.

The ZTR2454BS is definitely worth the high price tag if you have a large area to mow, though, as it will make the process much faster and easier for you. 

Specifications:

  • Power: 24 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 54 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 8 gallons
  • Max speed: 8 mph

Pros:

✓ Powerful, reliable engine
✓ Wide cutting deck
✓ Fast
✓ Large fuel tank 

Cons:

✗ Expensive 

6. Simplicity 2691339 Conquest

Simplicity 2691339 Conquest Mower, Riding, Tractor, Orange

The 2691339 Conquest lawn tractor from Simplicity is big, powerful, fast — and expensive. Its commercial-grade V-twin engine by Briggs & Stratton packs 25 horsepower and features electronic fuel management.

Other key details: The 52-inch free floating deck moves with the contours of your lawn and has reinforcements on every side for durability. With a top speed of 7.2 miles per hour, the Conquest is one of the fastest lawn tractors on our list. 

Bonus points: A premium feature of the 2691339 model is its deluxe instrument panel that will probably remind users of driving a car. It includes a fuel gauge, tachometer (for measuring engine speed), maintenance reminders, and a “best cut” indicator.

The Conquest is compatible with several lawn tool attachments from Simplicity, so it can help with more landscaping tasks than just mowing. 

Now for the downside: The Conquest’s power and special features come at a hefty price. You can expect to pay more than $7,000 for this model.

If you have deep pockets and want to splurge, this is an excellent premium mower that will last for years. But if you have simple needs and a budget, you can get a reliable riding mower for less than half the price. 

Specifications:

  • Power: 25 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 52 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 3.6 gallons
  • Max speed: 7.2 mph

Pros:

✓ Powerful, reliable engine
✓ Durable construction
✓ Fast
✓ Deluxe controls

Cons:

✗ Expensive

7. Husqvarna YTH18542

Husqvarna YTH18542 42 in 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Riding Mower

Coming in at No. 7 on our list is the Husqvarna YTH18542 riding mower. Along with the Briggs & Stratton Intek Series engine, it also comes stock with a hydrostatic transmission, which engages with the use of foot-pedal operations. 

What this means: With the foot-pedal-operated transmission, you are able to change speed and direction without having to take your hands off the wheel, therefore providing safer and more secure handling. 

At 42 inches, the Husqvarna YTH18542 has one of the smaller-sized cutting decks on our list. The possible benefits of smaller cutting width, however, is that it could be better suited for smaller yards with narrower areas for mowing.

With a 16-inch tight turning radius, this riding mower offers more availability for use on average to above-average-sized lawns. 

With a price tag around $2,000, this riding mower is one of the most affordable on our list. Another advantage of this Husqvarna model is the reverse option. With a flick of a lever, the machine can be made to mow backward with ease, ensuring you get an even cut regardless of direction. 

Specification:

  • Power: 18.5 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 42 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 2.5 gallons
  • Max speed: 5.5 mph

Pros:

✓ Powerful engine
✓ Durable construction
✓ Deck Wash Port
✓ Headlights for night or early morning operation
✓ Simple, no-tool seat adjustment
✓ Lever-action reverse operation

Cons:

✗ Smaller deck size
✗ 2-year warranty does not cover all engine repair

8. Ariens Zoom 34

Ariens Zoom 34 - 19hp Kohler 6000 Series V-Twin 34" Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Ariens makes it to the list with the Ariens Zoom 34 riding mower. Featuring lap-bars instead of a steering wheel for easier maneuverability and maximum zero-turn efficiency, this riding lawn mower boasts a powerful KOHLER 19-horsepower 6000 series V-twin engine.

Offering a two-blade cutting system for maximum consistency, this machine can go up to 6 mph forward and 3 mph in reverse, giving it a fairly average speed rating among our other contenders.

Bonus points: The Zoom 34 features a simple, easy-to-use foot-operated deck lift lever option for raising and lowering the cutting deck height, depending on the area or thickness of your grass at any given moment. This can be especially helpful for small inclines or recessed areas of your property.

Specifications:

  • Power: 19 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 34 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 2 gallons
  • Max speed: 6 mph

Pros:

✓ Durable construction
✓ Deck sized to fit through standard gates
✓ Simple deck height adjustment
✓ Offered with a 3-year limited warranty

Cons:

✗ Smaller fuel capacity
✗ Fairly low power ranking

9. Ryobi RY48110

Ryobi 38" Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48110

The Ryobi RY48110, making its own statement as the only electric mower on our list, offers a more eco-friendly mowing option. This battery-powered riding mower boasts a 2-hour run time or up to 2 acres of land, on one charge.

Along with zero emissions, electric mowers are also lower maintenance, as there are no spark plugs, filters, or belts to worry about. With a max speed of 8 mph, the Ryobi RY48110 sits comfortably as one of the fastest on our list.

As a rear engine mower, this sleek design affords easier maneuverability and a much smaller overall machine for storing when not in use.

The 38-inch cutting width is fairly average for size, but what really stands out is the whopping 12-option deck adjustment setting. The deck height can be changed as needed, but it must be done manually.

As with all good things, however, there is bound to be some bad. Some reviewers have mentioned the mower quitting after two seasons and even instances of smoking and shorting out after extended use.

Specifications:

  • Power: Electric, 48 volts
  • Cutting width: 38 inches
  • Fuel capacity: N/A
  • Max speed: 8 mph

Pros:

✓ Compact size
✓ 12-position deck adjustment
✓ Low maintenance, no emissions
✓ Fast

Cons:

✗ Does not have comparable longevity to the gas mowers on our list
✗ Smaller window of run time compared to gas options

Buyers Guide

When you’re spending thousands of dollars on a new tool, you definitely need a good understanding of what you’re looking for.

In this buyers guide, we’ll cover the basic types of riding lawn mowers and explain the parameters we used to choose our top picks. These details can help you make an informed decision about which model is best suited for your specific needs. 

Types of riding lawn mowers

Riding lawn tractors

A riding lawn tractor is basically your standard riding lawn mower. You drive it using a steering wheel, and it turns similar to an automobile.

Many attachments are available for lawn tractors, including mulching and bagging kits, trailers, snow shovels, and others. Lawn tractors are usually the most stable on slopes. 

Zero-turn lawn mowers

Zero-turn mowers are more maneuverable than lawn tractors. Their wheels turn at sharp angles for 360-degree turning.

Zero-turn mowers are good for cutting grass close to landscape beds, fences, trees, and other landscape features.

Instead of a steering wheel, you control most zero-turn mowers using lap bars. Zero-turn mowers tend to be faster than lawn tractors.

Gas-powered vs. battery-powered

You may have noticed that almost all the riding lawn mowers on this list are gas-powered. There are battery-powered riding mowers on the market, too, but only one made our list. Remember, battery-powered mowers are limited to their battery’s run time.

That being said, battery-powered riding mowers have their benefits. They’re quieter, for one, and they’re much better for the environment than gas-powered mowers. They don’t need as much maintenance as gas mowers, and you won’t have to store fuel for them. 

If you think a battery-powered riding mower might be for you, your best choice is the Ryobi RY48110. It runs for up to two hours on one charge, has a 38-inch cutting width, and costs around $3,500. 

How to choose the best riding lawn mower for you

In our ranking, we used five factors to determine the best riding lawn mowers: power, cutting width, fuel capacity, max speed, and price. Now, we’ll explain what each of these measurements means practically and how you can use them to choose the best option for you. 

Power: The more power your mower’s engine has, the more difficult jobs it will be able to take on. So, if you will be mowing on hills or dealing with overgrown patches of grass and weeds, you’ll need a more powerful engine. On the other hand, if you have a flat, simple lawn, there’s really no need for you to pay more for the extra power. 

Cutting width: A mower’s cutting width is the area of grass you can cut in a single pass. The cutting width is part of what determines how long it takes to mow your lawn.

With a larger cutting deck size, you’ll finish faster, since you’ll cover more ground with each pass. Mowing will take longer with a smaller cutting width. However, mowers with a smaller deck size take up less storage space and can be easier to maneuver. 

Fuel capacity: The size of your mower’s fuel tank matters because it determines how long you can mow without stopping to refuel. If you have a small yard that doesn’t take too long to mow, you probably don’t need to worry too much about fuel capacity.

If you anticipate using your mower for several hours at a time, though, you’ll want to look for one with a large fuel tank so you don’t run the risk of it dying on you in the middle of a job. 

Max speed: Obviously, how fast your riding mower moves affects how much time you’ll spend mowing. You’ll finish faster mowing at 9 miles per hour than you would at 5 miles per hour.

Keep in mind that max forward speed is usually significantly faster than max reverse speed. For our purposes, we used max forward speed. 

Price: As you’ve seen from our rankings, riding lawn mowers vary in price. You can get them for under $2,000 or spend closer to $10,000 for premium models.

No matter what caliber of riding lawn mower you want, be prepared to spend at least $1,000. Beyond that, how much you spend depends on how much power you need, how big of a mower you want, and whether you want a lawn tractor or zero-turn mower.

If you’re on a budget and looking for more affordable options, you might consider going with a push lawn mower instead. 

FAQs About Riding Lawn Mowers

1. What is the best riding mower under $2,000?

The Husqvarna YTH18542 is the best budget riding mower, coming in just under $2,000. 

2. Which is better, Cub Cadet or Husqvarna?

Overall, Husqvarna makes better riding lawn mowers, as you can tell from the four Husqvarna entries in our top spots. 

3. Does a half-acre need a riding mower?

Typically, riding lawn mowers are for yards over half an acre, while push mowers are for lawns of half an acre or less. However, even if you have a smaller yard, you might not want to deal with the hassle of pushing around a heavy lawn mower. Whether or not you need a riding mower is ultimately up to you. 

Conclusion

With help from our suggestions and definitions, hopefully you’re more prepared to invest in a riding lawn mower than you were before.

While only you can decide which is the best lawn mower for your property, the mowers on this list represent the best options on the market. Any of them would serve you well and be worth the money spent. 

Main Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin is a writer and indoor plant enthusiast hailing from Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing her two cats around the house and trying to keep her houseplants alive.