5 Best Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers of 2021 [Reviews]

Man enjoying cutting his grass atop a zero turn riding lawn mower

Zero-turn lawn mowers make mowing a large yard much easier — and, by all accounts, a lot more fun. But they’re also a big investment, with price tags ranging in the thousands.

If you can’t decide which mower is worth investing in, we’re here to help with these top 5 picks for the best zero-turn lawn mowers on the market. 

To rank our top 5, we took into account engine power, speed, and price to find the zero-turn mowers that will give you the best bang for your buck. Whether you’re on a budget or shopping for a premium model, you’ll find options perfect for you on this list. 

Top 5 Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers – Reviews 

*Note: All prices listed are subject to change. 

1. Husqvarna Z254

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

With the Z254 zero-turn mower, Husqvarna lives up to its reputation as one of the most trusted lawn mower brands. This model features a 26-horsepower Kohler engine that starts and runs smoothly. Its speed maxes out at 6.5 miles per hour, which isn’t the most impressive for a zero-turn mower but is plenty to get through a typical lawn quickly. 

Husqvarna packed special features to go along with the top-quality engine, too:

  • The brand’s patented park brake activates or deactivates on its own when you shift the lap bars inward or outward. Their air induction technology in the mower deck ensures a clean cut.
  • The Z254 can dispose of grass clippings through mulching, bagging, or discharging, although you’ll have to purchase a mulching kit and bagger separately. 

The best part? You get these premium features for an affordable mid-range price. You won’t find a better zero-turn mower for residential use for a better price than the Husqvarna Z254. 

Specifications:

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

Pros:

✓ Powerful Kohler engine with hydrostatic transmission
✓ Special technologies from Husqvarna for improved performance

Cons:

✗ Slow for a zero-turn mower
✗ Mulcher and bagger sold separately 

2. Husqvarna MZ61

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

Husqvarna makes our top 5 again, this time with the commercial-grade MZ61 model. The Husqvarna MZ61 has a wide cutting deck and powerful Briggs & Stratton engine for large jobs.

Bonus points: The Husqvarna MZ61 has a comfortable high-back seat, armrests, and vibration dampeners. You should be able to work comfortably for hours with this mower.

Like other Husqvarna mowers, it also features a hydrostatic transmission for easier starting. 

Also like its cousins from Husqvarna, this mower can discharge, bag, or mulch grass clippings — but again, mulching and bagging attachments are sold separately. 

Specifications:

  • Power: 27 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 61 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 5 gallons
  • Max speed: 8.5 mph 

Pros:

✓ Reliable Briggs & Stratton engine with hydrostatic transmission
✓ Large cutting width
✓ Comfortable design

Cons:

✗ Expensive
✗ Mulcher and bagger sold separately 

3. Craftsman Z550

Craftsman 17ARFACQ091 50-Inch Hydrostatic Gas Zero Turn Mower with 24HP Kohler Twin Cylinder Engine, Liberty Red

The Z550 zero-turn mower from Craftsman combines comfort and durability.

Here are just a few highlights:

  • A dual hydrostatic transmission ensures a smooth and easy ride.
  • A high-back seat cushions you while you work long hours in the yard.
  • The steel frame is tough and resistant to rust.
  • Craftsman’s new frame design is sleek for improved maneuverability and easier storage. 

This mower features a 50-inch cutting deck, which may be smaller than other options on this list but should be large enough for any residential yard. Plus, the deck is versatile for different types of grass. You can adjust the cutting height between 1.25 and 3.75 inches. 

While the Z550 isn’t the largest or most powerful zero-turn mower available, it’s a great mid-range option for a great value. Along with quality Craftsman construction, it has a reliable 24 HP Kohler engine. 

Specifications:

  • Power: 24 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 50 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 3.5 gallons
  • Max speed: 7 mph

Pros:

✓ Reliable Kohler engine with hydrostatic transmission
✓ Durable steel construction

Cons:

✗ Small fuel tank
✗ Relatively small cutting width for a zero-turn

4. Husqvarna Z248F

Husqvarna Z248F 26HP 747cc Kohler Engine 48" FAB Z-Turn Mower #967844801

This model comes from the same Husqvarna Z200 series as our No. 1 top pick. As such, it features the same 26 HP Kohler V-twin engine and hydrostatic, easy-starting transmission. Both models have the same max speed of 6.5 miles per hour. 

The Z248F is a smaller model, though, with a 48-inch deck and 3.5-gallon tank. Homeowners with a small yard and limited storage space might want to opt for the Z248F over the Z254. 

One major downside of the Z248F is the price.

Specifications:

  • Power: 26 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 48 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 3.5 gallons
  • Max speed: 6.5 mph

Pros:

✓ Reliable Kohler engine with hydrostatic transmission
✓ Takes up less storage space

Cons:

✗ Small cutting width
✗ Small fuel tank
✗ Slow for a zero-turn mower 

5. Ariens APEX 60

Ariens 991151 Apex 60" 24 HP Kawasaki FR730 V Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower

Ariens earned a spot in the top 5 with the commercial-style APEX 60. This mower features durable steel construction and a 60-inch deck.

This zero-turn mower improves on other top-of-the-line Ariens models in several ways (for a price). For one, it has a 5-gallon fuel tank suited for long jobs. The APEX also moves faster at 8 miles per hour. 

Another big difference between the APEX and other Ariens mowers is the engine. The APEX features a Kawasaki V-twin engine. That isn’t necessarily better or worse than the Kohler engine featured in many similar mowers, but rather a matter of user preference. 

The APEX has features that make it easy to use, too. One is the simple, foot-operated deck lift system. Another is the self-adjusting belt technology. And don’t worry about comfort. The APEX has a padded high-back seat and armrests suited for long commercial jobs

Specifications:

  • Power: 24 horsepower
  • Cutting width: 60 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 5 gallons
  • Max speed: 8 mph

Pros:

✓ Reliable Kawasaki engine
✓ Durable construction
✓ Large cutting width

Cons:

✗ Expensive

Buyers Guide

If you’re looking into zero-turn lawn mowers for the first time, you might not be sure what exactly to look for. In this buyers guide, we’ll help you figure out if a zero-turn mower is right for you (as opposed to other riding mowers or push mowers).

We’ll also explain how to choose which of the best zero-turn mowers is actually best for your lawn. 

What is a zero-turn lawn mower?

Let’s start with the basics. What makes a zero-turn lawn mower different from standard riding mowers (also known as lawn tractors)?

The biggest advantage of a zero-turn lawn mower is maneuverability. Zero-turn mowers have wheels that turn at sharp angles to make turning the mower around much easier than with a lawn tractor.

With a zero-turn mower, mowing around obstacles like trees and landscaping takes less effort and less time. 

Zero-turn mowers also tend to be faster than lawn tractors. That means you’ll finish mowing your lawn in less time. The difference in mowing time can be significant for large areas. 

The downside of zero-turn mowers is that they don’t typically do well on hills. If you have inclines on your property, you might be better off with a different type of riding lawn mower

Which zero-turn mower is right for you?

The parameters we used to rank our top 5 are power, cutting width, fuel capacity, max speed, and price. All these factors affect how a mower works and, in turn, whether or not that particular mower will work well for you.

Now, we’ll go over how you can use this information to choose the best zero-turn lawn mower for your needs.

Power: A more powerful engine means a mower than can take on tougher jobs. Rough terrain, inclines, and wet or overgrown grass all take more power to handle. If your yard is difficult to mow, you might need to spend more money for more power in your mower. 

Cutting width: The cutting width, determined by the mower deck size, tells how much grass you can mow in one pass.

A mower with a larger cutting width will get the job done faster because it won’t need to take as many passes to cover the whole lawn. On the other hand, a smaller cutting width means a mower that’s easier to store and that can get into tighter spots. 

Fuel capacity: All the zero-turn mowers on our list are gas-powered, which means they can run only as long as they have gas in the tank.

If your mower has a large fuel capacity, you’ll be able to mow for a long time without refueling. If your mower has a small fuel capacity, though, you could potentially run out of gas in the middle of long jobs. 

Max speed: While zero-turn mowers are usually faster than lawn tractors as a rule, there is a lot of variety in the speeds of different zero-turn mowers. If you have a large yard with a lot of open space, you’ll probably want a mower with a higher max speed to cut down your mowing time. 

Price: 9 times out of 10, the larger and more powerful a mower is, the more you’re going to pay for it. You’ll have to consider your yard and decide what size and power level you need.

Maybe you think the extra money is worth the time a larger mower would save you, or maybe you’d rather go for a budget pick. Either way, be prepared to spend at least $2,000 on a zero-turn mower. If you don’t want to spend that much, consider a push mower instead. 

Battery-powered zero-turn lawn mowers

As we mentioned earlier, all the mowers in our top 5 are gas-powered. That isn’t the only option out there, though. Battery-powered zero-turn lawn mowers exist, and they’re a lot quieter and more eco-friendly than their gas-powered counterparts.

What’s more, battery-powered zero-turn mowers don’t need all the maintenance that comes with a gas engine. 

However, battery-powered mowers are limited by a battery’s run time. Most gas mowers are significantly more powerful, and they give you more bang for your buck, since battery-powered models tend to cost more for less size and power. 

If you have taken all this into consideration and decided a battery-powered mower is the right choice for you, we recommend the Ryobi RY48ZTR100.

This Ryobi zero-turn can mow up to 3 acres on one battery charge, and it has a 42-inch cutting width. It also costs about $500 more than the most expensive gas-powered mower on our list.

FAQ About Zero-Turn Mowers

1. Is a zero-turn mower worth the money?

Zero-turns are easier to maneuver and faster than lawn tractors. Most users find zero-turns a lot more entertaining to drive, too. If all that sounds worth a few extra hundred dollars to you, then yes. 

2. What is the most reliable brand of lawn mower?

Husqvarna is the best and most reliable brand for zero-turn lawn mowers. That’s how Husqvarna earned three spots in our top 10. 

3. What is the best zero-turn lawn mower?

The Husqvarna Z254 is the best for the price.

Conclusion

A zero-turn lawn mower can take cutting the grass from a tedious chore to a fun ride around the yard.

Zero-turn mowers aren’t only more fun, though. They also give you more maneuverability and speed for that high price tag.

If you have decided a zero-turn lawn mower is worth the extra money for you, any of our 5 top picks would be an excellent choice.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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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.