Best Zero Turn Mower Reviews 2017

STOP, hammer time, this is not just another one of those zero turn mower reviews, this is the article that will cement your decision on which mower will have your grass just the way you like it.

 Welcome to our comprehensive and complete guide to the best zero turn mower reviews on the market. Below we will delve into the brand wars that have resulted in some bargain zero turn radius mower buys. By dividing the models up into their cutting deck sizes, we can more accurately compare and contrast the brands. Please note that we are only analysing residential/mid-range zero turn mowers in this article. We will start by jumping straight into the zero turn mower reviews. “But which cutting deck size do I need?” I hear you thinking. Well, this conundrum is addressed after the reviews (you can also skip to this section and then come back here).

30-inch Zero Turn Mower Reviews

ZERO TURN MOWERQUALITYPRICEOUR RATING
Husqvarna RZ3016B+$

Husqvarna RZ3016

Husqvarna have addressed the market demand for a smaller cutting deck for your smaller gates and stop-start mowing areas. This little beauty handles most neighborhood lawns with ease. And means that if your lawn is flat and you don’t have too much area to cover, the Husqvarna RZ3016 is the mower for you.

Dawning the popular 1 cylinder 16.5 HP Briggs & Stratton gas powered engine, this machine will reach a max speed of 6.5 mph moving forward. The rated productivity is 1.6 acres/hr.  Yet most impressive about these engines is that they are known for their reliability on the market.

The mower will arrive on your doorstep in a crate and should take less than an hour to unpack and set up. Most importantly, read the instruction manual carefully because Husqvarna have added multiple safety mechanisms to ensure that the machine is shipped safely. It will involve connecting up the battery to it’s correct position so that when you go to turn the engine one, it starts from the very first go.

If this is your first time using a zero turn radius mower, you will find the steering strange and a little sensitive to movement. Don’t worry, that is normal. You will just need some practise and an open space (for the safety of everything around you).

When we tested the Husqvarna RZ3016, there are some noticeably clever features. The stout caster assembly and large front tires are a great edition to a smaller mower like this, usually only seen on more expensive models. Refuelling was a breeze and oil change was relatively simple if you follow the instructions.

On the other hand, we have heard reports of some issues that other customers were having with the machine. This includes having to replace drive belts as well as uneven cuts on uneven ground. However, on analyzing many of the reviews online, it seems many customers have purchased the wrong size cutting deck for their mowing purposes. It’s important to remember for these smaller residential zero turn radius mowers that usage on slopes or longer grass will be putting them in a category they are not designed for in the first place.

The Husqvarna RZ3016 is a great entry level mower for those looking to half their mowing time in comparison to more traditional mowing machines. If you clean it regularly and service it according to the instruction manual, you should not see any issues. It will go the distance and turn your afternoon chore into a fun break from the couch!

ProsCons
 Easily fits through any gate

 Nice even cut

 Competitive price

 Not good on slopes

 Reported isolated incidents of mechanical issues

46-inch Zero Turn Mower Reviews

Overview

ZERO TURN MOWERQUALITYPRICEOUR RATING
Husqvarna Z246A$$
Poulan Pro P46ZXA-$$

Detailed

Bumping up another $300-$400 from the 30-inch category, we arrive at the 46-inch cutting decks. But before jumping into a detailed comparison of 46-inch zero turn mower reviews, lets take a moment to look at the comparison between the two main models:

 
Poulan Pro P46ZX

Husqvarna Z246
Engine
Engine manufacturerBriggs & StrattonBriggs & Stratton
Engine nameProfessional SeriesEndurance Series V-Twin
Power22 hp23 hp
Cylinders12
Engine coolingAirFan/Air
Air Filter typeTwo-stageDual element canister filter
Fuel TypeGasolineGasoline
Fuel tank volume (with reserve)3.5 gal.3.5 gal.
Fuel tank locationSide (Single)Side (Single)
Drive system
Transmission typeHydrostaticHydrostatic
Speed forward, min-max6 mph6.5 mph
Cutting deck
Cutting width46 inch46 inch
Deck thickness13 gauge13 gauge
Cutting height, min-max (approximate)1.5 - 4 inch1.5 - 4 inch
Cutting height steps66
Blade engagementElectric clutchElectric clutch
Blades22
Anti-scalp wheels33
Deck lifting systemManual, hand operatedManual, hand operated
Spindle/mandrel typeAluminium, ventedCast Aluminium
Deck Wash PortYesYes
Other
Seat type15" high back15" high back
Seat materialVinylVinyl
Seat back heightHighHigh
Hour meterYesDigital with pre-programmed service intervals
Cup holderYesYes
Dimensions
Tire size, front11x4-5"11 in x 5-6"
Weight430 lbs580 lbs
Productivity
Productivity2.4 acres/hr2.4 acres/hr
Warranty
Homeowner Warranty2 Year Limited Warranty (10 Year Reinforced Deck Warranty)3 Year Limited Warranty

Engines

As you can see it’s a close race in the 46-inch division with only subtle differences between the two competitors. However, one evident difference from the top is the engine, with the Husqvarna Z246 utilizing the 23 horse power Endurance Series V-Twin Briggs & Stratton engine over the 22 horse power Professional Series Briggs & Stratton used on the Poulan Pro P46ZX. A keen eye will then see the benefits this has for the final product in that it allows the Husqvarna Z246 to travel half a mile per hour faster (despite weighing a little more too). However, the Poulan Pro P46ZX is no push over as the productivity of both machines is a tie at 2.4 acres/hr.

Delivery & Set Up

Both arrived on a wooden pallet that was secured into a crate.  When you have the crate open (using your preferred plying tool), you will jump straight into assembly. This involves bolting the seat on and manoeuvring the mower off the crate. Don’t forget to connect the positive terminal of the battery as the Poulan Pro P46ZX manual forgets to mention this part. Once you have filled the petrol tank (use a good unleaded petrol) and checked the oil, you’re ready to roll.

Subtle Differences

We found that there are also some subtle differences in the included extras between the two models. The Husqvarna Z246 has some great front facing LED lights. This addition makes it perfect for mowing in low light situations or just at dusk. Furthermore, they included a heat shield a the lower back end of the mower. This will ensure that when you’re stationary on the mower, you are not burning the grass underneath you. These are also available for the Poulan Pro P46ZX, but do not come included with the stock model.

Recommendations

After some usage and testing, we would offer some recommendations for these 46-inch cutting deck zero turn mowers. To start with, ensure that you generally keep your RMP around the 80% mark when engaging the blades. That way you reduce the risk of throwing your drive belt off it’s rotation. Think about it this way, at the 46-inch mark the manufacturers try to cram as much as they can into a small space, so room for error is tight and it’s best not to push your mower to it’s limits regularly. Furthermore, try to keep within a slope range of no more than 10%, otherwise you’ll find yourself sliding down the hill or at the very least, losing grip on turns. This is because the weight to power ratio just cannot support steep inclines.

Issues

Like most zero turn mowers in this mid-range category, you will not find arm rests as an added extra. However, you can easily pick up a pair on Amazon at next to nothing and install them yourself. Also, keep in mind, you will not find a fuel gauge on these models. But we found that they all run an economical engine nonetheless, so refuelling is rare, even for mowing larger areas.

We should stress again, at the 46-inch mark, these are not a mowers for harsh slopes or wet grass. Be sure to investigate and know your mowing space thoroughly before purchasing one of these machines. Because you may just find yourself sliding down the hill if the gradient is over 10 degrees.

Winner

We will have to reward this category to the Husqvarna Z246 for it’s implementation of a great B&S engine as well as the added extras thrown in. However, it was a close race and both of these contenders are at the top of their game at very competitive prices.

ProsCons
 Extra horse power means faster mower

 Front LED lights included

 Minimal machanical issues reported

 No arm rests

 No fuel guage

54-inch Zero Turn Mower Reviews

Overview

ZERO TURN MOWERQUALITYPRICEOUR RATING
Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 XPB+$$$
Husqvarna Z254 (Briggs & Stratton Engine)A-$$
Poulan Pro P54ZXA+$$
Husqvarna Z254 (Kohler Engine)A$$$

Detailed

Again, we jump another $300-$400 in price for a larger 54-inch cutting deck and starting to really rev the engines! Lets take a looks at a comparison of the competitors in this category:

 
Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 XP

Husqvarna Z254 (Briggs & Stratton Engine)
Poulan Pro P54ZXHusqvarna Z254 (Kohler Engine)
Engine
Engine manufacturerBriggs & StrattonBriggs & StrattonBriggs & StrattonKohler
Engine nameCommercial Turf TwinEndurance Series V-TwinProfessional Series7000 Series
Power25 hp23 hp24 hp26 hp
Cylinders2222
Engine coolingAirFan/AirAirFan/Air
Air Filter typeIntegrated cyclonic air filterStandardDual elementStandard
Fuel TypeGasolineGasolineGasolineGasoline
Fuel tank volume (with reserve)2.7 gal.3.5 gal.3.5 gal.3.5 gal.
Fuel tank locationSide (Single)Side (Single)Side (Single)
Drive system
Transmission typeDual hydrostaticHydrostaticHydrostaticHydrostatic
Speed forward, min-max7 mph6.5 mph6 mph6.5 mph
Cutting deck
Cutting width54 inch54 inch54 inch54 inch
Deck thickness13 gauge12 gauge13 gauge12 gauge
Cutting height, min-max (approximate)1.5 - 3.75 inch1.5 - 4 inch1.5 - 4 inch1.5 - 4 inch
Cutting height steps8666
Blade engagementElectric clutchElectric clutchElectric clutchElectric clutch
Blades3333
Anti-scalp wheels3344
Deck lifting systemManual, hand operatedManual, hand operatedManual, hand operatedManual, hand operated
Spindle/mandrel typeAluminium, ventedCast AluminiumAluminium, ventedCast Aluminium
Deck Wash PortYesYesYesYes
Other
Seat type19" high back15" high back15" high back15" high back
Seat materialVinylVinylVinylVinyl
Seat back heightHighHighHighHigh
Hour meterYesDigital with pre-programmed service intervalsYesDigital with pre-programmed service intervals
Cup holderYesYesYesYes
Dimensions
Tire size, front13"11x5-6"11x4-5"11x5-6"
Weight829 lbs640 lbs538 lbs640 lbs
Productivity
Productivity3.2 acres/hr2.8 acres/hr2.8 acres/hr2.8 acres/hr
Warranty
Homeowner Warranty2 Year Limited Warranty (10 Year Reinforced Deck Warranty)3 Year Limited Warranty2 Year Limited Warranty (10 Year Reinforced Deck Warranty)3 Year Limited Warranty

Start Your Engines

Let’s start at the heart beat of the 54-inch cutting deck category, the engines. It’s a close battle here as all manufacturers have opted for powerful and enduring pieces of machinery. The standout here is the Troy-Bilt B&S Commercial Turf Twin 25 HP engine, where B&S specifically designed the engine for zero turn mowers. It gives an extra half a mile per hour speed increase to a effectively bump up the productivity of the Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 XP to a neat 3.2 acres/hr. Although, this does come with the accompanied price tag, which is perceptibly higher than it’s competitors in the category. Hear how B&S specifically catered to handling the debris thrown off the zero turn mowers via unique filtration systems:

Husqvarna on the other hand opted to give consumers a choice between the two rival engine manufacturers producing a model with Briggs & Stratton as well as one with Kohler. With the difference between the two machines being over $500, the extra 2 horse power combined with industry known reliability and longevity of a Kohler made engine could make it worth the extra spend.

That’s not to take away from the Husqvarna V-Twin 724 cc’s engine that is part of Briggs & Stratton’s Endurance Series. Compared to the Professional Series, these models have a larger oil capacity and the patented 5 step “Integrated Cyclonic Air Cleaner” which is Briggs & Stratton’s most advance air filtration technology yet.

Comfort and Usability

It’s not too hard to divide up the bunch by looking at how they address your comfort while using the mower. Because one 1 minute seating on the Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 XP and you will feel that it has a comfier seat than it’s rivals. This is a 19-inch very high back seat which can accommodate a taller and/or larger person easily. That is compared to the 15-inch seats on the other three models. Further to this, the Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 XP also comes with a fuel site gauge for easily assessing fuel levels (which is a little harder to do on the other models).

Smooth Cut

In terms of general usability, the Poulan Pro P54ZX is a easy riding and smooth cutting machine. It’s wheels are designed very ergonomically for manoeuvring around tight obstacles. Many users have reported about how impressed they are with the lack of having to “redo” areas that their old mowers would normally miss. If you are after a really nice looking lawn from a mower at a very competitive price, then the Poulan Pro P54ZX would be your choice.

Front Lights & Heat Protector

When you research zero turn mowers online, you will soon realise how rare front facing LED lights are on these machines. This is why it’s great to see Husqvarna add LED headlights as and included extra to both Z254 models. Perfect for mowing in low light situations or just at dusk. Also, you will also be thankful for the addition of a heat shield at the lower back end of the mower. This will ensure that when you’re stationary on the mower, you are not burning the grass underneath you.

Issues

Despite the larger and faster engine, the price tag of the Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 XP does place it in the upper echelon of the 54-inch category. This means that when there are reported spot occurrences of grass clogging in the rear wheels or drive belt displacements, then one does put the price tag in question. However, if you need a faster mower for regularly cut flat and dry grass, then look no further.

Customers of both the Husqvarna models raised some issues of defective parts both on arrival as well as within the warranty period. However, Amazon are very good with handling refunds and repairs if these issues occur. They may be rare, by be assured that you will not be left in the dark when a hiccup arises.

The Poulan Pro P54ZX comes out mostly unscathed in online user reports. Some have seen drive belts come loss while others have reported having to replace one or two missing or lost parts. On the whole however, most cases have reported glowing ratings for a well built and reliable machine.

Winner

A super tough race in the 54-inch category as it’s one of the most common residential size zero turn mowers on the market. However, weighing up the power and speed, the cut and the competitive pricing, we will award this category to the Poulan Pro P54ZX. It’s a true “value for money” machine. It may not be as fast as the Troy-Bilt or have the added extras of the Husqvarna models, but it does everything you need from a 54-inch mower and more.

ProsCons
 Efficient and low maintenance engine

 Competitive price

 Minimal machanical issues reported

 Not as fast as competitiors

 No additional LED headlights included

60-inch + Zero Turn Mower Reviews

ZERO TURN MOWERQUALITYPRICEOUR RATING
Husqvarna MZ61A$$$$

Husqvarna MZ61

Welcome to the semi pro leagues my mowing prodigy. With a 60-inch + cutting deck you’re moving into the big leagues now with a mower equipped for whatever residential yard you can throw at it. The Husqvarna MZ61 is a 61-inch, 27 horse power mower with a fabricated cutting deck that would impress the pants off any onlooking neighbor. There is a 3 blade cutting system sitting underneath which is supported by the industry leading B&S Endurance V-Twin engine.

A larger engine and more horse power mean a faster mower, and by faster we mean you are jumping by 2 MPH from the previous category to 8.5 MPH in this machine. You can also go longer on this mower as it has a 5 gallon gas tank as opposed to the 3.5 gallons in the previous category.

The extra large gas tank and motor mean the machine is a little heavier and gives it some more stability on steeper inclines. If your property has a steeper area to mow that includes obstacles too, than the Husqvarna MZ61 is recommended for you.

The unit arrived fairly intact and set up was a breeze. Make sure you check and tighten any loose nuts and bolts as well as connect the battery up correctly.

One interesting choice for this model however was that we could not find an washout hose input. Although these are present in the model category down from this, it’s a surprise not to see it here as it’s not easy to get under the deck and clean. Therefore, we would recommend picking up some anti-stick spray for the under side of the deck and spray it on before your first mow.

This is a very impressive borderline commercial/residential zero turn mower which at it’s current market price is a steal for any consumer looking to mow larger areas. It comes with a 3 year residential and 1 year commercial warranty which shows that Husqvarna stand behind their workmanship. If you have the space and you don’t want to waste any more time than necessary out there mowing, then grab a Husqvarna MZ61 today.

ProsCons
 Super fast and efficient cutting machine

 Takes on hills like a pro

 Competitive price for entry level commerical mower

 No washout hose input

 Not as even cut as the smaller cutting decks

Which Size Zero Turn Mower is Best for You?

Here is a simple size chart to help you understand:

Arce/sDeck SizeNote
<=142″
1-242, 46″This is optimal for a standard residential flat yard.
2+48, 50, 52, 54″If you have a little bigger than average yard or an estate size space to mow
2+60, 61?This is for commercial and large estate properties
2+72?Into the commercial space now, or if you have a massive property to mow

The Final Cut

The size of the cutting deck can often result in how good your grass will look after the cut is complete. A smaller deck is optimal for a really nice and even cut  as there are less blades focusing on a smaller area. As you move up in size, you will find the evenness of the cut is reduced.

Avoid The Slope

When considering the size of deck, it’s important to consider the slopes in your mowing area. Even on small slopes, the smaller cutting decks (IE ~30-inch mark) struggle to maintain their grip. This includes around the roots of trees and slight uphill mowing areas. You could even potentially tip the mower over if the angle is too much. Basically, the smaller zero mowers are top heavy compared to their larger deck counterparts. You will find that 54-inch and above is where you will feel more secure on inclines with your mower.

Measure It Out

It’s recommended that you grab the tape measure and head out into the garden to measure out the main obstacles that will lie in your way. This is important because if you pick up say a 42-inch cutting deck, you will need around another 6-inches for items like the discharge chute. Also, measure out the vehicle that you may be moving the mower around in as well. For example, most pick up trucks will fit up to a 46-inch mower comfortably. Anything bigger than that and you’re looking at a trailer.

Need For Speed

I don’t mean this type of need for speed:

What I’m referring to is what we spoke about earlier, where the general rule of thumb is the larger the cutting deck you choose, the better the engine will be and the faster the zero turn radius mower rides. A 46-50-inch deck will cut around 20% faster than a 42-inch deck. And a 52-54-inch deck will cut 30-40% quicker than that again. When you jump up into the 60-inch range, you could easily finish a 5 acre lawn in just over an hour. But remember like we mentioned earlier too, as you increase the speed, the level of the cut tends to decline. The means you may need to revisit certain areas of the lawn twice in the one mowing session.

What’s the Difference Between a Zero Turn Mower and a Tractor?

When zero turn mowers entered on the market in the 1950s, they were design to be the upgrade of the ride on tractor. However, they never really caught on until the late 1970s. They were faster, more nimble and could cover tight angles much better than the tractor. You will find that the difference in straight line speed is relatively similar between the two types of machines. However, the advantage the zero turn mower has over it’s counterpart is it’s fast ability to get around objects and obstacles in the mowing area. You will be able to handle the sharp corners and tree roots with ease, meaning you can leave the trimmer in the shed for other harder spots to reach.

Consumer reports tested this out with the own independent examination:

You will not find too much of a difference in modern components for either the tractor or the zero turn mower. Both are made from the best materials a manufacturer can find within the budget they have and if you have found a reliable brand in the tractor world, this reliability will definitely carry over into your zero turn mower.

Another major difference between these two types of machines is the transmission. Your zero turn mower will be equipped with two hydrostatic transmissions which are used for extra control over the mower. The standard tractor only has one, so just like on your tractor, you can carry around heavier loads, meaning less stops to empty the catcher.

How Do I Care For & Maintain My Zero Turn Mower?

Excellent question Waston! Here are five easy steps to keeping your mower in top nick:

  1. Correct Fuel – Putting the right type of fuel in your gas tank can be crucial to how long your mower will last before it needs a service. You should aim to put gasoline in the tank that contains an ethanol mix of 10% or less. Furthermore, if you foresee a long spell of your mower not being used, mix in some fuel stabilizer. This will stop the gasoline and water from separating and ensure the fuel maintains it’s integrity for when the season starts up again.
  2. Storage – Make sure that you store your zero turn mower in a dry and sheltered location. This will prevent the build up of moisture that eventually causes corrosion. It’s recommended that you dry your mower off after cleaning or a session of mowing too. A good idea would be picking up a low cost cover to help prevent moisture coming to rest on the machine while in storage.
  3. Tire Pressure – A tell tale sign that your tire pressure may be off it’s recommended levels is when your cuts start to lose their evenness. Therefore, topping up the pressure of your tires will ensure that your cut returns to a nice even level as well and ensuring the longevity of your machine.
  4. Keep it Clean – After each mowing session, it’s important to clean up and under the cutting deck. There will be a large build up of mulch and grass clippings. Luckily, some zero turn mowers are equipped with an insert for your hose to make the cleaning job much easier.
  5. Grease it Up – There are many parts of your mower where metals are rubbing together in order for it to function. It’s important that these areas are keep well greased to prevent extreme wearing. Refer to your owners manual as this will normally highlight the locations on the mower to apply the grease.

There you have it, we have attempted to cover the best zero turn mower reviews possible. Taking into consideration the top models and brands on the market at the most competitive prices. Once you know your deck size, it’s then just a matter of choosing the right make to fit your needs. Some will lean towards the cut, others will favor the speed and some just want both and are happy to pay for it. Good luck with your new zero turn mower and remember to stay safe and enjoy your freshly cut lawn.