Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2023

Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2023

Best-Selling & Top-Rated Riding Lawn Mowers

Dale, the Lawn Mower Expert
By 
Lawn Mower Expert

For the best riding mowers, look no further! After spending more than 30 years in the small engine and power equipment industry, Iím sharing my picks for the best lawn tractors, garden tractors, and more.  

If youíre ready to switch to a riding mower, spend some time reading through each of our categories, selections, and criteria for picking the best in its class. Don't forget to click on the mowers to view the product page filled with more features, specs, reviews, and other great resources. 


The Best Riding Lawn Mowers 


Best Riding Lawn MowerBest Lawn TractorBest Garden TractorBest Riding Mower for Small YardsBest Riding Mower for Hills

Husqvarna TS 354XD

Husqvarna TS 354XD 


Cub Cadet XT1

Cub Cadet XT1 ST54


Husqvarna TS 354XD

Husqvarna TS 354XD 


Cub Cadet CC30H

Cub Cadet CC30H


Husqvarna TS 354XD

Husqvarna TS 354XD 





How We Picked the Best Riding Mowers 

When recommending riding lawn mowers, we take five features into account. 


Power

Power is a crucial component of how I evaluate all mowers, including riders. The amount of horsepower the mower produces translates directly to how effectively it can cut grass of various lengths. You want a riding mower with the power to get through that overgrown lawn you havenít mowed in three weeks due to heavy rain or being on vacation. Many manufacturers also provide engine displacement in CCs. The higher an engineís CC, the more power it has the potential to create. Thatís why, all things being equal, weíll typically recommend riding mowers with both a higher horsepower and CC engine.


Durability

Durability impacts how resistant your riding mower is to threats like rust, dents, and damage from yard debris. One key component is whether the mower has a fabricated (welded) deck or stamped deck. Fabricated decks are more durable because they contain several pieces of welded steel, while stamped decks are made from a single piece. The type of transmission also impacts durability. For example, hydrostatic transmission systems require less effort and maintenance than manual transmission systems. Anything that helps your mower last longer is a huge plus.


Usability

Great riding mowers are not only powerful and durable, but also easy to use (and fun to ride). We look at comfort features like high seats and ergonomic controls in addition to how smoothly the mower rides, particularly on hills and tough terrain.   


Versatility

Mower versatility poses the question: to what extent is this riding mower just a mower? We look primarily at how the mower handles grass clippings and the ease of switching between bagging, mulching, and discharge. We also consider the mower's ability to handle attachments like plows, tillers, and aerators. 


Overall Value

We prioritize performance over price, so you wonít necessarily find the cheapest mowers on our list. That's why, instead of evaluating a mower on price alone, we look at what you're getting for the price to arrive at an overall value rating.




Best Riding Lawn Mower: Husqvarna TS 354XD 

Husqvarna TS 354XD 

The Husqvarna TS 354XD takes the crown for best overall riding mower. Its 24 horsepower Kawasaki V-Twin engine lets you do more than just mow. Whether itís pulling a garden cart, a lawn aerator or dethatcher in the summer or adding on a snow plow in the winter, this tractor has the power and the toughness to handle it.


I love the electric locking rear differential, which keeps both rear tires moving together for increased sturdiness and traction on hills, rough terrain, and wet surfaces. Its four anti-scalp wheels prevent it from digging into the soil on uneven terrain.


The Tuff Torq K66 hydrostatic transmission and 16-inch turning radius makes driving and turning this beast a cinch, even in tight yards. A 54-inch, 10-gauge steel welded deck gets the job done faster and keeps you confident that it will last for years to come. Besides a host of power and durability features, the mowerís comfort is unsurpassed with a roomy cockpit, oversized steering wheel, and 21-inch-high back seat with armrests. If youíre looking for an all-around lawn maintenance superstar, then youíll have no regrets about choosing the Husqvarna TS 354XD. 


SpecDetailsRating
Power24 horsepower/26cc Kawasaki V-Twin engine ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability10-gauge welded steel design; Brushguard protects engine; 4 anti-scalp wheels☆☆☆☆☆
UsabilityHydrostatic Transmission for smoother ride; Electric locking rear differential maintains stability; Roomy cockpit; Oversized steering wheel; 21-inch-high back seat with armrests☆☆☆☆☆
VersatilityBag, mulch, or rear-discharge capability; Able to handle attachments like plows, tillers, etc.☆☆☆☆☆
Overall ValueThe higher price range is on par with the power and features youíre getting.  ☆☆☆☆☆


Who It's For:

  • Homeowners with multiple lawncare needs (aerating, dethatching, tilling, etc.)
  • Uneven or hilly terrain


Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners with mostly flat lawns who just need a basic mower


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Best Lawn Tractor: Cub Cadet XT1 ST54Cub Cadet XT1

The Cub Cadet XT1 ST54 lawn tractor will keep your lawn tidy for years to come with its durable design and strong performance. Powered by a 24-horsepower Kohler engine and controlled via hydrostatic transmission, the XT1 puts serious cutting strength into your hands without the need to manually shift gears.


What I most like about the XT1, though, is its rugged, 11-gauge fabricated steel 54-inch mower deck and convenient electric blade engagement, which preserves the beltís life and integrity. Not only is it rust resistant, but it can handle a bit of abuse, which is something you want when investing in a lawn tractor. Finally, the XT1 keeps your comfort top-of-mind with a 15" high back seat and a steering wheel thatís super easy on your hands.


In general, if you're opting for a lawn tractor, you're looking for the convenience of a riding mower without the bells and whistles of a garden tractor or zero turn unit. A lawn tractor like the ST54 will easily mow a flat lawn and even handle some light towing if needed. As far as lawn tractors go, you canít beat its value..


SpecsDetailsRating
Power24HP/725cc Kohler 7000 Series V-Twin 4-Cycle Engine  ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability11-gauge welded steel deck with anti-corrosion coating; electric blade engagement  ☆☆☆☆☆
UsabilityHydrostatic Transmission for smoother ride; Comfort grip steering; 15" high back seat; Bluetooth capability  ☆☆☆☆☆
VersatilityBag, mulch, or rear-discharge capability; Able to handle light towing  ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall ValueWell worth the money for medium-sized yards and properties. Owners of smaller yards should look elsewhere.☆☆☆☆☆


Who It's For:

  • Medium-size to large lawns
  • Those who want light towing ability from their mower
  • Those looking for the convenience of a riding mower without a big price tag.


Who It's Not For:

  • Lawns with multiple obstacles to navigate around
  • Narrow yard entrances or corridors
  • Uneven or hilly terrain


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Best Garden Tractor: Husqvarna TS 354XDHusqvarna TS 354XD 

If youíre considering a garden tractor instead of a lawn tractor, it means youíre looking for something that will do more than just cut grass. You need the power to till your garden, haul material, plow your way out of a pile of snow, and more. The Husqvarna TS 354XD gets it done with its 24 horsepower Kawasaki V-Twin engine. Dual draglinks and a cast-iron front axle add stability while the 54-inch welded steel ClearCutô deck means I can bang it up a bit without turning it into scrap metal. Its four anti-scalp wheels prevent it from digging into the soil on uneven terrain. For a multipurpose garden tractor that you can count on for years to come, choose the Husqvarna TS 354XD.   


SpecsDetailsRating
Power24 horsepower/26cc Kawasaki V-Twin engine ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability10-gauge welded steel design; Brushguard protects engine; 4 anti-scalp wheels☆☆☆☆☆
UsabilityHydrostatic Transmission for smoother ride; Electric locking rear differential maintains stability on hills and tough terrain; Roomy cockpit; Oversized steering wheel; 21-inch-high back seat with armrests☆☆☆☆☆
VersatilityBag, mulch, or rear-discharge capability; Able to handle attachments like plows, tillers, etc.☆☆☆☆☆
Overall ValueThe higher price range is on par with the power and features youíre getting.  ☆☆☆☆☆


Who It's For:

  • Homeowners with multiple lawncare needs (aerating, dethatching, tilling, etc.)
  • Uneven or hilly terrain


Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners with mostly flat lawns who just need a basic mower


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Best Riding Mower for Small Yards: Cub Cadet CC30HCub Cadet CC30H

If you have a small yard with several obstacles but donít want a walk behind mower, I recommend the Cub Cadet CC30H for its versatility and smaller footprint. This rear engine riding mower has a 30-inch deck that lets it pass easily through narrow gates, and it can mow in reverse when you need to get out of a tight spot. 


The engine is mounted beneath the seat to save space, and the hydrostatic transmission provides easy speed control and an 18-inch turning radius. Despite its small frame, the CC30H packs in multiple features and a durable, 14 gauge stamped steel design. Its 3-in-1 mower blade can bag, mulch or discharge grass clippings, so you have the flexibility to switch between each based on your preference. Overall, the Cub Cadet CC30H can go places larger riders can't, making it perfect for yards smaller than 1/2 acre.


SpecsDetailsRating
Power10.5HP/344cc Briggs & Strattonģ 4-Cycle Engine    ☆☆☆☆
Durability14-gauge stamped steel deck☆☆☆☆
UsabilityHydrostatic Transmission for smoother ride; Ergonomic comfort seat; Manual adjustment; Anti-vibration system provides smooth ride; Electric start  ☆☆☆☆☆
VersatilitySmaller, 30-inch deck goes where other riders canít; Mows in reverse; Can bag, mulch or discharge grass clippings☆☆☆☆☆
Overall ValueA solid mower at an attractive pricepoint perfect for the average suburban homeowner with a smaller yard. ☆☆☆☆☆


Who It's For:

  • Small properties (less than 1/2 acres of grass)
  • Narrow yard entrances or corridors


Who It's Not For:

  • Large, open yards
  • Hilly & rough terrain


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Best Riding Mower for Hills: Husqvarna TS 354XDHusqvarna TS 354XD

By now, youíve probably noticed that the Husqvarna TS 354XD is a favorite of mine. Not only have I ranked it as the best garden tractor and best overall riding mower, but itís also the best for hills and steep banks. Its electric locking rear differential takes center stage here, allowing the mower to perform confidently on mixed elevations, plus you donít have to worry about traction. Plus, its four anti-scalp wheels will prevent it from ripping up your lawn on uneven terrain.


The Tuff Torque hydrostatic transmission makes for an easier drive up a steep bank. Finally, I love the arm rests, as they give me more stability when Iím mowing uphill. Itís hard to find a riding mower that can handle tough hills. Go with the Husqvarna TS 354XD, and donít look back. 


SpecsDetailsRating
Power24 horsepower/26cc Kawasaki V-Twin engine ☆☆☆☆☆
Durability10-gauge welded steel design; Brushguard protects engine; 4 anti-scalp wheels☆☆☆☆☆
UsabilityHydrostatic Transmission for smoother ride; Electric locking rear differential maintains stability on hills and tough terrain; Roomy cockpit; Oversized steering wheel; 21-inch-high back seat with armrests☆☆☆☆☆
VersatilityBag, mulch, or rear-discharge capability; Able to handle attachments like plows, tillers, etc.☆☆☆☆☆
Overall ValueThe higher price range is on par with the power and features youíre getting.  ☆☆☆☆☆


Who It's For:

  • Homeowners with multiple lawncare needs (aerating, dethatching, tilling, etc.)
  • Uneven or hilly terrain


Who It's Not For:

  • Homeowners with mostly flat lawns who just need a basic mower


SHOP NOW




Riding Mower FAQs 

Is a Riding Lawn Mower Right for Me? 

Riding lawn mowers are perfect for medium and large lawns that are more than 1/2 acres. Theyíre also great for people with smaller yards who have limited mobility. Farm and ranch owners, along with professional lawn contractors find them to be significant timesavers when mowing large properties.


Finally, riding mowers are fantastic, depending on the type, if youíre looking for a machine that can not only cut grass, but also handle lawn attachments like tillers and snowplows. Learn more in our riding mower buyerís guide. 


One limitation of riding mowers is their large turn radius, which can make mowing in tight spots difficult. For a zero-turn radius and higher ground speeds that will make mowing easier than ever, check out our best zero-turn mowers.


When is the Best Time to Buy a Lawn Mower? 

Getting a head start on the spring season is always a good idea when shopping for lawn mowers. From February until April, youíll get the widest selection of the latest and greatest mower models available. Read our guide on the best time to buy a mower for more information. 


What are the Best Lawn Mower Brands? 

When it comes to walk-behind lawn mowers, our customers tend to like Husqvarna, Honda, Toro, and Cub Cadet, which are all highly respected in the industry. You can view and compare all the lawn mower brands we carry on our brand page. 


Who Makes the Best Lawn Mower Engine?

Briggs & Stratton, Kawasaki, and Kohler engines are all high-quality and chosen for different reasons by different lawn mower manufacturers. Each manufacturer selects the engine that will maximize its mower's performance. As a result, there is no need for you to worry about the "best" engine brand when choosing a lawn mower, since there is a team of engineers who already do that for you.




About Dale 

Dale has been involved with gasoline powered engines, especially small engines, since he bolted the first one onto his Schwinn bike at 12 years old. After high school, he spent 19 years in the automotive parts industry, working for retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.

In 1994, Dale entered the small engine and power equipment industry, offering product and technical assistance to power equipment dealers and their customers. Since 2016, he has been a full-time sales and product expert at Power Equipment Direct, where he largely focuses on helping customers select the best lawn and garden equipment for their needs. 

In his off time, Dale enjoys working on his own cars and power equipment. He is a go-to resource for friends, family, and coworkers who need a hand diagnosing or repairing their broken lawn mowers or string trimmers. When not around engines, he is a drummer in a local Chicago-area band. Hockey dominates his TV time during the NHL season, and he enjoys relaxing on his pontoon boat during the summer months.

Dale, the Lawn Mower Expert
By 
Lawn Mower Expert
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