September 1

Which are the Best Zero Turn Mowers?

Last Updated on June 5, 2023

With a price tag between $3,000 and $6,000, purchasing a zero turn mower is a big investment for many. When you pay that much money, you want a product that is going to perform well and last long. That leaves the question – which are the best zero turn mowers? 

The best zero turn mower largely depends on the application and your preferences. However, let’s look at them by category and figure out which two people typically like the most.

Best Residential Mowers

  1. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1
  2. Husqvarna Z248F

For lawns of one half-acre or more, a zero turn mower designed for residential use is the most efficient means of cutting the lawn.

Residential zero turn mowers tend to have lower horsepower ranges (10 hp to 20 hp) and smaller cutting decks (42 inches to 48 inches) compared to commercial zero turn mowers.

The first one on this list is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1—a 42-inch zero-turn mower. The 42 inches is a measurement of the mower’s cutting deck, the underpart of the machine where the blades perform the cutting. The size of the cutting deck combined with the mower’s horsepower rating will determine how fast the mower can cut. 

The Ultima ZT1 is powered by a 22-hp, Kohler 7000 series twin-cylinder engine for a maximum forward speed of 7.5 mph. A 3.5-gallon gas tank provides enough fuel to mow roughly five acres depending on terrain and the mower’s horsepower.

The mower features a hydrostatic transmission, which is the preferred transmission type by most end-users due to its performance characteristics. Tires on this mower are engineered to protect turf while pivoting, and its 20-inch rear wheels and 11-inch front wheels provide sufficient traction for gentle hills.

The fully adjustable racing-style seat on the ZT1 features a rubberized cockpit floor to reduce vibrations, an adjustable lap bar control to help with precision when maneuvering, and dual LED headlights to help cut in low-light conditions.

Attachments are sold separately, which can save you money if you need just the base machine. On the other hand, this is more costly if you need to purchase them. The biggest downside is probably the lack of a gas gauge.

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Another great candidate in the residential zero turn mower category is the Husqvarna Z248F. The “48” in the mower’s nomenclature denotes a 48-inch cutting deck, composed of 10-gauge steel for greater durability. Cutting heights vary from 1.5 inches to 4 inches.

The mower’s four-cycle, 21.5-hp Kohler engine provides a lot of power for a fast cut, while a front guard and bumper help avoid damage to the mower if given too much power. Variable speeds will help prevent that also. 

The price for all that power is an engine that runs louder than many competitive zero-turn mowers. And a high-back seat provides upper back support for longer mows. 

Best residential mowers infographic

Best Commercial Mowers

  1. Ariens Ikon XD-52
  2. Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic

Commercial mowers tend to have larger cutting decks, along with higher horsepower for cutting faster and slicing through thicker plants. Greater horsepower helps with traversing steeper grades too. Their tires are designed for rougher terrains, and larger gas tanks means longer mows. 

The two mowers identified as the best for commercial usage are the Ariens Ikon XD-52 and the Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic. 

The Ariens Ikon XD-52 features a separately mounted plush high-back seat, plus separately mounted and padded armrests that reduce vibrations and promote more usage and productivity. Again, the “52” in the mower’s nomenclature denotes a 52-inch cutting deck, which is vented for optimal airflow, and prevents grass from flattening. And it provides a consistent cut.

The mower’s 23-hp Kawasaki V-twin engine is configured for easy startup and is composed of cast-iron cylinder liners for greater durability. Maximum speed is 7.0 mph. Thirteen cutting heights (ranging from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches) allows operators to dial in to their preference.

Most commercial mowers come equipped with a hydrostatic transmission and the Ariens Ikon XD-52 is no exception. Although the mower is on the more expensive side, accessories such as a mulch/bagging kit, are sold separately.  And, a lack of headlights limits working hours and conditions. 

Husqvarna makes a second appearance on this list with the Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic. The mower advertises its hydrostatic transmission right in the name. 

The mower also contains more horsepower than any mower on this list—26 hp, which is more than enough power for large yards or dense, wild growth areas. The Kohler engine provides a maximum speed of 6.5 mph. 

The mower’s cutting deck width of 54 inches positions it as one of the smaller zero turn mowers designed for commercial applications. And, Husqvarna’s air induction system, which extracts air from the bottom and the top, helps keep grass upright. The result in a cleaner cut. Since the cutting deck is composed of steel, it brings a top-finish quality. Six cutting positions (from 1.5 inches to 4.0 inches) allows for a variety of outcomes while mowing.

The Z254 is also easy to operate, including a single-lever deck height adjustment, and it comes with a “ready-start” feature for fast starting. 

Cons include the absence of a gas gauge and the seat isn’t adjustable. 

Best commercial mowers infographic

Best Gas Mowers

  1. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT2 V-Twin
  2. John Deere Z375R 

Gas is the traditional power source for zero turn mowers, and they tend to offer higher performance characteristics than electric-powered ones. For that reason, many commercial units are gas powered. 

Cub Cadet makes its second appearance on this list with the Ultima ZT2 V-Twin. With a cutting deck of 60 inches, the Ultima ZT2 V-Twin is one of the largest zero turn mowers on the market. 

It’s a premium mower that features a 23-hp Kawasaki FR691V twin-cylinder OHV (overhead valve) engine. Such an engine provides the commercial-grade power needed to meet tough yard demands. The mower’s dual hydrostatic transmissions allow for fast ground speeds (7.5 mph forward and 3.5 mph reverse) speeds. Speed can be reduced, so the mower can focus its engine power on providing traction for steep grades and rough terrain, or so the operator can better control the mower.

A three-gallon fuel tank allows for long working hours in between fill ups, so you can mow yards up to five acres in size without stopping. And because you can use it for so many hours non-stop, the mower comes equipped with a cup holder and LED headlights for early morning or evening work.

The John Deere Z375R is an excellent mower that is championed as being one of the best mowers for traversing uneven ground, steep grades, and rough terrain. The tread on the mower’s air-filled, pneumatic tires are deep, which aids in the mower’s ability to do so.  

The 54-inch adjustable cutting deck is composed of 10-gauge steel, commercial grade reinforcements, and uses three powerful cutting blades. Its twin-cylinder, 25-hp engine allows for forward speeds of up to 7.0 mph and reverse speeds up to 3.5 mph. This machine is also capable of mowing in the reverse.

Mowing height can be adjusted in quarter-inch increments for the perfect lawn measurement. However, due to its smaller gas tank (2.1 gallons), the mower needs to be refueled regularly. 

When you complete mowing and need to complete some mulching, you can flip a lever, and the mower becomes a mulcher. 

Comfort features include a padded and adjustable, 15-inch seat back or an optional padded and adjustable 18-inch seat back. Also included are padded armrests, a three-way adjustable, rubber foot platform, and a cup holder.

Best gas mowers infographic

Best Electric Mowers

  1. Ryobi 42-inch 100 AH
  2. EGO Power+ Z6

Electric zero turn mowers are a great option for regular non-heavy duty use on smaller properties (below three acres). They simply lack the power requirements to cut thick brush or wild growth or the power (and tires) to traverse rough terrain. Plus, their power is limited by battery storage. For these reasons, a lot of electric mowers are marketed for residential use.

However, electric mowers require less maintenance—no gas, filters, belts, or spark plugs. They’re better for the environment, and you don’t need to store or smell gasoline.

The Ryobi 42-inch 100 AH is capable of cutting up to three acres on a single 100 AH charge, however, the manufacturer recommends using it on properties up to two acres. The mower’s dual engines—one engine for each driving wheel—allow for forward speeds of up to 7.0 mph and reverse speeds of up to 4.0 mph. 

A separate set of dual engines operate the two blades—one for each blade. By having separate engines for each blade and wheel, power requirements from the one won’t interfere with power requirements for the other, so you will always have sufficient power to cut and travel.

The mower’s 75 amp-hour battery can last up to 2.5 hours of constant mowing. Recharge time takes approximately 10 hours. Any work that remains incomplete when the battery needs to be recharged will need to be completed in the evening or the following day. A digital meter tracks battery levels and hours of use. Recharge the battery by plugging the unit into a standard 120-volt outlet.

An onboard control panel allows the user to engage the cutting blades, operate the headlights, check the battery level, and even charge a phone or other device with the mower’s built-in USB charging port. 

The cutting deck is composed of 12-gauge steel and the two adjustable cutting blades allow for a shorter or longer cut. There are 12 cutting height positions that range from 1.5 to 4.5 inches.

The machine is also capable of mulching, however, the mulching equipment is sold separately. 

The second zero turn mower in the electric category is the EGO Power+ Z6. It’s the fastest-moving zero turn mower on this list with a top forward speed of 8.0 mph. It achieves this speed using six of the company’s proprietary 56-volt arc-lithium batteries, delivering power equivalent to a gas-powered unit with a 22-hp engine. Each battery can be charged within an hour. When fully charged, the mower can deliver a cutting time of about two hours and mow approximately two acres. 

The mower delivers three speed settings, so you can set it for the application at hand:

  • “Sport” allows the machine to reach its top speed of 8.0 mph for faster travel to a destination.
  • “Standard” provides a top speed of 7.0 mph for quickly mowing long stretches (Most performance mowers top out at 7.0 mph).
  • “Control” slows the mower’s speed to 3.0 mph, so the end-user can focus on precision work or when traversing steeper grades or rougher terrain.

The cutting deck is 42 inches and there are 10 cutting height positions from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches. 

A high-back seat with adjustable lumbar support, padded armrests, and hydraulic suspension improve comfort and productivity. A cupholder, USB charging port, and Bluetooth capability enhances the mowing experience. 

Best electric mowers infographic

Best Value Mowers

  1. American-Shade 36-inch
  2. Toro TimeCutter 42-inch 

Sometimes, cheap and easy is the way to go, so here are the two best zero turn mowers that will save you some money.

American-Shade is an American company who produces one zero turn mower. It has a 36-inch cutting deck—by far the smallest on this list.

The unit is constructed of UV and impact-resistant acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), with a high strength and light-weight aluminum and powder-coated frame.

A 36-inch canopy will provide shade and protection from the rain during operation, which isn’t an option on many zero turn mowers. However, removing the canopy is not an easy task if you ever choose to remove it. The canopy can be sold as an aftermarket item. It can also be fastened to any mower or tractor equipped with a roll over protection structure (ROPS) that is square or rectangular in shape and no more than 4.5 inches thick. 

The Toro TimeCutter 42-inch zero turn mower is a reliable, low-power mower. The unit’s Kawasaki V-twin engine delivers just 18 hp, but it’s still capable of cutting grass at speeds of up to 7.0 mph. The mower provides several “Smart Speed” settings to redirect engine power for different uses and a most efficient cut, including:

  • “Mow” mode is focused on speed, topping out at 7.0 mph. 
  • “Tow” mode focuses on wheel torque and provides a top speed of 5.5 mph. 
  • “Trim” mode directs power to the cutting deck for better cutting performance by reducing the top speed to 4.0 mph.

Although the Toro TimeCutter is cost-effective, it’s not without comfort features, such as a cupholder, an under-seat storage cubby, tire fenders that protect from mud spray, and shock-reducing dampers that help keep the steering bars steady when the mower hits bumps.

Best value mowers infographic

Which is the best zero turn mower?

Again, the answer to this question depends on your preferences. Consider the size of your yard, whether you’re looking for a faster completion rate, or a slower more articulate cut. Does a gasoline mower suit your fancy or is something electric preferred? Don’t forget to think about your budget too. Some mowers are more expensive than others. Check out all your options then make your pick.
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