Best Zero Turn Mowers

Best Zero Turn Mowers

First introduced back in the 1960s, zero turn mowers are riding mowers that are capable of making “z-turns”. In other words, these convenient machines can turn a full, zero-radius circle. They are a particularly great choice for mowing large lawns, since they cut more grass in less time, produce an even cut, provide more comfort, and are significantly faster than other types of mowers.

If you’re looking to buy one of these mowers, you’re probably overwhelmed by the sheer number of brands and models available on the market. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Our short but informative zero turn mower reviews are here to help you find the right model for your needs. Make sure to check out the buying guide at the end of the article as well, as it can help you learn which features to look for when shopping for the best zero turn mower.

Reviews of the Best Zero Turn Mowers

Best Budget Zero Turn Mower – Mustang by Troy-Bilt

Mustang by Troy-Bilt

Features:

  • Snug high-back seat with ample legroom & dual-suspension springs
  • Plenty of power provided by the 452cc in-house engine
  • Ultimate maneuverability – operator-controlled mow-in-reverse feature
  • 34” wide cutting deck for maximum efficiency

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Whoever knows a thing or two about gardening tools knows about Troy-Bilt. This company has been in the game for more than 70 years – its engineers undoubtedly know how to make reliable, high-quality machines. Here we have one of their best budget-oriented zero turn mowers – the Mustang.

For the price it comes at, this zero turn mower is a pretty solid machine. It delivers decent results and comes equipped with features that turn it into a pretty good choice for everyday residential use. A lot of people who own the Mustang agree that it offers a surprising amount of power for such a small garden implement.

Durability

One of the first things to notice about this zero turn mower is its durable construction. The Troy-Bilt Mustang is equipped with a 13-gauge steel cutting deck, high rear wheels, and a reinforced heavy-duty frame.

It’s obvious that the machine was designed to provide its users with durability and reliability, even though it’s significantly smaller than many other zero turn mowers on our list.

Compact yet Powerful Construction

For a zero turn mower of this size, the Troy-Bilt Mustang is quite potent. At its heart is a 452cc in-house motor whose maximum speed stands at 7 miles per hour. Those looking for models with hydrostatic transmissions will be pleased to know that the Mustang comes with one – the machine has enough power to deal with large areas of rough grass.

And once we combine these characteristics with the unit’s 2-gallon fuel tank, heavy-duty axles, two sharp blades, and the 34-inch cutting width, we get what is easily the best zero turn mower for those on a budget.


Best Zero Turn Mower Under $3000 – Husqvarna Z142

Husqvarna Z142

Features:

  • Superior cut provided by the air induction mowing technology (AIMT)
  • Reinforced steel-fabricated deck for maximum durability
  • Worry-free zero-turn transmission allows operation in various cutting conditions
  • Max speed of 6.5 mph and reliable startups provided by the 17 hp Kohler engine

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In this roundup, we’ll be analyzing quite a few Husqvarna-made zero turn mowers, and this is the first one of them. As you can see from above, the main selling point of this particular model is that it can be purchased for less than $3000, even though it’s made by one of the industry’s top brands.

Performance

Compact and designed for residential use, this Husqvarna zero turn mower still leaves a uniform, smooth cut. It is also very maneuverable and user-friendly, but that’s something we’ve totally expected from a zero turn mower made by such a reputable brand.

Another great thing about Husqvarna Z142 is its engine. Equipped with a Kohler 17hp 4-cycle engine, this zero turn mower provides its user with a trouble-free ride even under an intense load. In combination with exceptional fuel efficiency and genuinely lightweight design, this engine turns Z142 into the best zero turn mower you can get for less than $3000.

Speed and Weight

As we already said, this Husqvarna zero turn mower is pretty lightweight (474 pounds) and features a 17 hp engine. However, that’s not the end of it – it’s one of the few lawn mowers of this type that reach speeds of up to 6.5 miles per hour.

Now, let’s compare this speed to the one offered by the Craftsman Z560 zero turn mower, which is the next model on our list. That unit is equipped with a 24 hp v-twin engine and weighs more than 800 pounds. Even though it’s significantly more powerful than Husqvarna Z142, that zero turn mower can’t go faster than 7 miles per hour.

This is precisely why many homeowners consider Husqvarna’s popular Z142 to be a real speed demon and one of the fastest zero turns in its category. The clippings it leaves behind can be mulched or bagged and it sports a 42-inch cutting width. Finally, the mower deck is made out of durable 13-gauge steel.


Best Value for the Money – Craftsman Z560

Craftsman Z560

Features:

  • Briggs-Stratton 24 hp V-twin engine – one of the best zero turns for larger lawns
  • Well-cushioned, comfortable high back seat
  • 360° turning radius & mow-in-reverse function
  • 54-inch cutting width & four sturdy, durable wheels

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While not as well-known as Husqvarna, Craftsman is certainly an established name – the brand has been around for almost a century. Its well-made, efficient products have many fans all over the world, but especially in the brand’s home country – the United States.

This particular Craftsman zero turn mower we’re about to analyze here is durable, potent, and relatively affordable for the capabilities and features it delivers. For that matter, we’ve decided to call this zero turn mower the one that offers the best value for the money – go for this model and you’re bound to experience a high return on your investment.

Engine Efficiency

Just like many other zero turns in our roundup, the Craftsman Z560 also comes equipped with a V-twin Briggs-Stratton engine. Quick and easy ignition is guaranteed due to the presence of the so-called “ReadyStart” technology. The only thing that the user needs to do is hit a button – no need for priming or choking here.

Obviously, the model’s V-twin 24 hp engine turns it into a suitable choice for taking care of larger lawns. The thing that gives it even more efficiency is the Dual Range Hydrostatic Transmission. To put it simply, you’ll have no trouble finishing any grass-cutting task on your property.

Cutting Capability

The cutting deck of Craftsman Z560 comes equipped with a special deck-washing feature. As its name suggests, the job of the deck-washing feature is to keep the machine shiny and clean at all times.

Another important thing to mention here is that this is a 54-inch wide cutting deck, with a maximum cutting height of 3.75 inches. Craftsman Z560’s V-twin engine is supplied by a 3.5-gallon fuel tank and the unit can be customized with a mulching kit.


Best Zero Turn Mower Under $4000 – Husqvarna Z254

Husqvarna Z254

Features:

  • Maximum durability provided by the steel stamped cutting deck
  • The 26 hp Kohler motor guarantees efficient operational speed & reliable startups
  • Husqvarna’s proprietary air induction mowing technology
  • Automatically-activating brake system

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A lot of homeowners want to get the best zero-degree turn mower for as little money as possible. If you don’t want to spend more than $4000 but still want a zero turn mower whose performance matches that of the pricier models, this Husqvarna machine is undoubtedly one of your best options.

Speed and Weight

One of the best zero turn mowers on the market, Husqvarna Z254 sports a potent 26 hp engine, a 52-inch mower deck, and weighs 542 pounds. For a zero turn mower this heavy, Z254 is quite fast, as it reaches the maximum speed of 6.5 miles per hour.

The model’s maximum cutting height stands at 4 inches, and, just like in the case of other Husqvarna zero turn mowers, the clippings it leaves behind can be mulched or bagged.

Construction Quality and Durability

Those looking for a durable zero turn mower can rarely go wrong if they choose a Husqvarna zero turn mower. Just like all other machines of this type made by this Swedish company, this one is also really well-made.

One of the first things we noticed is the reinforced, beefy, steel-stamped cutting deck. As expected, this steel cutting deck was made in a way to deliver maximum reliability and durability.

Furthermore, this zero turn lawn mower comes equipped with an integrated air induction system. It pulls air in from both the bottom and the top of the unit’s cutting deck, and, in that way, delivers a straight, uniform cut.


Best Residential Zero Turn Mower – Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1

Features:

  • Dual-hydro transmissions with the mow-in-reverse feature controlled by lap bars
  • Twin-cylinder 23 hp Kawasaki engine – enough power for residential use
  • Comfortable to use due to a high back seat with a suspension system
  • Maximum durability ensured by the tubular steel frame

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When it comes to zero turn mowers, Cub Cadet is certainly among the best-known brands. Their zero turns are powerful and durable, and Ultima ZT1 is no exception to that rule.

As far as we’re concerned, this is one of the best zero turn mowers for residential use, as it offers both a high level of operational comfort and exceptional performance that’s guaranteed to leave you impressed. Let’s take a closer look at its features:

Durability

As mentioned in the features section, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 sports a tubular steel frame. Once we combine this frame with the triple-guard defense system and the e-coat frame on the mower’s lower part, we get a unit whose durability is pretty hard to match. And, due to the presence of the e-coat mentioned above, you’ll never have to worry about any rust buildups.

Moreover, this distinctive anti-corrosion coating also provides electronically-driven corrosion protection. As such, it offers superb protection against wear and tear that is on par with your standard automotive-grade corrosion resistance.

Comfort

Another important feature of Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is the overall level of comfort it provides. The model comes with a 20” high back seat that is coupled with a cutting-edge seat suspension system.

Another feature that turns Ultima ZT1 into one of the most comfortable zero turn mowers is its 3-way adjustable lap bar. Finally, the unit is equipped with a very potent 23 hp Kawasaki engine and has an 11-gauge steel 50-inch cutting deck.


Best 42” Zero Turn Mower – Husqvarna Z242F

Husqvarna Z242F

Features:

  • Equipped with a no-maintenance hydrostatic transmission
  • 42-inch ClearCut cutting deck with high-performance blades
  • Powerful 18 hp engine made by Kawasaki guarantees reliable startups
  • Automatically-activating brake system

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Zero turn mowers from Husqvarna’s Z200 series are considered by many to be the best zero turn mowers available on the market. Capable of dealing with swathes of dry or wet grass on large lawns, Husqvarna Z242F is yet another of the company’s well-made, high-performing zero turn mowers.

Engine Efficiency

A lot of zero turn mowers on our list are equipped with Kawasaki engines, and the same can be said for this one. The 18 hp motor found on this lawn mower provides the top speed of 6.5 miles per hour, as well as reliable startups. However, that’s something one can and should expect from a zero turn mower made by Husqvarna.

Once we couple the potent engine of this lawn mower with its worry-free, no-maintenance hydrostatic transmission, we get one of the most powerful and easy-to-use zero turns on the market. The automatically-activating brake system also deserves a mention – it’s one of the best technologies patented by Husqvarna so far.

Convenient 42” Cutting Deck

What puts Husqvarna Z242F above its competition is its ClearCut 42” cutting deck. Thanks to the deep deck design, the model provides a superior cut and better bagging than most of its rivals. To put the cutting deck in position, you can simply use the convenient deck lift.

This powerful Husqvarna lawn mower also sports an anti-slip foot area and an ergonomic control panel, and these features turn to mow into a safe and intuitive process. Furthermore, this high-riding mower is also exceptionally easy to park – you just have to move its steering levers outward.


Best Commercial Zero Turn Mower – Snapper 560Z

Snapper 560Z

Features:

  • Welded and reinforced 61-inch 10-gauge steel deck provides extra-wide coverage
  • Features commercial-grade components, such as the wrap-around steel bumper
  • Integrated cargo bed turns Snapper 560Z into an extremely versatile zero turn mower
  • User-friendly controls with a fuel tank indicator

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It goes without saying, but commercial-grade zero turn riding mowers need to be very efficient. This is due to the fact that the success of lawn-mowing businesses depends on the efficiency and durability of these machines. As it turns out, Snapper 560Z is one of such zero turn mowers – it’s the best commercial lawn mower of this type on our list.

Engine & Tire Width

First of all, Snapper 560Z has a twin-cylinder 25 hp Briggs-Stratton engine at its heart. And that’s precisely why this model is one of the fastest zero turn mowers on our list – its forward top speed stands at 9 mph and its reverse top speed stands at 4 mph.

Moreover, this twin-cylinder 25 hp Briggs-Stratton engine also sports an electric start mechanism. In other words, Snapper 560Z is one of those zero turn mowers that are extremely easy to start and operate.

Another feature of this riding mower that turns into a suitable choice for commercial applications is the width of its tires. Measuring 22” x 11”, the wide back tires of Snapper 560Z allow the user to achieve a more uniform finish cut. The frontal caster tires should be mentioned as well – they measure 13” x 6” and turn the Snapper into one of the most maneuverable zero turn mowers out there.

Durability

Commercial-grade zero turn mowers are designed for high performance. That is precisely why this particular lawn mower comes equipped with hydrostatic transaxles. Their job is to provide users with a comfortable, smooth mowing experience, whether they’re mowing dry or wet grass.

In addition, this zero-degree lawn mower also sports a rugged wrap-around steel bumper and 61-inch deck made out of 10-gauge steel – it’s as durable as it gets.


Best Zero Turn Mower for Hilly Terrain – Husqvarna Z242 Confidant

Husqvarna Z242 Confidant

Features:

  • Potent & efficient 23 hp Kohler engine & 3.5 gallon fuel tank
  • Equipped with a roll bar and pneumatic tires – ideal for hilly terrain
  • Three cutting options: mulched, bagged, or rear-discharged
  • Comes accompanied by a 3-year customer warranty

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While it has a similar name and looks almost exactly like the Husqvarna Z242 zero turn mower that we’ve analyzed above, this is actually a different zero turn mower. It’s an ideal choice for folks who often have to mow dry and wet grass on hilly terrain, and here’s why:

Safety

Unfortunately, some zero turn mowers tend to slide on undulating land. Some will come equipped with tires that are incapable of climbing uphill, which typically results in damaged grass. The zero turn mower could even roll over and leave you with a serious injury.

However, this is not likely to happen if you decide to go with Husqvarna Z242 Confidant. This is one of those zero turn mowers built to easily withstand hilly terrain. It is, in fact, the best machine for such situations on our list.

So, if you’re someone who often has to mow the grass in hilly areas with lots of steep slopes, this zero turn mower is probably your best choice. You can also consider getting a lawn tractor instead of zero turn mower for your hilly garden.  While using it, you’ll have complete peace of mind, knowing that the unit won’t easily flip over and leave you injured.

Stability and Tires

This peace of mind that we’ve mentioned above primarily comes from the fact that Husqvarna Z242 Confidant sports pneumatic tires. These feature thicker teeth and are inflated to a pressure point that’s necessary to keep them both stable and maneuverable.

They are capable of absorbing the tilts that come with mowing on hilly terrain. Unlike some of the cheaper zero turn mowers, this one will never make you feel like you’ll roll over while mowing your hilly lawn. We also recommend reading our review of the best lawn mowers for hills.


Best Small Zero Turn Mower – Zoom 34 by Ariens

Zoom 34 by Ariens

Features:

  • Compact size – great for smaller lawns & easy transport and storage
  • Sturdy 12-gauge steel deck with three high-performing blades
  • Equipped with a decently powerful 19 hp motor made by Kohler
  • Comfortable padding on the model’s seat

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Here we have one of the smallest mowers of this type on the market – Ariens Zoom 34. If your lawn isn’t that big and you’re not really interested in high-end zero turn mowers, this model just might be your best choice.

Compact and Comfortable

As we already said, we consider Ariens Zoom 34 to be the best small zero turn mower you can get on today’s market. However, its cutting width of 34 inches is still quite decent – you won’t have to go back and forth too many times in order to finish mowing your lawn.

Another great thing about this unit is that it’s also exceptionally comfortable to use. It is equipped with an 18” seat with some comfortable padding on it. The seat’s height can be adjusted while the natural placement of controls allows quick and easy operation.

Decently powerful

Performance-wise, this unit has a Kohler-made 18 hp engine at its heart. It’s a simple gasoline-powered motor that packs quite a punch despite its smaller size – you’ll be able to mow half an acre of grass in about half an hour. In addition, the model has a conveniently located fuel tank that is very easy to fill.

The cutting deck of Ariens Zoom 34, on the other hand, is made out of a single piece of steel and provides both a high-quality cut and superb airflow. The deck houses 3 high-performing blades that can be used in 7 different height positions. Finally, the manufacturer backs this small but efficient mower with a 3-year warranty.


Best Zero Turn Mower Overall – Husqvarna MZ61

Husqvarna MZ61

Features:

  • Our top pick – one of the best zero turn mowers ever made
  • Equipped with a durable cutting deck made out of 11-gauge steel
  • Powered by a fast, reliable, and efficient 27 hp Briggs-Stratton engine
  • Maximum operational comfort ensured by the high-back seat with armrests

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As we said, Husqvarna is undoubtedly one of the market’s top brands when it comes to zero turn mowers. That’s precisely why 5 out of 10 zero turn mowers we’ve analyzed here are made by this company – the quality of their machines is very hard to match.

And out of all zero turn mowers made by this company, Husqvarna MZ61 is the very best. It performs well on all types of terrains and effortlessly holds up even in the most rugged conditions due to its durable construction. Let’s take a closer look:

Engine Power

This is one of the most powerful zero turn mowers out there. The MZ61 has a 27 hp Briggs-Stratton motor at its heart – that’s enough horsepower for a lawn of any size. To put it simply, this is one of those zero turn mowers that allow professional landscapers to cut more grass in less time.

Another thing we liked about this zero turn mower is its cutting deck. It is made out of tough steel and provides a cutting width of 61 inches (hence the model’s name). The convenient deck lift system, on the other hand, allows users to easily adjust the deck from their seats.

Comfort and Customization

Husqvarna MZ61 is also one of the most comfortable zero turn mowers on the market. The seat that it’s equipped with doesn’t only have armrests, but also vibration dampeners and foam-padded hand grips.

Combined, these simple yet convenient features ensure a smooth ride every time you decide to do some mowing. The model’s controls, on the other hand, are very intuitive and easy to use. There’s no steering wheel here (just like in the case of other zero turn mowers in our roundup) but you’ll get the hang of things in no time.

Finally, this is also one of those zero turn mowers that can be customized. You can easily add a bagger attachment or a mulching kit to this model, but keep in mind that these attachments are sold separately.


Best Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide

In this part of the article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the types of zero turn mowers as well as features that you should keep an eye out for when shopping for one of these machines.

Types of Zero Turn Mowers

All of these machines look and work the same, but they can still be separated into several categories based on their performance and price.

Entry-Level Zero Turn Mowers

  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 2 to 3.5 gallons
  • Engine Size: Single or twin cylinders

As their name suggests, these machines are residential zero turn mowers in their simplest and cheapest form. They’re a perfect choice for homeowners who don’t know much about these types of lawn mowers and who need a piece of advice buying a lawn mower.

While they’re cheaper and easier to use than the more expensive models, they’re not as durable or powerful. However, entry-level models are great for beginners and folks who own smaller lawns.

Mid-Grade Zero Turn Mowers

  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3 to 4 gallons
  • Engine Size: Twin cylinders

These zero turn mowers are also designed for everyday residential use. However, they are faster, more efficient, and more durable than most entry-level machines of this type.

Those who decide to go with a mid-grade zero turn mower are guaranteed to enjoy better overall performance and a more heavy-duty design. Still, if you have a genuinely small lawn, a mower of this type could easily be more than you need.

Semi-Pro Zero Turn Mowers

  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 5 to 8 gallons
  • Engine Size: Twin cylinders

Out of all types of zero turn mowers, semi-pro models are probably the most versatile. Going with one of these machines is not a decision you’re likely to regret.

Semi-pro zero turn mowers are designed for daily use – they reach higher speeds and can mow large swathes of land without having to stop for tank refilling. They are just as easy to use as the mowers from the previous two categories.

Commercial-Grade Zero Turn Mowers

  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 5 to 8 gallons
  • Engine Size: Twin cylinders

Do you own a really large lawn? If that’s the case, your best option is to go with a commercial-grade zero turn mower. A machine of this type is the most suitable choice for people whose yards cover an area that’s larger than 5 acres.

Obviously, these are the most powerful zero turn mowers – they make quick work of any type of lawn grass in a short amount of time. This is precisely why they’re often used on golf courses and similarly large, grass-covered areas that require frequent mowing.

Features to Look For in a Zero Turn Mower

Here’s what to keep an eye out for when you’re shopping for one of these machines:

Ideal Deck Size

This would be one of the most vital variables one would need to consider while shopping for a zero turn mower. It goes without saying, but models with larger decks can mow more grass with each successive pass, and this can greatly reduce the time needed to complete the job.

However, those who need to get into tight corners and mow around obstacles won’t be able to do so with a zero turn mower whose deck is on a larger side. It can prevent you from reaching all those inconvenient spots, giving the finished job an amateurish look.

So, if you have a large lawn, look for a unit with the largest cutting deck possible. If your yard is small and filled with various obstacles, go for a zero turn mower with a deck whose size measures between 32” and 42”.

Cutting Discharge Methods

When shopping for a zero turn mower, one also needs to consider the manner in which the machine will discharge mowed grass. After all, mowed grass has to go somewhere – it won’t just disappear.

Fortunately, these types of mowers often provide users with a couple of different discharge methods. These include:

  • Discharging – it’s the same method used by regular push mowers. The grass is shot out the side of the zero turn mower.
  • Mulching – this method turns the mowed grass into a nutrient-rich compost that sinks into the ground.
  • Bagging – as the name suggests, this method involves the use of an attached container that fills with mowed grass during operation.

Engine & Blades

As we already said, a zero turn mower with a larger and more powerful engine is faster and more efficient. Besides the size of your lawn, another factor that should determine your mower’s power level is the type of grass you’ll be cutting.

Not all grass is the same – depending on your place of living, you may be dealing with softer or thicker grass. Some types of grass are exceptionally coarse, such as Bermuda or Zoysia grass.

If this is the kind of grass you need to cut, your best option is to get a zero turn mower that’s equipped with a number of big and thick blades. A one-blade zero turn mower is rarely a good choice for Bermuda grass, but can certainly do the trick when it comes to mowing thinner grass.

Obviously, cutting coarse grass requires more horsepower, too. Get a model with a powerful twin-cylinder motor that will provide you with the necessary amount of power to deal with thicker grass.

Durability & Aesthetics

A lot of people tend to get distracted by sleek-looking machines. When shopping for a zero turn mower, keep in mind that its looks can be deceiving – a bright and shiny model may actually be a piece of junk you’ll regret spending money on.

For that matter, try to remove the look of your future zero turn mower from your checklist. Those buying a good-looking machine of this type only to impress their neighbors should definitely reconsider their priorities – aesthetics are the least important thing when it comes to zero turn mowers.

Durability, on the other hand, is a totally different story. You’ll want to get yourself a model that will serve you for the years to come, i.e. a sturdy, rugged zero turn mower with a heavy-duty steel frame and a tough, steel-made cutting deck.

Comfort Level

The level of comfort that your potential zero turn mower will offer should depend on the amount of time you usually spend mowing.

In case you own a medium-sized lawn that you mow for half an hour on a weekly basis, comfort features are not something you need to worry about. Owners of larger lawns should definitely get a model with a comfortable seat, foam-padded hand grips, vibration dampeners, and well-cushioned armrests.

Best Zero Turn Mowers – The Verdict

So, there you have it – the advice on how to get the right zero turn mower as well as short reviews of the ten most popular models available on today’s market.

Hopefully, this article has helped you determine which zero turn mower best suits your needs. Our top pick is Husqvarna MZ61, but make sure to check our evaluations of other popular models – one of them may be more up your alley.

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