Best lawn & garden tractors & riding mowers: husqvarna, john deere, cub cadet, craftsman

A garden tractor is a heavy machine designed to mow lawns, haul materials, till gardens and plow snow, among many other tasks. These machines are usually wrapped up in 20 to 30 horsepower. Like an engine-driven welder, an extension cord, a leaf mulcher or a metal lathe, these are a practical investment to have at home. However, they do not always come cheap. That is why it is important to make an informed decision before swiping your card and buying one. In this article, we will give you tips on deciding which is the best for you, as well some household brands that you could consider buying, so you get not just a top rated one, but the best lawn or garden tractor for your purpose!

lawn tractor

What to look for

Similar to searching for the best mini wood lathes or best tig welders, there are different factors to consider when looking for the right one. The equipment should not only meet your needs, but it must also have the functions that suit your property’s features. Here are five factors to think about before buying one.

Size

The size of your property is a big factor in deciding which to buy. Like an amp wire, it comes in different sizes, specifically its deck. If your property spans less than an acre, one with a 42-inch to 48-inch mower deck should suffice. A mower deck determines how wide the machine can make a cut. A small yard spanning less than half an acre can be enough for a tracker with a mower deck of 30-inch to 36-inch. But if your property is more than three acres, consider getting one with a 50-inch to 60-inch cut.

Terrain

It is also important to consider the terrain of your property before buying. An option with automatic transmission and a deck height that can be adjusted is perfect for rough and uneven terrain. A zero-turn mower is perfect if your property has various obstacles and hilly areas. You also have to consider a tractor’s built-in stabilizing features if your property has banks.

Usage

Do you intend to use it for plain tasks such as mowing the lawn? Or do you need to perform added work such as plowing and blowing snow? Determining how you plan to use it is important before making a purchase as not all models are suited to a specific type of activity.

Transmission

There are three types of transmission systems used: manual, automatic and hydrostatic. Manual transmission requires you to alter the gears while you are operating the vehicle. This means you can control the speed and power more easily. However, maneuvering using this transmission can be extra difficult compared with other types. If you have heavy-duty plowing or tilling requirements, one with manual transmission is recommended.

In automatic transmission, the tractor shifts the gears by itself through a belt. As a result, you can focus more on operating it, avoiding obstacles and controlling the vehicle. Meanwhile, hydrostatic transmission uses fluid to power the wheels. It is simple to operate and does not require you to depress any clutch. This type allows you to alter the speed using a lever and is more compact. It is perfect for landscape work.

Engine

They are generally powered by either gasoline and diesel. A lot of them that are considered to be the best of all time run on diesel for fuel efficiency. This type also has more torque than its gas-powered counterpart. The main drawback of diesel engines is their tendency to get noisy during operation. Speaking of gas, you may want to check out our article on the pros and cons of gasless MIG welding and various welding glasses, or our article on using an oxy acetylene torch.

What is the difference between a garden and a lawn tractor?

man riding on a lawn mower

A garden and a lawn tractor share certain features that a lot of people think both equipment are the same. However, there are a few key points that differentiate one from the other. When it comes to size, a garden tractor tends to be larger than its lawn counterpart because it houses a bigger engine. The rear wheels of a garden tractor are also bigger than those of a lawn tractor to accommodate heavy attachments.

These two options also differ in terms of their respective functions. Garden ones are much more recommended for hauling tasks, tilling a garden and moving snow, thanks to their heavy-design. On the other hand, lawn options have limited capabilities. In addition, garden tractors have a higher horsepower, ranging between 20 and 30 hp. In comparison, the horsepower of lawn tractors range from 15 to 25 hp.

How much do they cost?

Like a good engine driven welders, they do not come cheap. On an average, entry-level option like those from Cub Cadet and Massey Ferguson (MF) garden option retail between $900 and $1,300. These units usually run on 14- to 15-hp engines and can cover one-half to three-fourths of an acre. A midrange option can go from about $1,300 to $2,000, with a 17- to 22-hp engine. These variants often have a manual lever and an automatic or hydrostatic transmission. They are perfect for covering three-fourths up to one acre. Meanwhile, more advanced options can cost a minimum of $4,000 up to $11,000, depending on functions and features. Running on 19 to 27 hp, they have hydraulic lifts and are usually compatible with diesel and liquid-cooled engines. They are perfect for commercial use and can cover several acres.

grass being cut

Can I drive it on the road?

You may be tempted to take it out of the farm and in public lanes for a quick drive. But do authorities allow them to be driven on the road? In the U.S., driving a garden tractor on the road is generally allowed but under certain regulations, which also vary depending on which state you are in. They need to have specific markings and warning lights before they can be driven on public roads. These rules also apply to other slow-moving vehicles such as a snow mobile or an ATV. Thankfully, these protocols are more lenient with electric options than with construction tractors or trucks, which often need additional registration and license requirements. They can also be taken in public lanes if they need to be transferred to another street to do farm work.

John Deere

One brand that easily comes to mind when talking about these machines is John Deere. This American brand is known for its heavy-duty tractors with an automated drive system and powerful traction control. John Deere’s popular offerings include the 100 Series, 200 Series, X300 Select Series, X500 Select Series and X700 Signature Series. One of its best-sellers is the X730 Signature Series, which features a two-function hydraulic lift and is equipped with a V-twin liquid-cooled engine. It adopts John Deere’s patented MulchControl and Power Flow systems for a faster cleanup. You can connect it with an app to track your mow history and maintenance schedule. Another top-rated model from John Deere is the X738, a powerful model running on a 25.5-hp engine. It has a two-function hydraulic lift system and twin touch pedals, making it perfect for residential use.

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet is another brand that boasts quality models at different price ranges that suit your budget. One of its best-sellers is the XT1 Enduro series, which is powered by a single or double Kohler engine. It is designed with Cub Cadet’s steering system that allows the user to maneuver smoothly. Models from the series typically retail from $1,699 and above. Another model from Cub Cadet is the XT2, a option that runs on a Kawasaki engine. This series is equipped with the company’s patented AeroForce deck for more evenness and finer clippings. The XT2 is powered by an AGM battery, which provides slower discharge to prevent the battery from running out whenit is not in use for a certain period.

Also running on a Kohler engine, the Cub Cadet 100 is one with straightforward features such as manual steering and open-operator station. This model is perfect if you want basic tasks done at a reasonable price. You can also opt for a Cub Cadet from its 7000 series, which was released in early 2000’s. This variant uses a Mitsubishi diesel engine and has a partially synchronized transmission type. You can likewise consider the Cub Cadet’s 1000 series, featuring easy-to-operate driving controls, an adjustable seat and a digital meter. For commercial use, you may consider Cub Cadet’s 2000 series, which can work about 50 hours a week.

Husqvarna

Another household name is Husqvarna, a Swedish company specializing in outdoor products for home improvement. Most of Husqvarna’s products are operated using pedals so you can steer the machine using both your hands, allowing for better control. Husqvarna’s options also employ the company’s own steering technology, enabling you to maneuver easily and avoid obstacles effortlessly.

The company’s models come in 42-inch to 48-inch variants, referring to the width of the deck. A deck within this range can cover one half up to two acres. If your area spans at least three acres, it is advisable to get one of at least 50 inches in width. Some of Husqvarna’s models that come in 42 inches include the YT42DXLS, which runs on a 25-hp Kohler engine. Models with a 48-inch deck include the GT48DXLS, GT48XLS, YTH24V48, YTA24V48 and YTH2348. Husqvarna also offers ones that can suit commercial use, namely the GT54LS and LGT2654 models, both of which have a 54-inch deck. These adopt a heavy-grade chassis and a washout port, enabling them to weather extensive use. Another variant is the GTH52XLS, a 52-in, pedal-operated option. It runs on a 24-hp V-Twin engine and comes with loader. If you want a more affordable one for residential use, you can consider Husqvarna’s LTA18538. This model has a 38-inch deck and boasts a lube system for an extended lifespan.

Cub Cadet vs John Deere vs Husqvarna vs Stihl vs Kubota vs Troy Bilt: Lawn Tractors & Riding Mowers

nicely cut lawn

As the top three brands, Cub Cadet, John Deere and Husqvarna are often matched against each other. Depending on the model, one brand holds advantage against the other in terms of cutting capability, comfort and cost. For example, Cub Cadet’s XT1LT42 has a slight edge over John Deere’s D130 and Husqvarna’s YT42DXLS when it comes to mulching grass. All three models also offer a nice high-back seat to allow a comfortable ride especially if you are planning long hours on the machine during peak season. They also boast plenty of features including an adjustable speed transmission and washout ports. However, the John Deere push lawn mower offers a gentler ride than its counterparts. In terms of cost and affordability, all brands offer entry-level, midrange and top-tier models. Deciding which one is the best brand and model for you largely depends on how you plan to use it.

This is the smackdown you’ve all been waiting for. We’ll make vs comparison of some of the biggest names in the lawn and garden tractor space, when you simply want that riding lawn mower that cuts through all the tall grass. This Cub Cadet vs John Deere vs Husqvarna vs Stihl vs Kubota vs Troy Bilt lawn mower comparison will look at products in all sorts of price ranges, and we’ll give you our recommendations on the basis of the field testing we did. We’ll also give you our absolute top recommendations at different price points.

As we get more of our testing data in, these are the models you will be able to read our thoughts on.

Husqvarna

John Deere

Cub Cadet

Kubota

Troy-Bilt

350 D105 cc30h bx1880
22 hp 46-inch
gt52xls D110 gt1554 gr2020
bronco 42
lgt2654 D125 lt42 gr2120
pony 15.5-hp manual 42-in
mz54 D130 ltx1040 t2290
mz61 D140 ltx1045
t2290kwt-48
rz5424 E100 ltx1050
ts348d E110 rzt 42
ts348xd E120 rzt 50
ts354d E130
ultima zt1 42
ts354xd E140
ultima zt1 50
yta18542 E160
ultima zt1 54
yta24v48 E170
ultima zt1 54
YTH18542 E180
ultima zt2 50
yth20k46 F525 xt1 42
yth21k46 GT235 xt1 46
yth22v46 L100 xt1 lt42
yth2348 L110 xt1 lt46
yth24k48 L120 xt1 lt50
yth24v54 L130 xt2
z242f LA105 xt2 lx42
z246 LA115 xt2 lx46
z248f LA135 zt1 50
z254 LA145 zt1 54
z254f LT133 zt2
LT155 zt2 54
LT160
LX176
LX277
S240
STX38
X300
X304
X320
X330
X350
X380
X500
X570
X590
X738
X758
Z225
Z335e
Z345m
Z345r
Z355e
Z425
Z445
Z930m

Kubota

Kubota is another brand known for its 4×4 garden tractors, particularly its zero-turn mowers. This type has a turning radius of zero, which means it can rotate 360 degrees. The price of these Kubota’s options usually start at about $4,000 and can go as high as $12,100. One of its best-selling ones is the Z726XKW-3-60, which is designed with three blades and a cutting range of between one inch to five inches. This 25.5-hp zero-turn power house runs on a gas-powered, air-cooled V-twin engine and has a high back seat with Kubota’s premium adjustable suspension feature.

Another entry-level option from this brand is the Z231BR-48, which boasts the company’s patented K-lift pedal system. It uses a Briggs and Stratton engine with 22 hp. Like the Z726XKW-3-60, this model adopts a gas-powered, air-cooled V-twin engine and has an adjustable seat.

Make sure to also check out our article on utility sinks which can be incredibly helpful if you’re coming back into the house after a long day in the garden, enjoying your new toy!

lawn tractor in use

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