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

A garden tractor is a heavy machine designed to mow lawns and haul materials. They can also till gardens and plow snow. And then there are the many other tasks they can handle, too.

These machines usually have 20 to 30 horsepower. These are worthwhile investments at home, like an engine-driven welder and an extension cord. They’re up there with your leaf mulcher, too.

lawn mower

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. This article will give you tips on deciding which is the best for you and some household brands that you could consider buying. We’ll make sure you get not just a top-rated one but the best lawn or garden tractor for your purpose!

lawn tractor

What to look for

There are different factors to consider when looking for the right one, similar to searching for the best mini wood lathes. 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. It comes in different sizes, specifically its deck like an amp wire. 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 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.

powerful lawn mower

Usage

Do you intend to use it for basic tasks such as mowing the lawn? Or do you need to perform added work such as plowing and blowing snow? Determine how you plan to use it. Before purchasing, it is important 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 operating the vehicle. This means you can control the speed and power more easily. However, maneuvering using this transmission can be more difficult than other types. If you have heavy-duty plowing or tilling requirements, one with manual transmission is recommended.

In an automatic transmission, the tractor shifts the gears through a belt. As a result, you can focus more on operating it. It’s great when avoiding obstacles and controlling the vehicle. Meanwhile, the 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 compact. It is perfect for landscape work.

Engine

4-cycle engine oil for lawnmowers

They are generally powered by either gasoline or diesel. Many of them are considered 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. You may want to check out our article on the pros and cons of gasless MIG welding. We also have articles on welding glasses or 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 many people think both types of equipment are the same. However, a few key points 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 and tilling a garden. Thanks to their heavy design, you want one of those when moving snow. On the other hand, lawn options have limited capabilities. Garden tractors have higher horsepower, ranging between 20 and 30 hp. In comparison, the horsepower of lawn tractors ranges from 15 to 25 hp.

How much do they cost?

Like good engine-driven welders, they do not come cheap. Entry-level options like those from Cub Cadet and Massey Ferguson (MF) garden options cost $900 and $1,300. These units usually run on 14- to 15-hp engines and cover one-half to three-fourths of an acre. A mid-range 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. It depends 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 limited by certain regulations. It also depends on which state you are in. They need to have specific markings and warning lights before being driven on public roads. These rules also apply to other slow-moving vehicles, such as snowmobiles or ATVs. Thankfully, these protocols are more lenient with electric options than with construction tractors or trucks. Those 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

When talking about these machines, one brand that easily comes to mind 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:

  • 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 equipped with a V-twin liquid-cooled engine. It adopts John Deere’s patented MulchControl and Power Flow systems for 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, perfect for residential use.

Cub Cadet

SAE10W-30 4-cycle engine oil for lawnmowers

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 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, an 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. It’s done to prevent the battery from running out when it is not used for a certain period.

Running on a Kohler engine, the Cub Cadet 100 has specific features such as manual steering and an 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, released in the early 2000s. This variant uses a Mitsubishi diesel engine and a partially synchronized transmission type. Likewise, you can consider the Cub Cadet’s 1000 series. It features easy-to-operate driving controls and an adjustable seat. Enjoy the digital meter it comes equipped with. You may consider Cub Cadet’s 2000 series for commercial use, which can work about 50 hours a week.

Husqvarna

lawn tractor

Another household name is Husqvarna, a Swedish company specializing in outdoor products for home improvement. Most of Husqvarna’s products are operated using pedals. You can steer the machine using both your hands, allowing for better control. Husqvarna’s options also employ the company’s steering technology. It allows 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:

Husqvarna lawn mower
  • the GT48DXLS
  • GT48XLS
  • YTH24V48
  • YTA24V48
  • YTH2348.

Husqvarna also offers ones that can suit commercial use, namely the GT54LS and LGT2654 models. Both 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. It’s a great 52-inch, pedal-operated option. It runs on a 24-hp V-Twin engine and comes with a 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

The top three brands are

  • Cub Cadet
  • John Deere
  • and Husqvarna

They are often matched against each other. Depending on the model, one brand holds an advantage against the other in terms of cutting capability and cost.

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. They’re great if you plan long hours on the machine during peak season. They also boast many features, including an adjustable speed transmission and washout ports. However, the John Deere push lawn mower offers a gentler ride than its counterparts. All brands offer entry-level through top-tier models in terms of cost and affordability. 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 compare some of the biggest names in the lawn and garden tractor space. When you want that riding lawn mower that cuts through all the tall grass, this is what you’ve waited for.

This Cub Cadet vs. John Deere vs. Husqvarna vs. Stihl vs. Kubota vs. Troy Bilt lawn mower comparison looks at products in all ranges. We’ll give you our recommendations based on 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 read our thoughts on.

Husqvarna

John Deere

Cub Cadet

Kubota

Troy-Bilt

350D105cc30hbx1880
22 hp 46-inch
gt52xlsD110gt1554gr2020
bronco 42
lgt2654D125lt42gr2120
pony 15.5-hp manual 42-in
mz54D130ltx1040t2290 
mz61D140ltx1045
t2290kwt-48
 
rz5424E100ltx1050  
ts348dE110rzt 42  
ts348xdE120rzt 50  
ts354dE130
ultima zt1 42
  
ts354xdE140
ultima zt1 50
  
yta18542E160
ultima zt1 54
  
yta24v48E170
ultima zt1 54
  
YTH18542E180
ultima zt2 50
  
yth20k46F525xt1 42  
yth21k46GT235xt1 46  
yth22v46L100xt1 lt42  
yth2348L110xt1 lt46  
yth24k48L120xt1 lt50  
yth24v54L130xt2  
z242fLA105xt2 lx42  
z246LA115xt2 lx46  
z248fLA135zt1 50  
z254LA145zt1 54  
z254fLT133zt2  
 LT155zt2 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

lawn mower 4-cycle engine oil

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 can rotate 360 degrees. The price of these Kubota options usually starts at about $4,000 and can go as high as $12,100. One of its best-selling ones is the Z726XKW-3-60. It is designed with three blades and a cutting range of between an inch to five inches. This 25.5-hp zero-turn powerhouse runs on a gas-powered, air-cooled V-twin engine. It 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. It comes with an adjustable seat.

Make sure also to check out our article on utility sinks. They 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

Here are the basic steps to learning a riding lawn mower’s operation:

How to drive a riding lawn mower?

  1. Get familiar with the mower.

    Read the manual and get a feel of all the parts with the help of the diagrams. Look up the function of each if not mentioned in the manual. Sit in the seat and adjust it accordingly.

  2. Start the mower

    Sit in the seat and start the mower just like you would a car. Put the gear into action, release the clutch and press the accelerator. You can use the throttle to control the speed. Drive it around a bit to get an idea of the machine.

  3. Take slower turns

    You must avoid mowing over areas that are already mowed once. To do this, you must plan your journey and take longer turns that are slow. Raise the blade if you move onto the area without grass and lower them again when back on the grass.

FAQ

How much does a garden tractor cost?

Garden tractors differ from Lawnmowers in that they can perform multiple tasks, while lawnmowers specialize in only lawn mowing. Due to this, a garden tractor has more horsepower, and this causes them to be more on the pricier side. The price depends on the size of the tractor. Small size tractors can range from $9000 to $11000. However, the larger tractors with 100 horsepower can range from $25000 to $50000.

What is the most reliable brand of lawn tractors?

Cub Cadet is known to be the most reliable brand of lawn tractors manufactured in the USA. Not only this, but several lawn tractors from the Cub Cadet line have been termed as the Overall best lawn tractor to be used in the USA. John Deere is another popular brand in terms of reliability. It was awarded America’s Most trusted Lawnmower brand By Lifestory Research. It has a five-star trust rating among customers.

What are the top 5 lawn tractors?

In the John Deere line of lawn tractors, the X370 is the topmost choice. Customers have rated it as a great option, even for hilly areas. Husqvarna is a Swedish company that makes home improvement products. Its GT48XLS is a great option for those looking for a change in tractors. Husqvarna tractors are likely to cost you less for more horsepower too.

The Cub Cadet XT1 is rated best-in-class for a reason. The entire series is rated affordable yet effective. The LT42” will cost you only $1499. Troy Bilt TB220 is rated at number 4 because it is easy to use and yet has to capacity to mow over uneven land. The self-propelling feature gives even more customer satisfaction as it gets the job done quickly.
For inter-cultivation, the A series’ A211N remains a top choice. Thanks to super draft control features, you can also perform other tasks apart from inter cultivation. These are the top 5 lawn tractors we would recommend in the market.

How much is a garden tractor?


A garden tractor can cost you anywhere between $9,000 to $11,000. A simple low-end robot mower will cost lesser than a zero-turn riding mower. The price will also depend heavily on horsepower and features like Super Draft Control. But simpler walk-behind mowers can be bought at around $100-$400.

How much is a lawn tractor?

A good zero-turn lawn tractor will cost upwards of $4,000. You can purchase something basic like a walk-behind mower which will cost you around $200. But the more features you’ll add to the list, the pricer the tractor gets. Some popular features include aluminum decks and roll ball bearing wheels. A longer warranty also might add a couple of extra dollars to your budget.