The most reliable zero-turn mowers are Craftsman 17ARFACQ091, John Deer Z375R, Husqvarna MZ61, Toro TimeCutter and Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZTX4 54. Each of these five models has varying cutting deck sizes, engine types, features and power.
However, some are only appropriate for flat yards whereas others can handle any terrain. The list here is some of the most reliable and popular zero-turn mowers. But, if you’re looking for one, it’s important note the features that will be best for your purposes.
- Most Reliable Zero-Turn Mower Overall: Craftsman 17ARFACQ091
- Most Reliable Zero-Turn Mower for the Money: John Deer Z375R
- Most Reliable Zero-Turn Mower with the Largest Cutting Deck: Husqvarna MZ61
- Most Reliable Compact Zero-Turn Mower: Toro TimeCutter
- Most Reliable Zero-Turn Luxury Mower: Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZTX4 54
Most Reliable Zero-Turn Mower Overall: Craftsman 17ARFACQ091
Craftsman makes a sturdy and reliable zero-turn mower with their 17ARFACQ091. It comes with a 50-inch cutting deck. The gas-powered engine is by Kohler and it has 24 horsepower and 679cc. There’s also hydrostatic transmission and the whole machine comprises robust alloy steel.
You can adjust the cutting height, making it excellent for rough and rocky terrain as well as for steep hills. It’s easy to maneuver and change directions to get the best cut on your lawn every time. This is an enjoyable mower to start up and ride.
|Quality construction and reliable engine||Belt comes off while in operation|
|Adjustable cutting height||Several users experience it not starting at all|
|Easy to use and maneuver|
Most Reliable Zero-Turn Mower for the Money: John Deere Z375R
This zero-turn mower by John Deere is reliable, durable and doesn’t come with a bad price tag either. It has a classic V-Twin engine with 25 horsepower and 724cc. The cutting deck is 54 inches and you can opt to add the mulching kit. But, these features give this mower an almost three-in-one capability.
The cutting height is adjustable. However, the Z375R is best for flat areas with some bumpiness and other obstacles, like stones. It can only handle a 13° grade on hills, so steep slopes aren’t advisable. But the outer casing of the mower comprises John Deere’s classic composite plastics. This means it will protect the metal components from premature rusting.
|Inexpensive for a 54-inch zero-turn mower||Not good for steep hills and grades|
|Built to last for decades down the road||Battery charge doesn’t hold well|
|Optional mulching kit|
Most Reliable Zero-Turn Mower with the Largest Cutting Deck: Husqvarna MZ61
Husqvarna’s MZ61 is a beast for a zero-turn. With a cutting deck width of 61 inches, this baby packs quite a punch. The cutting deck comprises 11-gauge galvanized steel. The gas-powered engine has 27 horsepower with a hydrostatic transmission. Plus, you have the option of choosing a Kawasaki (726cc) or a Briggs and Stratton (810cc) engine.
You can mulch, bag or discharge your yard clippings with a nine-bushel triple collection system. But, the bag and mulching kit are separate attachments. Regardless, you can use this on a wide range of surfaces and manage obstructions like a piece of cake.
|Choice between engine brands||Parts are difficult to find for repairs|
|Can cut up to 61 inches per pass||Many factory defects|
|Powerful, strong and durable|
Most Reliable Compact Zero-Turn Mower: Toro TimeCutter
Of all the zero-turn mowers mentioned here, Toro’s TimeCutter has one of the smallest cutting widths, 42 inches. But, it’s one of the most reliable mowers per many homeowners, hands down. The engine is Toro true but there’s no horsepower. However, it does have hydrostatic transmission with a displacement of 452cc.
Plus it has nifty storage features such as a cubby underneath the seat and a beverage holder. The large distance from the cutting deck to the ground means you can go uphill or downhill with ease. It also allows for maneuvering around things like rocks, trees, stumps and other obstructions.
|Good for hills, uneven terrain and obstructions||No HP and low cc means it’s not powerful|
|Convenient cup holder and seat storage||Limited cutting height adjustability|
Most Reliable Zero-Turn Luxury Mower: Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZTX4 54
For the crème de la crème in zero-turn riding mowers, Cub Cadet’s ZTX4 54 has all the bells and whistles plus so much more. But, it also has a steep price tag to match. It comes with a Kohler 7000 Series engine that has 24 horsepower, 725cc and a hydrostatic transmission. The cutting deck is 54 inches wide and is fully adjustable.
The construction and engineering of the ZTX4 54 is meticulous and well-planned, made with the average homeowner in mind. The seat is luxurious and comfortable with easy-to-operate lap bars. It maneuvers like silk and it’s almost as if you’re driving a golf cart, not a mower.
|The latest Kohler 7000 series engine||Exorbitantly expensive|
|Powerful, trusty and reliable||No cruise control|
|Smooth, silky maneuvering|
Comparing the Zero-Turn Mowers
The table below lays out all the zero-turn mowers featured above to give you an overall scope of comparison. Regardless of which one you choose, expect to pay at least $2,500 for a brand new mower or around $1,500 for a used one.
Keep in mind that larger engine sizes will accompany greater horsepower. But, if you have a hilly yard or it’s forest-like, then a lower, or even zero, horsepower might be ideal.
|Craftsman||John Deere||Husqvarna||Toro||Cub Cadet|
|Engine Size||679cc||724cc||726cc or 810cc||452cc||725cc|
|Engine Brand||Kohler||John Deere||Kawasaki or Briggs and Stratton||Toro||Kohler|
|Cutting Deck Size||50 inches||54 inches||61 inches||42 inches||54 inches|
|Ideal Use||Any type of terrain||Flat yards with little obstruction||Any type of terrain||Good for hills, uneven surfaces and rocky terrain||Average lawns and medium hills|
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.