6 best riding lawn mowers this year, according to experts. Ryobi 38 inch electric riding mower

best riding lawn mowers this year, according to experts

A lawn mower can be a necessary home appliance for many homeowners, but those who have larger lawns to upkeep may find that self-propelled or push lawn mowers just don’t cut it. Experts recommend using riding lawn mowers for larger lawns since they have more powerful engines better equipped to efficiently handle bigger patches of grass. And as the name suggests, they’re designed so you can ride on top of them while you mow the lawn, which can come in handy when there’s a lot of land to tackle.

A riding lawn mower is typically a major investment: The average cost is anywhere between 450,000 to upwards of 3,500, according to David Steckel, a home expert at Thumbtack. This means finding the right one can be crucial, especially with so many choices on the market. To help you get started, we consulted landscaping and gardening experts to explain the difference between a riding lawn mower and other types of mowers and what to look for when shopping for one, plus rounded up some highly rated ones that align with their guidance.

What are riding lawn mowers, exactly?

Riding lawn mowers are usually quicker and easier to use than push or self-propelled lawn mowers due to their large engines and wider mowing decks, which can cut a larger area of grass in one pass. The ability to ride the mower around can also be “crucial for homeowners who experience any back issues and can’t walk behind an average lawn mower without fatigue,” said McKenzie.

Experts said that shoppers with more than three-fourths of an acre of yard would benefit from a riding lawn mower since they can significantly cut down on mowing time. However, “if your yard is less than a half an acre, a riding lawn mower can make mowing your lawn more tedious than it needs to be because of the size of the machine in comparison to the yard,” said Steckel. At that point, it’s easier (and much cheaper) to use a push or self-propelled lawn mower — these types of mowers also turn the lawn mowing process into an opportunity for exercise and physical activity.

There are three main types of riding lawn mowers to consider: traditional lawn tractors, zero turning radius (ZTR) mowers and rear engine riding mowers.

Best riding lawn mowers to consider

To help you decide which riding lawn mower is best for you, we consulted experts on their recommended picks. We also narrowed down some highly rated options with varying cutting widths and power types for different size lawns and upkeep preferences. In general, experts recommended cutting widths of at least 30 inches for small yards under one acre, 36 inches for medium-sized yards (one to two acres), 42 inches for large yards (three to four acres) and 60 inches for even larger yards of five acres or more.

RYOBI 38 in. 100 Ah Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

This electric riding mower from RYOBI is a more eco-friendly alternative to gas-powered mowers and doesn’t require the tedious gas engine maintenance. It offers a 38-inch cutting width that can be efficient for medium-sized lawns, and it features a battery that RYOBI says has up to 2.5 hours of run time for cutting up to 2.5 acres of lawn per charge. This mower also equips LED headlights, a USB phone charger and cruise control features for added efficiency, according to the brand. However, it doesn’t have a zero turn radius, meaning it may be harder to maneuver around sharp edges or obstacles in your yard.

Best gas-powered riding mower: Toro

Toro 50 in. 23 HP TimeCutter Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

This zero-turn mower has a large 50-inch cutting width and can be a good selection for yards up to four acres, according to the brand. It features Toro’s Smart Speed Technology, which the brand says lets you control your mowing speed in three modes: 4 mph in trim mode, 5.5 mph in tow mode and up to 7 mph while mowing. This mower also equips a built-in cup holder for drinks, shock-absorbing dampeners that make rides smoother and a step-through front end that makes it easier to get on and off of the mower while you pick up debris or move obstacles out of the way, the brand says.

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Toro 50 in. 23 HP TimeCutter Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

Troy-Bilt TB 30 in. Manual Drive Gas Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly solution to maintain a smaller yard, this compact option from Troy-Bilt offers a 30-inch deck that’s enough for yards of one acre or less. Keep in mind this does have a manual transmission — which the brand calls Shift-on-the-Go transmission — that lets you choose between six speeds and adjust it accordingly using a lever.

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Troy-Bilt TB 30 in. Manual Drive Gas Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

Toro Titan 60 in. Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

This zero-turn mower from Toro has the largest cutting width of all the options on this list at 60 inches wide, making it an efficient option for larger yards that are five acres and larger. The brand says this mower’s large cutting width can cover yards with obstacles up to seven acres, and its high maximum speed of 8.5 mph makes it the fastest option we recommend. For comfort, this mower features a high-back seat with armrests and foam-padded levers with hand grips.

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Ryobi 38-Inch Electric Riding Mower Review: Good for the Lawn, Good for the Environment

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The Ryobi 38-Inch Electric Riding Mower is just what you need for your home lawn and more. It works well and rides like a go-kart. But the best part about it is that it is great for the environment.

I hope you love the products that I recommend here! Just so you know, I work with Amazon and other affiliate partners and may be compensated from the links below.

About The Ryobi 38-Inch Electric Riding Mower

Climate change is real and we should all do something to alleviate the global environmental crisis. Good thing the Ryobi 75 Ah 38” Electric Riding Mower exists.

It is an environment-friendly mower that can do its job of maintaining well-manicured lawns with zero carbon emissions.

Ryobi is a Japanese manufacturer of electronics, automobile components, power tools, builder’s hardware, among others. It’s lineup of lawn mowers is also top-notch as it aims to be the pioneer in innovative equipment.

The brand knows that in this generation, we need to be more mindful of the environment, hence, an electric riding mower that doesn’t use gas and has zero carbon emissions.

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You get to ride your electric mower to cut around two acres of grass without harming the environment. That’s exactly what you will get with this Ryobi lawn mower: two hours of straight mowing for every charging.

Okay, maybe you don’t really need to do two hours of mowing but if you do, it’s not a bother because the RY48110 has a comfortable seat with backrest. You can adjust the seat based on your comfort level.

The mower has a width of 40 inches with a cutting width of 38 inches. In terms of height, it cuts a minimum of 1.5 inches to a maximum of 4.5 inches.

It also comes with 12-position deck height adjustment so you can have a wider range of preference. It has a side discharge with mulching and bagging capabilities.

It has three brushless motors, two of which are direct drive or beltless brushless blade motors for mowing and cutting. The other motor is a direct drive brushless drivetrain.

It has cruise control capability with speed at a maximum of eight miles per hour. The cutting speed is at five miles per hour and three miles per hour for the reverse speed. You can also do a 16-inch radius turn with this baby.

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Other features of the lawn mower include LED highlights, quiet operation and parking brake, among others. It has a cup holder so you can stay hydrated while mowing, and it has a phone holder plus USB phone charger so you can be reached even while working on keeping your lawn neat.

The Good

Most of the features of this electric mower scream modern. It has the cup holder and phone holder to make mowing more like cruising through the streets on your car rather than doing actual work on the lawn. importantly, you don’t have to feel guilty using it because it is ecologically sound.

But you don’t necessarily go looking for a lawn mower because it is environmentally friendly. That is more like icing to the cake.

So let’s get down to business

Gas-gozzling lawn mowers are so last decade. The electric kind, like the RY48110, will save you money and you don’t have to deal with fumes. As a direct result of not having to use gas, this also means that you don’t have to deal with spark plugs, filters and belts common in gas-run equipment. Basically, this is a low-maintenance mower.

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You can mow as early in the morning as you like without fear of waking up the rest of the household or your neighbors because this mower runs quietly. You may also mow at night, if that’s your preference, because it comes with a bright LED light.

The battery actually lasts 10 hours if you don’t use the mowing deck. That’s actually great especially when you have a speed of around eight miles per hour. With the 75 Ah, you can cover two acres of land.

Riding is quite smooth. It’s just like driving a go-kart. It really is a fun ride!

This product is a bit pricey, which is not something you want to hear. In this case, it is justifiable as the mower is durable. You know it because every part used in manufacturing this product is of great quality. This is definitely a good investment because it can be used for many years.

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Learning how to use this mower is also quite easy. However, if you have been using a different kind of mower before, this will take some getting used to.

The Not So Good

Okay, so the lack of suspension may mean that the equipment is low maintenance. But on the flip side, it is not ideal for uneven ground. If you are going through a lot of uneven patches of ground, be prepared to really feel it in your bones.

And while the lack of suspension means the drive is much quieter, you might have to deal with a squeaky steering rack. However, that is not really a deal-breaker as you can always fix the annoying noise with grease.

Well, here is another source of irritation: charging time. You might have to wait for six hours for the mower to fully charge. According to Ryobi, the mower should be charged when not in use. This way, you wouldn’t have to wait hours to be able to use it again.

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Even more trying is if it’s winter. If you don’t use the mower, you have to charge the battery at least once a month as maintenance. However, it will be hard to charge if it’s frozen. So you definitely cannot leave the mower outside. You need to store it in an insulated place.

This is not ideal for steep mounds. So if you have a 15-degree-plus-angled hilly patch of land, then this is not the mower for you.

This electric riding mower is perfect for home lawns or an even ground of around an acre or two. This is definitely not for large tracts of ranch or farmland. It is also not for areas hilly places.

This is a mower that you have to use regularly because grass that grows beyond half a foot would be hard to tend for this kind of mower.

Ryobi 38″ Electric Riding Mower RM480e

Heard all the fuss about cordless battery powered mowers and like what you hear and see but you need more than a cordless mower and need a riding mower? Ryobi’s got your back with a new all battery powered Ryobi 38″ Electric Riding Mower RM480e.

This is great news because as powerful as regular cordless push mowers are, you still need a solid riding mower if you have a large property with lots of grass to cut. The Ryobi 38″ Electric Riding Mower RM480e will let you get the work done with up to a 2 hour runtime that can do up to 2 acres of grass cutting. All without having to worry about the hassle and fumes of gasoline, or having to deal with belts, spark plugs, or filters ever again.

Key features are a 38″ 2 blade deck and the mower is powered by 3 high powered brushless motors. Other amenities include cruise control, LED headlights for evening cutting, and USB charging.

  • low maintenance: no belts, spark plugs, or filters
  • battery operated: no gas, no fumes, charge and go
  • up to 2 hours of run time: up to 2 acres per charge
  • quiet cutting
  • cruise control, USB charging
  • LED headlights
  • 12 position manual deck adjustment
  • 38″ 2 blade deck
  • 3 high powered brushless motors

The Ryobi 38″ Electric Riding Mower RM480e will be sold in Home Depot stores for 2499 and will be available spring 2017.

Fabricated and Stamped Steel Decks

Ryobi continues to use a fabricated steel deck on their current-flagship 54-inch zero-turn joystick-driven lawn mower. Both the 30-inch and 42-inch models continue to use stamped steel decks.

On the 54-inch mower, you also get cross-cut blades very similar to what you find on the Ryobi 40V Crosscut lawnmower. That means the 54-inch model comes with 6 blades. They deliver a better quality cut with finer clippings.

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Which Ryobi 80V Joystick Riding Mower Should You Get?

Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch Riding Mower

When looking at all three models, we can see some pretty clear reasons for getting each. For example, the Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch mower fits through most gates and presents a great solution for delivering a rider that fits where most zero turns can’t. Ryobi even designed the bagging system to fit completely within the width of the body so it doesn’t expand the footprint. The side-discharge grass chute is made from rubber and won’t damage your shed or gates when you get too close. At 5,999, this mower should provide a solid solution for anyone trying to get a battery-powered zero-turn mower that can tackle properties up to an acre in size.

Ryobi Z42Li 42-inch Riding Mower

Stepping up to the 42-inch Ryobi Z42Li, you get a great mid-tier product with all of the same great controls and features of the 54-inch but with a stamped deck and reduced deck size. The 6,999 retail price gives you double the mowing range—up to 2 acres. You also get an additional 80V battery and two more 40V battery ports for extending your runtime.

Ryobi Z54Li 54-inch Riding Mower

Finally, the 7,999 flagship Z54Li brings a 54-inch fabricated deck that, combined with the trio of 80V batteries nets you up to 4-acres of grass-cutting.

Ryobi 80V HP Electric ZT Riding Mowers and Bagging Options

Ryobi intends to offer bagging systems when they release these mowers. They included a “Bagger Boost” system that works with both the 80V HP 30″ Lithium Electric Zero Turn Riding Mower and the 80V HP 42″ Lithium Electric Zero Turn Riding Mower:

Press the Bagger Boost button and the mower sends a powerful gust of 700 CFM into the bagger chute. Ryobi said the feature clears out clogs and clumps of grass when bagging—a common issue when bagging, particularly with damp grass.

Ryobi will sell their Bagger Boost baggers separately as an accessory (online only). They also plan to offer bagging options without Bagger Boost. We have yet to see precise pricing but we imagine they will appear once these mowers launch on Home Depot online in the Spring of 2022.

Pricing and Final Thoughts on the Ryobi 80V ZT Lawn Mowers

It’s hard not to get a little worked upon over these mowers—not because we haven’t seen anything like this before, but because manufacturers like Ryobi are starting to drive the industry forward in a new direction. A joystick steering wheel? Air ride seat suspension? Between innovative new features and familiar features we’ve come to expect from gas products, manufacturers are really starting to produce products that require a very small learning curve and tons of benefits to consumers looking to make the transition into battery-powered products.

As for how much they cost, Ryobi plans to sell the Z30Li, Z42Li, and Z54Li at 5999, 6999, and 7999 respectively. All three mowers can be purchased directly from The Home Depot. While not inexpensive, you’re getting a lot of mower and battery capacity for the price. We look forward to doing even more performance testing on these mowers when we get them in-house later this year.

Shared Specs for all Ryobi 80V Zero-turn Riding Mowers

  • LCD control screen
  • Low/Med/High blade speed
  • Low/Med/High drive speed
  • Remaining battery and cut time
  • Plugs into rear of mower
  • Chargers both 80v and 40v simultaneously

Ryobi Z54Li 80V iDrive Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

  • 54-inch fabricated steel deck
  • Max cut area: 4-acres
  • Batteries: 3 x 80V 4 x 40V Lithium-ion
  • Spare 40V battery ports: 4
  • Charge time (w/Rapid charger): 4 hours
  • Price: 7,999

Z42Li 80V iDrive Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

  • 42-inch stamped steel deck
  • Max cut area: 2-acres
  • Batteries: 2 x 80V 2 x 40V Lithium-ion
  • Spare 40V battery ports: 4
  • Charge time (w/Rapid charger): 3 hours
  • Price: 6,999

Ryobi Z30Li 80V iDrive Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

  • 30-inch stamped steel deck
  • Max cut area: 1-acre
  • Batteries: 2 x 80V Lithium-ion
  • Spare 40V battery ports: 2
  • Charge time (w/Rapid charger): 2 hours
  • Price: 5,999

Clint DeBoer

When he’s not playing with the latest power tool, Clint DeBoer enjoys life as a husband, father, and avid reader—especially the Bible. He loves Jesus, has a degree in recording engineering, and has been involved in multimedia and/or online publishing in one form or another since 1992.

Clint’s career has covered nearly the entire realm of audio and video production. After graduating at the top of his class with an Associates Degree in Recording Engineering, he began working for the famed Soundelux studios in 1994, one of the largest post-production companies specializing in audio for feature films television. Working on a myriad of feature films, Clint honed his skills as a dialogue editor, foley editor, and sound designer. Years later, he moved into the expanding area of video editing, where he served as the company’s senior AVID video editor for three years. Working for such clients as Universal Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, NASA, Universal Studios, Planet Hollywood, SEGA, NASCAR, and others, Clint DeBoer dealt extensively with client management as well as film video editing, color correction, and digital video MPEG compression. He also carries several THX certifications (Technician I and II, THX Video), and is ISF Level II Certified. After founding the CD Media, Inc. publishing company in 1996, he went on to help start or grow several successful online publications, including Audioholics (as Editor-in-Chief for 12 years), Audiogurus, and AV Gadgets. In 2008, Clint founded Pro Tool Reviews followed by the landscape and outdoor power equipment-focused OPE Reviews in 2017. He also heads up the Pro Tool Innovation Awards, an annual awards program honoring innovative tools and accessories across the trades. Crediting God and his excellent staff for the success of what is now the largest power tool review publication in the industry, Clint DeBoer hopes to see continued growth for the company as it rapidly expands its reach. Pro Tool Reviews critically reviews hundreds of hand tools, power tools, and accessories each year to help inform users about the best and newest products in the industry. Reaching everyone from the construction industry professional and tradesman to the serious DIYer, Pro Tool Reviews helps tool consumers shop better, work smarter, and stay aware of what tools and products can help put them at the top of their game.

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