Riding mower 42 deck. Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Review

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Review

By now, there’s a good chance you’re aware of the Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower. Its unusual drive system has caught the attention of nearly everyone who’s seen it.

than 5 years ago Ryobi released its first battery-powered riding mower, the RM480E. It featured a lead-acid battery and a 38-inch stamped steel deck. That was followed by a Ryobi RY48ZTR100 48-inch zero turn mower and, eventually, the 54-inch brushless ZT with a fabricated deck. So this isn’t Ryobi’s first rodeo with a battery-powered riding lawn mower and the design team has plenty of real-world experience to draw from.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Size Options

Let’s start with the models and deck sizes. You can get a Ryobi 80V iDrive zero-turn with a 30-, 42-, or 54-inch deck.

Ryobi continued the use of a fabricated steel deck on the 54-inch mower and uses 10-gauge steel for it. The 30-inch and 42-inch models use a stamped steel design made from 12-gauge steel.

The blades on the 54-inch and 42-inch models include CrossCut stacked blades. That means you have six 18-inch blades in the 54-inch and four 21-inch blades in the 42-inch. The result is an extra-fine cut that grabs a lot more grass during bagging and leaves finer clippings when mulching.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower Power Source

These mowers operated using an 80V battery platform that has an interesting twist. Each 80V pack resembles a small suitcase and features 100 individual battery cells. A small LCD screen next to the handle shows you the percentage of the charge remaining.

The 42-inch and 54-inch models support up to three 80V batteries and four 40V auxiliary batteries. The 30-inch mower supports two 80V batteries and two 40V auxiliary batteries. That’s the twist—you can use Ryobi’s 40V batteries to boost the overall capacity and supplement the 80V packs.

So how do the Ryobi 80V riding mowers mix 40V and 80V batteries together? That’s a great question. While the mowers prioritize the 80V packs for operation, they use any additional 40V packs to add more runtime.

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And lest you think it needs to operate these 40V batteries in pairs—it doesn’t. Ryobi uses electronics to step up their 40V packs to 80V and deliver the required voltage. Think of it as doubling the voltage and cutting the amp-hour capacity in half. The point is, you can add just a single 40V battery and extend your runtime.

Each Ryobi 80V Lithium-ion battery pack operates at 72 nominal volts and specs out at 10Ah (amp-hours). That gives it a capacity of 720 Wh (watt-hours). Each 12Ah 40V battery pack yields 432 Wh once you factor in the 36V nominal voltage.

Do the math, and you can fully load either a Z42Li or Z54Li with 3,888 Wh of lithium-ion battery power!

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Since the 30-inch only holds two 80V and two 40V batteries, its highest capacity is 2304 Wh. That’s not a big concern considering it’s made for smaller lawns.

Onboard Charging

Where the older lead-acid battery-powered mowers took a long time to charge, the new 30-, 42-, and 54-inch zero-turns use a 120V external fast charger that you can mount on your garage or shed wall. It’s super quick—and yes, it charges both the 80V batteries and the 40V batteries at the same time. Here’s what those charge times look like:

Charge TimeWith Included Batteries Charge TimeWith Maximum Battery Loadout
Ryobi iDrive 30-Inch 1 hour, 30 minutes 2 hours, 30 minutes
Ryobi iDrive 42-Inch 2 hours, 30 minutes 5 hours
Ryobi iDrive 54-Inch 5 hours 5 hours

Even if you don’t plan to use the 40V ports to extend your runtime it might make sense to make use of the fast charger for the rest of your handheld 40V power tools.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower Drive System

Right off the bat you can’t help but notice these mowers don’t use either a steering wheel or lap bars. Instead, Ryobi spent over a year developing a single iDrive joystick that lets you maneuver the mower quickly and easily. You have complete 360° control in your right hand, including direction, acceleration, and speed adjustments.

Ryobi dialed in the sensitivity and control to help make it an easier transition from other riding mower styles. At a launch event, we were able to run through slaloms, maintain straight lines, and even execute 360-degree turns in place without much of a learning curve.

Back at our shop with more hands-on time to work with, we dug deeper. The controls are very natural for folks used to using a joystick or analog sticks on a game controller. Drone operators also have an easy time getting used to the system. For those folks, 15 – 30 minutes of practice time should have you in good shape to mow comfortably. For others, give yourself 1 – 2 hours for the muscles in your hands and arms to get used to the movements.

At first, it’s best to make your turns, arcs, and cuts close to equipment and vehicles slowly while you get used to the sensitivity of the joystick. We found that after 2 or 3 mowings, our team was pretty well dialed in and comfortable with the iDrive system.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Controls

If that weren’t enough, Ryobi updated the control system on these mowers as well. Now, an LCD screen lets you independently configure Low, Medium, and High drive and blade speeds. The screen shows you the remaining runtime and battery life. It also displays whether the vehicle is in Drive or whether the center-mounted golf cart-style parking brake is engaged.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Design Features

The air-ride seat suspension on the 42-inch and 54-inch models makes for a very comfortable ride. A dial on the front lets you adjust for your weight—which works well since I weigh significantly less than Kenny and we both have been using the mower regularly.

You pull up on a red knob to activate the blades—just as you would with a gas zero turn. It’s also keyed, so not just anyone can jump on and start it up.

Deck height is adjustable using a side pull lever from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. You also get LED headlights that activate with the push of a button underneath the LCD panel. Finally, a USB port lets you recharge your smartphone or other electronics as needed. And, yes, you get a couple of cupholders.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Bagging Options

Ryobi is offering several bagging systems and releasing them alongside the mowers. Notably, there’s a “Bagger Boost” system. Bagger Boost works with both the 30-inch and 42-inch models (the 54-inch does not have a bagging option):

  • 30-inch ZTR Bagger Boost Model Number: ACRM018
  • 42-inch ZTR Bagger Boost Model Number: ACRM026

The Bagger Boost button is located on the control panel. With just the press of a button, Bagger Boost sends a powerful gust of 700 CFM into the bagger chute. This helps clear out clogs and clumps of grass. This keeps you from having to stop mowing and manually clear out the chute.

RYOBI 80V HP Brushless 42″ Electric Lithium Zero Turn Riding Mower Assembly Guide

The Ryobi Bagger Boost accessories are sold separately and run 599 for the 42-inch or 500 for the 30-inch.

Ryobi iDrive 80V Riding Zero-Turn Mower Price

Below is a breakdown of the pricing and the batteries that come with each mower. Keep in mind that the mowers have a 5-year warranty. The 80V batteries have a 5-year warranty if you register them and a 3-year warranty if you don’t. At 899 each, they’re worth registering to get the extra two years of coverage. The 40V batteries have a 3-year warranty.

Z30Li 30-Inch Z42Li 2-Inch Z54Li 54-Inch
Included Batteries (2) 80V x 10Ah (2) 80V x 10Ah(2) 40V x 12Ah (3) 80V x 10Ah(4) 40V x 12Ah
Price 4999 5999 6999

Ryobi iDrive 80V Riding Zero-Turn Mower Comparison

Z30Li 30-Inch Z42Li 2-Inch Z54Li 54-Inch
Power Equivalence 28 HP 31 HP 42 HP
Deck 12-gauge stamped 12-gauge stamped 10-gauge fabricated
Blades 2 x 15-inch 2 x 21-inch CrossCut 3 x 18-inch CrossCut
Included Batteries (2) 80V x 10Ah (2) 80V x 10Ah(2) 40V x 12Ah (3) 80V x 10Ah(4) 40V x 12Ah
Max Runtime(Included Batteries) Up to 1 Acre Up to 3 acres Up to 4 acres
Charge Time(Included Batteries) 1 hour, 30 minutes 2 hours, 30 minutes 5 hours
Max Battery Loadout (2) 80V x 10Ah(2) 40V x 12Ah (3) 80V x 10Ah(4) 40V x 12Ah (3) 80V x 10Ah(4) 40V x 12Ah
Max Runtime(Max Loadout) Up to 1.5 acres Up to 5 acres Up to 4 acres
Charge Time(Max Loadout) 2 hours, 30 minutes 5 hours 5 hours
Discharge Side discharge, mulch, bag Side discharge, mulch, bag Side discharge, mulch
Cutting Height 1.5 – 4.5 inches 1.5 – 4.5 inches 1.5 – 4.5 inches
Top Speed 7 MPH 8 MPH 8 MPH
Price 4999 5999 6999

Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch Riding Mower

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. It’s a solid solution for anyone who wants a smaller 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 mid-size option with all of the same great controls, max battery loadout, and features of the 54-inch but with a lighter-gauge stamped deck. Out of the box, it’s a good fit for lawns up to 3 acres and we expect it to be the most popular size of the three.

Ryobi Z54Li 54-inch Riding Mower

The 54-inch Z54Li is the way to go when you want to get your lawn cut the fastest thanks to its larger cutting deck. It’s the most expensive, but you get a fully-loaded battery set and the ability to cut up to 4 acres on a charge.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a battery-powered riding mower with zero-turn capabilities, there aren’t many options on the market. Fortunately, the Ryobi iDrive series has you covered not only with joystick controls but with three size options to cover multiple lawn sizes. While the joystick drive system does take some time to get used to, it’s not a steep or long learning curve.

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 Z30Li 80V 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: 4,999

Z42Li Ryobi 80V Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

  • 42-inch stamped steel deck
  • Max cut area: 2 acres
  • Batteries: 3 x 80V Lithium-ion
  • Spare 40V battery ports: 4
  • Charge time (w/Rapid charger): 3 hours
  • Price: 5,999

Ryobi Z54Li 80V Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

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

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.

The slogan “Nothing runs like a Deere” isn’t just marketing lingo. If you’re looking to buy a John Deere lawn tractor, don’t miss our guide to getting the best one for your needs.

By Glenda Taylor | Updated Jun 9, 2023 1:35 PM

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Pushing a lawn mower can be great exercise, but not everyone wants to spend every Saturday morning mowing a large yard. To avoid a weekly time-consuming mow, riding mowers and lawn tractors can help. Both types of lawn-cutting machinery make quick work of mowing, but lawn tractors are typically the more heavy duty of the two, and they come with the ability to use attachments such as utility carts, aerators, and even snow blowers. John Deere lawn tractors are also available in various sizes to suit a range of lawn-care needs.

riding, mower, deck, ryobi, idrive

Deere Company, whose roots date back to 1836, has a well-earned reputation for making some of the highest-quality agricultural equipment. Its consumer-size lawn tractors resemble the highly recognizable John Deere tractor, sporting classic green bodies with bright yellow seats and trim. Ahead, learn more about the lawn tractors manufactured by this brand and find out why the following machines are among the best John Deere lawn tractor options on the market.

  • BEST OVERALL:John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor
  • BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor
  • BEST FOR MOST YARDS:John Deere S120 Lawn Tractor
  • BEST EASE OF OPERATION:John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor
  • BEST FOR MID-LARGE YARDS:John Deere S160 Lawn Tractor
  • BEST 4-WHEEL STEERING:John Deere X739 Signature Series Lawn Tractor
  • BEST FOR LARGE YARDS:John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor with 54-inch Deck

What to Consider When Choosing the Best John Deere Lawn Tractor

Top-of-the-line John Deere mowers and lawn tractors are not inexpensive, but they can be a wise purchase for those looking to invest in high-quality yard-care equipment. Choosing the best John Deere tractor for lawn and landscaping involves considering yard size, engine power, and the type of attachments owners want to use.

Engine Source and Power

Lawn tractor engines are measured in horsepower (HP), and the larger the engine, the more powerful the machine. John Deere uses a variety of engine sizes in its lawn-tractor offerings. Engines produced specifically for John Deere may be made by Briggs Stratton or other manufacturers, but they are often listed as “John Deere–branded engines.”

They range from a 17.5-HP Briggs Stratton engine in their compact S100 lawn tractor up to a 24-HP Briggs Stratton engine in their S180 model. In their high-end specialty, the X500 Select Series, buyers can find a couple of higher-power options, including the X590, which is fitted with a 25.5-HP Kawasaki engine.

In addition to engine size and type, John Deere makes it easy to put all that power to use by implementing hydrostatic transmissions in most of its machines. This type of transmission converts the power generated by the engine into fluid power that drives the shaft. Hydrostatic transmissions are valued because they conserve energy, operate quietly, and reduce wear and tear on moving parts.

Deck Size and Cutting Options

On lawn tractors, deck size indicates how quickly the user can cut the grass. John Deere lawn tractors feature deck sizes ranging from 42 to 60 inches. Compared with some push mowers with deck sizes as small as 18 inches, it’s easy to see how the larger decks on lawn tractors will cut much wider swaths and significantly reduce the time it takes to mow a lawn.

In addition to deck size, mowing height is a consideration. Most lawn tractors can be adjusted to cut as low as 1 inch or as high as 4 to 5 inches. On some models, mowing height is adjusted with a hand lever. In contrast, some of the pricier models come with a hydrostatic dial that allows the user to adjust the height in inches, and then the deck automatically adjusts to suit.

Yard Size and Ground Type

In general, riding mowers and lawn tractors are well suited to cutting large lawns such as yards with 1 to 3 acres or more of grass. Depending on the speed at which the user operates the lawn tractor, the yard can be mowed in a fraction of the time it would take with a push mower.

Still, not all yards are suitable for mowing with riding mowers or lawn tractors. If the yard is small or there are many trees and other obstacles to navigate, a large riding machine may be too cumbersome. Plus, it may be too wide to fit through a yard gate.

Steeply sloped terrain can also be a hazard for a riding tractor, which tends to tip if the user is mowing along the side of a steep slope. However, the risk is reduced by mowing either going up or down the hill rather than sideways. When considering mowing on steep or rough terrain, always follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.

Fuel Capacity or Battery Life

All John Deere lawn tractors are powered by gas or diesel engines, such as the 2.4-gallon gasoline engine in the S100 model. The company offers higher-capacity tanks on some of its larger models, such as the X570, which has a 4.4-gallon tank.

Larger fuel tanks provide longer runtimes and the extra power that is necessary for operating attachments. They’re most often found on bigger lawn tractors that use fuel more quickly as well. Larger tanks also translate into less-frequent fill-ups, but they also require storing more gasoline in a garage or shed.

Controls and Comfort

John Deere’s residential lawn tractors are designed to maximize user comfort and include such features as Twin Touch forward and reverse foot pedals that allow the user to change the machine’s direction. This is a user-friendly way to control the movement of the tractor compared with what was available on older models that required stopping the machine and then using a hand-shift gear to change directions.

All of John Deere’s basic lawn tractor models come with power steering, a feature that may be missing on some less-expensive brands. In addition, the standard John Deere seat is a two-part seat and backrest that allows air circulation between the two, won’t hold water, and may be less likely to rip as one-piece seats can be prone to do.


Some of the larger John Deere lawn tractors can be fitted with agricultural-type attachments that expand their versatility. Users can opt for a special-order backhoe attachment or a front-end loader that simplifies digging and moving dirt or compost. These attachments are installed at the factory before the tractor is delivered.

Standard attachments that will fit most John Deere lawn tractors include an adjustable chute that ejects grass clippings, a sun shade for protecting skin from sunrays, a rear bagger for collecting clippings, and more. Attachments are available for using the machines during any season of the year. If the goal is to find the right option that provides mowing capability only, John Deere also makes some of the best John Deere riding mower options.

Our Top Picks

Selecting the best lawn tractor from John Deere’s dozens of high-quality machines was no easy task. This respectable brand produces a wide range of mowers and tractors. We stuck with basic lawn tractors for our list and didn’t include riding mowers or zero-turn-radius (ZTR) mowers. Those looking for a quality lawn tractor are likely to find a model that suits their needs in our lineup.

John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor

Finish mowing chores in record time with the John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor, which reaches maximum forward speeds of up to 5.5 mph so mowers can finish yard work and get on with more enjoyable activities. The S140 features side-by-side forward and reverse foot pedals for easy operation, and it comes with a comfortable 15-inch padded seat that’s open in the back for enhanced air circulation.

The S140 cuts an admirable 48-inch swath of grass in a single pass, and its 22-HP gas engine offers plenty of power for mowing and mulching (mulch kit sold separately). It comes with Deere’s patented Edge Cutting System that makes it possible to mow right up to obstacles such as trees or storage sheds. It features the company’s 30-Second Oil Change System for quick maintenance, and it comes with electric blade engagement and a rugged front bumper.

Product Specs

Ryobi Joystick Zero Turn Mower | How does it work?

  • Cuts lawns up to 2 acres quickly
  • Comfortable seat for long mowing sessions
  • Compatible with many John Deere accessories

Get the John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or your local John Deere dealer.

John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor

John Deere lawn tractors are not budget mowers, but those looking to buy one of these high-quality machines can still get a good deal on a slightly less-expensive model. The John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor is designed to provide economically minded consumers with a high-end lawn tractor for a modest investment. This model offers some of the same features found on more expensive models, such as a hydrostatic transmission as well as forward and reverse foot pedals. The seat is a one-piece model, but it adjusts to 10 positions for the best fit and feel.

The E120 offers EZ 30-second oil change and provides plenty of mowing, mulching, and clipping-catching ability with its 20-HP engine. And to maintain an optimal speed when mowing those vast expanses, the E120 offers cruise control. Attachments are sold separately.

Product Specs

  • Makes quick work of mowing large lawns
  • Compatible with standard John Deere accessories
  • Adjustable seat for comfort

Get the John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot or your local John Deere dealer.

John Deere S120 Lawn Tractor

Those looking for a high-quality lawn tractor for mowing and other landscaping tasks may need to look no further than the John Deere S120. This model comes with a 22-HP gas engine and runs at forward speeds up to 5.5 mph. The S120 is one of John Deere’s midline machines, and it’s well suited for most large yards of a couple of acres or so.

With a 42-inch deck, the S120 can mow a large lawn quickly, and it comes with consumer-friendly features such as an easy-read fuel gauge on the dash and a deck that adjusts to 13 cut heights, ranging from 1 to 4 inches. It comes with edge-cut technology that allows users to mow right along the edge of fences and trees to reduce the need for weed-eating in those spots. Like other John Deere lawn tractors, the S120 can be used with many yard and landscape-related attachments.

Product Specs

  • Wide 42-inch deck makes for quick mowing
  • 2-piece seat won’t hold water
  • User-friendly forward and reverse pedals

Get the John Deere S120 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot or your local John Deere dealer.

John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor

The John Deere S130 22HP Lawn Tractor comes with a wealth of user-friendly features that were put through their paces during hands-on testing. It could haul more than 700 pounds of concrete bags in a garden trailer with ease. However, the tires did lose traction on steeper parts of the lawn, and John Deere recommends users not mow slopes greater than 13 degrees. Because most yards feature gentler slopes, that won’t be an issue for many.

The S130 comes with a two-piece padded seat, a powerful 22-HP engine, and an impressive 42-inch deck. It also features side-by-side forward and reverse pedals and will accept John Deere’s wide range of attachments. During testing, the S130’s quiet operation was appreciated, thanks to its hydrostatic transmission. Plus, its headlights were bright enough to navigate in near-dark situations.

Product Specs

  • Capable of hauling more than 700 pounds (with trailer)
  • 42-inch deck for quick mowing
  • Side-by-side forward and reverse pedals
  • Pricey
  • Tires lost traction on sloped area
  • No attachments included in purchase

Get the John Deere S130 at Lowe’s or your local John Deere dealer.

John Deere S160 Lawn Tractor

The John Deere S160 is a step up in many directions. It features a sizable 24-HP engine that is designed for extended use, and its 48-inch mowing deck means it makes quick work of cutting lawns up to 4 acres in size. Its large 20-inch rear wheels make it better suited for use on hilly terrain, but it works just as well as flat parcels. It comes with John Deere’s hydrostatic transmission and a fully welded steel frame for strength and durability.

The S160 accepts a variety of John Deere yard and garden attachments, including the manufacturer’s snow blower, snow blade, and aerator. An easy-to-see fuel gauge on the dash lets users know when to fuel up, and the two-piece seat is designed for comfort and won’t hold water. Set the cruise control on those long lawn stretches and enjoy mowing.

Product Specs

  • Powerful 24-HP engine for large yards
  • Cruise control
  • Wide 48-inch deck for quick mowing

Get the John Deere S160 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot or your local John Deere dealer.

John Deere X739 Signature Series Lawn Tractor

Make no mistake: The John Deere X739 is a costly lawn tractor. It comes with four-wheel steering, meaning the rear wheels turn on their axles in the same manner as the front wheels to navigate the lawn tractor in a tight 21-inch radius. This translates into the ability to cut the grass around many trees without the need to stop, back up, and then go forward again. This enhanced steering concept also helps smooth out the ride and allows the user to navigate on slopes.

Buyers can choose from decks up to 60 inches when ordering a custom X739 direct from the company or a certified John Deere dealer. For those who have difficulty getting the hang of operating a zero-turning mower, the X739 is a respectable option. Its user-friendly features include an in-dash fuel gauge, a robust 25.5-HP engine, hydrostatic transmission, and side-by-side forward and reverse pedals.

Product Specs

  • Superior maneuverability
  • Large mow deck option
  • Smoother ride
  • Can be custom-ordered

Get the John Deere X739 Signature Series Lawn Tractor from your local John Deere dealer.

John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor with 54-in. Deck

Have a large lot to mow? Consider the John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor that comes with a 54-inch mowing deck and a 24-HP engine to make quick work of grass cutting and other landscaping chores. The X570 has a mulching capability that cuts and uniformly distributes the clippings on the lawn, eliminating the need for bagging. Users can switch between mulching mode and side-discharge mode.

The lawn tractor features oversize 24-inch rear wheels for added traction and maneuverability. Like most John Deere lawn tractors, the X570 comes with a hydrostatic transmission and side-by-side forward and reverse pedals. It also features an adjustable two-piece comfort seat and comes with an easy-to-see fuel gauge on the dash. The X570 accepts standard John Deere attachments, including a rear bagger, utility cart, snow blade, and sun shade. Users can even order a soft-side cab enclosure for operating the lawn tractor in inclement weather.

Product Specs

  • Powerful 24-HP engine
  • 54-inch deck for quick mowing
  • Accepts wide range of attachments

Get the John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor with 54-in. Deck from your local John Deere dealer.

Our Verdict

John Deere manufactures some of the best-selling lawn tractors, and any of the models we’ve chosen for this lineup are among the best options for a variety of mowing and landscaping needs. Still, the John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor, our best overall pick, tops the list for a quality lawn tractor for the typical sizable residential yard. It features a 42-inch cut and comes with a 22-HP engine.

Our budget model, the John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor, is still a pricey prospect for many, but it comes at a slightly lower cost while providing features found on some of the more-expensive models.

How We Chose the Best John Deere Lawn Tractors

In choosing the tractors for this lineup of John Deere-specific lawn tractors, we focused on what we felt were among the most common residential yard-care needs. We selected models from a range of because no two yards—or budgets—are identical.

We looked for models that offered standard John Deere features, such as hydrostatic transmissions and easy-to-see fuel gauges that make mowing more user-friendly. Then, we hunted down models best suited to specific needs such as the need to mow tight radiuses around multiple trees or to cut closely along the edge of a fence or structure.

The result is a lineup with an array of John Deere lawn tractors within a range of power levels and price tags. Still, each of the chosen models is suitable for use with multiple John Deere attachments to extend each one’s versatility.


Buying a lawn tractor is an investment in the landscape. Numerous manufacturers make lawn tractors, but the John Deere name has become synonymous with high-quality machinery and agricultural equipment. Those looking to buy their first John Deere lawn tractor will probably have a few questions.

Q. Which series John Deere tractor is best?

The best tractor depends on an individual buyer’s needs. Models in the 100 Series, from which we’ve selected multiple picks for this lineup, are most likely to be sold at local home improvement stores. Still, models in other series are just as durable, although some may have to be special-ordered from the company or through a local John Deere dealer

Q. Which is the best John Deere tractor?

Choosing the best John Deere lawn tractor will depend on individual needs, but our best overall pick, the S140, offers a good combination of power, dependability, and price.

Q. What brand engine does John Deere use?

John Deere uses a variety of engines in its lawn tractors, including Briggs Stratton and Kawasaki. However, because some of these engines are manufactured explicitly for John Deere, they may be listed as “John Deere–branded” engines. Users can google the engine model number to find out its manufacturer.

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Up your summer lawn care game with a riding mower that makes for a faster, more eco-friendly mowing experience.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

Riding mowers are a popular mower choice for homeowners, especially if you have a big property to maintain every summer. They have cutting decks measuring from 42 to 72 inches, so you can make short work of everything from typical lawns to large properties, like sports complexes and golf courses.

Unlike their push mower counterparts, riding mowers have more features to consider in order to find the right fit for your yard. You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission, so you can set and forget your speed or operate your mower like a car. You can even get riding mowers with cruise control or all-wheel drive for better traction.

While gas engines are far more common among riding mowers, there is a wide selection of battery-powered models if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly solution for lawn care. My pick for the best overall riding mower is the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP for its 24HP engine, 54-inch cutting deck, and ability to mow up to four acres with a full gas tank. You can keep reading below to find out more about the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as well as our other top picks.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP

Best riding mower overall

  • 24HP engine
  • 54-inch cutting deck
  • Automatic transmission
  • Attachments and accessories available

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kohler | Cutting width: 54 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 4 acres

The Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP riding mower is an excellent choice for a variety of lawns. It’s built with a 24HP Kohler engine and a 54-inch cutting deck to let you handle inclines and rough terrain or haul tools, mulch, and potting soil around your property.

The hydrostatic, automatic transmission makes operation similar to a typical car, so you can spend more time actually cutting your grass and less time learning how to drive your mower. With a 3-gallon tank, you’ll be able to mow up to 4 acres at a time.

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

Best electric riding mower

  • 2.5 acre max range
  • Quick-charge batteries
  • LCD heads-up display
  • USB charging ports

Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor tech specs: Engine: 80V brushless electric | Cutting width: 46 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 2.5 acres

riding, mower, deck, ryobi, idrive

Electric riding mowers have become more popular in recent years as homeowners and landscaping professionals look for ways to make lawn care more eco-friendly. The Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor features a 46-inch cutting deck and enough power to let you mow up to 2.5 acres on a single charge, and you can recharge your mower batteries in as little as 2.5 hours.

This means you can take care of other tasks, like weeding or landscaping, while you’re waiting for your mower to recharge. An LCD screen gives you a heads-up display of run time, battery levels, and reminders to inspect and sharpen your mower blades. It even has two USB ports for charging your phone while you mow.

Toro Titan Max

Best zero-turn riding mower

  • Mows up to 7 acres at once
  • Highly maneuverable
  • 10-gauge steel construction
  • Tool-free air filters

Toro Titan Max tech specs: Engine: 26HP Kohler 7000 | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 7 acres

Zero-turn riding mowers are popular with homeowners who have larger properties or lots of obstacles like trees or specialized landscaping. The Toro Titan Max’s exceptional maneuverability and larger cutting decks make quick work of yards up to 7 acres in size, while the 26HP Kohler 7000 engine uses a dual hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive operation.

Toro also made regular maintenance a bit more streamlined with tool-free air filters. The deck and mower body are made from tough, 10-gauge steel to stand up to dings, rocks, run-ins, and anything else your lawn can throw at it.

Cub Cadet CC30E

Best compact riding mower

  • Battery-powered
  • Great for yards up to 1 acre
  • Compact design great for small storage areas and narrow spaces
  • Push-button cruise control

Cub Cadet CC30E tech specs: Engine: 56V electric | Cutting width: 30 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 1 acre

Compact riding mowers like the Cub Caded CC30E are great for suburban lawns on the smaller side. The CC30E features a smaller design that is perfect for storing in multi-use sheds and garages or maneuvering through gates and narrow spaces. The 30-inch cutting deck and 56V battery let you mow up to 1 acre (or one hour) at once.

It uses a hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive driving while the 18-inch turning radius lets you easily mow around trees and other obstacles. It even features a push-button cruise control, so you can set-and-forget your forward speed and concentrate on mowing around obstacles, as well as staying aware of your surroundings.

DeWALT Z160 Commercial

Best riding mower for large properties

  • Mow up to 10 acres
  • 5.5 gallon gas tank
  • Dual hydrostatic drive
  • Great for hills and inclines

DeWALT Z160 Commercial tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 10 acres

The DeWALT Z160 Commercial zero-turn riding mower is designed from the ground up to handle large properties. The 60-inch cutting deck and 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin engine let you mow up to 10 acres at once, making it an almost perfect choice for rural properties or landscaping professionals. The dual hydrostatic drive makes operation smoother, though the twin-stick steering does take some getting used to.

With 22-inch rear wheels, you can easily take on inclines and rolling hills that may be on your property. A 5.5-gallon fuel tank means you’ll spend more time actually mowing and less time refueling. And if you opt for the bagger attachment, you’ll be able to gather up to 11 bushels of clippings before you need to empty.

What is the best riding mower?

I chose the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as the best riding mower you can buy. It features a 54-inch cutting deck and 3-gallon fuel tank, letting you mow up to 4 acres in a single go. The 24 horsepower engine also lets you take on steeper inclines and rough terrain or haul tools and gardening supplies around your property. The hydrostatic drive makes operation similar to a typical car, while an LED display gives you accurate usage hours for streamlined maintenance.

Best riding mower

Cutting width

Transmission type

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

Which is the right riding mower for you?

Other than your budget, there are a lot of features and scenarios you have to consider while shopping for a new riding mower. The size of your yard will determine how wide the cutting deck should be, though either a 42 or 46-inch version will be more than enough for most yards.

You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission. A manual model lets you set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS, while hydrostatic models operate more like cars, going faster the harder you press the pedal. This makes them more intuitive to operate but also more expensive.

Zero-turn mowers are designed for mowing in oddly-shaped areas or around lots of obstacles like trees, lamp posts, and lawn ornaments. They’re called zero-turn because they have a zero-inch turn radius; you pivot around either rear wheel for ultra-tight turning.

Buy this best riding mower.

If you need.

A well-rounded riding mower. The 54-inch cutting deck and 24HP engine let you mow up to 4 acres at a time.

Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor

An all-electric riding mower. The electric engine requires less maintenance than gas models, making your lawn-care routine more eco-friendly.

An excellent zero-turn riding mower. Precision maneuvering lets you mow around trees, landscaping, and other obstacles with ease.

A compact riding mower. The 30-inch deck and smaller build make this riding mower perfect for smaller suburban lawns.

A riding mower that can handle larger properties. This commercial-grade, zero-turn riding mower lets you cut up to 10 acres at once.

How did we choose these riding mowers?

I used to work for MTD Products (now owned by BlackDecker), which assembles a variety of lawn mowers, snow blowers, and other powered lawn equipment. Using the expertise and knowledge I gained during my time there, I looked for riding mowers with these qualities:

  • Motor size: You’ll want a riding mower with at least a 10HP engine to give you enough power to handle minor inclines and lawns up to half an acre. Larger riding mowers like the John Deere Z530M have more powerful engines, often topping out over 20HP to let you tackle rough terrain and even haul equipment.
  • Cutting width: Many riding mowers have either a 42 or 46-inch cutting deck, which is great for lawns between.5 and 1.5 acres. However, if you have a large, multi-acre property, you’ll want to choose a larger cutting deck. Many brands have options between 50 and 72-inch cutting decks.
  • Transmission type: The less expensive riding mowers will have either a 6 or 7-speed manual transmission. This means you will use a dedicated lever to set your engine’s forward and reverse speeds, with a single brake pedal for stop control. The more expensive models feature a hydrostatic drive, which operates in a similar way to an automatic transmission in a typical car or truck.
  • Accessories: Lawn care goes beyond regular mowing. I chose riding mowers that have the ability to hitch small trailers or wagons for hauling tools, mulch, or potting soil. I also chose mowers from brands that make after-market add-ons, like rear bagging units for collecting grass clippings, mulching kits for re-feeding lawns, and snow plows for year-round use.

How do you decide which riding mower to buy?

Assuming you have a budget in mind, the first thing you need to do is find out how big your lawn is. You can either find your lot size on your memorandum deeds if you’ve bought your house, or you can check your city’s website to see if you can request lot measurements if you’re renting. If your lot measures about an acre, you’ll be able to use a 30 or 42-inch cutting deck without any issues. For lawns up to two acres, a 42 or 46-inch deck is ideal. And if your lot is over two acres, you can get a mower with up to a 72-inch cutting deck to handle larger areas.

The transmission type is also important. Many newer models have what is known as a hydrostatic drive. This means that they operate similarly to how a car drives: You push the pedal and it moves forward or backward. And the harder you push, the faster you go. This makes it easier to learn how to drive, but that also makes the mower more expensive. stripped-back models have variable speed manual transmissions, which allow you to set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS on paying attention to obstacles and people who may be nearby.

And finally, you’ll want to consider the power source for your new riding mower. Gasoline engines are far more common, but there is now a wider variety of battery-powered models to choose from. The perks of a gas engine are that you’ll get near-infinite run times (as long as you have enough fuel to keep the engine going) and a bit more power for handling steep inclines and rough terrain. The downsides are dealing with exhaust emissions and maintenance that can be a time and money sink. Electric models don’t need engine maintenance, so you save a bit of money in the long run. But they usually have a maximum run time of about an hour, which means that you may have to plan your mowing over several days if you have a larger yard.

How big of a yard do I need for a riding mower?

Riding mowers are best suited for yards measuring one acre or larger. A model with a 42-inch cutting deck is great for mowing up to two acres, so if you have more land than that, you’ll want to spring for a 46, 54, 60, or 72-inch cutting deck.

If you’re right on the threshold, you can get what’s known as a mini rider. They usually have compact bodies for easier storage and 30-inch cutting decks to make short work of lawns that are just a touch too large for a push mower.

How long should a riding mower last?

No matter if you choose a gas or battery-powered riding mower, proper maintenance is key to extending the life of your mower. For gas engines, you should change the oil and filters, clean the spark plugs, and sharpen the blades before you mow for the first time in the spring. And you should use fuel treatments like STA-BIL to prevent gas in the tank or extra jerry cans from going bad from moisture contamination. This prevents buildup of gunk that can ruin your engine, improves engine performance, and gives you a cleaner cut for a healthier lawn.

Electric mowers don’t need engine maintenance, but you should perform thorough inspections at the start of mowing season to check for battery damage, corrosion on battery contacts, damage to the battery housing, and also to sharpen the blades. If you do regular maintenance, not only will you save money by avoiding big repairs from worn-out parts, but you can also expect your riding mower to last 10 years or more.- which is great news, since they can be an expensive investment.

What is the cheapest riding mower?

Unfortunately, riding mowers aren’t ever really what we consider budget-friendly. However, there are models like the Murray MT100 that retail for less than 2000 without sacrificing power or cutting width.

Are there alternative riding mowers worth considering?

Whether you’re shopping at a big-name DIY store like Lowe’s, a local hardware store, or an authorized brand dealer, there are tons of options for a new riding mower. You can choose either gas or battery-powered models, cutting deck widths from as small as 30 inches to as wide as six feet.

Here’s a short list of other riding mowers I thought were great choices:

John Deere Z530M

The John Deere Z530M features a 60-inch cutting deck for making quick work of large properties. Exceptional maneuverability lets you mow around trees, lawn decor, and other obstacles with ease.

Husqvarna YTH1942

The Husqvarna YTH1942 features an updated, 19 horsepower engine and 42-inch cutting deck to take on inclines and haul dirt, mulch, and gardening equipment.

Murray MT100

For under 2000, you’ll get a 13.5 horsepower engine, a 42-inch cutting deck, and a 6-speed manual transmission with the Murray MT100.

The Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023

These achieve the rare feat of making lawn mowing fun.

By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 1, 2023

When it comes to yard work, zero turn mowers do the impossible. They make lawn mowing fun. They accomplish this by putting unprecedented speed, control and maneuverability at the disposal of the person mowing the lawn. The so-called “zero turn” feature of these mowers converts a grass cutting machine into something akin to an amusement park ride. You steer the machine with two levers—the left lever controls the left wheel, the right lever the right wheel. With that steering setup, you can zoom over the landscape cutting straight lines, curves, or pivot the mower into and out of a corner. What’s not to like?

Read on to understand how these agile grass cutters work, how we go about testing them, and see some candidates that we’ve recently tested as well as some that we haven’t but that we think look particularly promising.

How Zero-Turn Mowers Work

A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers commonly known as lap bars. In gas mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drives the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When you move the lap bar forward or back, you are directing the transmission to go faster, slower, or even turn the opposite way. When one drive wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels rotate at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are in the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there’s no other braking mechanism. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors to drive the rear wheels and one for each blade inside the mower deck.

When it comes to transmission, most mowers have a Hydrogear EZT—a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle with a reputation for durability.

Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of steel, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. A fabricated deck can be built from thicker steel at a lower cost than it would be able to be built otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of stamping such a deck would push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks in the mowers below range from 42 to 52 inches, a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of 7 mph. Note, however, that cut quality declines steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.

As to the electric mowers, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large-voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.

Selecting a Zero-Turn Mower

Everyone would like to select the biggest possible zero-turn mower with the hope of whittling a big grass cutting job down to size as quickly as possible. Reality usually intercedes because these machines are expensive and the wide range of options available today quickly drive up the cost. Roughly speaking, you start somewhere in the range of a mower with a 42-inch deck costing in the vicinity of 3200 to 3500 and move up in increments of 1000 to 1500 until you reach entry-level commercial-grade equipment that costs 7000 to 8000.

Again, speaking in terms of approximation, a mower with a 42-inch deck will cut a two-acre lot (that takes into account that the house, driveway, outbuildings and various landscape features are taking up some of that space). Use a mower with a larger deck to cut anything over two acres. But here’s the caveat. That entry-level ZTR mower (3200, say) with a 42-inch deck will wear out faster and need more maintenance than a mower with a 50-inch deck, a heavier frame, larger engine and higher quality transmissions, and thicker deck with more robust blade spindles, costing 4500.

In the simplest possible terms, you can cut a smaller area with a larger mower and expect more longevity out of the machine (not to mention a nicer mowing experience) or you can cut a larger area with a smaller machine and encounter more maintenance and a mowing experience that will be, we might say, a bit more rugged.

But there are still other factors to consider, in selecting a mower other than deck size and your budget. Larger mowers take more space in a garage or outbuilding. And a mower with a 50-inch or even 60-inch deck, as useful as it might be in getting the job done more quickly, may not fit through a fence’s gate, and it might be more difficult to maneuver in tight spots without creating scalp marks on the lawn from a lot of close-quarter pivoting.

Carefully consider all these factors when shopping for a mower: your budget, maintenance and whether you will perform that work yourself, mowing speed and time, maneuverability and trimming in tight areas, the importance that you place on your comfort while mowing, cut quality, longevity, storage, and access to the landscape.

How We Select and Test

There’s only one way to test a mower, and that’s to cut grass with it. But we also do more than mow.

We raise and lower the deck and adjust the seat. We look at service point access (the air filter, the spark plug, and the oil filter) and how easy it is to remove the deck. We mow approximately an acre with each mower, considering cut and mulching quality while running uphill, downhill, across washboard, and along sidehills. (On sidehills, we’ll mow surfaces pitched up to approximately 20 degrees; manufacturers generally recommend not going steeper than 10 degrees, but we like to be thorough.) We evaluate power and speed relative to cut quality—we investigate whether the mower delivers a decent cut mowing at full speed. When mowing in damp conditions, we look at whether the mower’s tires accumulate grass and how effectively it discharges moist clippings. Finally, we test maneuverability (these machines are, generally, very nimble) and how readily they come to a stop when you back off the lap bar control levers.