Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews 2023. Honda black max mower
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews 2023
Deciding on the best self-propelled lawn mower isn’t as easy as it used to be. Do you need commercial or residential quality? Do you want to use gas or batteries for power? How much grass do you need to cut? Are you a mulcher or a bagger?
Having tested dozens of the best walk-behind lawn mowers from entry-level residential to the top professional models, we got our Pro team together to choose our top mowers in a range of scenarios.
One of the big things changing in the market is Honda’s announcement that the brand is exiting the lawn mower market. While you can still buy Honda mowers until they run out of stock, 2023 marks the end of production. We still highly recommend them, but due to the news and iffy availability, we’re not considering Honda as part of our choices this year.
Want to see more, including ride-on and robotic recommendations? Read out Best Lawn Mower Reviews main article!
Best Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower
Commercial: Exmark Commercial X-Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
As we bid adieu to Honda this year, the HRC series still gets two thumbs up from us while you can get them. From there, we turn to Exnark and its Commercial X line that complements its Lazer Z zero-turn mowers well. Some professionals will certainly turn to the higher-capacity 30-inch model, but we expect the 21-inch model will find its way onto more trailers.
Exmark wisely uses a Honda 163cc GXV engine with a legendary reputation for reliability. It’s fed by a generous 1-gallon fuel tank and turns the blade at tip speeds up to 18,500 fpm. There’s also an option for a Kawasaki FJ180V engine if you’d like to step up to a 179cc engine.
The deck is 1/4-inch aluminum construction that keeps the weight down (112 pounds) while maintaining high durability. The deck is adjustable from 4.5 inches on the high side all the way down to 1 inch while the drive runs at speeds up to 4.2 MPH.
Residential: Toro Super Recycler Series 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Toro runs deep in the residential lawn mower sector and our favorite among them is the Super Recycler series. Getting the best of all the technology Toro has to offer, our top recommendation (model 21565) includes the Personal Pace drive system and the Smart Stow design that allows you to vertically store the mower even though it’s a gas model.
It uses a 163cc Briggs Stratton engine that produces 7.25 ft-lbs of torque and just under 17,000 fpm blade tip speed.
Toro touts a commercial-grade construction on this model and includes a lighter aluminum deck rather than steel. In addition to that, you get outstanding cut quality, especially on the mulching side (you better with the name Super Recycler!). Wrapping it up, the Personal Pace drive system adjusts to your walking pace so there are no levers or dials to adjust.
Best Self-Propelled Electric Lawn Mower
Just a few years ago, if you wanted to find the best battery-powered lawn mower, you could only find residential models. Now, there’s an emerging class of professional-grade options and we have picks for both Pros and homeowners.
Professional: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
There aren’t many true commercial self-propelled lawn mowers with lithium-ion power sources. Milwaukee launched their effort in 2022 with a monstrous 10 ft-lbs of torque that tops what you typically see from a 200cc gas engine. It’s more than just muscle, though. Its blade and deck combine to handle mulching and bagging better than most.
As you roll into fall, the mower’s high-lift mode keeps the blades at 3300 RPM to help pull those lightweight leaves and clean up your lawn. Other features include 180° LED lighting, LED battery indicators facing you, variable speed thumb bar (in addition to the speed wheel), a durable build, and much more.
Price: 1099.00 with two 12.0Ah batteries and dual-port Rapid charger
Residential: EGO Select Cut XP 21-Inch Lawn Mower with Speed IQ
The evolution of EGO’s flagship mower is interesting. It started with the dual-battery Peak Power model that raised the bar of what lithium-ion is capable of. Then, we saw the first stacked-blade SelectCut options that improved cut quality and effectiveness in tall grass. The two technologies combined in the SelectCut XP. Now EGO adds Speed IQ to the mix.
Speed IQ is a self-propelled drive system that automatically adjusts to your pace. However, it’s not a spring-loaded set of handles like Toro uses on its Personal Pace models. Instead, there’s a sensor doing some serious engineering magic… and it works like a charm from our brief time with it at Equip Expo 2022 (formerly GIE).
Price: 599.00 bare, 999.00 with a 12.0Ah battery and Turbo charger
Best Large Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
Commercial: Greenworks Commercial 30-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Can a battery-powered commercial mower really displace gas models? Greenworks Commercial has an 82V 30-inch model that got our attention at the Equip Expo in late 2022, and it’s hard to ignore as a legitimate option. It has the power to replace a 200cc gas engine with blade speeds up to 16,000 FPM. On a full charge, it can cover up to 2 acres.
There are drive system features worth considering as well. Independent hub wheel motors engage what Greenworks calls the Easy Turn System (ETS), making the mower easier to maneuver. Another big deal is that there is a powered reverse function—something that’s incredibly helpful with the weight of mowers in this class. The controls are all up next to your hands and there’s even a display to help you keep track of your battery levels.
Price: 1999.99 bare, 2999.99 with three 8Ah batteries and a dual-port charger
Residential: Toro TimeMaster 30-inch Personal Pace Mower
With 10 ft-lbs of torque delivered from its Briggs Stratton 223cc engine, the 30-inch Toro TimeMaster is our pick as the best large walk-behind lawn mower. Not only does it deliver big power to turn its time-saving 30-inch blade, but it also features Toro’s Personal Pace self-propelled drive and Spin-Stop that lets you stop the blade without shutting off the mower.
It all adds up to big-time savings on larger lawns. Grab model 21200 if you want an electric start or the 21199 if you don’t mind a recoil start and want to save 100.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for the Money
Toro’s 21-inch Recycler (21352) offers an excellent value for budget-minded homeowners. It’s a Made in the USA rear-wheel drive system powered by a Briggs Stratton 140cc engine. It comes ready to mulch, bag, or side discharge and you don’t have to worry about changing the oil. Just check the levels and add more when it’s necessary.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Brand
No one in the self-propelled lawn mower market dominates like Honda. Their engines enjoy a reputation for quality and durability every other manufacturer is shooting for, and their mowers are simply outstanding.
They typically run at a premium, though. Both Honda mowers and Honda-powered mowers are more expensive than similar designs from other brands. The big kick in the pants is Honda leaving the market, though.
That opens the door for Toro. There are a lot of Toro models we recommend for good reason and hit a wide range from budget-friendly homeowner mowers to commercial zero turns. It’s one of the best-selling brands of walk-behind mowers.
Getting hard sales figures is tough to come by, and it’s always possible we missed the mark. However, we see more Honda and Toro walk-behind mowers on commercial trailers and residential lawns than any other brand.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Bagging
You don’t have to ditch your current self-propelled lawn mower and buy a whole new one to improve your bagging efficiency. In most cases, adding a high-lift blade to your current mower will make a significant difference. With the exception of electric mowers, you don’t need to worry too much about matching the brand making the blade, but you do need to match the arbor style and the length. The package should tell you which brands it is compatible with.
If you’re still in the market for a new mower, higher RPMs make for better airflow and bagging. Check mowers with a 160cc or higher engine and compare the top blade speeds. You can always swap blades, but you can’t change the speed.
Pro Tip: If you have a 2-point or 4-point deck height adjustment, set the front wheels of your mower one notch higher than the rear to improve bagging.
Best Self-Propelled Mulching Lawn Mower
Similar to a high-lift blade for bagging, you can improve your mulching efficiency with a mulching-specific blade. These usually have additional cutting edges that cut the clippings more times before they drop back into the grass. Keeping the blade sharp ensures you get the best mulching results every time you mow.
If you’re in the market for a new mower, look for a 160cc or higher engine to give you the torque you need to keep your blade speed high in thicker grass. Remember, you can always add a mulching blade, but you can’t make up for an underpowered engine.
Pro Tip: You get the best mulching results if you’re only taking an inch or two off the top of your grass, so make sure you stay on top of lawn maintenance during the peak cutting season.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower – Priorities
Best Rear-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Hills: YBravo Gen II 25-inch Commercial Mower
After running into issues with other commercial walk-behind mowers, we turned to YBravo 25-inch commercial mower to take care of a 3-acre soggy field that our ZTs only bogged down in. Its Kawasaki 180cc engine kept the blade turning where others simply stalled.
When it’s time to move out of the radio station swamp and you’re going for a more professional look, its cut quality is excellent as well. Available in a 21-inch and the 25-inch model we tested, Ybravo is worth serious consideration.
If you have a Bad Boy dealer closer to you, check out the same model sold under the Bad Boy brand name.
IS THE TORO SUPER RECYCLER 21564 THE BEST HOMEOWNER LAWN MOWER?
Best All-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Toro 22-inch Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Mower 21472
AWD mowers are what you turn to for work on slopes and uneven terrain where it’s possible to have a wheel or two lose traction. For the best all-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mower, we like the Toro 21472 Personal Pace model.
Its 22-inch deck is on the larger size of standard mowers and the Personal Pace system is easy to work with once you get used to it. If you switch between mulching and bagging, the mower’s lever system is super simple.
Packing plenty of power with its 163cc Briggs Stratton engine, it’s not so much that it destroys the competition. It’s that its performance is excellent and the innovations are genuinely helpful while keeping its price in check.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Recommendations
Not every mower earns an award, but there are several other models we recommend that didn’t find a place earlier in the article. Check these options out if one of the others doesn’t fit your needs.
Best Lawn Mower Buying Guide – What We Look For
Gas vs Battery
Gas power still wins the day when you’re highest priorities are keeping your purchase price down and your power level high. With advancements in battery and motor technology, the OPE world is shifting towards battery power, though. It’s cleaner and quieter to run and requires less maintenance.
However, you have to look at premium models to get true gas power, and runtime can be a limiting factor. It’s also less likely you have a service center nearby that can get you back up and running quickly if there’s a problem.
If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, there are a lot of battery-powered options available. Once you get beyond that size, you need to consider how many batteries you’ll need and legitimate options really start to thin out once you hit 1/2 an acre. With larger lawns, newer battery-powered zero turn mowers are a legitimate option.
Take a deeper look at the comparison between gas and battery power in this article.
Commercial vs Residential
This might be better titled “professional vs homeowner” considering there are both commercial and residential professional crews. Regardless, commercial mowers are built with better components and commercial engines, creating a machine that is built to last for years of high-hour daily use.
If you’re a homeowner mowing once a week or so, a good residential mower can still last for 5 or 10 years (or more) if you take care of it. It just uses components and engine designs better fit for occasional use.
Engine Size and Cutting Power
If you stay on top of your mowing and cut quality isn’t a high priority, an engine as small as 140cc is likely fine.
Move up to the 160cc–180cc class for better performance when the grass is thicker and taller, or when you want to make sure you get excellent mulching, bagging, and/or clean cuts. The greater power improves lift and is less likely to bog down in thick patches.
When you’re looking at deck sizes beyond 22 inches, you should start looking for engines in the 180cc–200cc range (or higher) to ensure it can keep the RPMs high while it’s cutting such a large swath.
We look for three major components of cut quality: evenness, mulching size, and bagging efficiency.
Evenness is pretty straightforward. When we’re testing, we look for grass blades that weren’t cut and indications that there wasn’t enough lift to clip all of the blades at the same level.
When mulching, smaller clippings are better since they drop down closer to the base of the remaining grass. We also look to see if a mower is prone to leaving trails and clumps.
For bagging, it’s all about how much grass is collected, if the chute tends to clog while we’re cutting, and how much grass is deposited back to the ground.
One of the major benefits of battery-powered mowers is the lower noise levels compared to gas, but that doesn’t mean gas mowers have to be obnoxious. We expect higher levels than battery-powered models and that is typically the case.
When we test noise levels, we measure from our operator’s ear to get an idea of what the person using the mower should expect. Even though some mowers are quieter than others, we still recommend hearing protection when you’re using a gas model.
How efficient gas mowers use fuel has a very direct effect on your wallet, especially when you’re mowing every day as a Pro.
Fuel efficiency testing is more than just a runtime calculation. The cutting swath of a mower comes into play, especially on those 25 and 30-inch models. With larger lawns, it’s possible to get more cutting done per gallon of gas with an engine that uses more gas per hour.
21 or 22 inches is pretty standard for most mowers. Jumping up to a 25-inch or 30-inch mower may seem tempting, but it’s not for everyone.
If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, the time you gain with a larger deck might not mean a whole lot of time savings. Where you really gain some time is on lawns that are a 1/2-acre or more.
Keep in mind, larger deck-size mowers are heavier. When you have to mow wet or soggy areas, the weight can work against you.
Steel vs Plastic (Poly) Deck
The vast majority of gas mowers have steel decks while battery-powered models have a much higher percentage of plastic poly decks.
Those poly plastic decks are tougher than they look, but they probably won’t hold up as well as steel in the long run. It’s still highly unlikely that you’ll wear through one before it’s time to replace the mower, though.
However, there’s a whole lot more design flexibility that comes with poly decks, and engineers can do some amazing things to help with airflow that directly affects cut quality along with bagging and mulching efficiency.
Here in Florida, we have a lot of St. Augustine grass that we cut at 3 1/2 inches, so we prefer a mower that has at least a 4-inch maximum deck height.
Depending on what species of grass you have, you might be able to get away with a lower height, but 4 inches is a good all-around benchmark.
On the low end, most of us aren’t cutting golf course greens (you’d use a reel mower for that, anyway), so the minimum deck height usually isn’t an issue.
However, if you use a blade that dethatches or scalps for maintenance or re-seeding, you might want to make sure the deck height gets low enough—typically 1 1/2 inches or less.
Single-point height adjustments are the easiest since you can raise or lower the deck with just one lever. It’s common on battery-powered lawn mowers, but not so much on their heavier gas counterparts.
Part of that is because the single-point mechanisms tend to introduce additional flex into the system and the weight of a gas mower puts more strain on the mechanism. So while we generally prefer single-point, we understand why gas mowers may opt away from them.
Pro Tip: Set the front wheels one notch higher than the rear wheels to improve bagging efficiency on 4-point or 2-point adjustable mowers.
If you’re really OCD, more height adjustments mean more precise cutting. Realistically, most of us are going to find a good height on any mower as long as it hits the maximum and minimum heights we mow at.
Setting the Speed
The type of speed adjustment your self-propelled lawn mower has can make or break your experience. There are pull levers, thumb push levers, full push bars (Toro’s Personal Pace), and iterations on those.
Try it at the dealer before you buy it. If you hate working the mechanism for a couple of minutes, imagine what it’s going to feel like after 30 minutes or an hour.
Front-Wheel Drive, Rear-Wheel Drive, or All-Wheel Drive?
Front-wheel drive lawn mowers are typically the least expensive and work well for even terrain. They also help you turn the easiest since you lift up the drive wheels as you make your turns.
Rear-wheel drive mowers add some cost but create better traction on hills and slopes. They’re particularly good at pushing the mower’s weight uphill where front-wheel drives start to lose traction as they try to pull the weight.
All-wheel drive mowers are the most expensive and generally do the best job on hills, slopes, and uneven terrain. On particularly bumpy areas where it’s likely one or more wheels will lose traction, it’s the best bet.
Larger wheels tend to handle bumps and uneven terrain better than smaller wheels according to manufacturers. However, it’s a claim that Consumer Reports says isn’t really the case.
If you’ve used a gas engine, there’s a good chance you’ve worn out your arm pulling the cord to start it. There’s no doubt that having an electric start on your mower can take away a lot of the frustration.
It won’t make up for poor maintenance, though. A well-maintained mower starts easily on the first or second pull. That begs the question as to whether the electric start is worth an extra hundred dollars.
It’s totally up to you, but if it’s in the budget, we want it.
Mulch, Bag, or Side/Rear Discharge?
Most quality mowers are 3-in-1, meaning you can bag, mulch, or side/rear discharge. Less expensive models often only provide options for bagging and mulching. Which one you choose depends on what type of grass you have, how fast it grows, and your personal preference.
In central Florida where St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bahia dominate our landscapes, the summer heat and rains make our grass grow incredibly fast. Most of us mulch out of necessity since we almost need a dumpster for the volume of clippings we create.
Most lawn mowers have 3 handle positions you can set. For tall guys like me or average-height guys like Clint, it helps you find a more comfortable grip. Some mowers opt for 2, or sometimes just 1 handle position.
Value is more than just price. We take a broad look at the performance and features compared to the price to determine the value of each mower.
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Black Max 21-Inch 150cc Self-Propelled Gas Mower with Briggs Stratton Engine
FSA and HSA eligible Details
Customer reviews ratings
Most helpful positive review
First thank goodness it pulls itself because I am not very big but I have a lot of yard! Right out of the box after reading the instructions, I started mowing with it. Cut the grass how I like it no long peices left. I just walked behind it which is nice. After I was done I let it cool down followed the instructions again and folded it up stood it up and tucked it in the corner. My shed is small I was worried that I’d have to sacrifice power for space just no the case here. I’m just girl who mows her own yard but I feel like a boss mowing uphills with breeze.
Most helpful negative review
This is a nice mower. It is sturdy and has ways to make adjustments to fit the person using the mower. The handle adjusts to accommodate tall and not-tall people. The wheels adjust to various heights, and they are extremely easy to adjust. The flap on the back of the mower closed very tightly when not using the bag. When I started it up, I was impressed with the power. The motor on this mower is a Briggs Stratton and also makes the mower heavy, but “more power” tends to be heavy. The huge feature, for me, on this mower is the self-propulsion. I thought a mower that moves itself would be great for an older woman, but this mower GOES, I had to run to keep up with it and thought maybe I’m not the right person to use this. I had my husband try it and he believes it is too fast too. I tried it with the drive bail halfway to the handle and the mower moved slower, but it was difficult to mow while holding the bail with one hand to reduce the speed of the mower. The owner’s manual that is provided includes all types of information for “Mowing 101” but has very little information for this particular mower. I would have liked to have found instructions on how to slow it down in self-propel mode. As it is now, I can’t use it very easily because it moves way too fast.
“I received this product for free as part of the Black Max Tools friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience” I am pleasantly surprised and impressed with this mower. It was easy to assemble. The mower is powerful and durable. My front yard has many exposed roots and it went over them with no problem. I also cut when the grass was damp and it powered through. This is a very strong self propelled mower! Love that the body is durable polymer so that it will not rust. I would highly recommend it.
I received this product as part of the BlackMax friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my opinion. this mower was very fast to set up, started on the 2nd pull and cuts like a champ. we have had tons of rain in SE Texas so my St. Augustine was really thick and long when I went after it. The power assist is a quick walk, so you have to be ready but it cut off 6 inches without any issues at full pace. highly recommend. and the standup storage is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.
I received this product for free as a part of the BLACKMAX Tools Friends Family Program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience. This lawn mower packs a punch, especially at this price point. This 21″ mower has many of the features you normally see on mowers that are much more expensive. The trim height adjustment is super easy and only needs to be adjusted on two wheels versus having to adjust on all four wheels like on many other mowers. The self-propelled power is awesome and enabled me to easily mow the hills in my backyard with very little effort. I’ve used this mower three times and each time it has started right up with just one pull. If you’re looking for an expensive mower that makes mowing a breeze, look no further!
I received this product for free as part of the HART Tools friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience. This mower performed as well as it was advertised. It was easy to assemble out of the box and started immediately with one pull. The motor was powerful and the self-propelled made my grass cutting session considerably easier than with my old push mower, and the results looked wonderful. The bag is a nice option, but I prefer the mulching feature because it clearly does chew up the grass and no clumps are visible. I could not be happier with my first impression as no stragglers were left behind.
I received this product for free as part of the BLACKMAX Tools friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience. It was easy to assemble right out of the box. Added oil and gas then fired right up. I used the side discharge, grass catcher, and mulch feature. I liked the mulch feature the best. Height adjustment was simple. Using the self-propel, it went a little faster than anticipated, but was able to keep pace with it. The Brigg
I received this product for free as part of the BLACKMAX friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience. This mower arrived at my house via local delivery, the box is large, heavy and had some visible damage BUT the mower was packed perfectly, no damage. It was super easy to assemble just extend the handle add oil, gas and three pulls later I was mowing. Pros: No oil changes needed, overall light weight, rear wheel self propelled and you can store it upright (with gas and oil in the mower) saving space! Cons: Rear wheel self propelled (I prefer front wheel so you don’t have to release the drive to turn around). Self propelled power and speed is somewhat fast, takes off quick and if you attempt to pull back on the speed the front of the mower can lift up causing an uneven cut.
I received this product for free as part of the BlackMax friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience. This BlackMax mower was very simple to assemble, had it ready to cut in about 20 minutes. It feels very sturdy yet lightweight to push. I have always enjoyed a mower with self propelled wheels as I do have a few hills on my property. As I only just started using this mower, the durability and reliability will be a test down the road, but based on my first 2 mows, this gets the job done right. I look forward to using this mower for years to come.
I received this product for free as part of the Blackmax friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience. Out of the box all you needed to do was add the oil to the engine and fuel up the tank. Started right up after the first pull. Very fuel efficient, I was able to get through 3/4 of an acre on one tank of gas. The mower does very well mulching and left no grass clipping on the lawn. I am a bit skeptical of the plastic mower deck and that is my reasoning behind giving the mower 4 stars instead of 5. The mower folds up nicely for storage.
I received this product for free as part of the BlackMax friends and family review program. Everything stated here is true and representative of my experience. The mower came pretty much assembled and I had it running and mowing the yard in less than 10 minutes. It even started on the first pull after adding the oil and gas. The drive does use a belt and really has only one speed which worked for me but may be too fast for others. You can throttle the speed but I wouldn’t recommend this as you are just causing the drive belt to slip and will eventually burn up. When I tried throttling the speed, I could smell the belt, so make sure you fully engage or disengage the drive system. Additionally, this mower works great on flat terrain as advertised. I tried it on a few steeper grades in my yard and I had to help it along which didn’t take much effort but again you could smell the belt getting hot if you just left it to drive itself. The height is easy to adjust on the front but there is a design flaw on the back with a poorly place bolt. You can still adjust it but you have to pull out pretty hard to get the lever by the bolt. It did not impact anything, just something to note and probably one of the only cons about this mower. I wasn’t sure about the plastic deck but it works great and is almost self-cleaning with no worry of rust. I purposely mowed one time when it was wet to see if it would stick in the deck but it was surprisingly clean. Overall, I would say this is good mower and would work well for level lawns. If you have steep hills or inclines, this is not the mower for you.
I’m a 50 year old female and it has been a long time since I had a push mower. This one comes boxed but completely put together! Instructions were easy to follow. I got the oil and gas in it and was easily able to start it on my own. The self propelled feature is very nice. It has some plastic pieces on the body but I think it will hold up well. I’m excited to use it this summer and am really excited to use the bagger on leaves this fall. oh and to make grass clippings for my garden!
The Best Lawn Mowers of 2023
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases made through the links below may earn us and our publishing partners a commission.
The Honda HRX217VKA is powerful, heavy and ideal for larger lawns. Read
BEFORE YOU BUY A HONDA HRN216 MOWER, WATCH THIS REVIEW!
Ego Power LM2135SP
This mower is powerful, comfortable, and a joy to use. It performed extremely well mulching and driving itself uphill. Read
Honda has produced superior power equipment for many years and this mower, which operates with rear-wheel drive, is no exception. Read
Kobalt KM 5080-06
The electric Kobalt KM 5080-06 was flexible and easy to operate, and can run bagged or bagless. Read
The Hart HLPM061US performed well across terrains and has a simple to use speed control. Read
Until just a few short years ago, gas lawn mowers were king. As more consumers are seeking eco-friendly cars, homes, and, yes, power equipment, advanced battery technology answers the call.
Today, consumers can drive an electric car, thrive in a solar-powered home and maintain their property with battery-powered equipment. But are the new electric push lawn mowers as good as the old internal combustion mowers? We decided to find out.
We tested gasoline, electric-corded, and battery-powered lawn mowers from the leading brands. We were eager to see if the battery-powered mowers could handle a large yard as well as the tried-and-true gasoline models. We weren’t disappointed. The Honda HRX217VKA (available at Amazon) came out on top as Best Overall, edging out its predecessor and our previous winner, the Honda HRN216VKA.
For the non-gasoline mowers, the Ego Power LM2135SP (available at Walmart) is our choice for Best Electric Lawn Mower. This mower set-up was quick, and it handled our testing well. The Ego Power also includes features not found on similar electric models.
The Honda HRX217VKA was a pleasure to use.
Quiet and powerful, the Honda HRX217VKA 21-inch NeXite lawn mower is the one to have for larger spaces. It is not designed for small yards, and you won’t be darting in and out of flower beds and shrubbery.
It is a pleasure to use. We had tested Honda mowers before and were familiar with their operation and overall product quality. The HRX217VKA did not disappoint. Easy to assemble and set up right out of the box, it started on the first pull of the cord.
Right away you can feel the heft of this mower with its innovative NeXite deck and powerful motor. It’s heavier than most mowers, but it feels planted on the lawn and tracks perfectly. It’s a mower for large lawns, and it makes the most difficult cuts a breeze.
With its 200cc motor and Select Drive Control, this mower easily cuts, bags and mulches the heaviest grass with ease. The Select Drive Control is almost intuitive as it lets you adjust the walking speed with a variety of settings.
The controls on the mower are large and easy to use. You can set the mower to bag or mulch or anywhere in between. Its user-friendly platform is clearly marked. You will use this lawn mower for years and years to come.
The Ego Power LM2135SP is the best electric lawn mower we’ve tested.
Until a few years ago, those who preferred not to buy an internal combustion mower had little choice. But advanced battery technology has finally arrived and the benefits can readily be seen in the Ego Power LM2135SP, a 21-inch self-propelled electric mower. This cordless mower with a cutting width of 21 inches utilizes a 56-volt lithium ion battery to power through up to 60 minutes of lawn cutting.
The Ego Power is powerful, comfortable, and a joy to use. Even though the battery only lasted about an hour, the mower performed extremely well mulching and driving itself uphill. It has plenty of torque and is capable of doing anything a gasoline-powered mower can do. It is clean, easy to use, and efficient.
The set-up on this mower was the easiest of the bunch. The handle slides and folds across the mower with ease, making storage a snap. Adjusting it to a personal height takes seconds.
A quick 50-minute charge on the battery and you’re ready to go. The battery charger even has a cooling fan that improves charging times and keeps the battery cool.
Like some of our other mowers, the Ego Power has twin blades that improve mulching and keep the trips to empty the rear bag to a minimum. Cutting height is achieved with one easy-to-access lever.
Operation is straightforward, and the composite deck makes the mower light and easy to maneuver around yard obstacles. Simply depress the power button, pull the green handle and the blades begin to spin. Dual buttons on the handle make engaging the self-propel feature safe and comfortable.
The Ego Power comes with LED headlights for convenience, and it was the only mower we tested that could propel itself when the blades were not spinning. This was a nice feature that eliminated pushing the mower back to the garage.
Other Lawn Mowers We Tested
Previously our pick for best lawn mower, the Honda HRN216VKA is a 21-inch self-propelled gas mower that’s a great choice for any yard. Honda has produced superior power equipment for many years, and this mower, which operates with rear-wheel drive, is no exception. It can handle the toughest lawns with ease and won’t take up much room in the garage.
The set-up was easy and the mower started on the first pull. Its smooth engine is quieter than the other gasoline mowers, and it has more than enough power to cut and mulch the grass even while going uphill.
The Honda has a stacked and offset blade design that produces smaller clippings, which allows for better mulching and bagging. This means more efficient cutting and fewer stops to empty the grass bag. The bagging and mulching options can be easily and safely selected, once the mower is off, by using one lever on the mowing deck.
The innovative self-propel system is comfortable on the hands, provides adequate speed control, and can even be adjusted for those who are taller or shorter. Folding the handle for storage can be done quickly. This Honda lawn mower even has a gas shut-off valve for off-season storage.
The Kobalt 80V 21-inch electric mower is a great choice for anyone that wants an affordable, flexible, compact mower that is easy to maneuver and doesn’t require extension cords or gas cans. The mower is strong enough to chop through thick grass, and offers a highly adjustable cutting height.
At 66 pounds it is very easy to operate, with the ability to go bagged or bagless, and you can fold up the push handle for compact storage.
The main draw here is the 80V battery system, which gives you an hour of runtime in our testing, enough to cut about 7,500 square feet on a full charge. It also works in a variety of other Kobalt tools, and spares will run you right around 150. Charging the battery takes around 45 minutes when it’s dead, and it just pops into the battery slot and the mower can turn on with a press of a button if the safety key is inserted—much easier than having to use a traditional pull start.
Overall if you need a nice, basic mower to get the job done and want to go cordless, this is an excellent choice. It cuts clean lines, it’s easy to use, it can handle most lawns with ease, and the light weight makes it much easier to move up and around slopes and hills.
Especially if you’re planning to invest in a range of electric tools, this is a good system to buy into.
This Hart lawnmower was a pleasant surprise.
After removing it from the box and charging the batteries, we fired it up and took it out to the thick, lush grass.
It performed beautifully; its powerful electric motor cut through the lawn with ease and even increased its revolutions when we cut thicker grass. This mower easily handles a larger lawn.
The Hart mower moved with power and confidence through the lawn, and the simple-to-use speed control was right there at your fingertips. While our winning Honda gas mower has a sophisticated Select Drive System, the Hart’s simple slide bar works as well or better.
This excellent lawnmower has the power and convenience of mowers costing much more.
The Toro is a worthy competitor to the top-ranking mowers on this list.
This Toro lawn mower has the largest cutting area at 22 inches, and it is powerful and comfortable to use, thanks to its Personal Pace self-propel system.
To engage the self-propel, simply push the lever forward a bit and the mower begins to move forward, push it a little more and the mower moves faster. After a couple of rows of cutting, you will see how easy it is to regulate speed. This system is not as intuitive as some of the others, but it still works quite well.
Another great feature: The Toro has Briggs and Stratton’s check-don’t-change oil system that never requires an oil change.
Storage is also a snap as the handle folds down and the mower can be stored vertically.
At just 58 pounds, this mower makes cutting small lawns a lot of fun. The rear discharge chute allows you trim close to trees, beds, and shrubbery. I found myself zipping around obstacles using only one hand.
This is a simple machine with one battery in the center. Charging time is quick, and once the battery is in you’re on your way.
This is not a lawn mower for the back 40. With a 20-inch cut and a small electric motor, it is just not capable of handling larger lawns. But for most mid to small yards, this mower can clean up the area in no time.
Light and easy to store, this is the perfect mower to keep a lawn looking great.
The 21-inch Ryobi RY401150 40-volt brushless mower set up quickly and easily right out of the box. It includes double blades and cuts clean and clear.
This mower comes with two batteries that can be installed in the top of the machine. One notable drawback is that only one battery powers the mower at a time—cut your grass for approximately 30 minutes and when the first battery is depleted, you stop and move a switch to engage the second battery. Ryobi says that the batteries will last for 70 minutes, but stopping to change batteries seems counterproductive.
Otherwise, the mower performed well and completed all of the tests. It has a one-lever height adjustment and is light enough to maneuver around obstacles. It has plenty of power and handled the hill with little strain.
While both the Ego Power and Ryobi were solid performers on the electric front, the Ryobi was let down by its self-propel controls. The controls are located under the bar, but the lever is vague and unresponsive. Because the lever is designed for thumbs only, you need to push the lever in an awkward manner to get the mower up to speed.
For a corded mower, the Greenworks 25022 lawn mower performed quite well. The set-up was easy, and once it was plugged in, it started right up.
Of course, before you use the mower there is the time-consuming task of unearthing your extension cord, unraveling it, and finding a suitable outdoor plug. Once plugged in, the mower embraces its purpose with ease.
It has a powerful 12-amp electric motor that may not conquer larger lawns, but is perfect for smaller yards and trimming duties. Not to mention it offers clean and even mowing.
Not being self-propelled, it takes some effort to push the lawn mower and cord uphill and then navigate a path back so as to not cut your cord.
The 14-inch Sun Joe MJ401E lawn mower is the easiest to store. Its diminutive size makes it the perfect lawn mower for small yards and trimming duties. It’s light enough to pick up and move, and it comes with an easy-to-use bagging system.
Still, this is not a lawn mower for cutting the typical suburban lawn, as its lightweight, short wheel base and small wheels make it a little unstable over roots and ruts.
Of all of the lawnmowers tested, the Sun Joe provided the most difficulty when it came time to adjust the height of the blades. The mower utilizes solid axles, front and rear, and the axles are located in a three-notch system under the mower. To change the height of the cut, you need to pull the spring-loaded axles from their positions and move them up or down. It’s a challenging exercise.
The Sun Joe is corded, so cutting area is limited. To its credit, it’s powerful enough when running, but the limited scope means you will have a hard time tackling an entire yard.
How We Tested Lawn Mowers
We spent the summer mowing a half-acre New England lawn, over and over again.
Kevin Kavanaugh is a retired public school teacher and a product tester for Reviewed. Kevin has been cutting lawns for just about 50 years. He has always been intrigued by all things mechanical, be it watches, power equipment, vintage bicycles, or classic cars.
Ray Lane is a retired supermarket store manager, avid golfer, and product tester for Reviewed. His lawn is the envy of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and he has used several push mowers over the years. At 83 years of age, his input on the mowers was critical, specifically when evaluating ease of starting, maneuverability, and safety.
We tested lawn mowers on both flat land and hills to test maneuverability and power.
After ordering from retailers like Lowe’s and The Home Depot, we assembled each mower and took note of the ease of the set up and how quickly we could adjust the handle to our preference. We then added gasoline, a battery, or an electrical cord to get the mower ready. We evaluated at the ease of setting the cutting height, first testing a high cutting height and then a lower one.
We took each mower on a few passes of an uncut half-acre lawn, measuring approximately 22,000 square feet, noting how it cut at a high height and a lower height while we monitored both the bagging and mulching features. Then we took each mower up and down a grassy hill to see how they performed. Our final test was testing storage capability.
What You Should Know About Lawn Mowers
Self-propelled lawn mowers can take some of the effort out of walk-behind mowing.
There are two basic types of walk-behind mowers: push and self-propelled.
The push type of mower is usually smaller, lighter, and easier to store. They are used primarily for smaller, level lawns. They are perfect for cleaning up areas that larger riding lawn mowers may miss. They can be run by gasoline, cords, or battery.
Self-propelled lawn mowers usually have a larger cutting diameter and can move on their own through operator controls. These mowers can also be powered by gasoline, cords, or battery. Since they take the brunt of the pushing away, self-propelled mowers are perfect for larger lawns up to a half-acre, and they can easily handle hills and sloped lawns. These self-propelled mowers aren’t fully robotic lawn mowers so you still have to do some work guiding them around your yard.
What Is A Self-propelled Lawn Mower?
The first self-propelled lawn mowers started to appear in the late-1960s. As suburbia grew and lawns got larger, pushing a heavy steel mower around on a summer afternoon wasn’t what most people wanted to be doing.
The first self-propelled mowers had primitive front-wheel drive systems that worked well enough, but the mowers often moved along too slowly. Sure, you weren’t pushing but you were caught in a slow-moving lawn-cutting procession. Early mowers either moved too slowly or too fast to match a natural walking speed.
Today’s mowers offer a much better propulsion system. The Honda NeXite Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk Behind Self-propelled Mower with Select Drive Control, for example, allows a variety of walking speed settings. Owners can literally dial in their preferred walking speed so that they become one with the mower, not being pulled and not having to push.
The Ego Power Select Cut 56-Volt Brushless 21-in Self-propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower even allows the operator to drive out to the lawn without the blades turning. That is a great feature.
Today’s self-propelled mowers reduce operator fatigue and make cutting the grass easier than years ago. Self-propelled mowers make cutting on hills safer and more efficient. And with modern speed options they make a summertime chore a little more enjoyable.
Gasoline, Corded Electric, or Battery—Which Lawn Mower is Right for You?
Battery-powered lawn mowers can be powerful and efficient.
Gasoline-powered lawnmowers have kept lawns manicured for decades. They are powerful, reliable, and affordable, and come with features such as self-propelled movement, mulching features, and self-cleaning availability. They are powerful enough for large lawn care jobs and can tackle any lawn from a quarter- to half-acre acre. Any lawn bigger than that would necessitate a riding mower.
But gas-powered mowers emit dangerous carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, require yearly maintenance, and require the storage of gasoline and oil. This may not be suitable for some consumers.
Corded electric mowers have been around for years and were historically the choice of consumers who had smaller lawns and didn’t need the more powerful gasoline mower. While powerful enough to get most cutting or trimming jobs done, the one obvious drawback to a corded mower is the electrical cord.
For any yard worthy of mowing, a long electrical extension cord is required to power the mower. This can be a minor annoyance, such as having to keep the cord free from getting tangled in trees and bushes, to a major annoyance when you drive over it and cut it into small pieces.
However, corded electric mowers require no gas, oil, or maintenance and, other than a blade sharpening from time to time, can perform reliably for years.
Battery-powered cars, power equipment, and tools have been around for a long time. The electric motors were strong and reliable enough, but the battery was not. Just a few years ago, an electric car could expect to go only 100 miles on a charge, and power tools and equipment didn’t last long either. In the past few years, battery technology has improved by leaps and bounds.
Electric cars can expect hundreds of miles on a charge and power tools and equipment can last a full day. This lithium battery technology found its way to lawnmowers and it has created a viable option for those consumers who don’t want gas and don’t want a cord. These battery-powered mowers are powerful, efficient, lightweight, and green. Many now use brushless electric motors, which are more efficient, produce more torque, and are longer lasting than the older electric motors with brushes.
How often should I mow my lawn?
Cutting the lawn too often and only cutting it when it gets overgrown are both unhealthy for a lush, beautiful lawn. The rule of thumb in the lawn-care industry is to keep the grass between 3 inches and 3.5 inches in length. This allows the grass to be long enough to thrive in hot, summer weather.
When cutting grass, never take more than a third of the blade at once. In other words, never cut more than an inch or so. Not only does this cause clumping of grass on the lawn or in the mower bag, but it takes too many nutrients and moisture from the grass itself.
After the late winter fertilizer treatments and the often heavy rains, lawns start to come to life. You’ll find that the grass will need cutting every 4 to 5 days in order to remove just enough length. As the summer wanes on and the temperature rises, the grass will grow a bit slower and a once week cutting is adequate.
It is also important to keep the blades of your lawnmower good and sharp. Since the lawnmower blades are often made of steel, they will develop a dull edge after a season of cutting. A dull edge on a blade will tear the grass and not cut it. This may result in browning of the tips of the grass and put more stress on the mower as well.
While you are under the deck checking those blades—and always disconnect the spark plug wire before going under the mower—be sure there is no old clumped up grass clinging to the mower deck.
Meet the testers
TJ is the Director of Content Development at Reviewed. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled “Cranberry Capitol of the World,” which is, in fact, a real thing.
Kevin Kavanaugh is a retired public school teacher and a product tester for Reviewed. Kevin has been cutting lawns for just about 50 years. He has always been intrigued by all things mechanical, be it watches, power equipment, vintage bicycles, or classic cars.
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