Husqvarna Articulating Riders – A Better Zero-Turn?

I put together a short video of a Husqvarna Articulating Riding Mower and how maneuverable it is.

by: Paul Sikkema

You have heard all of the advertising hype this year about how zero-turn mowers can save you time. But you have also heard all the horror stories of how they are hard to use, don’t work well on hills, and will tear up your lawn.

Most of the horror stories are true. Residential zero-turn mowers will tear up your lawn if you don’t have lots of practice, they can be unsafe to mow on slopes and are expensive compared to a lawn tractor with the same mowing deck.

This video shows a different type of zero-turn. An alternative that is easy to use, drives just like your lawn tractor, works well on hills and has a better deck than most of the residential zero-turn mowers currently on the market.

For most homeowners who want a zero-turn but don’t want the headaches that go with them this is a great alternative.

The Husqvarna Riders Offer Unique Advantages

With the front-mounted cutting deck, you have complete control over your mowing area. You can easily see were you are mowing and the deck allows you to reach under bushes and get closer to fences and walls. The unparalleled maneuverability of the articulated steering lets you mow inside corners and inside curves without backing up. The steering makes the riders extremely easy to handle. You can drive one the first time and not worry about wrecking your lawn, landscaping or the side of the garage. The deck is a “ground hugging” deck. It follows the ground contours exactly to give you a perfect cut everytime.

My front lawn is very uneven. I intentionally designed in dips, mounds and slopes to give it character. But after I built it I realized a 42 inch or larger lawn tractor can’t mow it without gouging and scalping the lawns in a dozen places. I used the Husqvarna in the video to mow it and there is not one gouge or scalp in the entire lawn.  If you want the perfect lawn, ground hugging decks like these are the way to go.

My 1999 Huqvarna 970 Rider

Husqvarna Rider

15 Years – Still In Use Today!

Deck DownThe optional BioClip Combi Deck is one of the best mulching decks available. You can use rear discharge for longer grass. The BioClip is especially suitable for well-maintained lawns that are mowed often. The finely cut clippings return to the lawn as fertilizer.

If your lawn gets slippery or is too steep for a lawn tractor in places the AWD (All-Wheel Drive) model is a great investment.

The Articulated Rider will handle most of the attachments you are used to. A sweeper, dethatcher, scarifier, spreader and trailer for lawn work.  The R 220T and R 322T will handle a  snow blade, a snow blower or a front-mounted brush to clear entrances and paths year around. You can easily switch the front mounted attachments.

The Articulated Rider is a zero-turn mower that will handle all you lawn tasks. You work more efficiently, and get perfect results faster, with less effort. In addition, a wide range of accessories helps you complete other garden tasks all year round. With or without All-Wheel Drive – the decision is yours.

You can buy the R 120S here with free shipping: Husqvarna 967181801 R120S Articulating Riding Mower, 42-Inch

Husqvarna also offers 2 other models with your choice of decks. These are dealer only models.

Read about the R 220T and R 322T here: Husqvarna Articulating Riders Discover the full potential of a Husqvarna Rider here: Husqvarna Articulating Riders

Deck up

  1. I purchased the 322 AWD w 41” deck and love it, but wanted see if anyone had any experience with a wider more aggressive tire. Any advice!

  2. Hi, Paul. It’s Michael from Michigan again.

    I commented earlier that – based on your review and our yard – a Husqvarna R322T AWD was going to be my next mower. I did my research and chose a respected dealer with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. That was one month ago today. So far, they have told me three different dates when they were supposed to receive the mower from Husqvarna. In fact, they are telling new buyers that they are 45 days out if they order today.

    Are you aware of problems Husqvarna is having shipping these R322T AWD’s to dealers?

    • @Michael, Yes, I understand they are still on the boat coming from Sweden.

      • Hi Paul,
        In an earlier reply in this post (Paul Sikkema June 20, 2014) you said “I don’t like the 120 at all. It is a “price point” unit and doesn’t have the turning radius, or options the other’s have.” Do you still feel this way and only recommend the 220 and 322?

        • Hi Mike, I have to remember not to put my personal bias into my comments. The 120 does not turn as tight as the 220 but it will turn tighter than any lawn tractor and it won’t tear up your yard like a zero-turn. It uses the “standard” 42 inch Husqvarna deck and that deck cuts well. You will really like the ground hugging effect. The deck does not scalp or leave dips uncut. The front of the deck is counterbalanced and supported with out front rollers. There is very little weight on the deck so the rollers work better than casters.

          If you are having problems finding one Amazon has them for $2020 with free shipping.

    • Hello Paul,
      I am looking at a used 2004 155, how does this compare to the newer models? It looks identical.

  3. Hi, Paul. Based on your reviews, I’ve decided I want to buy the Husqvarna R 322T AWD with the 103 combi deck. But I can’t find any dealers (southwest Michigan – not exactly the boondocks) that carry it or have even heard of it. I love the out-front deck and the AWD would be great on our property, but I’m really concerned about dropping around $5,200 on something that I can’t kick the tires of first.

    Could you see if you could do some magic and get people who follow you to make some additional comments on the R 322T AWD so I can feel better about pulling the trigger?

    • Michael, Try your local Family Farm & Home store. They were stocking the R120 last year and I’m sure they could order the larger models for you. I live in SW Michigan as well and saw the R120 at the Benton Harbor, MI Family Farm & Home store behind Wal-Mart.

  4. Paul, I appreciate your write-ups. I’m building a house on 2.2 acres that has maybe 10-12 trees, so it will have plenty of wide open runs. My initial thought was a 54″ – 60″ Zero turn when I stumbled on your blog.

    I also want something that will pull a cart. I’m now seeing that a Zero Turn isn’t designed to pull a loaded up cart.

    I like the top speed of a Zero Turn, which was my #1 reason in getting one.

    What are your thoughts on using a 220T or 322T on 2+ acres. My concern is that it won’t be fast enough.

    Thanks.

    • @Dave, Funny you should ask. Just as you are writing your question John From Dowington, PA submitted a very detailed review. I’ll post it here and then at the end my own comments. The 322T is not a high speed mower but with the 48 inch deck you are looking at an hour and a half mowing time. You will really like how well the 322 follows the contours of the lawn and how evenly it mows.

      Downingtown, PA. Paul, based in part on your recommendation I purchased the Husqvarna 322T AWD Articulating mower Labor Day Weekend. I thought I would give you my thoughts to share with your followers. I have now had the mower for about 7 weeks.

      I will not try to explain the mower. YouTube videos abound and do a far better job than I at describing it.

      My overall impression is very favorable. Let’s talk details.

      It is expensive. At over $4,000 it is more than twice the price of a Big Box Special.

      It is a Mountain Goat on my hills. Even on a damp lawn I mow up and down with ease. Even towing a trailer-load of firewood up-hill. It does not slip. I can not MAKE it slip. And gone are the down-hill slides I had on my Craftsman when I pressed the brake pedal and the mower ACCELERATED as the one rear wheel stopped while the other spun free all the way to the bottom.

      It has ample power. Granted I have not tested it’s limits. But it climbs hills and hauls firewood (both at the same time). It is not, however, quiet. The moter may be quiet. But engage those three blades and you will definitely want your hearing protection. I suspect though that is in part due to the fact that the blades are in front of you instead of underneath.

      This is probably not unique to this mower. What a pleasure to press the drive pedal and it goes. Press harder… go faster. Release and it stops. Only on the steepest hills do I have to press the brake to keep it from rolling (creeping really) forward. No more stopping to shift into a higher speed. Now if only I cold learn that the drive pedal is NOT the brake pedal when going in reverse.

      I am 6’2″ tall. The ‘cockpit’ is small. The pedals are just a bit too close.

      It is gentle on the lawn. Imaging your typical riding mower. You are stopped and must make a hard right turn on damp grass with soft soil. Accelerate and instead of rolling left or right the front wheels ‘plow’ forward and tear up the lawn. Not with the AWD. The mower powers through the maneuver with all wheels driving through the turn.

      The deck is out front meaning you can mow under bushes. Plus you mow before you drive across the lawn. My Craftsman flattened the lawn with the front wheels before it was mowed. Be careful on uneven terrain. The front deck rollers will ride up a slope (think the ramps into my pickup) causing the front drive wheel to lift off the ground. Turn right and the rear of the tractor goes left but the front keeps going straight on the deck rollers.

      In spite of the wider deck (48″ vs 42″) the 322T cuts smoother on uneven terrain than my Craftsman. I use side discharge only although a mulching kit is available. Still, few clippings visible after mowing so long as I take care with how I disperse them. .

      Turning right means the rear goes left just a bit. This makes it possible to run into raised beds, for instance. But this is not easy to do because, generally speaking, you normally only get as close as the mower deck will allow. But a curved raised bed or split rail fence can make for a surprise. This is not a flaw of the mower machine but a lack of skill of the mower operator in my opinion.

      The turn radius is not ‘zero’. I think 6 or 8 inches. But to be honest, turning the tightest radius takes one and a half revolutions of the steering wheel. And there is no power steering so it takes MUSCLE to make that tight a turn. But I have learned that a two-pass band at the end of a row leaves ample space to make a turn back on the next row. I did need to relearn driving and to slow down for turns which I did not do on the Craftsman. Between the wider deck and tighter turns I can mow my 1 acres in about 1.5 hours instead of 2.5.

      Hold on tight! The articulating nature of the tractor means hitting bumps and ruts tends to pull the steering wheel out of your hands. There is a Husqvarna video of a slight woman in tennis clothes effortlessly sailing around her lawn. Yeah, if your lawn is a pool table!

      You can tilt the deck up for cleaning and blade changes. But not when it is NEW. After about 6 weeks of use the belt is finally loose enough to get it off without a pry bar. But it is not as easy as the video makes it appear. I expect that after six months it may be that easy. The dealer did explain that the belt needed time to stretch.

      On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best) I rate the 322AWD an 8 over-all. Loose one point for the effort needed to steer maintain a grip on the wheel. Another for the tightness of the ground drive belt. If it loosens up as promised I may change my rating.

      @John Thank you for a complete review. I agree completely with it.

      I have an older 970 here and I have the same problem with limited operator room. If you look behind your seat you can see that there is almost 2 inches between the seat and the engine shroud. What I ended up doing was to make a spacer under the seat that raised the seat up 1 1/2 inches and moved it back almost two inches. Now it fits me a lot better.

      The steering does take some time to get used to. I first felt I needed to go to the gym and toughen up but I found wearing carpenters gloves (fingerless gloves) really helps me drive it. The next size articulated has power steering but that model is not available here. I’m going to start a campaign to ask Husqvarna to add power steering to the 322.

      It’s not perfect, (The Ventrac is the best) but I think it is a better alternative than all the mid-mount zero-turns on the market right now.

  5. @Wayne, Thanks for the feedback! I agree 100%. With the exception of a Walker mower the 220 and 322 are the most agile mowers on the planet. I took the deck off of a 970 (like your Rider 14) and my wife uses it as her yard tractor for her garden cart. She loves the fact that the cart goes in the exact same line as the rider when she goes around curves.

  6. I’ve recently purchased a R322t. I’m trying to find a copy of their Workshop Manual for that model. Of course the manufacturer and dealer would prefer to do the service and make that money, however, I grew up on a farm and have been taking care of equipment my whole life. Any ideas how I might locate a copy of the Service/Workshop manual for the R322t?
    Jeff in Atlanta

  7. I have a few follow-up questions.
    A local dealer didn’t know much about articulateds and didn’t really endorse them. He mentioned the older models had timed blades. Is that still the case?
    I want the service position and a NC dealer told me the 120 would be enough for my yard. I didn’t want to argue but to get the service position I would have to get the 220 or the 332, correct?
    Would Husqvarna be able to point me to a dealer that stocks the articulateds so I can see/touch/possibly drive one before purchase?
    Would the 220 with a snow blade be enough to remove typical Central IL snow?
    I want the swivel casters on the deck, does that make a differnce which deck I would get?
    I am thinking of this: R220T, combi deck & snow blade.

    • @Curt, Many dealers here in the U.S. don’t have much experience with the Rider. Most of us have been focused on lawn tractors and now zero-turns. If they have any experience it was with the 1980’s Bolens and Stiga’s and they had design issues. Stiga has long worked out their issues but now they only sell in Europe.

      My local dealer has quite a few sold and in fact he has owners trading in their old 15 year 970’s and 155’s for the new 220 and 322’s.

      I don’t like the 120 at all. It is a “price point” unit and doesn’t have the turning radius, or options the other’s have.

      Yes, the old units had timed blades. The new mowers are have lapping blades like what you are used to. The 103 and 112 combi decks both have casters. The 220 will be able to handle your snow though you may need chains.

  8. Hi Paul. I currently have a JD GT235 Garden Tractor with the Kawasaki 18HP V-twin engine and 48″ deck. It was great for the 2 acres I mowed before moving. I now have half an acre with 20+ trees.
    Until yesterday I was set on selling the Deere and getting a zero-turn, probably a Hustler Raptor 42″. Then I saw the Husqvarna articulating mower which really interested me. I like the idea of the out-front deck and the ability to add a blade or blower for snow.
    My question is reliability. Is this a mower that would hold up over time?

    • @Curt, The out front deck is so easy to use. I own an older Husqvarna 970 rider and I have NO trimming to do when I use it. The outfront deck is a ground hugging deck so it hugs your lawn and give you one of the best cuts you will ever see. It cuts a lot better than any lawn tractor including the 300 series Deeres and any zero-turn.

      Reliability: The basic frame is a rigid articulated frame and is re-inforced to give it a longer life than a lawn tractor or even a commercial zero turn. The frame on the new mowers is basically the same frame as the one on my 970 and the only thing I have had to do with this 15 year old mower is snug up the steering cables every 5 years or so. The only thing I have had to replace is the seat. I wore that out.

      By the way, I personally like the Combi 103 and Combi 112 decks. They are the best mulching decks on the market and the spread clippings evenly when used as a rear discharge. You won’t need to bag with these decks.

      I see a lot or articles from review sites with the 48 inch side discharge but the combi decks are the way to go.

      • I am thinking of purchasing the 322 AWD w 48” deck – a local dealer has one in stock and their cash price is just a few hundred more then the 220. I was interested in the combi deck but for the next year or so (no house on property) I only plan to mow every few weeks so the combi really is not applicable until I build. The product website seems very misleading – or dealers just do not know much about this mower! The Combi deck can only be ordered as the 103. I asked about the 112 as an accessory and its a no go – only if I ordered the “parts” and assembled. But still over $1100 to do this.

        I have been told the 322 is the only one that you can use attachments – the website makes this confusing to understand. If you compare the 220 to the 322 – the 222 does not list an “attachment frame”.

        Another of you articles talked about this series is not going to be a focus for the US market – does this make it a mistake to purchase?

        • Hi Bryan, On the 220T Page in the features section it shows the Quick Coupling.

          Quick coupling
          Unique quick coupling allows attachments to be changed quickly and efficiently without tools.

          So, The attachments will fit but they really don’t suggest putting the snow blower on it. The 220 won’t have enough traction to handle the snow blower. The way the lift works as soon as you raise the snow blower you will lose most of your traction.

          The broom is also pretty heavy so that may not work well.

          Yes, at this point in time the U.S. market just isn’t that interested in the riders. So they are going to push the ZTR’s instead. There is no indication though that they will drop the line and of course you will always be able to get parts.

          • I purchased and have about 6 hours of mowing on the 322! I am really enjoying this machine! It is sad others do not understand it!

            I read somewhere how someone was about to get an additional 1/2 inch mowing height. I am cutting mine on position 10 and wish I could get more height – I can’t ever imagine cutting any shorter! Unfortunately, now I cannot find discussions on how this was done.

            Also, I read (and cannot find now) who someone attached factory guards along the bottom of the mower to protect the exposed hoses – but cannot find such accessories anywhere!

            Any help?

            • Hi Bryan, Yes, that is a great mower!

              I was able to adjust the rod that connects the height lever (the small lever on your right) to the deck. I extended the one on my 970 and I got another 3/4 of an inch. I had to take the floor board off the tractor to see what I was doing. I’m not sure if your tractor has the extendable rod or just a rod with hooks on the end.

              Here is the parts list: R322T Parts. I didn’t see any guards. Your front attachments are much lower than the hoses so I wouldn’t be too concerned about them getting hit.

    • @Terry, I’ve owned a few articulated’s over the years including the 1st and 2nd generation Bolens and a Heston. The Husqvarna 970 I am now using is the best of the bunch. You can go here to see most of the mowers I have owned: My Mowers

      Here are the reasons I like out-front deck mowers:
      1. They are easier to mow and trim with. The deck is in your normal line of site. With a zero-turn you always have to look down and back to see what you are trimming. Since the left rear corner of the deck on a zero-turn is behind you it takes an unnatural effort to watch the deck and rear tire. With an articulated that edge of the deck is in front of you where you would naturally look down. In addition the combi deck on this old 970 is a mulching deck so I can trim on both sides. I can get through areas with it, I can’t get through with a 42 inch deck.
      2. Articulated’s don’t have stuff hanging out the back to catch on your fences, buildings, etc. The rear always follows the path of the deck and I can actually mow an inside corner of my chain link fence without catching the rear of the mower on it. Zero-turn’s are noturious for tearing up stuff behind them because the hitch, rear frame or engine will catch on stuff.
      3. Articulated’s don’t tear up the lawn. By bending in the middle both the front and rear wheels follow the same path so there is no tearing of the turf. Plus the front floating decks are counterbalanced so there is very little weight on your lawn. They go over dips and bumps instead of through them. The true floating deck goes through undulations in your yard and doesn’t leave high or scalped spots.
      4. This particular model will turn without leaving an uncut circle of grass. So it mows the same as a zero-turn.
      5. It uses a steering wheel. Anyone who can drive a lawn tractor can drive this without learning anything new. There is no additional “skill-set” needed like there is with a zero-turn. The steering is a cable/over-cam system that automatically brings the mower back into a straight line when you finish your turn. It works in the same way as your car. It stays in a straight line with little or no effort. (This is a big improvement over the old articulated’s and is on all of the current Husqvarnas.)
      6. With the Husqvarna articulated’s your towed equipment follows the deck. When you pull a lawn cart it always follows in the same exact path as the deck so you never have to worry about cutting a corner to short and taking out your wife’s prized rose bush or scratching the side of the house.

      Can you tell I like articulated’s?