2014 Cub Cadet RZT S 42 42 in 22 HP Steering Wheel Zero Turn Review

Is The 2014 Cub Cadet RZT S 42 42 in 22 HP Steering Wheel Zero Turn Mower The Best For You?

From Marlene,

Paul, I hear zero-turns will save me a lot of time mowing but I am afraid I will have a hard time learning to use one. I have a little over 1 acre lawn. The back slopes up from the house but I can mow it easily with a lawn tractor. I have landscaping around the house and a patio out back.

Marlene, It sounds like you are a good candidate for the Cub Cadet RZT S mower.  This is a true zero-turn mower that is easy to drive. It will save you time mowing and is easy to use because it has a steering wheel instead of lap bars.  What you will really like is all four wheels help it steer so it will handle your hill well.  

Cub Cadet has been using the steering wheel – zero turn technology for almost 5 years now but this is the first time I am reviewing the RZT S. Why? Quite frankly I was very sceptical of the technology. There have been a dozen or so variations of the front-steer zero turn mowers (FSZT) over the last 20 years and none of them have made it more than a year or two. Either they tore up the turf, there was a mechanical problem or they were just too expensive. Cub Cadet, Craftsman, Yard Man, Simplicity, Ferris and others have tried it. So when Cub Cadet came out with yet another FSZT I decided to give it a couple of years to see how it performs.  Cub Cadet has a proven winner here! It is a true zero turn mower that requires no learning to use.

by: Paul Sikkema TodaysMower.com

My Review:

images (7) I’m going to do this review differently than the others I have written. I am going to list positives and negatives about this mow in no particular order. Please tell me in the comments how you like this style of review:

Positive: The Cub Cadet RZT S 42 is a great alternative to a zero-turn mower with lap bars. It allows you to have all the agility of a zero-turn without most of the negatives. It uses twin hydro transmissions synchronized with a patented front steering system to give you true zero-turning without scuffing and tearing up your lawn. You don’t have to learn anything to use it. It drives like your car.

Positive: One of the best features about this mower that is not advertised well is the slow down and turn feature. When you are mowing and get to the end of your swath, just turn the wheel. The RZT S starts to turn and slows down automatically to make the zero-turn. You are in total control all the time and don’t feel like you are on a Tilt-A-Wheel ride. It’s quite easy to drive and anyone feels comfortable when making turns.

You Decide: Many of you have hills and residential zero-turns don’t work well on them. The RZT S is the exception. Of course like all manufactures Cub Cadet only rates it for 15 degree slopes 🙂 You will have to decide for yourself if you feel safe using this mower on steeper grades.

Negative: The bagger. The 42/46 inch bagger available is notorious for not bagging fresh grass well. It bags leaves and dry grass OK. I suggest a pull behind sweeper if you want to pick up your lawn clippings. Here is a good one: .

You Decide: EZT transmissions. Most of you buying this lawn mower will use it to mow your lawn and maybe pull a yard cart or lawn sweeper around to pick up leaves and sticks. That’s what it is designed for. The transmissions are NOT designed to pull a leaf vac, loads of dirt and gravel or loads of firewood uphill. I know Cub Cadet lists large yard carts and a lawn vac on their accessories page but these transmissions are not designed for these heavy loads. You will tear them up if you do.

You Decide:  When you buy the RZT S from Home Depot it will be shipped to you. You’ll save money but you will have to take it out of the crate and get it ready to mow yourself. It’s not a big job. You’ll need a wrecking bar or heavy claw hammer to take the crate apart and a few hand tools to install the steering wheel, seat, grass deflector and battery. Here is a copy of the manual with the assembly instructions

RZT-S-Feature1 Positive: The exhaust pointing straight down and burning the turf has been fixed. The engine exhaust now points out the back.

You Decide: Consumer Reports gives Cub Cadet a hard time about repair history.  They state, “Cub Cadet has been among the most repair-prone brands for zero-turn-radius riders in our reliability surveys.” That was true in the past but I can’t find the data to support their comment any longer. Of course every mower manufacture is having issues with car gas (ethanol fuel) but reading the 2013 reviews and talking to dealers Cub Cadet no longer has the assembly and durability issues Consumer Reports stated they had in the past.

Brand: Cub Cadet

Manufactured By: MTD/Cub Cadet
Model/Series: RZT S42
Item Number:   204694626 (49 State)
See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:  Cub Cadet Riding Lawn Mower. 42 in. 22-HP Kohler V-Twin Courage Automatic Zero-Turn RZT S42 Buy Online 24/7 through The Home Depot and it will be shipped right to your home
Street Price: $2699.99  Home Depot Online Only. $2999.99 at Dealers.  Dealer Locator Here 

Accessories I Suggest:

Cub Cadet 42 in. x 46 in. Bagger for RZT-S and 46 in. RZT-L Mower

Cub Cadet 44 in. 25 cu. ft. Tow-Behind Lawn Sweeper or Cub Cadet 44 in. 25 cu. ft. Tow-Behind Lawn Sweeper Caution. Be ready to spend at least $$275 for a quality lawn sweeper. The cheaper sweepers only work on leaves and don’t pick up wet grass or pine needles well.

Cub Cadet Landscaping Supplies. 42 in. Mulch Kit

42 in. Xtreme Mulching Blade for Cub Cadet Tractor

This is Cub Cadet’s Residential Quality. This  mower will last you on your 1/2 to 2 acres a long time but if you mow more than that look at the Z-Force® SZ 48 steerable zero-turns (starting at $4999)

Compare it to: John Deere Lawn Mower. Z235 42 in. 20 HP Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower at $2499 or the Craftsman 42″ 22hp V-Twin Briggs and Stratton Zero Turn Mower – Non CA 11x4x5 Ribbed Casters at $2299

Quick Summary Review


  • Foot Control Trans
  • Zero-turn capability with steering wheel control over all four wheels
  • Unsurpassed 3-year/120-hour warranty.
  • Top Speed 7 mph!
  • Step-through Platform
  • 42 inch deck with spring assisted lift and washout port
  • Disperses clippings evenly in side-discharge mode.
  • Mulches well, leaves fine clippings with little or no clumps.
  • Easy adjust, comfortable high-back seat.
  • 22 HP professional-grade Kohler® 7000 Series V-Twin Engine
  • Type: Zero Turn
  • Maximum mowing area per hour (acres): 1.75 acres at 5 MPH
  • Recommended for moderate slopes? Yes, Moderate slopes
  • Excels in mowing around obstacles? Yes
  • Will Mow In Reverse? No, But it will zero-turn with the deck running.


  • Poor Bagging
  • Not recommended for pulling

 See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:  Cub Cadet Riding Lawn Mower. 42 in. 22-HP Kohler V-Twin Courage Automatic Zero-Turn RZT S42 Buy Online 24/7 at The Home Depot

My Full Review:

You know I have been doing this blog for a while now and I have spent hundreds of hours researching, testing, reading reviews, analyzing and listening to you about residential lawn tractors and zero turns.

I know zero-turn mowers are the hot topic today but for most of us residential zero-turns are not the best choice. Yes, they are more agile than a conventional lawn tractor so you may mow your lawn faster but they don’t work on slopes. They are designed just to mow so they don’t pull stuff. The Cub Cadet RZT® S 42 is a great alternative to conventional zero-turns.

The Cub Cadet RZT® S 42 allows you to quickly get your lawn done without the pitfalls of using a zero-turn mower.  No learning curve to operate it. No divots or scuff marks in your lawn. No worries about mowing the septic mound or slopes. Although it costs more than other zero-turns it is a great value because it zero-turns and gets your mowing done faster than a conventional lawn tractor yet doesn’t have the learning curve associated with using a zero-turn with lap bars. If you want a zero-turn but you or your spouse does not like lap bars this is a great alternative.

I am not going to TELL you this is the best zero-turn for you. But for many of you reading this article it will be the best choice for you. There are other zero-turns with larger motors, bigger decks and heavier transmissions. This is a great zero-turn with an excellent cutting deck.  It will mow your lawn without gouging or scalping the turf.

This zero-turn will zero-turn and mow but when you back up the deck shuts off for safety. Press the forward pedal and it starts right up without having to move any levers or knobs.

Owner Reviews: Right now there are no 2014 reviews on homedepot.com because this is a new model for 2014. The real change though is only a new engine. The basic tractor is still the one everyone likes.

Reasons why the Cub Cadet RZT® S 42 is a good choice for you!

(Disclaimer: All features listed in the remainder of this article are subject to change and my interpretation of the information available on the homedepot and cubcadet websites.)


For most of us it’s all about the deck and how it mows. 

50 inch deck

50 inch deck

 Mow – Mulch- Bag:  The 42 inch deck on this zero-turn gets high marks by owners for mowing, mulching and bagging.  But, be aware this is not a “high-speed” deck like you will find on a $10,000 commercial lawn mower.  It mows perfectly at 3-4 MPH but don’t expect it to mow as fast as the zero-turn will go (7 MPH) and give you the same results.  With this zero-turn/deck you set the height of cut using a spring assisted lever on the left. 8 height positions allow to to fine tune your cut. (FYI: It’s not the deck, it’s the government that decides how fast you can mow. Regulations limit the blade tip speed on residential mowers which also limits how fast you can mow well)

It’s hard to beat a “Best Buy” The leading consumer magazines have given this deck many “Recommended and Best Buy” awards.  (Last year on the Cub Cadet RZT L42) One of the major reasons why they do is the superior cut of the deep, top vented deck.  This deck cuts and mulches well. Like I stated above this mower does not bag as well as others but it is because of the available bagger, not the deck. I suggest using a pull-behind sweeper if you pick up fresh grass or pine needles.

download Decks are easy to adjust: The deck lift is great.  The 8 position lever is out of the way and the spring assisted system requires very little effort to use.

Leveling the deck is easy. The 3-point linkage is easy to adjust if the deck gets abused and starts to cut unevenly. One adjustable link levels the deck side to side and one adjustable link levels it front to back . The 3 point system also lets you remove the deck for servicing easier than many other brands.

download (1) There is always a discussion about fabricated/welded decks and stamped decks over on the tractor forums. The reality is welded decks take more abuse, stamped decks cut better.Welded decks will take more abuse if you are the type to go around and bang your mower into trees, buildings, rocks and other obstructions. If you are mowing fields and properties where you never know what type of stumps, metal debris, rocks and other junk you may find a welded deck is the best choice. But, besides the extra cost of fabricating the deck, welded decks need special, expensive baffle kits to mulch well. A zero-turn with a 42 inch fabricated deck will cost over $900 more than this one. Plus welded decks have poorer airflow and require you to buy a separate blower to use a bagger ($500-750 for the blower)

The 42 inch deck on the RZT® S 42 is a stamped deck. This deck is engineered to mow well. Because these decks have channels and other stiffeners built into the design making these decks lighter than welded decks but still very strong. The decks have better corrosion resistance than the decks of the past. The powder coated finish resists scratches and rust-through so prevalent with decks 20 years ago.

Aluminum Spindles. This deck uses cast aluminum vented spindles with sealed bearings.  There is no maintenance or lubrication needed. They will last the life of the mower with proper blade maintenance and cleaning.

I have read some reviews where owners complain that they have had to replace the spindles multiple times on their lawn tractor/zero-turn. (Not just this deck, but other brands as well.) Spindles fail for only two reasons, operator abuse and improper maintenance. Zero-turn decks are designed to mow lawns. They are not designed to mow fields, cut down brush, hit rocks, stumps, concrete, kids toys, water shut-off valves and other debris. If you hit something and you break a spindle be glad it broke. Replacing a $50 spindle is cheap compared to bending the $400 deck housing and having to replace that. You can also break spindles by not balancing your blades when you resharpen them. If one end of the blade is shorter than the other or it is bent out of factory specs the blade will vibrate and eventually wreck the spindle. If you hit something or if you sharpen the blades and the mower has more vibration than it did before, stop and find out what is wrong. If you don’t know how to properly sharpen and balance blades always replace them with new.

 The Cub Cadet 42 deck is designed to mulch well with a set of mulching blades and a simple “plug” that snaps into the discharge hole. With the mulch plug installed you can raise the discharge chute out of the way for closer trimming on the right-hand side of the mower. There are two types of mulching blades available. The standard wavy type that comes in the mulching kit and premium mulching blades that enhance the mulching for extra thick lawns and leaves. The other review organizations that actually test mowers all verify that this deck mulches well.

What deck size do I need? Besides how large of a lawn you have to mow consider the gates, doors and strips between your landscape beds.  The 42 deck will fit into a standard size pickup bed. With the discharge chute lifted up the 42 inch requires 45 inches of side to side clearance. With the chute down, 50 inches. 

3. Engine:

People who buy this yard tractor want a dependable mower with a dependable motor.

Note: This new Kohler 7000 series motor compares to the Briggs & Stratton Intek Plus and Craftsman Platinum Engines.  It is better than Briggs & Stratton Gold, Silver, Intek and IC engines found in most lawn tractors. It is a new for 2014 replacement to the long running Kohler Courage.

original_182826_nyiw3g9fefsjalbigrndr04fe Why are These Engines Are Better?

The new Kohler 7000 is a replacement to the Kohler Courage line. The following is a press release from Kohler. “KOHLER, Wis. – Oct. 23, 2013 – Introducing the all-new KOHLER 7000 Series™ engines. This line of vertical-shaft, V-twin engines was specifically created for consumer applications that require a high-performing engine. The line encompasses six engine models ranging from 20 to 26 hp, all incorporating newly designed, professional-grade cylinder heads, crankshafts, connecting rods, pistons and numerous other enhancements to deliver power and reliability. The 7000 Series also offers responsive starting, utilizing a digital ignition on the 25 and 26 hp models.

Durability features on the 7000 Series include cast-iron cylinder bores, pressure lubrication, and a dual-seal air filter to protect the engine in harsh conditions. Consistent CutTM technology provides more consistent power to the deck, helping end users get the perfect cut. The 26-hp model delivers more power through a higher 747cc displacement.

“We’ve built a lot of extras into the 7000 Series engines to deliver durability and usability for end users,” said Dan Luhman, senior product manager for Kohler Engines. “Simply stated, this new series of engines will make lawn mowing – and maintaining a lawn mower – easier and more enjoyable for consumers everywhere.”

All oil and fuel maintenance points – including the oil dipstick, oil filter, and fuel filter – are now located on the same side of the engine for quick inspection. The engine’s dipstick handle has also been redesigned to be easier to grasp, simplifying regular oil checks. In addition, oil capacity has increased to 2 qt. and a larger oil-fill tube is being utilized to allow oil to flow faster, which minimizes spilling when filling. A top-access air cleaner is also built into the 7000 Series to allow a user to inspect or replace the air filter without the use of tools.

EZT Transmissions

Simple to use, ideal for most terrain. 


One for each rear wheel

One for each rear wheel

 The transmissions in this mower is sized for it and has a proven reputation. The Hydro-Gear EZT series transmissions are the most popular transmissions used in residential zero-turns and as far as I can tell all manufactures for 2014 are using it in zero-turn mowers under $3500.  They work great, are easy to use and will give you years of service on flat lawns. 

But, and this is a big but….these transmissions are designed to mow flat lawns. They are not designed to mow on steep slopes or pull loads.  If you just mow your lawn and pull a lawn sweeper, mount a 2 bin bagger or pull a cart with leaves and brush they will do fine. If you want to do heavier yard work upgrade and buy a zero-turn with Z-2800 or Z-3100 transmissions. ($4000 to $6000)

How to tell if you are overworking your transmissions. 

  • Get used to your mower mowing a flat lawn. You will notice that at mowing speed you need to move the lap bars forward a certain amount. The transmissions are quiet and you can’t hear them when moving forward and turning.  
  • After you are used to the lap bar position and sounds try going up a slope. If the transmissions start to “growl” or you have to push the lap bars to the forward limit to maintain speed, the hill is too steep and you will wear out the transmissions long before their time.  
  • The same goes for pulling stuff. If you have to push the lap bars farther forward than normal to maintain your speed or your can hear the transmissions your load is too heavy and you will burn the transmissions out.
  • On flat lawns these EZT transmissions will last the life of the mower. If you mow slopes or pull heavy loads don’t be surprised if they only last 150 to 200 hours (3 to 5 years) 

I like to explain it like this: A 1/2 ton pickup will easily pull a 3000 lb camper anywhere in the United States but if you have a 40 foot, 10.000 lb. goose-neck camper and want to pull it with your F-150 pickup (1/2 ton) don’t expect the transmission to last more than 10,000 miles. You need to upgrade and buy a 3/4 ton pickup to handle that kind of load. If you usually pull that same camper  through the mountains you will want to upgrade even more to a 1 ton or larger truck.

Comfort –

If you are going to mow, you might as well be comfortable.

images (1) Start with the seat: When comparing this zero-turn to others sit on the seat and ask yourself these questions.

Sit on the seat and envision yourself sitting there for 2 or more hours. Is it comfortable? Does it give you good back and lumbar support? Does it have side supports to help you stay in the seat on slopes and when mowing rough spots? The seat should be easily adjustable if you have more than one person using your zero-turn. When you sit on the seat, is it level? (Some zero-turn have heavy springs under the seat for “suspension” and it feels like you are constantly sliding forward.)

The seat on the RZT® S 42 sits level, has a nice high back, good lumbar and side supports> It slides back and forth easily. There is plenty of seat adjustment so any operator from 5 ft 1 inch to 6 ft 4 in can easily operate this lawn tractor.

Getting On And Off: Ease of Use: The first thing potential buyers notice when they get on the RZT® S 42 is how easy it is to get on and off. Craftsman has designed this mower with a lot of space between the seat and the steering console to make it as easy as possible to get on and off this tractor. The step through design and rounded control console allows you to get on and off the tractor easier than before.  No more banging your knees trying to get on or off the tractor.

Deluxe high-back seat, easy to use operator controls, good field of view.  The RZT® S 42 is very comfortable to operate and drive.


Better Steering than Lap Bars, Axle and Steering System:

Effortless_RZTS The Steering Wheel: Is the steering wheel textured so it is easy to grip? Smooth steering wheels cause your hands to sweat in hot weather. When it’s cold out and you are wearing gloves smooth steering wheels are very hard to use. Your hands keep slipping all over the place. The steering wheel on the RZT® S 42 is textured so your hands won’t get sweaty and your gloves won’t slide around.

Easy to Drive: There is no learning curve with this zero-turn. Simply get on it, use the foot control to adjust your speed and the steering wheel to steer. No lap bars that “drive just like a shopping cart” No skid marks in your lawn. No divots from forgetting to keep the inner wheel moving when you turn. This is a true zero-turn that drives just as easy as your car.

Reliability –

What do I do if it breaks?

This tractor is serviced by Cub Cadet authorized service centers and dealers. You can use the dealer locator on cubcadet.com or simply ask you local Home Depot where the nearest repair center is located.  Sears service techs come to your home to repair your lawn tractor. You never have to take it anywhere. There have been no issues with the build quality of the Craftsman Model 28851.

images (5) People who buy this yard tractor know what they are buying and this is just what they want. This is a great zero-turn with a great cutting deck and may just be the best value for you and your suburban lawn.

See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:  Cub Cadet Riding Lawn Mower. 42 in. 22-HP Kohler V-Twin Courage Automatic Zero-Turn RZT S42 Buy Online 24/7 at The Home Depot

  • FYI: The new 2014 Cub Cadet Zero Turns are still made right here in the U.S.A.

 See All Buying Options and Online Only Deals Here:  Cub Cadet Riding Lawn Mower. 42 in. 22-HP Kohler V-Twin Courage Automatic Zero-Turn RZT S42 Buy Online 24/7 at The Home Depot


  1. Tont DalBello June 15, 2016
    • Paul June 15, 2016
  2. Kevin Beaty April 13, 2016
    • Paul April 13, 2016
  3. Tony Newnham March 29, 2016
    • Paul March 30, 2016
      • Tony Newnham March 31, 2016
  4. Thomas Spainhour June 21, 2015
    • Paul Sikkema June 21, 2015
  5. Wayne May 17, 2015
    • Paul Sikkema May 18, 2015
  6. Jason C May 1, 2015
    • Paul Sikkema May 2, 2015
      • Jason Closson. May 2, 2015
        • Paul Sikkema May 2, 2015
          • Darren June 28, 2015
          • Paul Sikkema June 28, 2015
  7. Tom April 14, 2015
  8. Randy April 11, 2015
    • Paul Sikkema April 11, 2015
    • Chris June 28, 2015
  9. Jody Dobis April 6, 2015
    • Paul Sikkema April 6, 2015
      • Jody Dobis April 6, 2015
  10. Ron Gutschmidt April 1, 2015
    • Paul Sikkema April 1, 2015
  11. Chris October 21, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema October 21, 2014
  12. Peter Richards October 20, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema October 20, 2014
  13. Judy Fogus May 18, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema May 19, 2014
  14. Deigo April 15, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema April 15, 2014
  15. Deigo April 11, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema April 11, 2014
  16. Chris April 7, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema April 7, 2014
  17. Dennis Tzouloufis March 3, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema March 3, 2014
  18. Dennis Tzouloufis March 2, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema March 3, 2014
  19. Dennis Tzouloufis March 1, 2014
    • Paul Sikkema March 2, 2014

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