2013 Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in 20 hp Lawn Tractor Review

This is Troy-Bilt’s mid-level Lawn Tractor.  It has a better motor than the Pony and an “automatic” trans. The “automatic” is easier to drive than a shift-on-the-go trans and the motor is a good Kohler with an oil filter. If you want a good lawn tractor JUST to mow lawn and pull a small cart this is a good choice!

by: Paul Sikkema

Is this the right mower for you?: If you just want an inexpensive mower and you have a flat lawn about 1/2 to 1.5 acres this tractor will do the job. Automatic transmissions are fun, agile and easy to drive, but they are limited to mowing a flat lawn and pulling a small yard cart. Automatics use a variable speed pulley/belt transmission so if you try to pull heavy loads or use this mower on hills you will be replacing the drive belt every few years or so.   This tractor will mow up to 1.2 acres an hour.

This rider has been around for a few years now.  It uses the proven MTD automatic transmission. You can use a 2 bin bagger.  This is a great yard mower and is designed to primarily mow lawns.  If you need a rider that will pull a heavy yard cart, sweeper, snow blower or other normal pull-behind attachments look at a different tractor. Oh, One last thing, this mower will not mow in reverse.

Is this the right lawn tractor for you? Please read this entire review before you buy this tractor.  This mower is a great value but it is not for everyone.

Is this the right mower for you?  The positive:

If you just want an inexpensive mower and you have a flat lawn about 1/2 to 1.5 acres, this tractor will do the job.  This mower does not have special features. It is just a good, basic lawn tractor.  It does have 2 anti-scalp wheels on the deck and it does  have a decent seat. If you have a flat lawn without a lot of trees and other landscape features to mow around this may be a good choice for you.

Most owners today prefer a tractor with a hydrostatic transmission but this is an inexpensive alternative: A “hydro” is easier to shift and saves you time when mowing around many obstructions but always adds a few hundred dollars to the cost of the mower.  This transmission is also easy to use. Just put the lever on the left-hand fender in “F” and push on the right foot pedal.  The farther you push, the faster you go. To back up place the fender control in “R” and push on the foot pedal and back you go! This automatic transmission is a lot easier to use than the manual transmission in your old mower.

Is this the right mower for you? The negative:

– This mower is a great value, but it is not for everyone. It is designed to primarily mow lawns.  If you need a rider that will pull a heavy yard cart, sweeper or ground engaging attachments look at a different tractor.

– The specifications state it will mow from 1 to 4 inches, but in reality it will only mow up to about 3 1/2 inches.  If you like a thick, lush lawn and mow high this mower will not mow high enough for you.  If you install a mulch kit this mower may not mow high enough for you to get the best cut.

– This mower will not mow in reverse.


If you do not purchase the Lowes Extended Protection Plan be sure you understand how to get your new mower repaired if there is a mechanical defect. Talk to the store where you picked it up and read the operator’s manual warranty statement. Note: The engine is warrantied through the engine manufacture and not through Troy-Bilt.

Reliability – New to 3 yrs: This tractor is serviced by an authorized Troy-Bilt repair center. There have been reoccurring issues with the build quality. After reading over 170 reviews of this tractor I see many problems with the Kohler motor and with the deck belt system.  My Opinion, The 22 hp Kohler in the Horse tractor has an excellent reputation, but for some reason this 20 hp is not proving as durable. I am going to recommend you stay away from this tractor. If you want an automatic I suggest you also look at the 2014 42 inch Craftsman Model 20373 – Automatic – 17.5 HP   before you buy this tractor. It has a proven B&S motor.

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andrew york

Hey there Paul, I have a 2015 Troy-Bilt Pony 42 in 17.5 hp Lawn Tractor Model 13WN77KS011. It will not start and I have to rock it back and forth to get it to come out of gear when I have put it in neutral. When I depress parking break it will not start. When I let parking brake out it is in gear again and have to rock it to get it out of gear. Have printed out a wire diagram but don’t think it a switch. Any suggestions as what to look at or what to do next?


I was wondering I have a 2007 super bronco w/42″ cut deck. I need to replace the cut deck and want to know if its possible to get a wider deck for. I haven’t been able to find any info on this topic. Thanks


Hey paul,
I am considering getting a 2016 troy-bilt pony. I was just wondering if the 15.5 B&S engine is as good as as the prior 17.5 engine. Also wondering if the cutting range has improved since you rated the 2013 model no more than 3.25″
Thanks, Glenn


I have a troy with the 20-22 horse motor, automatic transmission, forgive me if im wrong on the motor (for sure between 20-22). Today was a long day and I was just browsing for a plow for this thing…. This is our third year, Ive had no problems at all with it besides changing the fuel filter this year. I think it cost me less than $5 from a local hardware and I changed it in less than 10 minutes, maybe 5. What prompted me to reply to this was the 300lb rating. I have no idea what the “official”… Read more »


OK. I think I got it. Thank you for being so helpful. It really does get confusing for those of us that only think about the details of lawn tractors every decade or so.
One final question: does Ariens make their own tractors? The information I can find online is conflicting. Some say Husq. makes them. True?


Thanks again Paul. Both of the Ariens units look fine to me, but the 21 HP model has an automatic trans. Overall, I like that one better, but I want to be sure the trans is OK my purpose. I did read your article on the different types of transmissions, but can’t tell from the specs which kind this one has. Separate question: you mentioned units being ‘rated’ for 15 degree slopes, which seems pretty standard on tractors is this price range. Assume that the slope that needs mowing is closer to 20 degrees than 15. Are slopes like this… Read more »


Thanks Paul.
Although I was looking at Lowes, I don’t have a problem going elsewhere.
What else could you recommend? I’m trying to stay below about $1500.
Thanks again.


I’m thinking about getting a basic riding mower for our less than an acre yard. I have one area that is a fairly steep hill. It’s probably about 15-20 degrees of incline. The lawn service we have been using cuts it horizontally, across the slope, using a zero turn mower. I’m thinking of cutting it upward, across diagonally, with a lawn tractor type mower.
I’ve looked at this Bronco and the Pony, at Lowes. It seems like either one would be ok. Any suggestions?

Gene Mladucky

Can you suggest a lawn tractor that can handle a pull cart capacity of about 500 lbs and in the $1000.00 price range.
Thank you

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