2012 John Deere 42 in 21 HP Hydro Model D120 Review

When you get done here stop by and read this new, updated article: Which New 2018 John Deere E100 Series Lawn Tractor Is Right For Me?

Executive Summary: Now we are getting somewhere. The D120 is John Deere’s most popular single cylinder Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor.  It is priced at about $300 more than Craftsman’s most popular 42 in. This John Deere lawn tractor is a good mower for the normal suburban yard.  This model features the new John Deere design,  step through operator’s platform, pressurized lube engine with oil filter, and a 42 inch deck.  The D120 has a hydrostatic transmission and a nice 21 hp motor.  This engine/transmission is easy to use and will perform well for mowing, yard tasks and even moving snow.  This mower is sold primarily at Home Depot and your local dealer.

Brand/Manufacture: John Deere / John Deere
Model/Series: D120 / Riding Mower
Item Number:  BG20652
Buy Here at Home Depot: John Deere Riding Lawn Mower. D110 42 in. 19.5 HP Front-Engine Hydrostatic BG206512012 John Deere 42 in 21 HP Hydro Model D120 Review 1 (I do recommend John Deere’s White Glove Delivery Service.) 
Street Price: $1799.99

Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Premium, Don’t Buy)  This is John Deere’s Good Quality

Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Lawn Tractor.  Handles most pull-behind attachments.
Compare it to: Craftsman 42 in 21hp Turn Tight HydroYard Tractor


2012 John Deere 42 in 21 HP Hydro Model D120 Review 2

John Deere D120

Good Cutting Deck
Step-through Platform
It’s a Deere!

Single Cylinder Engine
18 inch Turning Radius!

Retail Price: $1799.99 Check The Best Sale Price Here:   John Deere D120 at HomeDepot.com

My Review:

If you want “Green” on your lawn this Deere from Home Depot is a good choice.  This is a basic lawn tractor with a good cutting deck.  I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this mower, but I don’t have any bad things to say either.  It has a pressurized motor.  It has only two anti-scalp wheels and if your lawn is smooth it will mow just fine.  If your lawn is flat and open the turning radius will work for you. It doesn’t mow fast, but it mows well. Customers and review website rank this mower above the Cub Cadet’s in quality, mowing and repairs.

I highly recommend you purchase the optional protection plan when you buy this mower. Why?  This tractor is serviced by your local John Deere dealer and without the protection plan they will charge you for ANY trip charges or pickup and delivery.

This lawn tractor will mow in reverse.

People who buy this lawn tractor know what they are buying and this is just what they want. No frills, they just want a quality tractor to mow their small suburban lawn and they don’t want to walk.

The D120 has hydrostatic transmission.  This transmission is easy to use and will perform well for mowing and light duty yard tasks.

This lawn tractor will work well for 1/2 to 2 acres lawns, handle a snow blade, and light duty non-ground engaging attachments.  I would only recommend it for flat, smooth lawns.  There are other mowers that will mow faster, or pull more.

With the single cylinder motor I feel it is a little under powered for a snow blower.  It will get the job done, but it will be slower than a comparable twin cylinder tractor.

Although this machine does represent a good value, I think it is overpriced.  The Craftsman YT3000 has more features, is rated as well, and has a larger service organization behind it and cost’s less.  This is John Deere’s economy line and you should not compare these tractors to the John Deere your father had. The X300 series at your John Deere Dealer is comparable to your father’s Deere. If you take care of this lawn tractor properly it will last you a long time.

This yard tractor is capable of using all the pull behind attachments John Deere offers including a snow blade. You can find a complete list of what they recommend at johndeere.com


Craftsman really up’d the ante last year with the introduction of the Turn Tight on their YT 3000,  YT 4000 and GT 6000 series mowers.  (see comparable tractors above) The Craftsman’s 6 inch turning radius is so much better than Deere’s 18 inch turning radius that it would be hard for me to go buy this Deere.   The D120 John Deere is a good basic riding tractor though and is a good choice if you want “green” on your lawn.

Final Thoughts:

John Deere is a great company and they are one of the largest manufactures of farm equipment in the world.  They have had a great reputation for quality lawn tractors.  The dealer network is good, though mainly located in rural areas.  If you buy one from Home Depot be sure you understand the service options available including extended warranties and local service options.  If you end up buying a Deere from them and then finding out that you have to haul your lawn tractor 40 miles to get it serviced or repaired …. the John Deere D 120 may not be the best choice for you.  Seriously look at the Home Depot Extended Warranty or Deere extended warranty if you don’t have a local dealer.  The extended warranty includes on-site repair or them hauling your mower to a repair shop to work on it.

There are very few negatives with this mower as long as you understand that it is a good quality entry level mower.  Take care of it (do the normal maintenance all lawn mowers need) and it will last you a long time.

This article was first published at TodaysMower.com 

If you have specific questions leave a comment below and myself or the readers will be glad to answer them. 

Comfort – Ease of Use:  Standard seat, easy to use operator controls, good field of view.

Power For Mowing:  This tractor has plenty of power for side discharge mowing, mulching and bagging every week.

Reliability – New to 3 yrsRead The Reviews Here  One thing to know.  This tractor is serviced by your local John Deere dealer.  This tractor has not changed for 2012 so there are many specific reviews for it. FYI:

Handling – Traction/Steering:  This tractor has average traction and handling and is similar to all the other riding mowers from the other retailers.   I recommend you never use a mower like this on wet or drought-dry slopes.

Mow – Mulch- Bag:  This tractor get high marks by owners for mowing and bagging and average marks for mulching.  Be aware this is not a “high-speed” deck like you will find on a commercial lawn mower.  It mows perfectly at 3-4 MPH but don’t expect it to mow as fast as the tractor will go (5.5MPH) and give you the same results.  With this tractor/deck you set the height of cut using a lever on the tractor.

Specifications, Features, Benefits

The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website. Specs subject to change.

Type:  Lawn Tractor
Maximum mowing area per hour (acres): 1.05 acres at 3 MPH
Recommended for moderate slopes? No
Excels in mowing around obstacles? No

Will Mow In Reverse? Yes

Manufacturer: John Deere
Brand:  John Deere
Engine Power: 21 hp* 
Displacement: 540 cc. 
Manufacturer: John Deere
Cylinders: Single, cast-iron liners
Type: OHV, oil filter, Pressurized
Charging System: 15 amp regulated
Battery: ?
Choke/Speed Control: Integrated One Lever
Fuel Tank Capacity: 2.4 U.S. gal. 
Transmission: Hydrostatic
Transmission Control:  Direction / speed. Foot controls
Cruise Control: Yes
Forward Speed: 0-5.5 mph
Reverse Speed: 0-3.2 mph
Chassis: ? ga.
Front Tires: 15×6-6
Rear Tires: 20×8-8
Front Axle: Cast Iron
Hood Material: JD Loy (plastic)
Hourmeter: Yes
Tool Tray: Yes

Cupholder: Yes
Headlights: Yes
Translucent fuel tank or Fuel gauge: Yes, Viewable from seat
Deck washout port: Yes
12-volt outlet: No
Steering: Type 2-wheel steer
Turning Radius: 18 in.
Uncut Circle Radius: 25 in. 
Spindle Bushings: Metal, replaceable
Seat Back Height: 15 in. open back
Fore-aft Adjustment: 5.5 in. while seated
Seat Suspension: Two coil springs
Deck Lift System: Fender
Mower Cut Height: 1.5 in. to 4 in., 13 position
Cut Height Increments: .25 in.
Preset Cut Height: No
PTO clutch: Manual

Mower Deck

Type: Side discharge
Mower Cutting Width: 42 in.
Blades: 42 in.
Mower Deck Material: 0.105 in.
Mower Wheel Adjustment: EZ Level
Mower Level Adjustment: Exact
Mower Drive System: In-line belt, Manual PTO
Mower Attachment: 4 point Not EZ-Off
Mower Drive: Belt Tension Spring
Mower Wheels Rotate For Deck Removal: No


Wheelbase: 48.9-in. 
Overall Length: 70-in. 
Width without mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: 52-in. 
Width with mower: (deflector raised for storage) ?-in. 
Height: 43-in. 
Weight: 452 lb with mower, no fuel

U.S. Warranty: 2 year limited, 120 hour

Optional Attachments

Mowers: 42X (standard)
Material Collection System: 6.5 bu 2 bag
Mulching System: Cover or plug
Front Thatcher: NA
Front Blade: 46 in
Tractor Shovel: No
Snow Blower: Yes
Front Bumper: bumper option
Brush Guard: No
Bucket Holder: Yes
Tow-Behind Tools: 16


  1. Andrew Myers
    • Paul Sikkema

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