8 Best ZTR’s Available Online For $4000-$6000 Updated: April 2017
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Please Note: This article is out of date. Check this new article out: 2019 The Best Residential Zero Turn Mowers
This is a very narrow list of highest quality mowers designed to give you the best possible cut and the best ride for your lawn. The problem today is there are too many zero-turn mowers to pick from. Dozens of manufactures each make a dizzying array of models in every size and price range imaginable. That makes finding the right mower for you an almost impossible task.
This list only focuses on high quality machines from trustworthy brands and retailers that have an excellent online reputation. That said, I have no problems recommending these zero turn mowers as the best the industry has available in this quality/price range.
Too many zero-turn mowers is an industry problem but that’s not the biggest problems. Problem 1. No one organization reviews and tests zero-turn mowers over $3000 and no one tests all the brands. Yes, Consumer Reports tests zero-turn mowers but they restrict themselves to the lower cost models designed to mow your “normal” suburban lawns. Mother Earth News has tried in the past but there are just too many to review and test. Problem 2. Today anyone with a computer and $5 a month can create a website and write-up an article called, “Top 10 zero-turn mowers” and list a group of zero-turn mowers sold on Amazon. Unfortunately for you and I that person writing the article may write well, but has no experience testing or even using zero-turn mowers. Yes, there are good mowers available on Amazon, but not the ones they are trying to sell.
These mowers are capable of mowing your lawn two to three times faster than your lawn tractor. Not only are they more agile but they also mow the grass evenly and well at much higher speeds. In fact these mowers mow fast enough that you really need the better seats and/or seat suspensions they offer to make mowing enjoyable. These mowers cut better and faster than the sub-$4000 machines because they all use deep domed decks combined with high blade tip speeds giving you superior lift and cut. I have carefully chosen the mowers on the list to give you the best cut you can get on a residential zero-turn mower. The mowers listed in this article are available to order right from your computer and the majority will be shipped to your local dealer where they will set the mower up, test it and deliver it to your home for free.
Enough babbling – here’s the list:
1. Toro TimeCutter HD with MyRIDE at The Home Depot
Last year Toro introduced the MyRide suspension on their commercial line and it was an instant hit. The MyRide fully suspends you, the operator from the normal bumps and jars associated with operating a zero-turn mower at high mowing speeds. This unique system lets you mow faster without the wear and tear on your body traditional zero-turns pummel you with. Like the Ariens above I highly recommend this mower. In fact it’s really a toss-up between the Timecutter HD and the Ariens Apex for quality of cut, heavy-duty design and long-term life. Features include:
- Maximizing comfort, it comes with the MyRIDE Suspension System — a suspended operator platform with adjustable rear shocks. The MyRIDE suspension system has features giving ultimate comfort and a 40% smoother ride, it includes three coil-over-shock adjustable assemblies supporting the operator platform and a deluxe, thickly padded 18 in high-back seat with arm rests. Large 22 in. Dia. rear tires to smoothly roll over rough terrain. It is equipped with an electric PTO and automatic parking brake for ease of operation.
- Grade 50 high-strength 10-Gauge steel mowing deck. 13 cutting positions between 1-1/2 in. and 4-1/2 in. height. Get a professional quality of cut by cutting better faster with a 18,644 fpm blade tip speed – same speed found on Toro commercial mowers
- A hitch comes standard. With its Smart Speed control system, you’ll have precise control and easy maneuvering with its Trim, Tow and Mow speed ranges making it the easiest to learn how to drive and the best for pulling attachments.
- Commercial-grade HG-ZT3100 transmissions.
- The Toro engine is designed and tuned specifically for this mower to maximize performance, The 24.5 HP 708cc Toro Commercial V-twin engine, the same engine found on some of Toro’s industry leading commercial zero turn mowers, features a double barrel carburetor and V-intake for increased power. Its self-cleaning air filter housing system increases the life of the air filter and the engine. No-tools quick-drain oil hose makes maintenance nearly effortless. So tough, it is backed by a 3-year/300 hour limited commercial warranty
- Ground speed of up to 8.5 MPH in Mow mode, 5.5 MPH in Tow mode and 4 MPH in trim mode
- Engine guard to protect your engine from damage
- Extra large 5 Gal. fuel tank ensures you have hours of mowing time on a single fill
- 3-year / 300 hour warranty
- Item usually ships within 7-10 business days, Toro’s white glove delivery service – Toro product will arrive set-up and ready to go providing you with peace of mind, our goal is your satisfaction, upon purchase, a certified Toro dealer will set-up the product and perform a multi-point inspection, arrange a time for delivery at your home, deliver the mower in person and review safety and operational information with you
TimeCutter HD with MyRIDE 48 in. Fab 22.5 HP V-Twin Up to 3.2 acres an hour. Also in CARB Version
TimeCutter HD with MyRIDE 54 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Up to 3.6 acres an hour.
TimeCutter HD with MyRIDE 60 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Up to 4 acres an hour
2. Toro TimeCutter HD at The Home Depot
The Timecutter HD has all the features and dependability of the Toro TimeCutter HD with MyRIDE listed above without the added cost of the full suspension operator’s platform. If you have a good residential lawn and just want a heavy-duty large area mowing machine this is a great choice.
TimeCutter HD 48 in. Fab 22.5 HP V-Twin: Up to 3.2 acres an hour.
TimeCutter HD 54 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin: Up to 3.6 acres an hour.
The remaining zero-turn mowers on this list are a little different from the first three. The best way for me to explain them is – if the Ariens Apex and Toro Timecutter HD were pickup trucks they would be heavy-duty one ton models. They are capable of doing anything you need them to do quickly and will last a long time. The rest of the mowers on this list would be 3/4 ton pickups. Still capable of performing the job but they don’t mow quite as fast and won’t handle really rough lawns quite as well. These mowers also have heavy-duty decks that are much stronger than the decks on your lawn tractor or residential ZTR. These still have the heavy-duty ZT-2800 transmissions that will handle hills and rougher lawns well. The rest of the mowers on this list are very good value mowers that don’t suffer the problems the under $3000 models typically have.
3. Ariens Apex at The Home Depot
You know the Ariens name for their legendary snow blowers but you may not know they also have one of the best lines of residential zero-turn mowers on the market. They don’t advertise as heavily as Deere or Cub Cadet and they don’t have the media hype Hustler gets but in fact, the Ariens Apex is arguably the heaviest duty residential zero-turn line and includes commercial features found on the Gravely commercial mowers. I highly recommend these mowers if you want the highest quality, most rugged design and best cut in this price range.
Key Features like:
- Commercial grade 10-Gauge welded deck that’s 5-1/2 in. in deep. It has a unique stepped, reinforced leading edge that provides the airflow needed to lift and cut even under tough mowing conditions. Self-adjusting deck belt tension maximizes belt life. Maintenance-free aluminum spindles reduce the bearing temperature for cooler operation.
- Easy and intuitive foot-operated deck lift system provides effortless adjustments between 15 cutting positions in 1/4 in. increments with a simple vertical pin selection
- Hydro-gear ZT-3100 commercial grade transaxles. 8 MPH forward and 4 MPH in reverse for efficient mowing. This mower will actually mow very well at 8 MPH.
- Industry leading frame design features large formed tubular frame rails and minimal welds to support the loads of the machine with unprecedented strength and stability.
- 22 in. rear and 13 in. front large tires provide superior traction and ride quality
- Adjustable high-back seat with padded armrests provides additional support and lessens fatigue during linger operating periods
- 5 Gal. fuel capacity to help minimize the need for refueling
- Includes 1-year limited commercial or 3-year limited consumer warranty
- For most shipping areas, Ariens offers white glove delivery service, zero-turn mower will be shipped to your local Ariens authorized servicing dealer for set-up and inspection prior to home delivery, inspection includes operator’s manual confirmation, set tire pressure, check fluid levels, test start unit and file warranty registration information. If an Ariens authorized dealer is not in your shipping area, zero-turn will ship unassembled, directly to you via regular truck delivery, to confirm white glove delivery availability prior to purchasing
- Ariens Apex 48 in. 23 HP Kohler 7000 Series Twin Zero-Turn Riding MowerModel# 991153 Up to 3.2 acres an hour. ZT3100 Drives
- Ariens Apex 52 in. 23 HP Kohler 7000 Series Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower Model# 991155 Up to 3.5 acres an hour. ZT3100 Drives
- Ariens Apex 60 in. 24 HP Kawasaki FR730 V Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower Model# 991151 Up to 4 acres an hour. ZT3100 Drives
- Ariens Apex 60 in. 25 HP Kohler 7000 Series Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower Model# 991157 Up to 4 acres an hour. ZT3100 Drives
4. Ariens IKON XL at The Home Depot
- 24 HP V-twin KOHLER 7000 series engine offers professional-grade features, durable components and consistent-cut technology for consistent power and a cleaner cut
- 52 in. 10-Gauge steel fabricated deck with 3 blades is durable and delivers a great cut
- Dial operated cutting height selector eliminates pins and levers to set your exact cutting height, foot operated deck lift with 13 cutting height positions in increments ranging from 1.5 in. to 4.5 in. for a customized cut
- Twin hydro-gear ZT-2800 transaxles provide increased torque and smooth operation
- Wide 20 inch rear tires deliver improved traction and a smoother ride
- Plush high back seat comes with standard padded armrests
- Rubber floor mat helps to isolate vibration while mowing
- Fully welded tubular steel frame with 3 in. x 1.5 in. frame rails welded, not bolted at every joint for extra strength and stability
- Commercial-style dual arm deck lift with a 4 point hanging system for superior deck stability and an even cut. This deck cuts more evenly than a 3 point lift.
- Standard receiver hitch mount for bagger attachment and tow-behind accessories
- Most shipping areas, Ariens offers white glove delivery service, zero-turn mower will be shipped to your local Ariens authorized servicing dealer for set-up and inspection prior to home delivery, inspection includes operator’s manual confirmation, set tire pressure, check fluid levels, test start unit and file warranty registration information. If an Ariens authorized dealer is not in your shipping area, zero-turn will ship unassembled, directly to you via regular truck delivery, to confirm white glove delivery availability prior to purchasing
Ariens IKON XL 42 in. 22 HP KOHLER 7000 Series Twin Model# 915226 Up to 2.2 acres an hour.
Ariens IKON XL 52 in. 24 HP KOHLER 7000 Series Twin Model# 915227 Up to 3.0 acres an hour.
Ariens IKON XL 60 in. 25 HP KOHLER 7000 Series Twin Model# 915228 Up to 3.5 acres an hour.
Ariens IKON XL 60 in. 24 HP Kawasaki FR730 V Twin Model# 915229 Up to 3.5 acres an hour.
5. John Deere Z535M at The Home Depot
John Deere has the name recognition as a popular brand but they have been struggling to have a competitive heavy-duty homeowner zero turn. The new 500 series is their latest large area homeowner zero-turn. It does have a few advantages over the other machines mentioned here. 1. It is lighter. If you always mow your lawn the same way every time it will keep the turf from developing grooves from the tire tracks. This is also useful if you ground is sandy or soft. 2. The Edge or Excel deep dome decks have a reputation for being some of the best side discharge decks for mowing quality.
For a smooth ride the 500 series zero-turn uses large rear wheels and springs under the rear of the set.
Note: Some of the information on Home Depot is different from the info as listed on deere.com and may be wrong. The info here is from deere.com
- Premium John Deere branded V-twin Cyclonic engine provides plenty of power and torque to handle the toughest mulching, mowing, and bagging conditions; the Cyclonic air-management system removes larger particles of dirt before they reach the air filter for reduced filter maintenance and longer engine life
- Tuff Torq® TZT7–D transmissions. (Slightly stronger than the ZT-2800) with 1 in. axles and large 22 in. drive tires enable mowing speeds up to 8.5 MPH
- For your biggest mowing jobs, the accel deep deck has a deep-deck design that lifts grass for a clean, even cut and a smooth underside to prevent grass buildup and evenly disperse clippings; cut heights range from 1 in. to 4 in., in 1/4 in. increments
- Comfortable 18 in. high-back seat with armrests can easily be adjusted in seat forward and rear with travel of 4 in. and 7 different positions, multiple position motion control levers and on-the-go tracking adjustment allows user to easily adjust from the seat when motion levers are out of alignment for comfort and convenience
- ZTrak mowers are designed with a heavy-duty formed and welded steel frame for strength and reliability, foot platform flips up for easy access to the top of mower deck for easy maintenance and cleaning
- White glove delivery within 7-14 days by a local John Deere dealer, at delivery the customer will be taught how to operate and maintain the mower. Hassle-free ownership – inspected, tested and supported: your local John Deere dealer will complete a thorough 10-point pre-delivery inspection on all new John Deere tractors and zero-turn mowers prior to sale
John Deere Z525E 54 in. 22 HP Dual Hydrostatic Model# BM25380 Up to 3.0 acres an hour.
John Deere Z535M 62 in. 25 HP Dual Hydrostatic Model# BG20947 Up to 3.5 acres an hour.
6. Craftsman Pro Series at Sears
Two big features of the Craftsman Pro mowers are the Consistent Cut Kohler V-Twin engines and the Smart Lawn app. The Consistent Cut Kohler responds to heavy loads quicker than conventional engines so the mowing/deck speed doesn’t slow down as much. This gives you a better, consistent cut no matter how thick your grass is. The Smart Lawn app helps you keep track of the maintenance needed to keep your mower running it’s best. It also has parts listings so you can order your parts and have them shipped right to your home. Finally, the Smart Lawn app shows you step by step procedures for performing the maintenance on you mower.
- The Craftsman Pro Series 48” 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Fabricated Deck Zero Turn Riding Mower gets the job done faster
- Dual HydroGear ZT-2800 hydrostatic transmissions make for a smooth ride and enhanced control
- Fabricated steel cutting deck features 15 adjustable cutting heights between 1.5″ and 4″ so you can get the perfect length for your grass
- User-friendly integrated lap bar brake lock makes starting and stopping your lawn mower easier
- 2 gauge wheels help to reduce lawn scalping and Turf Saver Tires help to prevent skidding
- 13″ front casters and a steel front axle make for enhanced durability over rough terrain
- Fuel tank can hold 3 gallons so you can fill up less frequently
- Seat back is 18″ high and features added supports to keep you comfortable throughout the job
- Ergonomically designed lap bars are easy to control and absorb vibrations during use
- Included cup holder allows you to bring your favorite beverage along for the ride
- Maintaining your lawn mower has never been easier with the Smart Lawn app for compatible smart devices
Craftsman Pro Series 48″ 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Fabricated Deck w/ Smart Lawn Bluetooth Technology Up to 3.0 acres an hour.
Craftsman Pro Series 54″ 25 HP V-Twin Kohler Fabricated Deck w/ Smart Lawn Bluetooth Technology Up to 3.2 acres an hour.
Craftsman Pro Series 60″ 25 HP V-Twin Kohler Fabricated Deck w/ Smart Lawn Bluetooth Technology Up to 3.5 acres an hour.
7. Cub Cadet Z-Force L and Cub Cadet Z-Force S at The Home Depot
Cub Cadet is unique in the heavy-duty residential area in that they offer steering wheel versions of their Z-Force zero turns. Steering wheel ZTR’s have three distinct advantages over their lap-bar counterparts. 1. They drive like your auto. No learning curve, no practicing so you don’t tear up your lawn. 2. They handle slopes better than the lap-bar models. With a lap-bar ZTR the downhill rear wheel is the only part of the mower holding it on a side slope. When you lose traction on that wheel the mower wants to slide down the hill. With a steering wheel version all four wheels help to hold the mower on a slope. The front steering wheels keep the mower on track and even the rear uphill tire has more traction than a lap-bar model helping to keep the mower on the hill.
The Z-Force mowers are gaining an excellent reputation for cut quality. The frame of the machine is very stiff which makes it cut excellent but it also makes the mower ride rougher than most. If you have an older, rough lawn or a lawn that used to be something else (like a pasture) You may want to look at the Toro TimeCutter HD with MyRide instead. Other than the ride I highly recommend the steering wheel version!
- KOHLER pro 7000 series V-Twin automatic OHV engine for reliable starting and exceptionally smooth operation
- Fabricated triple-blade cutting deck is rust resistant with triple guard e-coat protection and is designed for a superior cut and bagging performance while providing commercial-grade durability that supported by a 7-year deck shell warranty
- 18 in. high back seat with arm rests
- Mulching capability helps extend the mower’s functionality required (mulching blade sold separately)
- Cub Cadet signature cut smooth arc blades, cut overlap and deep dome deck provide flawless results
- Electronic fingertip blade engagement PTO allows for smooth operation of the deck or attachments
- 8-cutting positions let you select cutting heights ranging from 1 in. to 4 in.
- Dual hydro gear ZT 2800 heavy-duty transmission provides dual hydrostatic rear-wheel transmission for quick effortless zero-turn control that quickly leaves your lawn with a professional-quality finish
- 3-year/180-hour limited warranty for worry-free protection
- 2-position steering wheel design provides comfort with a simple operation
- Includes a cup holder and utility bin for your convenience
- SmartJet deck wash system provides high pressure water that cleans out grass and debris build-up under the deck
8. Husqvarna MZ61 61″ FAB Deck Z-Turn Mower 24hp V-Twin Kawasaki #967277502 at Amazon
The Husqvarna MZ series has been around for a few years now and they actually make quite a few models. The 61 inch Fabricated deck is the toughest of the bunch and cuts the best. It uses the ZT-3100 drives and I’ve sold many for new commercial operators because of the great price and the toughness of the mower.
There are other models of the Husqvarna MZ available on Amazon with different engines including a 54 inch stamped deck and 52 inch fabricated deck.
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