Best Zero Turn Mowers 2018 – Economy Residential Models

 My definition of an economy residential zero-turn. (ZTR)

A typical Economy Residential ZTR has the economy EZT dual hydrostatic transmissions and costs between $2200 and $4000.  These zero-turns are designed to replace your lawn tractor and save you time when mowing. These mowers are great for flat and gently sloping lawns. Some models have a hitch or option to install one and will pull a small yard cart, sweeper or dethatcher. If you have slopes, hills or want to mow faster than 5 mph please look at a heavy-duty, mid-price zero-turn. This list only includes zero-turns I am confident will do a good job and last for your residential yard.

By Paul Sikkema. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

The economy zero-turns generally use the same deck as a lawn tractor. If you liked the cut of your lawn tractor but just want a mower that will save you time these are a good choice. If you have not read Best Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide 2018 – How To Choose The Right One! Please do that before you ask “what size do I need?” Just ask though and I’ll help you narrow down your selection.

Many of you today want to purchase online and most economy zero-turn mowers are now available online. I’ll make buying online from trusted websites my top priority in this article. I’ll include buy links from businesses I trust wherever possible. If I missed a brand available for sale online please let me know. This list is not a complete list of economy ZTR’s. There are just too many. It’s impossible to keep the list current and a few manufacturers don’t keep their websites up-to-date. If there is a particular brand or new model that is not listed here feel free to ask questions in the comments below. If you want my opinion of a dealer only ZTR just ask in the comments below.

Note: When you purchase through the Home Depot links in this article Ariens, John Deere and Toro use an authorized dealer to assemble, setup, delivery and show you how to use the zero-turn at your home. This “White Glove Delivery” is included in the price.

NOTE: I just want to remind you that zero-turn mowers are lawn mowers. These economy residential machines are NOT designed to go out and mow your horse pasture, paddock, roadside ditch or field. I repeat, do not use these for tall grass or mowing rough areas. The tall grass will wrap around the spindles under the deck and burn out your belts. Bouncing through the pasture will quickly destroy your deck, crack your frame and/or transmissions. These mowers are not designed to cut higher than 4-4.5 inches. If you have fields, paddocks, and pastures to mow I strongly suggest you look at the Acre-Ease rough cut mower for those areas instead.  Swisher has also updated their line of rough cut mowers and they now have some heavy-duty models Swisher Rough Cut

Note: This is not a “10 BEST” or  “Amazon Only” list. I have listed a “recommended” alongside mowers that have a good reputation and cut well. 

I do want to tell you that we have been having just the best luck buying snow blowers, lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers from Amazon.  If a model is available directly from Amazon or a reputable seller on Amazon I will offer you a buy link. Amazon literally is the best place to buy anything online. The delivery is swift, and if there are any issues with the shipping or the item Amazon takes care of it immediately.  Buy at Amazon

NOTE: I don’t deal with used ZTR’s. I don’t keep current with used ZTR prices. In reality, unless you understand engines, hydro-transmissions and can repair your own equipment I strongly suggest you stay away from a used residential ZTR. Parts and labor to change out the components can quickly add up to more than a new machine.

Finally, are you sure a zero-turn is the best choice for you?  They can be fun to drive and will save you time over a lawn tractor but they do have a few drawbacks.  Please read this article first if you have not owned a zero-turn before:  Best Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide 2018 – How To Choose The Right One!

Ariens/Gravely Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:

Ariens IKON X

Ariens IKON X

Ariens still lists the Zoom mower on their website but their latest tech is the Ikon X and XL (Gravely calls it the ZT and ZT X) I’ve had a chance to drive it and it is very smooth and responsive. The fabricated 10 gauge deck is strong and cuts well. If you are looking at a Hustler Raptor or Bad Boy MZ seriously look at this mower before you buy.  It comes in 42 and 52 inch fabricated deck sizes.

“recommended”  Ariens IKON X 52 in. 23 HP Kawasaki Gas Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower at Home Depot.   The only Ariens model in this price range available to buy online that I recommend. (I don’t like the Ariens Zoom) See your local Ariens or Gravely dealer for other models.

Toro Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Like Cub Cadet Toro makes a complete line of zero-turn riding mowers.  One of the best features for the homeowner is they use a “Smart Speed” lever that reduces the load on your EZT transmissions when pulling loads with your mower. This greatly increases the life expectancy of the transmissions.  If you are the aerate, pull a lawn sweeper and hauls 300-500 lb loads in your yard cart these are great choices.

Great News! CR rated the 2018 50 inch Toro TimeCutter MX5075 with MyRIDE as one of the best cutting large area mowers! This new mower has a unique suspension system that completely isolates your from the bumps and jarring of mowing your lawn at 7 mph.  Toro has had this system on their commercial mowers and starting this year you can get it on a residential model!

myride mx5075 “Recommended” TimeCutter MX5075 with MyRIDE Suspension System 50 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower. Best riding ZTR. at The Home Depot

CR rates the side discharge, mulching and bagging of the Toro 42 inch mowers as “very good.” I personally like the way the 42 and 50-inch decks mulch a lot. They cut the clippings into very small pieces and they don’t leave a mess on the lawn if the grass is wet.

I am not a big fan of the small 30-32 inch ZTR’s and the Toro is no exception. The rider is wider than the deck so even with a mulch kit installed you can only trim on the left side. This model form Toro is not as tippy as the other small ZTR’s but it still has traction issues when zero-turning and on slopes. Don’t buy one of the 32-inch models if you have a soft or sandy lawn.

The 42-inch size is a good choice for one-acre lawns. 50 inch is good for 1-3 acres and will mow a rough lawn better than the 54-inch models. 54 is good for those of you who have a large lawn and want to get it cut as quickly as possible.

Toro TimeCutter SS4200

“recommended” Toro TimeCutter SS4200 42 in. 452cc Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed Model# 74720 Single cylinder, best value Toro.  at The Home Depot

“recommended” Toro TimeCutter SS4225 42 in. 22 HP Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed Model# 74721 Best Value twin cylinder.  at The Home Depot

“recommended” Toro TimeCutter MX4250 42 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed Model# 74765 Heavy duty fabricated deck.  In my opinion, this is one of the strongest 42-inch decks you can buy.  at The Home Depot

Toro TimeCutter 50 in. 24.5 HP V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed Model# 74731. If you have more than an acre to mow and want a great cut this mower is a great value.  at The Home Depot

Toro TimeCutter SW5425

“recommended” Toro TimeCutter MX5000 50 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed Model# 74741  at The Home Depot

Bad Boy Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Bad Boy Magnum MZ

Bad Boy Mower is known for their almost fluorescent orange paint and their extravagant display booths at the trade shows. Tractor Supply Company carries two models that fits into the economy category, the 42 and 54 inch Bad Boy Magnum MZ.

When the MZ Magnum first came out there were more than a few customers who complained about the cut but this is not that mower.  Bad Boy redesigned the MZ Magnum for 2017 and it now has a new 7 gauge fabricated deck.  One thing I find interesting is on the Bad Boy website they only suggest this for 1.5 acres a week. That’s only 45 minutes or so run time per week. I don’t get it.

The price is a little higher than most of the mowers in this class/size so I suggest also looking at the Ariens Ikon X and Hustler Raptor if you want a fabricated deck. Check it out here:  Bad Boy MZ Magnum 42 or 54 inch at Tractor Supply Company

Craftsman Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Craftsman specializes in homeowner zero-turn mowers. The red Craftsman is one the best value economy mower lines on the market today. All Craftsman Zero-Turns now have the Craftsman Smart Lawn App. You can keep track of maintenance for you ZTR, see step by step instructions for doing the maintenance and it even tells you when you mowed last. For iPhone and Android. See video below. Craftsman also sells the heavy-duty Pro line. I’ll make a comment on each mower to help you decide which one is best for you.

42 inch size is a good choice for one acre lawns. the 46 inch up to 1.5 acres. 50 inch is good for 2-3 acres and will mow a rough lawn better than the 54 inch models. 54 is good for those of you who have a large lawn and want to get it cut as quickly as possible.

Craftsman Model # 27778

“recommended” Craftsman 42″ 22 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Zero Turn Riding Mower Model # 20411 at Sears: “recommended” Built by MTD. The is one of the least expensive zero-turn mowers on the market yet it has one of the best cutting decks as rated by CR. It side discharges, bags (optional), and mulches (optional) well.  (Same deck as the Troy-Bilt Mustang and Cub Cadet RZT L42) It’s a compact ZTR that’s lightweight so it won’t groove your lawn if you are the type to mow your lawn the same way every week. You can add the optional hitch below if you want to pull a small yard cart. I recommend it for relatively flat lawns one acre or less. Be aware on this model the deck only sticks out about one inch further than the left rear tire so it won’t trim well around small trees.

“recommended,” Craftsman 20428 46″ 24 HP Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Lawn Technology  “recommended” Built by MTD. This is my pick for a great, inexpensive ZTR. CR does rate this deck as high as the MTD and John Deere ZTR’s.  This is a very agile mower and you will like it for more complex lawns. This model features the stamped deck that mows well with a reinforced edge.

Craftsman 54″ 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Fabricated Deck Zero Turn Riding Mower Model # 17ARCACA099 at Sears: Built by MTD.

Craftsman Zero Turn Hitch for MTD built mowers at Sears. If your Craftsman zero turn (217) didn’t come with a hitch here is the right one.

Cub Cadet Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Cub Cadet has quietly become one of the largest manufacturers of zero-turn mowers and they make 15 different zero-turn lines ranging from the $2300 RZT-L to the $12,000 Pro Z 900 S.  The economy models listed here are consistently rated by the product review sites as the best cutting residential riding lawn mowers. These mowers feature the well-respected PROFESSIONAL-GRADE KOHLER 7000 SERIES V-TWIN OHV but you also have the choice of a Honda engine (at The Home Depot) and a Kawasaki engine (at your local dealer) if the Kohler is not for you.

I like the RZT-S 46 inch and 50 inch steering wheel models a lot.  Having steerable front wheels makes these zero-turn mowers much more stable on slopes and takes a huge load off of the EZT transmissions. (the downhill transmission doesn’t carry the entire load of the mower) The steering wheel models are also the best choice if you want a zero-turn but just can’t get the hang of using the lap-bar systems. All of the decks listed here are reinforced to keep them from caving in if you hit the side of your foundation too hard. The RZT-S 46 in has the heavy-duty fabricated deck for even more strength.

42 inch size is a good choice for one acre lawns. the 46 inch up to 1.5 acres. 50 inch is good for 2-3 acres and will mow a rough lawn better than the 54 inch models. 54 is good for those of you who have a large lawn and want to get it cut as quickly as possible.

Cub Cadet Model# RZT-S 50

Not Recommended.  Cub Cadet 34 in. 452cc Single-Cylinder Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Lap Bar Control. I don’t recommend 34 inch ZTRs. They have very poor traction and will tear up just about any lawn. Yes, companies make them but that doesn’t mean they are the right mower for you.  Home Depot Link: Model#  RZT-L 34.

“recommended” Cub Cadet RZT-L 42 in. 23-HP Kohler V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-L 42 Tractor Supply Link: SKU #445771299

Cub Cadet RZT S 42 in. 22 HP Kohler V-Twin Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Steering Wheel Control Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-S 42  Tractor Supply Link: SKU #112543199

“recommended” Cub Cadet RZT-L 46 in. 23 HP Fabricated Deck KOHLER V-Twin Dual-Hydro Gas Zero Turn Riding Mower with Bluetooth Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-L 46 FAB  Tractor Supply Link: SKU #112543099

“recommended” Cub Cadet RZT L 50 in. 23 HP Kohler V-Twin Dual-Hydro Zero-Turn Mower with Lap Bar Control Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-L 50  

Cub Cadet RZT-L 42 in. 688cc Honda V-Twin Dual-Hydro Zero-Turn Mower with Cub Connect Bluetooth Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-L 42H 

“recommended” Cub Cadet RZT S 50 in. 23 HP KOHLER V-Twin Dual-Hydro Zero-Turn Mower with Steering Wheel Control Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-S 50  Tractor Supply Link: SKU #112543399

Cub Cadet Model# RZT-S 50

Cub Cadet RZT-S 46 in. Fabricated Deck 24 HP Kohler V-Twin Dual-Hydro Zero-Turn Mower with Cub Connect Bluetooth Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-S 46 FAB  Tractor Supply Link: SKU #112543299

Cub Cadet RZT-L 46 in. 688cc Fabricated Deck HONDA V-Twin Dual-Hydro Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Bluetooth Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-L 46H FAB  

“recommended” Cub Cadet RZT-S 54 in. 25 HP Fabricated Deck KOHLER V-Twin Dual-Hydro Zero-Turn Mower with Cub Connect Bluetooth Home Depot Link: Model# RZT-S 54 FAB  Tractor Supply Link: SKU #107283699

Dirty Hand Tools Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Dirty Hand Tools makes a lot of rural lifestyle products like log splitters and portable generators. They jumped into the ZTR market a couple of years ago but it looks like they are discontinuing them.  They no longer have the mowers listed on their website.

Exmark Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

ExMark Quest

ExMark really does not have an economy model. The lowest price option is the ExMark Quest. These are dealer only models with fabricated decks. There are 4 lap bar and 2 steering wheel versions. I personally own the 42-inch fabricated deck steering wheel model and it cuts and drives great! If you don’t have access to the Toro brand these are a good alternative. They are very similar to the Toro SWX models.

Hustler Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

 Hustler makes four economy models. A 36 inch, 42 inch, 52 inch and a 52-inch special edition.  Most people who buy these mowers like them. The majority of the complaints come from the initial assembly by Lowes.  So, I suggest if you want a Hustler – buy it from a local dealer.  The local dealers will assemble it out of the crate correctly and test everything to make sure it is ready to mow. This ZTR is a little heavier than many of the other economy ZTR’s so be aware it is designed for flat and gently sloping lawns.  You may burn out the EZT hydro transmissions prematurely on the 52-inch models if you try to mow slopes and ditches.

Husqvarna Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Husqvarna has a lot of economy zero-turns for sale at various retailers but the four listed here are the new, redesigned models. These new models feature a great seat, easy deck lift and they cut and bag well. CR states that Husqvarna is one of the more repair-prone brands but these models are too new to fall into that general category they put them in. In other words, if you buy one of the models listed below it will last just as long and any other economy zero-turn.

Note: The models listed here are from Amazon and all have free shipping to your home but you are welcome to buy from your local dealer. One thing I really like about Amazon is these mowers come with the Amazon A-Z guarantee so is if you have any issues with the ZTR they are very quick at helping you get the problem fixed or sending you a new machine. In addition, for about $250, they have an optional 4 years extended warranty through Asurion. That plan includes “mechanical and electrical failures are covered after the manufacturer warranty expires. If we can’t fix it, we will issue you an Amazon Gift Card for full replacement value. No deductibles or additional fees. Easy claims online or by phone. The contract is emailed to you within hours of your purchase.”

These ZTR’s are shipped in a crate to your door and you will need a few hand tools and 45 minutes or so to take them out of the crate and attach small items like the steering levers and seat. Remember to check/reduce the tire pressure to 12 lbs.

Husqvarna 967324301

“recommended” Husqvarna 967638401 42″ 22HP Briggs and Stratton Zero Turn Mower at Amazon. Z242F 42 inch 10 ga. fabricated deck.

“recommended” Husqvarna Z246i 23HP Briggs & Stratton 46″ Zero Turn Lawn Mower at Amazon. Z246i 46 inch reinforced stamped deck. Smart Switch push button starting. If you mulch most of the time this is a great mulching mower. It will also bag well.

Husqvarna 967262401 48″ 23HP Zero Turn Mower at Amazon. Z248F 48 inch 10 ga. fabricated deck.

“recommended” Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower, 54″ at Amazon. Z254 54 inch reinforced stamped deck.

John Deere Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

John Deere has changed. The new 300 series has a lot of improvements over the 200 series and is now competitively priced with the other economy zero-turns. Yes, the least expensive model is a little more than the competitor’s model but it includes free professional setup and delivery. When the mower arrives at your home it is ready to mow. No shredded belts because the teenager at the big box store did not assemble it correctly. The new John Deere 300 series of economy ZTRs features an excellent deep dome deck that side discharges well, bags well, and is one of the best mulching decks available in this price range. John Deere has a series of videos that explain the new features here: John Deere Videos

42 inch size is a good choice for one acre lawns. the 46 inch up to 1.5 acres. 48 inch is good for 1-3 acres and will mow a rough lawn better than the 54 inch models. 54 is good for those of you who have a large lawn and want to get it cut as quickly as possible.

John Deere Z355R

 “recommended” John Deere Z335M 42 in. 20 HP Dual Hydrostatic Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower Model# BG21035 at The Home Depot

“recommended” John Deere Z345M 42 in. 22 HP Dual Hydrostatic Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower Model# BG21036 at The Home Depot

“recommended” John Deere Z345R 42 in. 22 HP Dual Hydrostatic Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower Model# BG21041  at The Home Depot

Poulan Pro Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

 Poulan Pro ZTR’s are made by Husqvarna and feature the same decks and transmissions as the Husqvarna ZTR’s. They are a good alternative to the Husqvarna brand.

Poulan Pro P46ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 22 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower, 46-Inch  at Amazon.

Troy-Bilt Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Troy-Bilt ZTR’s are very similar to the Cub Cadet and both are made by MTD but the Troy-Bilt generally costs a little less.  The Troy-Bilt’s use the highly rated stamped decks and CR rates the 42, 46 and 50-inch versions among the best cutting ZTR’s.  The Troy-Bilt’s use both the Kohler and Briggs & Stratton engines.

I was very disappointed to see that Lowes has dropped most of the Troy-Bilt ZTR’s from their 2017 website. I hope it’s only temporary.

Note: The models listed here are from Amazon and all have free shipping to your home. One thing I really like about Amazon these mowers come with the Amazon A-Z guarantee so is if you have any issues with the ZTR they are very quick at helping you get the problem fixed or sending you a new machine. In addition, for about $250, they have an optional 4 years extended warranty through Asurion. That plan includes “Mechanical and electrical failures are covered after the manufacturer warranty expires. If we can’t fix it, we will issue you an Amazon Gift Card for full replacement value. No deductibles or additional fees. Easy claims online or by phone. The contract is emailed to you within hours of your purchase.”

Troy Bilt 50 inch

 Troy-Bilt 42 XP Mustang 22HP 42-inch Zero Turn Mower at Amazon

“recommended” Troy-Bilt Mustang 46 22HP 46-Inch Zero-Turn Mower at Amazon

Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 25HP 54-Inch Zero-Turn Mower at Amazon

Simplicity/Snapper/Briggs & Stratton Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Simplicity Courier

Simplicity Courier

Simplicity and Snapper both sell a zero-turn with the EZT transmissions but as far as I know they are only available through your local Simplicity or Snapper dealer. CR does not rate the Simplicity but unfortunately, they consistently give its twin, the Snapper 360Z, the lowest rating for ZTRs. I have not used one enough to verify if I agree with their rating or not. The only complaint I have with the Simplicity Courier™ Zero Turn Mower is I wish they would have put a small tailgate on the integrated cargo bed. The “The exclusive Suspension Comfort System™ complete with front or front & rear suspension allows you to feel 25% less impact while operating, resulting in enhanced comfort versus a non-suspension zero turn mower” Suspends the entire mower – not just the operator. Because of that, you may experience an uneven cut on really rough lawns because the deck moves up and down with the rest of the mower. If you have a rough lawn please demo it on your lawn first before you buy.

Swisher Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Swisher makes quite a few heavy-duty zero-turns but they do not have a zero-turn that uses the economy EZT transmissions.

Z-Beast/Beast/Stanley Economy Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

GXI makes one zero-turn that fits into this class of economy mowers, the Z-Beast 48ZB 20HP Heavy Duty 48″  People will buy this mower because the price is almost too good to be true. The reviews though of this mower are mixed (see these reviews on Home Depot) but I am going to give GXI one more chance.

Z-Beast 48

Yes, You need a new Gas Can!

With today’s fuels you need a gas can that seals tight. It helps the fuel last longer and the escaping vapors won’t wreck the environment. But the biggest problem is to find one that works. The cheap ones ($20 or more now) don’t have vents so it takes forever to fill the tank on your lawn tractor. The cheap ones are also flimsy and the spouts break after the first year.

Well, I’ve found two brands that work great! I have both brands and I use them all the time. They are vented inside the spout so the fuel pours quickly yet seals tightly when not in use.  I’ll give you links at Amazon for two sizes. I suggest buying the size so that you don’t keep more than a month of fuel around the house.

“recommended” No-Spill 1405 2-1/2-Gallon Poly Gas Can. A good size for snow blowers and push mowers. 

“recommended” No-Spill 1450 5-Gallon Poly Gas Can (CARB Compliant) This one has a second handle in the back so it is very easy to use and hang onto when pouring into your fuel tank. A good size for lawn tractors and zero-turns.

If you have a problem holding a gas can the SureCan is a great can. It’s very comfortable to use to use and built well.

SureCan – Gas Can with Rotating Spout. 

Fuel Stabilizer: When I go to the gas station and buy fuel I always put fuel stabilizer in the storage tank. It helps keep the fuel fresh and some stabilizers also clean your carb and fuel system without messing it up. There a many good brands but I’ve used SeaFoam for years and it’s always worked well. I use 2 tablespoons per gallon of fuel.

Seafoam 

Other fuels stabilizers to check out: Fuel Stabilizers

Have I helped you? If would you like to buy from your local dealer or store but still want to support TodaysMower just click on this link and buy anything you need. I’ll make a small commission from the sale. Buy at Amazon. TodaysMower.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and we get a commission on purchases made through our links to Amazon.

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