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In this report

Honda and Toro are top brands

Experts say the best mowers are self-propelled, equipped with a transmission to drive the lawn mower. With outstanding mulching and cutting, reviews say the Honda HRX217VKA (Est. $600) is at the top of its class, leaving behind a pristine lawn every time. Its Clip Director feature lets users decide how much grass to mulch while bagging the rest.

With an effortless pull-cord and automatic choke, owners say the HRX217VKA starts on the first try almost every time. Its powerful four-stroke engine can tackle unruly yards with thick or wet grass. The automatic transmission lets you set your own pace -- up to 4 mph -- though a few reviews say the paddle controls can be awkward to use, making for uneven acceleration.

Two leading consumer organizations say Honda is one of the most reliable mower brands, and the HRX217VKA carries one of the best warranties on the market: a lifetime deck warranty and a five-year mower warranty.

Reviews recommend the Toro Recycler 20333 (Est. $400) as another excellent choice, packed with features many owners love. One user at says the Personal Pace Self-Propel system, which matches the mower's speed to the user, works amazingly well. "I have a large hill in my backyard, so Personal Pace allows me to navigate the steep incline and decline with confidence and ease," he says.

The SpinStop system, which is not available on the HRX217VKA, is another favorite feature of the Recycler. It stops the blades from spinning but keeps the engine running. This makes emptying the bag more efficient as the mower doesn't have to be restarted each time.

The Toro Recycler only has a two-year warranty, but Toro includes a three-year, guaranteed-to-start warranty that promises it will start with only one or two pulls. Toro also rates high in customer satisfaction, according to editors at J.D. Power and Associates who find Toro achieves a noticeably high score in the performance category.

Toro Recycler (22") 190cc Personal Pace Lawn Mower w/ Blade Override - 20333
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New: $799.99
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