Updated July 2014
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Honda and Toro are the best self-propelled lawn mowers

Self-propelled lawn mowers are equipped with a transmission to drive the lawn mower to make it easier to skim across your lawn. 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.

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

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 20332 (Est. $380) is very similar to the 20333 but it lacks the popular SpinStop system. It does equally well in reviews, however.

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

Elsewhere in this report:

Push Mowers: What's the best push lawn mower? Editors evaluate owner reviews and professional tests of popular models from brands like Husqvarna, Toro and Honda.

Electric Mowers: What's the best electric mower? Editors choose the best corded and cordless electric mowers based on expert evaluations and owner reviews.

Reel Mowers: Looking for the best reel lawn mower? Editors say reel mowers from Fiskars and NaturCut are the best according to professional tests and user feedback.

Buying Guide: Where should you start when buying a new lawn mower? Editors offer tips from experts and owners to help you select the right mower for your needs.

Our Sources: Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the top lawn mowers, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.

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