The Honda HRX217HYA hits the sweet spot among luxury self-propelled lawn mowers, featuring hydrostatic transmission with cruise control and a blade brake override that stops the blades but leaves the engine running. The Honda OHV engine earns high marks in reviews, not only for its 50-state compliance with emission standards, but also for its quiet operation, durability and fuel efficiency. Owners say the mower has plenty of power for tall, thick or hilly grass, and they praise the way the four cutting surfaces on the twin blades chop the cuttings into extra fine mulch. Reviewers say the Honda HRX217HYA is very easy to start; this model adds an automatic choke to the well-reviewed preceding model, the HRX217HXA (now discontinued). If you can do without cruise control and the blade brake override, the less expensive Honda HRX217VKA (Est. $600) also has the automatic choke and earns high marks in reviews.
We found the best reviews of the Honda HRX217HYA at HomeDepot.com, where more than 180 owners like it well enough to make it one of the top-rated lawn mowers there. In 2011 ConsumerReports.org tested the predecessor to the Honda HRX217HYA, the Honda HRX2172HXA, which lacks only the automatic choke. The latest comparison tests there cover a less expensive mower in the same Honda HRX series that's also tested at Popular Mechanics. As a mower brand, Honda earns high marks in consumer surveys at J.D. Power and Associates and at Which? magazine, the U.K. equivalent of ConsumerReports.org. A video buyers' guide from ToolSelect.com (posted on YouTube) also reviews the Honda HRX217HYA.
About 200 owners review the Honda HRX217HYA lawn mower here, making it one of the top-rated mowers at this big retail site. Nearly all say they'd recommend it to a friend. Owners praise this mower for plenty of power even on thick grass and hills, plus easy starts and overall ease of use. HomeDepot.com also publishes questions from readers about this mower; many are answered by official Honda representatives. For example, by releasing the clutch on the HRX217HYA, it's easy to pull it backward to maneuver as needed.
Review: Honda 21 in. Nexite Deck Blade Stop System Cruise Control Gas Mower GCV190, Contributors to HomeDepot.com
Tests in 2011 here covered the preceding model, the Honda HRX2172HXA, nearly identical to the Honda HRX217HYA except that the latter adds an automatic choke. Tests in 2012 cover the less expensive Honda HRX217VKA, which lacks the HRX217HYA's blade override and hydrostatic transmission with cruise control, but should otherwise be similar.
Review: Lawn Mowers, April 2012, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. J.D. Power & Associates
Honda, Husqvarna and John Deere earn top marks in this latest J.D. Power and Associates customer-satisfaction survey of more than 2,000 users who've bought a lawn mower within two years. Honda takes the award for best overall.
Review: 2011 Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Study, Editors of J. D. Power and Associates, May 2011
Based on thorough comparison tests of eight mowers, editors give top rating to the Honda HRX217VKA, which shares the same engine, automatic choke and "versa-mow" feature with the more full-featured Honda HRX217HYA, which isn't tested here. The Honda lawn mower earns high praise for its cutting and mulching performance. One thing that's disliked is that changing the cutting height requires changing the setting at each of the mower's four wheels.
Review: Best Lawnmowers of the Year: Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn, March 2010
5. Which? magazine
A survey of readers at of Britain's Which? magazine, which is the U.K's version of ConsumerReports.org, reveals that Honda receives top marks for reliability. However, the exact models tested by Which? magazine are not sold in the U.S.
Review: Lawn Mowers, Editors of Which? magazine, Nov. 2011
This nine-minute video guide to choosing a lawn mower reviews the Honda HRX217HYA as the "feature-rich" lawn mower, highlighting its ease of use, easy startup with automatic choke, low engine emissions and the ability of the twin blades to cut grass into very fine clippings.
Review: Push Mowers - How to Choose, Mike Johnson and Gerry Barnaby, April 1, 2012