This is the top-of-the-line mower, with both electric start and a blade brake override, in the well-rated Honda HRX series of luxury lawn mowers. The hydrostatic transmission offers infinitely variable speed plus cruise control, and a single lever controls the percentage of clippings that are bagged or mulched. The four-in-one system also includes rear-discharge and leaf shredding. The four-stroke 190cc OHV Honda engine meets the most stringent emissions requirements. Reviewers find it quiet, durable and fuel-efficient. Owners say the main drawback, aside from price, is that the mower is heavy. If you don't need electric start, the less expensive Honda HRX217HYA (*Est. $700) shares all this mower's other luxury features and earns good reviews for easy recoil starts.
We found the best reviews of the Honda HRX217HZA at HomeDepot.com, where more than three dozen owners provide detailed comments as well as ratings. Less expensive mowers in the same Honda HRX series are tested at ConsumerReports.org and at Popular Mechanics, though ConsumerReports.org tested a very similar HRX mower without an automatic choke in 2011. As a lawn mower brand, Honda earns top marks in surveys at J.D. Power and Associates and at Which? magazine -- the British equivalent of ConsumerReports.org.
More than 40 owners review the Honda HRX217HZA here, giving it a high overall rating. Nearly all say they'd recommend it to a friend. Performance earns rave reviews: "Mulched grass eight inches tall without a problem and shredded the grass so fine that it was hard to tell there were clippings left behind." A few owners received units damaged in shipping, but the main drawback noted is that the mower is heavy.
Review: Honda 21 in. Variable Speed Self-Propelled Electric Start Gas Mower, Contributors to HomeDepot.com
2. J.D. Power & Associates
Honda takes the award for best overall lawn mower brand in this J.D. Power and Associates customer-satisfaction survey of more than 2,000 users who've bought a lawn mower within two years.
Review: 2011 Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Study, Editors of J. D. Power and Associates, May 2011
Based on objective tests, ConsumerReports.org compares the similar HRX217VKA with other self-propelled lawn mowers and lots of mowers of other types in this roundup review. All the mowers are ranked based on performance, handling and ease of use. The less expensive Honda HRX217VKA tested here has the same Honda engine and automatic choke as the top-of-the-line HRX217HZA, but it lacks electric start, blade override and hydrostatic transmission with cruise control. Last year's tests here covered the Honda HRX2172HXA, which lacks only the automatic choke and electric start of the HRX217HZA.
Review: Lawn Mowers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, April 2012
The similar but less full-featured Honda HRX217VKA earns top ranking among eight lawn mowers that convert easily between mulching and bagging. The Honda earns kudos for its cutting performance with wet or dry grass and when mulching leaves. There are numerous other conveniences, but the fact that you need to change the setting at each wheel to change the cutting height is not among them.
Review: Best Lawnmowers of the Year: Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn, March 2010
5. Which? magazine
A survey of readers of this British publication, the U.K. equivalent of ConsumerReports.org, gives top marks to Honda for lawn mower reliability. However, the Honda lawn mowers evaluated here are not sold in the U.S.
Review: Lawn Mowers, Editors of Which? magazine, Nov. 2011