The Honda HRX217VKA is a solid all-around mower. Easy-start features and excellent mulching and bagging capabilities make maintaining a beautiful lawn easier than ever. The strong, four-stroke engine powers through tall, wet grass, and the durable NeXite deck carries a lifetime warranty.
Best in class mowing and mulching. According to professional comparisons the Honda HRX217VKA has some of the best mulching and bagging abilities among popular lawn mowers. After testing eight walk-behind models, Popular Mechanics gives it 5 stars, saying it "leaves a velvet finish, thanks to a unique dual blade and a domed plastic deck that keeps the clippings suspended as they are cut and recut." At HomeDepot.com, owners say it mulches so well it's hard to see the discarded clippings.
The Versamow System -- a reviewer favorite -- lets you decide how much grass you want to bag, mulching the rest into fine pieces. The Honda isn't the best at side-discharging grass, but expert tests show it still handles the task very well.
Users attest the four-stroke GCV190 engine is tough enough to power through thick or wet grass without bogging down. Owners also love how effortless it is to start with the automatic choke. The HRX217VKA meets emission requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
Reliable and well-built. Though the HRX217VKA is heavy -- about 90 pounds -- most users don't have a problem maneuvering it around the yard.
Owners like the Smart Drive automatic transmission, with five settings to drive from 0 to 4 mph, though some say it can be difficult to control. "It's hard to keep it going at a constant speed," says a HomeDepot.com reviewer; others add the controls are too jerky for smooth acceleration. Testers at Popular Mechanics say the paddle levers to control speed can wear out your thumbs but solve this by using the heel of their hand.
According to J.D. Power and Associates, owners rank Honda as one of the best lawn care machinery brands. Another large survey from a leading consumer organization also shows Honda is one of the most reliable brands of self-propelled mowers to own; J.D. Power and Associates concurs. The HRX217VKA comes with a five-year mower warranty (the longest in our report). The 21-inch-wide deck also has a limited lifetime warranty for residential users.
Safety levers. To operate the mower, Honda requires users to hold down a lever against the handle to engage the blades. When released, a flywheel brake stops the blades from spinning. This also turns the engine off and a few owners find it inconvenient to restart the mower each time they need to empty the bag. Otherwise, owners and experts don't comment on any of the HRX217VKA's safety equipment, though one owner at HomeDepot.com mentions it's stable enough to "handle hills with ease."
Relatively quiet. In their review of eight lawn mowers, Popular Mechanics measures the comparable RAX2172VKA noise output at 89 decibels adjusted, making it one of the quietest mowers they test, but experts still recommend wearing hearing protection for any lawn mower over 85 decibels.
Editors test 45 different self-propelled mowers as part of their extensive lawn mower and tractors report, including electric mowers and single speed and multiple-speed gas mowers. Their rating scale includes an evaluation of each mower's ability to mulch, bag or side-discharge grass clippings without clumping.
Review: Lawn Mowers & Tractors, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Roy Berendsohn and his crew of testers take eight convertible mulching mowers to a farm in southern New York. For over three weeks they run the mowers through "sun, wind and rain." The Honda HRX2172VKA (similar to the HRX217VKA) is one of two mowers to earn a perfect 5-star score.
Review: Best Lawnmowers of the Year: Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn, 2012
3. J.D. Power & Associates
Editors of J.D. Power and Associates say that durability, usability, performance, price and maintenance are some of the most important factors shoppers consider when buying a new lawn mower. During their most recent walk-behind lawn mower satisfaction report, the Honda brand ranks fourth -- behind John Deere, Toro and Troy-Bilt -- but it's still above average.
Review: 2012 Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Satisfaction Report, Editors of J. D. Power and Associates, Aug. 30, 2012
4. J.D. Power & Associates
In 2011, J.D. Power and Associates reports Honda has the highest customer satisfaction. Ranking first over nine other brands, editors say "Honda performs particularly well in five of six factors: ease of use, durability, performance, maintenance and warranty."
Review: Although Ease of Use Is of Primary Importance in Satisfaction with Lawn Mowers, Fewer than One in 10 Owners Factor It into Their Purchase Decision, Editors of J. D. Power and Associates, April 27, 2011
The HRX217VKA has an average 4.5-star score at HomeDepot.com, where most of the 200-plus owners give it rave reviews. Many call it "the best mower ever" and say this Honda is worth the price because it's easy to start, a champ at mulching and well built.
Review: Honda 21 in. Smart Drive Variable Speed Self-Propelled Deck Mower GCV190, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of June 2013
About a dozen owners rate the HRX217VKA as a 4.7-star mower on this website. The easy-start engine, dependable performance and solid construction are among the attributes users like most. Jose Castellanos, the site expert, doesn't review this mower, but he does review the similar Honda HRX217HYA.
Review: Honda HRX217VKA (21") 190cc Self-Propelled Lawn Mower, Contributors to MowersDirect.com, As of June 2013
Roy Berendsohn only briefly discusses the HRR216KSVXA, which uses the same Smart Drive technology as the HRX217VKA. He likes the paddles but says his "thumbs tired after about an hour. Fortunately, the design also allows you to use the heel of your hand."
Review: Honda's Thumb Operated Lawnmower Controls, Roy Berendsohn, Oct .1, 2009
About 90 owners rate various Honda HRX series mowers here. They like how easy the mower is to start and are very satisfied with the cut it delivers. Reviews date back several years, but there are few recent comments posted.
Review: Honda HRX Series Self Propelled Lawn Mower, Contributors to Epinions.com, As of June 2013