The biggest advantage of the Toro Recycler 20333 is its SpinStop system, which lets you empty the bag without shutting off the engine. The 20333 also provides excellent mulching, discharging near-invisible grass clippings, but suffers when bagging. Regardless, experts find the 20333 a great overall value.
Powerful cutting and mulching. Experts say the Toro Recycler 20333 performs almost as well as much more expensive mowers, finely mulching clippings and leaving a top-quality finish. One impressed owner at Amazon.com explains, "The mower is extremely powerful and cuts tall grass effortlessly."
A simple lever switches from mulching to bagging without removing the bag -- a favorite feature of Popular Mechanics. In comparison tests, it doesn't bag or discharge clippings out the side quite as well as others, but still performs suitably.
The Toro 20332 (similar to the 20333 but without the blade-brake clutch) ranks high in two separate Popular Mechanics comparisons: It ties with the Honda HRX217VKA (Est. $600) for first place in one test and gets 4.5 stars (out of 5) in the second. Editors say the mower is best for "small to large yards that are flat and smooth with moderate uphill, sidehill cutting, or those that need a reasonably fast cut without sacrificing cut and bag quality." Though the 20333 is rated to mow up to half an acre, many users say this Toro is capable of handling much larger properties.
Convenient features. One of reviewers' favorite features is the SpinStop system, which stops the blades but keeps the engine running, so you don't have to restart the mower every time you need to empty the bag or move something in the yard. Users find it makes finishing the job much quicker.
The automatic transmission with Personal Pace Self-Propel system lets you "mow at your own pace by simply pushing more firmly against the handle …" explains Popular Mechanics. Owners also rave about this setup. "It really does sense how fast you want to go, but more importantly it gives you that extra juice to power up hills, and lets you back off coming back down," says a user at HomeDepot.com.
According to their three-year guaranteed-to-start warranty, Toro promises the Briggs & Stratton engine (which includes an automatic choke) will fire up within one or two pulls every time, and users attest it starts reliably.
Toro's two-year warranty doesn't match the five-year plan for the Honda HRX217VKA, and a number of users say it begins to have problems after a few seasons. In 2012, Toro ranked as the second best brand in J.D. Power and Associates' customer satisfaction survey, but a survey from a different consumer organization argues Toro isn't quite as reliable as Honda, Troy-Bilt and Craftsman.
Blade-brake keeps engine running. Lawn mowers typically shut the engine off when you release the handle, but the 20333 uses a SpinStop system: It stops the blades from spinning but leaves the engine running, with a separate switch for the engine. All owners commenting on this system say it works well.
Average. In a comparison of 10 walk-behind mowers, Popular Mechanics found the 20333 to be one of the quieter models at 89 decibels adjusted. Safety experts still recommend users wear adequate hearing protection with a lawn mower this loud.
Editors test-drive about 80 lawn mowers, including the Toro Recycler 20333 to evaluate how well they handle, how easy they are to use and their performance in all three cutting modes. More than 150 Toro Recycler 20333 owners also comment on its controls, reliability and maintenance requirements.
Review: Lawn Mowers & Tractors, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
In Popular Mechanics' most recent walk-behind lawn mower comparison, 10 models are put to the test "around a church, golf course, and house, in pouring rain and blistering heat." The Toro Recycler 20332 (which is comparable to the 20333) doesn't receive first place, but it does rank very well with 4.5 stars. Testers say it cuts and bags well, and they have no major complaints with its performance.
Review: The Best Walk-Behind Lawnmowers: Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn, 2012
When Roy Berendsohn tests eight convertible mulching mowers, he skipped a regular groomed course and opted for a less conventional farm "where the grass is often dry and brittle or wet and tall, there are steep hills to climb and you have to coax the mower over roots." The Toro 20332 (similar to the 20333, but without the blade-brake clutch) ties for first place with a perfect 5-star score.
Review: Best Lawnmowers of the Year: Comparison Test, Roy Berendsohn, 2012
This free article comes from ConsumerReports.org's earth-friendly website, GreenerChoices.org. Editors discuss some of the more ecological lawn mowers on the market, including gas, electric and manual options. The Toro Recycler 20333 stands out among less expensive gas mowers because of its SpinStop system.
Review: Lawn Mowers: Green Buying Guide 5/11, Editors of GreenerChoices.org, May 2011
5. J.D. Power & Associates
Toro moves from fifth place to second in the 2012 customer satisfaction survey of walk-behind mowers by J.D. Power and Associates. Although brand reputation is important to shoppers, editors say price and user-friendly operation are also key. "Toro achieves a particularly high score in performance," say editors.
Review: 2012 Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Satisfaction Report, Editors of J. D. Power and Associates, Aug. 30, 2012
6. J.D. Power & Associates
For their 2011 report on walk-behind lawn mowers, J.D. Power and Associates surveys more than 2,000 consumers. They list 10 different brands; Toro ranks fifth just above the industry average. Honda, John Deere and Husqvarna take the top three slots.
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 Toro Recycler 20333 gets a 4.1-star rating at HomeDepot.com, where more than 900 owners review it. The site also includes 200 reviews from the manufacturer's website. Users tend to rate the mower better during the first three months of use; after that, ratings drop dramatically.
Review: Toro Personal Pace Recycler 22 in. Variable Speed Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower with Blade Stop System (50-State Engine), Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of June 2013
The 40-plus owners that review the Toro Recycler 20333 here are not as impressed with it as some experts, rating it just 2.4 stars out of 5. Difficulty starting, problems with customer service and poor construction are among the issues owners have. Not everyone gives it a low rating: About 25 percent of the reviews here say it's a wonderful mower with plenty of power and convenient features.
Review: Toro Recycler (22") 190cc Personal Pace Lawn Mower w/ Blade Override - 20333, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of June 2013
The editors of MowersDirect.com give the Toro Recycler 20333 a C-plus rating, but don't explain why. Less than 10 owners also review the 20333, giving it a score of 3.4 (out of 5) stars.
Review: Toro Recycler(R) (22") 190cc Briggs & Stratton Personal Pace(R) Lawn Mower w/ Blade Override, Contributors to MowersDirect.com, As of June 2013
This YouTube user researches and reads numerous reviews before purchasing the Toro Recycler 20332 (similar to the 20333). In this 14-minute video, he walks viewers through the mower's features, shows it in action and demonstrates using the washout port. He concludes, "I couldn't be more impressed."
Review: Toro Recycler 20332 Lawn Mower Review, "Halflife82", May 19, 2011