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The best lawn tractors handle more than just mowing

If you mow more than 2 acres or tackle extra duties around your property like hauling wood or plowing snow, experts say you need a sturdy lawn tractor. Tough frames, two-cylinder engines and reliable performance are all qualities of the best lawn tractors. They'll cost more up front, ranging in price from $3,000 to $4,000, but can save you money in the long run due to longer life spans and the ability to handle extra duties.

Reviews say the John Deere X304 (Est. $3,800) is one of the best lawn tractors available. Its exceptional handling comes courtesy of a unique setup that turns all four wheels, trimming the turning radius to 15 inches to nimbly cut around obstacles. Owners say the X304 is fun to drive and user-friendly, with a cushioned high-back seat, large 3.3-gallon fuel tank, electric power takeoff (PTO) and cup holder. The only feature it's missing is a washout port to clean under the mower deck, which is just a minor inconvenience to most owners.

Many user reviews say the X304's capacity to use so many attachments is one of its best qualities. John Deere offers many compatible implements, including a snow blower, garden cart, front blade, shovel and sprayer. It also comes with one of the best warranties for riding mowers: four years or 300 hours. According to a large survey by a reputable consumer organization, John Deere is one of the most reliable brands of lawn tractors.

If you need a sturdy lawn tractor at a smaller price, many reviews say the John Deere D140 (*Est. $2,000) is a good buy. It costs considerably less than the X304, but users say it still delivers top-notch performance and reliability. One Lowes.com customer calls the D140 "quiet, powerful and comfortable."

The D140's wide 48-inch deck mows quickly and is ideal for large properties, although a few reviewers say it doesn't always cut evenly. The mower includes many of the same amenities as the X304 including cruise control, headlights and an electric PTO, but adds a washout port and fuel gauge that you can read from the driver's seat.

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