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John Deere X304

Est. $3,800
Reviewed
April 2014
by ConsumerSearch
John Deere X304

Best riding lawn mower

Pros
  • Maneuvers well around obstacles
  • Mows, bags, mulches well
  • Has cruise control, high-back seat
  • Engine is quieter than most
Cons
  • No deck washout port or fuel gauge
  • Mulching can be cumbersome

Bottom line

Reviewers say the John Deere X304 is one of the best riding lawn mowers on the market. With great performance and easy handling, the X304 mows flawlessly and is fun to drive, users say. As part of John Deere's deluxe line, the X304 includes a high-backed seat, electric power takeoff, cruise control and a large gas tank. The features come at a higher price tag than some may want to pay though.

Performance

Rock-solid durability. The John Deere X304 performs well in comparison tests and excels at mulching, discharging and bagging. The maximum forward speed of 5.5 mph is pretty standard, but its 4 mph reverse speed stands out. A few users warn that when they go too fast, the tires can leave marks on the lawn, and an expert notes that the mower has to go fairly slow while mulching. The 15-inch turning radius is one of the tightest available on traditional lawn tractors. John Deere has one of the best records for durability, according to a major consumer survey, and owners report few major issues. The four-year or 300-hour limited warranty is one of the longest on the market.

Ease of use

Packed with features. Both experts and users praise the John Deere X304's unique four-wheel steering, which engages all the tires to get a close cut around obstacles. Adding to the X304's comfort and usability are an electric power takeoff, adjustable high-back seat and step-through riding platform. Bonuses include a cup holder, tool tray, headlights, cruise control and location for an optional 12-volt outlet. The riding mower has a 3.3-gallon gas tank, and a number of reviewers say the X304 uses very little gas. On the downside, this model has no washout port to clean clippings from the deck, and it lacks a dash-mounted fuel gauge. Service timetables are provided in the operator's manual, and most reviewers say the mower is easy to maintain.

Safety/noise

Quiet engine. The John Deere X304 meets all riding mower standards from the American National Standards Institute, including a higher seat back and blade shut-off if you dismount. For reverse mowing, the X304 must be brought to a complete stop before you can select the reverse option. One expert warns that while traction is good, he still doesn't recommend the X304 for mowing very wet or dry slopes. On the upside, he says the mower has a quiet engine that's similar to more expensive estate tractors. Numerous owners praise low engine noise, as well. The X304 was among 40,000 mowers recalled in September 2011 for a faulty cooling fan, a potential fire hazard. One burn injury was reported.

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

This review compares the John Deere X304 to 29 other lawn tractors and includes details on how the X304 disperses clippings, mulches grass and maneuvers around obstacles. About 60 owners also post comments here.

Review: Lawn Mowers & Tractors, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated

2. TodaysMower.com

The X304 earns a "best" pick from this landscaper for its four-wheel steering, internal wet brakes, foot-pedal lift system for attachments and preset cut heights on the mower adjustment. He says it's very durable, but not good for mulching.

Review: The Best Lawn Tractors and Zero-Turns for 2012-2013, Paul Sikkema, Not Dated

3. Deere.com

More than 25 consumers give the John Deere X304 good marks for quality, value and ease of use, awarding it 4.4 stars out of 5. The bulk of the compliments are for the X304's four-wheel steering and easy maneuverability. A few complain the seat is cheaply made.

Review: X304, Contributors to Deere.com, As of April 2014

4. SheKnows.com

The John Deere X304 earns praise as a high-quality, maneuverable, versatile machine. The review also notes the wide range of attachments and "little extras, from the tool tray and cup holder to the color-coded controls and high-back, fully adjustable seat." No cons are noted.

Review: Top 5 Riding Mowers, Kori Ellis, April 18, 2012

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