Lawn Tractors: Ratings of Sources
This is the unabridged review of riding mowers done by ConsumerReports.org. It includes the models just tested as well as those tested in previous seasons, many of which remain current. Lawn tractors, wide-deck tractors, zero-turn mowers and rear-engine riders are rated and ranked against similar models. Each model is field-tested to see how well it cuts, bags and mulches. Comfort, usability and handling are included in each machine's overall score.
This article, which is free even for non-subscribers, provides the top-line results from ConsumerReports.org's latest round of lawn tractor testing. Top tractors, top riding mowers with wider decks, and the best zero-turn mowers are named. Links are provided to full reviews, but those do require a subscription.
Site author Paul Sikkema owns a large landscaping company and buys, fixes and sells used riding mowers and lawn tractors. His comprehensive guide to investing in a new lawn tractor includes estimates on how long it will take to mow your yard and detailed comparisons of many models. He also discusses many tractors' pros and cons, but doesn't say whether he tests each one. Elsewhere on this site Sikkema reviews specific models or mower series'.
Here, Sikkema offers his take on the top zero-turn mowers. Some reviews are recent, others are older despite the 2016 date. Of note, Sikkema gives special kudos to certain zero-turn mowers from Cub Cadet and Toro because they use a steering wheel rather than a lap bar system for steering -- overcoming some of the biggest drawbacks of typical zero-turn mowers.
Popular Mechanics tests "the best new machines on the market" on the same lawn for an entire mowing season and shares its impressions in a gallery of capsule reviews. Despite the article's title, only three riding mowers are tested, but also included is a tractor they want to test next as well as a self-propelled push mower "For the small of lawn or stout of heart."
HomeDepot.com is a popular destination for lawn care products of all kinds, and lawn tractors are no exception. Mowers are separated into categories, such as riding mowers, zero turn mowers and mower accessories. While many reviews are unique to HomeDepot.com, others are culled from the manufacturer's website. With that caveat in mind, HomeDepot.com remains useful as a good percentage of reviews are still unique to the site.
Lowes.com lets customers leave reviews of products they buy. They provide ratings, list high and low points and add whether or not they would recommend their riding mower to a friend. While many of the reviews are written by Lowes.com users, some are also sourced from the manufacturer's web site and are the same as can be read there -- and on other sites across the Internet.
MowersDirect.com sells walk-behind mowers, riding mowers and other lawn-care products. Each product listing provides specs, details on features and a rating. Though there are typically fewer user reviews for specific models than seen at HomeDepot.com or Lowes.com, all look to be unique to the site. In addition, some models receive a review and rating from house expert Jose Castellanos.
Sears.com publishes owner ratings and reviews of the lawn tractors, garden tractors, zero-turn mowers and rear-engine riding mowers sold here. Most models receive little feedback, but others attract dozens and sometimes over 100 reviews. Though there are better places to find reviews of other brands, Sears.com is a must-check resource for reviews of Craftsman riding mowers and lawn tractors.
John Deere tractors are mainly sold through dealers that don't conduct business online, so Deere.com is helpful in learning about user satisfaction with the company's riding mowers. You can't easily compare products side by side here, but you can see the average consumer score for each model after clicking on the page. Along with comments, Deere.com posts include length of ownership, usage frequency and level of expertise. There's enough negative feedback to ensure that comments aren't being censored, so credibility is on a par with better retail sites that post user reviews.
Tractor.com is a news and review site for all things tractor related, including some lawn and garden tractors. Reviews are hands-on, but tend to reflect ergonomics and features rather than cutting performance, and most seem to be relatively positive. Still, if a riding mower you are considering is among those that reviewer Geof Fowler has taken out for a spin, this site is worth a visit to get his knowledgeable first-hand impressions.
Amazon.com is a great resource for most products, but it's not a prime destination for those looking for riding mowers and lawn tractors. That said, there are a few lawn tractors with at least a little feedback in the Riding Lawn Mowers category, along with a lot of tractor accessories and some push mowers that come along for the ride somehow. Still, it might be worth a look here to see if a lawn tractor you are considering has some feedback. On the plus side, the reviews that are posted here tend to be longer and more detailed then what we typically see elsewhere.