For a mow that's fast, fun and precise, reviews say the Toro TimeCutter SS5000 is the best zero-turn mower. With its V-twin Kawasaki motor, it can cut efficiently at up to 7 mph. Owners say the controls are easy to use even for novices and its high-back seat is comfortable. The wide 50-inch deck delivers an even cut, but the SS5000 lacks adequate traction for slick lawns and hills.
Two-cylinder engine. Experts and consumers call the TimeCutter SS5000 one of the best zero-turn mowers, saying it tidies your lawn in no time. With forward speeds of up to 7 mph and up to 4 mph in reverse, the Toro is also the fastest mower we cover. The "SS" in the model number refers to the Smart Speed feature that provides a lower speed range to make it easier to maneuver around obstacles.
At HomeDepot.com, owners call the Toro's ability to chop and disperse grass clippings "impressive." The manufacturer recommends the SS5000 for up to 2 acres, but many users say they mow as much as 5 acres with no problems.
This lawn tractor uses three blades in a 50-inch deck and is powered by a 23-horsepower, two-cylinder Kawasaki engine, which is an upgrade from the previous 22-horsepower Kawasaki. Some experts say this V-twin design is smoother and lasts longer than a single-cylinder engine. Owners say at HomeDepot.com and Tractor-Review.com that the SS5000 is powerful enough to cut through thick grass.
Smooth ride. A zero-turn mower has a true zero-inch turning radius, making this the most agile type of riding mower. The TimeCutter uses two levers instead of a wheel to steer, and users switching from a lawn tractor to a zero-turn mower report that it takes some getting used to. Overall, driving the SS5000 is "smooth and precise," says a HomeDepot.com poster. Another says, "all controls are within easy reach," including the choke and electric power takeoff.
With the engine in the rear, users say there's plenty of legroom for tall drivers to stretch out. The cushioned seat is extra-tall at 18 inches, providing additional comfort.
The Toro TimeCutter SS5000 has a large 3-gallon fuel tank but no dash-mounted fuel gauge; to read fuel levels, drivers must look through a small window on the side of the mower. One of owners' biggest complaints is the lack of an hour gauge. Many say this makes tracking service intervals difficult, so they spend the extra money to add one.
Toro includes a three-year warranty for the SS5000 and is one of the most reliable brands of zero-turn mowers, according to a leading consumer organization.
Bad for hills. Numerous owners say the SS5000 has a solid frame, but caster-style wheels on the front reduce traction. Experts don't recommend zero-turn mowers for hills greater than a 15 percent grade, and several users confirm that the Toro slides on slopes and slick terrain.
To keep the mower from rolling, the parking brake automatically engages on the TimeCutter when the steering arms are in the outward position. Owners don't comment on the standard safety gear, but a few wish the mower came with a roll bar. Toro and professional testers don't comment on whether the SS5000 follows safety guidelines set by the American National Standards Institute.
Wear ear protection. Only one Toro TimeCutter SS5000 user at Tractor-Review.com mentions noise, saying it's "louder than what I anticipated, but considering that you sit right next to an open engine you have to allow for additional noise." Safety experts say you should wear earplugs or earmuffs when driving a zero-turn mower.
Editors test and rate 19 zero-turn tractors as part of a large 61-model report on lawn tractors. To evaluate performance, they follow the same procedures for every model to ensure accurate results. They also evaluate how well each lawn tractor discharges to the side, mulches and bags.
Review: Lawn Mowers & Tractors, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Nearly three dozen owners review the Toro TimeCutter SS5000 here; nearly all these reviewers say they'd recommend it to a friend. One uses it to cut 15 acres. Owners confirm that it cuts mowing time in half, and the mower also earns praise for comfort, power and quality of cut.
Review: Toro TimeCutter SS5000 (50") 23HP Kawasaki Zero Turn Lawn Mower (2013 Model), Editors and Contributors to MowersDirect.com, As of May 2013
The new 2013 edition of the SS5000 attracts about 10 reviews at HomeDepot.com, but more than 40 posters comment on the previous 22-horsepower engine. Both get great reviews; "fast" and "fun" are two of the most common phrases used to describe them. Although a couple of owners have mechanical problems, most say the warranty covers their issues with minimal hassle.
Review: Toro TimeCutter SS5000 50 in. 23 HP Kawasaki V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of May 2013
Tractor-Review.com combines a detailed description of the Toro TimeCutter SS5000 and its features with consumer reviews. Fewer than 10 owners post comments, but all give it high marks for performance, reliability, safety and overall satisfaction. The main complaint is that the SS5000 doesn't come with an hour meter standard; most users at this site add one. Some feedback is for the older version of the SS5000.
Review: Toro TimeCutter SS5000, Contributors to Tractor-Review.com, As of May 2013