Toro TimeCutter SW4200 Review

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Bottom Line

The Toro TimeCutter SW4200 breaks many of the conventional wisdoms when it comes to zero-turn mowers. The steerable front wheels and conventional steering wheel control removes the learning curve needed to operate previous models and improves stability so cutting on slopes is more effective and less dangerous -- though you'll still want the stability of a lawn tractor like the Craftsman Pro 20442 for properties that are more hilly than rolling. Cutting performance is very good as well, putting the Toro SW4200 at the top of the list of the best zero-turn mowers.

ProsSteerable front wheels, Steering wheel-type control, Good cutting performance, Well-regarded engine, Good safety featuresConsSome durability issues

Breaking it down

Performance

No shortcomings. Handling and ease of use are what separate the Toro SW4200 from most other zero-turn mowers, but the maker didn't forget that cutting performance matters, too. Independent testing reveals that, while some other mowers might do a better job at one or more of mulching, bagging, or ejecting clippings out the side, the SW4200 is very competent when it comes to all three of these common tasks -- "consistently impressive cutting," says one expert reviewer.

Ease of use

Easy handling. This is where the Toro sets itself apart from most zero-turn mowers. Instead of casters and a lap-bar/lever control system that is  easy to use but takes a little time to master, the SW4200 has steerable front wheels and a steering wheel, making operation a breeze from the get go. This steering system also improves performance on rolling terrain -- conventional zero-turn mowers do a poor job on slopes, and, in the extreme, can even be unstable and prone to tipping over. Not so with the SW4200, which leads experts such as Paul Sikkema at TodaysMower.com to call it "the best choice of all the residential mowers for working slopes." Other pluses include a comfortable high-back seat and the ability to check fuel levels without getting off of the mower.

Safety/noise

Smart parking. While the improved stability on slopes goes a long way toward improving overall safety of the SW4200, it's not the only headline in that regard. This zero-turn mower includes Toro's Smart Park braking system that automatically sets the parking brake and disengages the blades (while keeping the engine running) if the operator leaves the seat. The parking brake also automatically engages anytime the mower engine is turned off. The Toro SW4200 can mow in reverse, but that requires a key that can be removed to prevent inexperienced users from doing so. Experts are largely silent regarding noise levels, and the couple of users that comment are split on whether the Toro SW4200 is louder or quieter than other riding mowers.

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

Toro SW4200 74784 lawn tractor, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated

The Toro SW4200 zero-turn riding mower is tested byConsumerReports.org. Bagging, mulching and side discharging are all rated, and the mower gets an overall score that can be compared to other zero-turn models. The review is only available to subscribers, however.

2. ConsumerReports.org

Pick the best riding mower for your property, Ed Perratore, Apr. 23, 2015

Ed Perratore offers an overview of the models that fare best in this year's ConsumerReports.org's testing of lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers. The Toro SW4200 is among the models that are named based on its better stability on hills.

3. TodaysMower.com

The Best Residential and Prosumer Zero-Turns For 2016, Paul Sikkema, Not Dated

The Toro SW4200 is Paul Sikkema's number one recommendation for 2016 in the medium duty category of zero turn mowers. Elsewhere, Sikkema gives the Toro Zero Turn 2016 line, of which the SW4200 is one, a thorough overview, praising the innovative steering system and overall top-quality construction. He says that for most residential lawns (sized at an acre or less), this is the zero-turn mower he would buy for himself.

4. HomeDepot.com

Toro TimeCutter SW4200 42 in. 24.5 HP V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Park, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of May 2016

In nearly 270 reviews, the Toro SW4200 earns an overall rating of 4.4 stars out of 5; 88 percent of owners would recommend this mower. Some of the reviews are culled from the manufacturer's website, others are unique to HomeDepot.com. Most are extremely pleased, especially those who upgraded from an older lawn tractor. The few complaints we found are all over the place -- scattered durability issues, complaints of poor traction and some saying it simply does not perform as well as a comparably-priced lawn tractor.

5. MowersDirect.com

Toro TimeCutter SW4200 (42") 24.5HP Steering Wheel Zero Turn Lawn Mower (2015 Model), Contributors to MowersDirect.com, As of May 2016

There are many fewer reviews here for the Toro SW4200, just about 20, but they are much more positive, with an overall rating of 5 stars out of 5. All would recommend the mower to a friend. In addition, product expert Jose Castellanos gives it a recommendation.