Can the best electric self-propelled mower hold its own against a highly rated gas model in Consumer Reports' tests? To find out, we pitted the top-rated Ego LM2102SP, $600, the only electric self-propelled model we recommend, against the Toro Recycler SmartStow 20340, $400, a similarly equipped model from the top tier of our ratings of gas mowers.

Cutting

The Ego and the Toro cut well in side-discharge mode, but the Toro takes top marks for mulching without leaving clumps behind. The Ego mulches well too, and unless you’ve got an eagle eye, you probably won’t see a huge difference between the two.

Neither mower stood out in our bagging test, so if that’s important to you, consider other mowers, such as the Honda HRX2175VYA, $700.

As for run time, while the Toro can go as long as you have gas. The Ego turned in 58 minutes of cutting on a single charge—enough to tackle a half-acre lawn. If your yard is bigger, you might want to buy a second battery; otherwise you'll have to take an hour-long break to recharge the mower.

Winner: Toro Recycler SmartStow 20340

Convenience

Most electric mowers shine in our handling and ease-of-use tests, and the Ego is no exception. The Ego gets top marks for both tests, but the Toro is no slouch either. Like the Ego, it has rear-wheel drive, which is particularly helpful for climbing hills.

The Toro's most unique trait is a series of special seals in the engine that allow the mower to be collapsed and stored upright without oil or gas leaking or spilling. The Ego can do the same of course, and it’s lighter, so you’ll have an easier time stowing it into a corner of a cramped garage. The Ego starts instantly, like all electrics. 

Winner: Ego LM2102SP

Cost

Comparing the cost of these two models seems pretty straightforward—the Toro costs $200 less upfront. But there’s more here than meets the eye: After crunching the numbers on cost of ownership, we found that it’s pretty much a wash after 10 years, because electrics require nearly no maintenance—and no gas and oil.

Of course, there’s the issue of the battery. Industry experts believe some batteries can last 10 years or longer; the Ego’s battery has a five-year warranty.

On the reliability front, our latest reliability survey found that electric push mowers are more reliable than their gas counterparts—a good reminder that plenty could go wrong with a gas mower in the next 10 years or so.

Winner: Tie

The Verdict

In the end the Toro Recycler SmartStow 20340, $400, narrowly edges out the Ego LM2102SP, $600. Both are great mowers, but with a slight edge in cutting, the Toro is the model to pick if you want to mulch. The Ego is the better bet if you’re willing to pay a little more to get a mower that’s among the easiest to use of any model in our ratings.