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In our tests, all-wheel drive mower not all that impressive

Consumer Reports News: June 19, 2013 10:08 AM

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The term "all-wheel drive" suggests cars that drive more safely, with wheels keeping their grip on slippery roads. Husqvarna extends the concept for its self-propelled mower with all-wheel drive, the Husqvarna HU800AWD, $500. The company claims it offers, "balance and power to all four wheels in hilly, uneven terrain and other tough mowing conditions." Consumer Reports put the mower to the test in our tough mowing tests of 120 walk-behind mowers, tractors and riders.

Our testers recommend self-propelled mowers with rear-wheel drive for better traction up hills, especially if you're bagging. In theory, all-wheel drive should do even better. But if you think this industry-first mower might be right for you, consider the results of our tests. The Husqvarna HU800AWD mowed impressively only in bagging mode. While mulching, it left visible clumps that needed raking. And in side-discharge mode, it dispersed clippings pretty well yet occasionally left a clump or row of grass. We're also wondering about the single thin, serpentine belt that distributes power to the wheels, which adds to the complexity of the machine and could need replacement over time.

You can pay less for a self-propelled mower—and get more mowing consistency—with several other models in our Ratings, including two models we recommend, the Honda HRR2169VKA and the Toro Recycler 20333, both rear-drive models that cost $100 less than the Husqvarna.

There are plenty of other good mowers to recommend from our tests of walk-behind mowers, lawn tractors, and riders. And our buying guide, includes a video that shows how we test mowers.

Ed Perratore

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