Best and Worst Walk-Behind Lawn Mowers

The top performers in CR's unparalleled field tests come from Cub Cadet, Ego, Greenworks, Honda, Kobalt, Ryobi, Toro, and Troy-Bilt

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lawn mower testing
More than 90 walk-behind mowers were put through their paces in CR's 2022 tests.
Photo: Tobie Stanger/Consumer Reports

A great walk-behind lawn mower ably handles the particular challenges of mowing a smaller yard, so your grass-cutting is simple and quick.

What are those challenges? You may not have even considered them.

"In a small yard you’re more likely to be turning around or navigating around obstacles more often," says Misha Kollontai, a Consumer Reports senior test project leader who covers mowers. A walk-behind mower is more appropriate for such jobs than a tractor or riding mower, he adds, because it’s easier to maneuver.

Consumer Reports has found plenty of winners among the newest crop of gas and battery-powered walk-behinds. We’re giving more than half of the walk-behind mowers we tested this winter our recommended stamp of approval.

The stars in the class of 2022 include push and self-propelled standouts from Cub Cadet, Ego, Greenworks, Honda, Kobalt, Ryobi, Toro, Troy-Bilt, and more.

More on Lawn Mowers

One reason we were able to recommend so many models has to do with mulching, the process of cutting clippings into fine pieces. "We’re seeing noticeably better mulching performance for both gas and battery push mowers," Kollontai says. "They’re more able not only to cut your grass well but also to better mulch it and disperse it on your lawn."

But not every walk-behind mower measures up. Several that left behind ugly clumps have an Overall Score of 60 or lower on CR’s 100-point scale.

How CR Tests Lawn Mowers and Tractors

To get you ratings and reviews of the latest models by early spring, our testers travel to our mower-testing facility in Fort Myers, Fla., to conduct tests in late winter at grounds we prepare each year. We plant 1,800 pounds of grass seed (predominantly annual rye, prized for its dense growth) and cut 500,000 square feet of grass in three modes—mulching, side-discharging, and bagging (a total of 3,000 pounds of clippings). We mow both level turf and slopes to get a feel for each model’s performance and review the convenience features.

The Overall Score incorporates all that performance data, along with predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings from our latest member surveys, fielded in the fall of 2019, 2020, and 2021. In all, we collected CR member feedback on nearly 44,000 mowers purchased between 2011 and 2021, reflecting experiences with more than 32,500 gas mowers and more than 11,500 battery mowers.

If you’re not sure which type of lawn mower is right for your needs, start with our lawn mower buying guide.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of this year’s very best walk-behind mowers from brands such as Cub Cadet, Ego, Honda, Greenworks, Kobalt, Ryobi, and Toro. Along with top-rated models, we’ve included high-performing models that represent value as CR Best Buys. For even more options, CR members can check out our comprehensive lawn mower and tractor ratings.

Following our recommended picks, we’ve listed several models that fall at the bottom of our ratings.

Best Battery Push Mowers

Best Battery Self-Propelled Mowers

Best Gas Push Mowers

Best Gas Self-Propelled Mowers

Best Gas Wide-Deck Self-Propelled Mower

Worst Battery & Gas Walk-Behind Mowers

More than half of the walk-behind mowers in our ratings perform well enough for CR to recommend. Others struggle in our exhaustive cutting tests. Here, we list a few of them. Check CR’s mower ratings for a more complete list.

Finding the Perfect Lawn Mower

Is your lawn mower failing to make the cut? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert John Galeotafiore explains to host Jack Rico how to find the best mower for your needs.

Tobie Stanger

I cover the money side of home-related purchases and improvements: avoiding scams, making sense of warranties and insurance, finding the best financing, and getting the most value for your dollar. For CR, I've also written about digital payments, credit and debit, taxes, supermarkets, financial planners, airlines, retirement and estate planning, shopping for electronics and hearing aids—even how to throw a knockout wedding on a shoestring. I am never bored. Find me on Twitter: @TobieStanger