There's a curiosity in the mower aisle of your local Home Depot that looks like a mash-up of a dune buggy and an all-terrain vehicle. The mower stands out from the rows of gas riding mowers not only for what it’s lacking—an engine and a gas tank—but for what it has: a trio of high-powered batteries. And then there’s the USB port to charge your smartphone while you cut grass with the Ryobi R48110 electric riding lawn mower.

You’ll notice the price, too. At $2,500, the Ryobi costs as much as some of the higher-end riding tractors in our lawn tractor ratings, and is $1,000 to $1,500 more than most rear-engine riders of a similar size. But before you write off the mower as a high-priced electric novelty, you should know that in Consumer Reports' tests, it performed on par with some impressive gas models.

First Impressions

With a 38-inch-wide cutting deck, Ryobi’s R48110 riding mower straddles the line between a small rear-engine rider, most of which have 30-inch decks, and a traditional full-sized tractor, most of which usually feature decks that are 42 to 48 inches or wider. By splitting the difference, the Ryobi R48110 positions itself as a viable choice for people with ½ acre of grass to cut.

The steel frame is lime green accented in black, and the 75Ah, or amp hour, batteries are housed beneath a comfy, high-back seat. And with its trim design, it won't take up much space in your garage.  

Ride and Cut Quality

Operating this electric riding lawn mower takes some getting used to, particularly if you’re accustomed to the throaty roar of a gas-powered tractor. When the blades aren’t engaged, the Ryobi is silent. Much like starting a hybrid car for the first time, you’ll question whether it's running.

But the quietness is a definite plus because you can safely use the Ryobi without hearing protection, and you don’t have to worry about disturbing the neighbors when cutting close to the property line.

The gas pedal is on the punchy side, and because you don’t get much audible feedback, it’s easy to mash down on the pedal and suddenly take off rather than ease into acceleration as you would when driving a golf cart.

Once you get going, the Ryobi electric riding lawn mower is really fun to drive. It has plenty of pep, maxing out at 8 mph, while most rear-engine riders top out at 4 to 5 mph. Nimble and sporty with a tight turning radius, it earned solid marks in our handling tests.

As for cutting, it edges out all of the gas rear-engine riders in our tests, providing an even, uniform cut whether you mulch, bag, or side discharge your clippings. But as good as it is, you'll get a slightly superior cut and cover more ground with each pass with a full-sized gas tractor, such as the Craftsman 27042, $2,200, or the Cub Cadet XT1LT46, $1,700.

Who's It For

The Ryobi R48110 electric riding lawn mower seems squarely aimed at two sets of homeowners: those who are skittish about buying a first riding tractor and those who have grown tired of the gas and engine maintenance their conventional riders require. It's a good bet for either. And unlike gas mowers, it produces no pollutants.

The Ryobi will give you about 2 hours of cutting time, enough to cover up to 2 acres. If your yard is larger, you might want to turn to a zero-turn-radius rider, which can be every bit as fun to operate and usually costs less.

Alternatively, if your yard is around the ½-acre mark and you’ve never owned a tractor, you might be better served by an excellent walk-behind self-propelled mower such as the Honda HRX2175VYA, $700, or a more modestly sized gas rear-engine rider such as our top-rated Cub Cadet CC30H, $1,400.