Side discharging: A combination of evenness, which is how close the mowers came to even, carpet-like mowing, and how evenly clippings were dispersed from the side-discharge chute.
Mulching: Reflects a combination of evenness, which is how close the mowers came to even, carpet-like mowing, and how completely the mower distributed the clippings over the lawn's surface.
Bagging: Denotes a combination of evenness, which is how close the mowers came to even, carpet-like mowing, and a measurement of the effective capacity of the grass bags, determined when each bag was full or when the chute clogged and clippings weren't being collected.
Handling: Includes clutching or drive engagement, braking, steering, turn radius, and stability.
Ease of use: A composite score that includes leg room and seat and steering-wheel comfort, along with ease of blade engagement, cut-height adjustment, parking-brake engagement, bag removal, and cutting-mode changes.
Cuts in reverse
Cuts in reverseSome tractors don't let you cut grass in reverse. While a good safety feature, this can also be inconvenient in tight areas. Certain models instead require you to engage an override switch.
Cruise controlLets the tractor's driver maintain a constant speed without using the foot pedal.
Easy mode change
Easy mode changeOne set of blades is used for side discharging, bagging, and mulching. This is much more convenient than models that require you to change blades for certain modes.
Blade change to mulch
Blade change to mulchRequires a blade change to specialized mulching blades, usually provided in the optional mulching kit.
Blade change to bag
Blade change to bagRequires a blade change from the blades provided to specialized bagging blades, usually provided with the optional bagging attachment.
Washout portAccepts a hose for cleaning the underside of the deck more easily than from above. Be sure to allow the underside to air-dry before stowing the machine.
Power steeringHydraulic or electric boost to reduce force required to turn the steering wheel.
Deck sizeThe manufacturer's claimed cutting width, or swath, in inches. Rear-engine riding mowers are about 30 inches, and lawn tractors are about 38 to 48 inches or more. Mowers with larger decks take up more storage space, but cut proportionally faster and therefore reduce cutting time.
Engine powerThe manufacturer's claimed horsepower for the engine. All other factors being equal, an engine with more power will be able to handle tougher jobs (such as tall grass) without bogging down.
Engine manufacturerThe brand of engine on the tractor or rider.
Drive typeCategorized by the drive system (engine and transmission), which controls a tractor's direction and ground speed. Hydrostatic-drive tractors let you smoothly increase or decrease ground speed infinitely with a lever or foot pedal. Gear-drive tractors involve shifting, clutching, and a distinct set of speed ranges. Tight-turning, "zero-turn-radius" riders use a dual hydrostatic-drive system to infinitely vary ground speed and allow a narrow turn radius by varying power to each rear wheel independently. Pedal-drive tractors use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to vary ground speed depending on how hard the drive pedal is pressed. Pedal-drive tractors do not have a hydraulic transmission like hydrostatic models, and they require shifting when changing between forward and reverse. Manual-drive tractors are similar in design to pedal-drive models except that the pedal is replaced with a detented lever that only allows several discrete ground speeds. They function like a gear drive tractor, but instead of a geared transmission, they incorporate a CVT. Rear-engine riders are smaller than tractors and have a rear-mounted engine.
Number of cylinders
Number of cylindersThe number of gasoline combustion cylinders in the engine.
Forward speedsAll tractors with gear-drive transmissions have multiple forward speeds, usually five or six. Tractors with hydrostatic transmissions have infinitely variable forward speeds controlled by the operator.
WarrantyThe length of time the lawn mower is covered by its manufacturer for defects or repairs.