We identified several common price categories in lawn tractors and riding mowers and looked at what you get—and don't get—for your money. We also handpicked a few recommended models from the two major categories of riding machines, specifically lawn tractors and zero-turn-radius riders. This article is part two of two. The first covered walk-behind lawn mowers.

$3,000 and Up

You can get acceptable overall performance for a model costing $1,000 less, but it’s the extra features that might woo you to pay this much. You’re more likely to get a durable, commercial-grade engine. Nearly all are zero-turn-radius riders (few in this range are lawn tractors), all of which have hydrostatic transmissions and twin-cylinder engines for the smoothest ride. Average deck sizes go upwards of 46-inch.

Lawn tractors:
John Deere X350, $3,200 (42-inch)
Craftsman 20445, $3,500 (54-inch)

Zero-turn-radius riders:
Cub Cadet RZT L54, $3,000 (54-inch)
Cub Cadet RTZ46 fab, $3,300 (46-inch)
Cub Cadet RZT-S42, $4,000 (48V electric, 42-inch)

$2,500 to $2,900

There are still mostly zero-turn-radius riders in this price tier. Those we’ve tested invariably come with hydrostatic transmissions and twin-cylinder engines. Models in this category offer slightly better bagging due to the slightly smaller average deck sizes of about 46-inch.

Lawn Tractors:
John Deere S240 Sport, $2,500 (42-inch)

Zero-Turn-Radius Riders:
Troy-Bilt Mustang Pivot, $2,900 (46-inch)
Troy-Bilt Mustang 50" 17ARCACQ, $2,800 (50-inch)
John Deere Z335E, $2,500 (42-inch)

Troy-Bilt Mustang Pivot 17ARCBDT
Troy-Bilt Mustang Pivot 17ARCBDT, a zero-turn-radius rider for $2,900

$2,000 to $2,400

In this price tier you find mostly lawn tractors. All in our full Ratings have twin-cylinder engines, and most have hydrostatic transmissions. Mulching performance tends to skew a bit higher from these machines, again because of the slightly smaller average decks: between 42- and 46-inch, with a few 48-inch.

Lawn Tractors:
Craftsman 20442, $2,200 (46-inch)
John Deere D155, $2,200 (48-inch)
Husqvarna YT46LS, $2,300 (46-inch)

Zero-Turn-Radius Riders:
Troy-Bilt Mustang 42", $2,300 (42-inch)

Below $2,000

Pay small for this all-tractor tier, the most popular price range, and you’ll have to accept more compromise. Overall, models perform less well than more expensive machines. You’re less likely to get a twin-cylinder engine. And these machines on average were slightly less easy to use, partially from the greater number of models with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), which we generally find more awkward to use. More have 42-inch decks. We also saw more two-year warranties; most are three-year.

Lawn Tractors:
John Deere D125, $1,800 (42-inch)
Troy-Bilt Super Bronco 50, $1,900 (50-inch)
Snapper 960440007, $1,600 (46-inch)

See our Lawn Mower and Tractor Buying Guide for more information.

Lawn Mower & Tractor Buying Guide