It’s spring. The grass in your yard is shooting up and you’re just not equipped to deal with it due to the rough terrain. So what do you do? Do you resign yourself to cutting the difficult areas by hand? No! There is an easier way – just get a zero turn mower that can deal with hills!
The problem is that there are so many of these products on the market. To help you find one that would fit your needs, we’ve selected some of the best zero turn mowers for hills for your perusal. Take a look at the list below – you can see every model we’ll be discussing, as well as its horsepower rating.
Looking for push lawn mower instead? Check out our list of the best push lawn mower available today. Read it right here.
The 13 Best Zero Turn Mowers For Hills Now For 2019
|Best Budget Zero Turn Mowers||Cub Cadet RZT L42||23|
|Poulan Pro P46ZX||22|
|Troy-Bilt Mustang 46||24|
|Best Mid-Range Mowers For Hills||Husqvarna Z246||23|
|Toro TimeCutter SS5000||24.5|
|Best Premium Mowers||Toro TimeCutter MX6050||24.5|
|Cub Cadet Z-Force S||25|
|John Deere Z375R||25|
|Best Wide Cut Mowers||Ariens IKON X||23|
|John Deere Z535M||25|
|Editor’s Pick||Toro TimeCutter SW4200||24.5|
Now, before we jump right into the individual product reviews, there are a few things you should know about mowers. These things are worth considering since they can not only help you get a mower that fits your needs exactly but can also save you a whole lot of money in the long run.
Mower Transmission Explained
Manual drives are usually a lot less expensive so if you’re working on a tight budget, these might be a good choice. However, they are a little more difficult to drive on hilly terrain and usually can’t turn as quickly. However, as all the following products are zero turn mowers, this isn’t an issue.
Automatic transmission mowers don’t have a gear stick and will automatically switch up or down based on how fast you’re going. These are easier for people with little or no driving experience and it doesn’t take long to get fully acclimatized to. However, they cost a little more so they might not be suited to everyone.
Hydrostatic transmissions are similar to automatics except they use fluids to control the gearbox. This provides a higher durability and smoother ride but these types of mowers are usually among the most expensive available.
What Is A Zero Turn Mower?
Zero turn mowers have a pretty strange name. You might assume that they’re like old, heavy vacuum cleaners – going in straight lines and being a huge pain to turn but actually, the opposite is true.
Zero turn mowers are so called because they have a zero degree turning circle. Essentially, they can pivot on the spot. This allows you to trim the grass in awkward parts of your yard, such as areas with a sharp turn or an outcrop that would normally take two passes to get to.
These mowers usually don’t have the steering wheel you might be accustomed to. Instead, there is a lever on each side of the driver that provides control over the speed and direction over one of the drive wheels. This allows for far more precise and controlled movement but takes a while to master.
Do you live in a place that doesn’t get a lot of rain? You’ll be well aware of the struggles that can place on your lawn. We created a list of the best lawn sprinkler, if you have this, you don’t need to manual hosing your lawn. Read it right here.
Best Budget Zero Turn Mowers
Before we begin, we think it’s important to stress that “budget” is a very relative descriptor. The following mowers are considered inexpensive but only because most cost more. That said, for the price you’ll be paying, we know that you still expect the best. As such, we’ve made sure that the mowers below will never disappoint.
The first of our selections is the Cub Cadet RZT L42. This model is known for its wide degree of versatility and comes very highly recommended in contractor’s social circles. It comes with a two-blade mower deck and is more than capable of handling residential or even light commercial tasks.
This model costs around $2500, so it’s about as cheap as zero turn mowers come. That said, it doesn’t skimp on the parts that matter; it has a mid-range width (42”) and puts out 23 horsepower which is far more than any unbranded alternatives. So why do we like this mower so much?
Simply, it’s a real treat to drive. The L42 offers expansive amounts of legroom and a very wide footrest. The chair can be adjusted into one of 11 positions and there’s even a cup holder to ensure you never get dehydrated while working out in the sun all day. Not that it’ll take long – the L42’s max speed of 7MPH ensures you’ll get the job done in no time.
There are several other handy features too. Chief among them are the automatic parking brake, easy check oil gauge, and 8-position deck adjuster. The hydro-gear system ensures a smooth ride and controls that respond very quickly. You might find it a little twitchy at first but go easy and you’ll pick it up quickly enough.
Next up, let’s take a look at the Poulan Pro P46ZX. This is another reasonably priced mower that offers performance usually only seen in more expensive models. It produces up to 22 horsepower and thanks to its wide 46” mowing head, you can easily trim large areas of land.
This mower uses a hydro-gear transmission and electric clutch system to provide the smoothest ride possible. Better still, because the fuel tank can hold up to 3.5 gallons, you’ll only have to refuel very infrequently. Just make sure to drain it before you put it away for the winter!
Hold on, it gets better.
Now, because this product costs so much money, you’re going to want to make sure it’s protected. Well, Poulan offers an extremely generous warranty – you’re covered for up to ten years after purchase. That’s incredible, especially considering generally you can only count on three years of coverage.
The cutting head has six possible positions, and the whole unit is incredibly durable. Simply, once you purchase this mower, you won’t need another for the foreseeable future. To be honest, you won’t want one – the high-backed seat is extremely comfortable and the controls precise.
Last, in this category, we have the Troy Bilt Mustang 46. This is a slightly more expensive, 24 horsepower mower that offers a number of features designed to make your life easier. How does it hold up against its other inexpensive rivals?
Well, let’s take a look.
First of all, it’ll get you started quicker. It uses power take off to allow for a faster start and its accessories can be easily swapped out thanks to their no-fuss design. Still not convinced? Well, maybe this next part will change your mind.
This model comes with a three-year residential warranty and lifetime coverage on the frame. More importantly, it’s comfortable (thanks to its 18” backrest), and the lap bars can be adjusted in two different directions. There’s even a dual-suspension system to minimize any bumps you might experience.
All in all, the Mustang 46 is a high-quality mower with an affordable price tag. Sure, with a 46” mower, you shouldn’t expect the world but to be fair, this model delivers far more than you might expect.
Best Mid-Range Mowers For Hills
If you have a bit more money in the budget or are looking for something that can withstand frequent usage, you might be interested in our mid-range mower recommendations. The products below represent the best value for money you can get for under $3500.
First up is the Husqvarna Z246. This is a 23 horsepower mower that comes with anti-scalp wheels as standard. Not only will this product keep your yard neat and tidy, it won’t chew up the grass with huge treads. That makes the Z246 more than just functional – it’s actually almost essential.
This model has a 46” cutting deck. This does mean that it’s intended more for use in large, open areas. Essentially, if you have more than an acre of land to maintain, the Z246 would be an excellent investment. After all, if you have a smaller amount of land, you probably don’t need such an expensive mower.
One of the things we really liked about this model is its oversized cooling system. Some of the more powerful mowers are prone to overheating (although this depends on how you use them and the environment), but this model remains cool at all times, which prolongs the life of its internal components.
At around 550lbs, this is actually one of the lighter mowers available. So what does this mean for you? Not much, actually, but it does slightly reduce the amount that you’ll slide when driving on an incline. It’s a small thing, but worth considering if you have hills to trim.
Given how well-known Husqvarna is, perhaps it’s unsurprising that they created our next recommendation too. The Husqvarna 967324101 is a 24 horsepower, hydro gear mower that comes with four anti-scalp rollers, an electric clutch, and an automatic parking brake. Not too shabby, right?
Now, you should note that this is a very large mower. It has a 54” cutting deck and weighs almost 600lbs. Despite this, it costs around $3400, making it significantly less expensive than some others on the market. Of course, there are other factors to account for but if you’re looking for sheer mowing potential, this is the one for you.
There is a slight catch, however. Because this model is top-heavy, there’s a limit to the angles it can climb. Generally, you’ll be fine on slopes of around 35° but anything more than that will have to be trimmed manually. It’s not ideal, but to be fair, mowers that can handle these inclines usually cost more.
All things considered, the 967324101 is pretty good. It allows you to clear huge areas at a time and handles like a dream. What it lacks in raw power, it makes up for with its incredible ease of use, and at the end of the day, isn’t that all you can really ask for?
The last product in this category is the Toro TimeCutter SS5000. This mower is very well-known and extremely popular thanks to its high-powered engine, wide cutting deck, and most importantly, its very affordable price. For around $2900, you could have a great, general purpose mower.
This is a mower for the pros. It can climb steep slopes and doesn’t even care if there are rocks or obstacles in the way. Honestly, if this mower was any faster we’d have to call it a dune buggy. Using its twin-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive, you can tackle almost anything.
Mowing is easier than ever before.
This mower comes with three blades and a 50” deck to increase the amount of grass cut at once, plus with a top speed of 7MPH, covering ground quickly is no problem at all. Toro has even thrown in a three-year warranty just to sweeten the deal even further. So what else is good?
Well, there’s a three-gallon tank, well-padded seat, and even a self-cleaning air filter. With all the functionality on offer and the sheer pace at which this model can clear your yard, you’d be doing yourself a serious disservice by not at least checking it out.
Best Premium Mowers
The products in this category cost more than most people would care to spend for residential use. That said, these are among the best around for commercial or industrial purposes. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, take a look, and see if there’s a model you’re particularly attracted to.
Let’s take another look at the TimeCutter series. This time it’s the TimeCutter MX6050, though. This model is more powerful than most, boasting a 24.5 horsepower engine and a colossal 60”, three-blade cutting deck. This is interesting but wouldn’t justify the price on its own, so what else is on offer?
There’s also extra-large 20” tires to provide extra traction on inclined surfaces.
With a top speed of 7MPH, you’ll be able to scale and trim slopes without any problems whatsoever. Additionally, maintenance is incredibly simple thanks to the tool-free, quick drain oil hose.
As a bonus, this mower is extremely sturdy. Its outer body is made of welded steel plates and the front is protected by a bumper. This will help protect you from those inevitable collisions that happen when you’re still getting used to how quickly these mowers can turn.
If we had to summarise this review in just a few words, they’d be “maximum versatility, reasonable price”. There really is a lot to like about this model and very little that it cannot do. If you’re looking for a powerful, all-around mower for your business, you could do a lot worse than the MX6050.
Next up we have the Cub Cadet Z-Force S. Now, while Cub Cadet might not be as well-known as the other brands we’ve covered, their mowers have a lot to offer. In fact, this one is an excellent example of this and we’ll be covering it in more detail just below.
This is a 25 horsepower mower that boasts a 54” cutting deck. In essence, this allows it to cover a lot of ground quickly, cutting down anything that gets in its way. Of course, because it’s a zero turn mower, you can turn on a dime and navigate around any obstacles that might be present.
Further, you can change the blades to one of eight different levels to get the exact cut you need. Also, unlike most other products we’ve seen, this one actually has a traditional steering wheel so its easier to get to grips with. This wheel can be adjusted to another position if you’d like too, so it suits drivers of any height.
If we had to find a problem with this product, it’d be that it only offers a basic backrest. This isn’t a huge deal, especially considering the potential that this mower has, but it is worth bearing in mind. IF that doesn’t put you off, though, you’ll find the Z-Force S to be everything you need and more.
Last but by no means least, we have the John Deere Z375R. Now, this is a real powerhouse of a mower. It has a 25 horsepower engine, 54” wide cutting deck, and a top speed of 8.5MPH making it a full 21% faster than the other products we’ve covered so far. Good, right? Well, it gets better.
This product doesn’t just mow, it can also mulch. Further, when it’s delivered, you’ll be shown how to use it by a qualified John Deere expert at no extra cost. To be honest, considering the price you’re paying (around $3500), it’s only fair that you know what you’re doing.
So, you’re going to be using this mower for a long time. As such, sooner or later, you’ll need to perform maintenance on it. Luckily, the footrest flips upwards to provide unfettered access to the top of the deck. This allows you to easily clean it, oil, or change the blades if you’d like.
Given the size of the deck itself, this product is recommended for use in yards of four acres or greater. Because this mower can safely tow trailers or light vehicles, it’s perfect for farm work. It does have a slightly shorter warranty than most (two years) but we believe it’d fit most commercial tasks perfectly.
Best Wide Cut Mowers
If you have a lot of lands to maintain, smaller mowers just aren’t going to cut it (pun intended). In these situations, you’ll need one of the following wide mowers. Don’t worry, though – despite their large sizes, they can still turn quickly and handle fluidly.
Take the Ariens IKON X, for example. This model costs around $3000 boasts a 23 horsepower engine capable of reaching speeds of up to 7MPH. There are 13 different deck heights too, with a maximum cutting height of 4.5”. There’s also the option to mulch cuttings, which is always nice.
Now, this mower is heavy. It weighs over 600lbs, so it’s not incredible on hills but it’ll get the job done if you’re working with a gentle to a modest slope. It does have pretty good traction, though, thanks to the 18” rear wheels. The front 11” ones don’t hurt either.
As far as quality of life goes, there are a couple of neat little features to help you out.
First, there’s a cup holder. Its use is self-explanatory. However, there’s also an hour meter that’ll tell you exactly how long you’ve been working. This is more for commercial users so you can bill people properly.
Let’s continue. The Z-Beast 54ZBM15 is a rare product. It boasts a very wide cutting head (54”) but surprisingly, it’s also relatively cheap. In fact, its price puts it into the mid-budget category, which is nothing to be sniffed at when considering all the functionality on offer. There’s another surprise in store, though.
This is actually the fastest out of any other mower on our list. It can reach up to 12MPH (19.3KMH), which is a whole 40% faster than our runner-up, the Cub Cadet Z-Force S. Combined with the large deck, this makes taking care of huge areas incredibly simple. As you might expect, the handling is great too.
The only issue is the limited warranty. You’re only covered for one year, which is considerably less time than most of the other products we’ve seen. However, as long as you maintain it properly and get any issues checked out by an engineer, this mower should last you for years to come.
Finally, let’s take a look at the John Deere Z535M – a 25 horsepower titan of a mower that costs a little over $4600. Now, we know what you’re thinking. This mower has to be something special to warrant its price tag, right? Well, you’re absolutely correct.
For a start, this model has a far wider cutting deck than most, at 62”. That’s not all, though: it also has the highest capacity fuel tank (4.5 gallons), highest oil capacity (64 ounces), and largest rear wheels (22”). In short, this is a mower for when the time is short and only the best will do.
All that work is going to take its toll on the inner workings, however. That’s where John Deere’s four-year warranty really shines. It should be noted that it’s four years or 300 hours of use, whichever comes first. However, with a speed of 8.5MPH, that’s roughly 2550 miles worth of mowing. Whew.
So is it worth the money? For residential use, no. For businesses, however, there are few mowers that can do a better job in less time than the Z535M. It might be expensive, but it could make you a lot of money in the long run.
Well, we’ve finally reached the end of our list. However, we have one last surprise in store: our editor’s pick. This is the section where we pay tribute to the best of the best and highlight one individual model that we think shines above all others. This time, it’s the Toro TimeCutter SW4200.
With a 42” cutting deck, it’s not the largest mower we’ve seen by far. What then, makes it so deserving of our recommendation? Well, firstly, it’s affordable. The SW4200 costs a little over $3000 and can easily handle most medium to large yards without any problems. However, it also has limited commercial appeal.
The inclusion of a steering wheel is another plus. The two levers you usually find on zero turn mowers offer finer control, but take some time to get the hang of. Instead, this model allows you to hop on and get to work immediately. That, if nothing else, makes it an excellent choice.
Now that you’ve the best zero turn mower for hills, take time to read the best garden sprayer. This equipment is incredibly useful to gardeners.
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Dean is a freelance copy-editor from Utah, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. His garden is a place to relax after a stressful day of work, have a beer and play in the pool with his girls.