Best Self Propelled Lawn Mower for 2018

Self propelled lawn mowers are becoming increasingly more popular in today's marketplace for a number of reasons. Many people appreciate not having to push a mower themselves. Depending on the size of the lawn (anything up to 3/4 acre is perfect), the difficulty of the terrain and the physical condition of the operator, a self-propelled mower can remove the fatigue factor of mowing. All an operator needs to do is turn the machine on, walk behind the mower and control its path.

Other choices involved in purchasing a self propelled motor are the cost, whether you want front, rear, or all wheel drives, the efficiency factor of the machine (how big is it's engine?) and what special features it offers. Are you looking for a mulcher, a bagger, or both? Would you prefer an electric start? Do you want a variable or adjustable speed? How about an adjustable handlebar, a deck washout feature, or a blade override? Read on to discover which lawn mower is the perfect choice for you.

Summary: Here are the best self-propelled lawn mowers in 2018:

The Top Self Propelled Lawn Mowers

Troy-Bilt TB370 163cc 21-inch In Step RWD Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
27 Reviews
Troy-Bilt TB370 163cc 21-inch In Step RWD Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
  • Powered by a 163cc Briggs & Stratton engine with ReadyStart Choke System for an easy start
  • Equipped with a 21-Inch TriAction cutting system to give you a clean cut in one pass with an...
  • Designed with a 3-in-1 capability to side discharge, mulch or rear bag.Remove blade from the adapter...
  • Easily raise and lower cutting height with the single-lever height adjuster
Sale
Snapper CP215520HV / 7800849 HI VAC 3-N-1 Rear Wheel Drive Variable Speed Commercial Series Lawn Mower with 163cc Honda GXV160 Engine, 21-Inch Deck...
6 Reviews
Snapper CP215520HV / 7800849 HI VAC 3-N-1 Rear Wheel Drive Variable Speed Commercial Series Lawn Mower with 163cc Honda GXV160 Engine, 21-Inch Deck...
  • Honda GXV 160 OHV engine answers the demands for rugged mowing applications
  • Rear-wheel drive improves walk-behind mower traction and the smooth-turn differential helps ensure...
  • Hi VAC deck efficiently cuts and sucks up grass clippings for a clean finish similar to a vacuum...
  • Heavy-duty, 14-gauge Steel mowing deck, reinforced bracing, Steel Axle and wheels stand up to the...
Sale
Yard Machines 159cc 21-Inch Self-Propelled Mower
44 Reviews
Yard Machines 159cc 21-Inch Self-Propelled Mower
  • Powered by a durable 159cc OHV engine
  • Perfect for mowing small to medium-sized yards with ease
  • Equipped with a 21-inch Steel deck and dual-lever Height adjustment
  • Side discharge and mulching capability. Front wheel drive self-propelled single-speed transmission...

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Model

Power

Engine Brand

Deck Width

Our Rating

Honda HRR216K9VKA

160cc

Honda

21"

5 out of 5

Toro Recycler Personal Pace

163cc

Briggs & Stratton

22"

5 out of 5

Troy-Bilt TB370

163cc

Briggs & Stratton

21"

4.5 out of 5

Snapper CP215520HV

163cc

Honda

21"

4.5 out of 5

Husqvarna HU800AWDH

190cc

Honda

22"

4 out of 5

Yard Machines 12A-A0M5700

159cc

Briggs & Stratton

21"

3.5 out of 5

Lawn-Boy 17732

149cc

Kohler

21"

3 out of 5

Self Propelled Lawn Mowers Average Rating: 4.3 Based on 7 Reviews

Self Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews

Pros

  • plus
    Powerful mower starts right up with just one pull
  • plus
    Six height settings are perfect for keeping the grass long while keeping those pesky weeds at a minimum
  • plus
    Mulches leaves and grass like a charm

Cons

  • minus
    No washout port to simplify mower deck cleaning
  • minus
    Slides a bit whenever it mows downhill

This variable speed 3-in-1 self-propelled gas mower leads the pack with its sharp, micro-cut twin blades that are ideal for ultra-fine mulching and bagging. It features a steel deck 6-position cutting-height adjustments of 1 1/8" to 4", a simple-to-start GCV160 engine, an auto choke, and 8" ball bearing wheels. We rated this machine 5 out of 5 stars.


Pros

  • plus
    3-in-1 bag, side discharge, or mulch mower switches rapidly from mulcher to bagger in seconds simply by flipping its quick-change lever
  • plus
    Rear wheel drive allows superior traction in every cutting condition
  • plus
    Washout porch on deck underside allows user to clean easily by attaching the hose to the mower-deck

Cons

  • minus
    Locking mechanism needs to be improved
  • minus
    Self-propel mechanism disables too easily

The Toro 22" variable speed self-propelled lawn mower uses a recycler cutting system with an atomic blade lift and front-throw chamber to suspend and recut grass clippings into a very fine mulch. There's no need to choke or prime the engine - it starts right up. It also sports a check-and-add feature which guarantees no oil changes will be necessary for the entire life of the engine. We rated this machine 5 out of 5 stars.


Pros

  • plus
    Rear wheel drive and variable In-Step speed drive system adjusts naturally to your speed
  • plus
    No priming's required for this ReadyStart Choke System
  • plus
    11" durable rear wheels, 8" front, and a single-lever height adjuster

Cons

  • minus
    Could use more power in very tall grass
  • minus
    Handle is occasionally wobbly and the bagging system is a tad weak

The Troy-Bilt TB370 features a 21" Tri-Action cutting system that provides a one-pass clean cut and a 6-setting adjustable cutting range of 1.25" to 3.75". Add that to its 3-in-1 mulch, rear, and side discharge capabilities, as well as its Briggs & Stratton 163cc easy start engine. We rated this machine 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Pros

  • plus
    10" rear wheels allow improved traction and better maneuverability on the hilliest of yards
  • plus
    Blade break shuts off for safety reasons
  • plus
    Good industrial mower and high-quality engine

Cons

  • minus
    Expensive option compared to other models with similar features
  • minus
    Some users experienced the welded on height adjusters occasionally breaking

The Snapper HI-VAC 3-N-1 Variable Speed Lawn Mower has a 21" deck, 7-position height-of-cut, and a commercial series Honda 163cc GXV160 engine. It features a smooth-turn differential, a 14-gauge heavy duty steel mowing deck, steel axle and reinforced bracing, as well as a Hi-VAC deck which sucks up and cuts grass clippings with its unique rolled deck edge and blade. We rated this machine 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Pros

  • plus
    Ergonomic and efficient mower features an easy-start engine and a powder-coated cutting deck
  • plus
    Auto-walk all-wheel-drive self-propelled variable drive system operates by a simple squeeze of the handlebar trigger
  • plus
    Starts up flawlessly

Cons

  • minus
    Small gaps between the bagging system and mower let out dust and cut grass
  • minus
    A bit difficult to pull backwards

The Husqvarna All-Wheel-Drive Mower features exclusive rear hi-wheel drive, a 190cc 4-cycle Honda gcv190 engine, and a steel 3-in-1 mower deck that provides the option to mulch, bag, or side discharge the grass. Add to that 8" front and 11" rear ball-bearing weights, a height adjustable handle with 3 positions, user manual, and warranty. We rated this machine 4 out of 5 stars.


Pros

  • plus
    Large gas tank, no prime, no choke, and a high clearance
  • plus
    Inexpensive model has individually adjustable rear and front wheel drive sets
  • plus
    Lightweight, simple to start, and handles extremely well on hills and difficult terrain

Cons

  • minus
    Chute guard doesn't stay on very well
  • minus
    Has a tendency to suck up the detachable discharge chute

The Yard Machines 21" 159cc OHV Engine Self-Propelled Mower features dual-lever height adjustment, 8" x 8" smooth turning wheels, and is ideal for mowing smaller and medium-sized yards easily. It also has front wheel drive, mulching and side discharge capabilities, and a single forward-speed that will power through all of your yard tasks with ease. We rated this machine 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Pros

  • plus
    Electric start by pushing a button
  • plus
    Lightweight, powerful machine with excess power to mow through weeds and high grass
  • plus
    Handles tall thick grass well and runs quietly

Cons

  • minus
    ​​​​Tire treads don't provide much traction
  • minus
    Full-speed self-propel speed is very fast and doesn't appear to be adjustable

The Lawn-Boy Kohler XT6 OHV 21" lawn mower features a high-quality rear-wheel drive system that provides superior control and traction on hilly land and a two-point height-of-cut system that permits a quick adjustment of heights. It also has a larger bag capacity, a 3-in-1 discharge ability, and a 2-year "No-Worry" warranty. We rated this machine 3 out of 5 stars.

HOW WE RATED THE MOWERS

We have scoured the marketplace and read hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, Home Depot, Lowes, eBay, and a number of other independent review sites to provide you with the very best choices in self-propelled lawn mowers anywhere. Keeping in mind the mowers that received the best reviews overall, we then carefully considered each model individually.

  • What are the pros and cons of each model?
  • Does this mower have any unique features?
  • What are its average ratings?
  • How reliable is the mower?
  • Does it have a warranty?
  • A good instruction manual?
  • Finally, how much does this mower cost?
  • Do its performance and exceptional features warrant a higher price tag?

Read on to discover the relative merits and pros and cons of the best self-propelled mowers on the market today. We used a star system for our ratings, with 5 stars being the highest possible rating. Hopefully, our analysis of each machine will be helpful in allowing you to make a well-informed purchasing decision.

RELIABILITY (WARRANTY)

Self-propelled gas mowers are more liable to break than push mowers since they have many more moving parts. In studies online it has been established that Honda mowers are the most reliable, and only 15% of users are likely to experience breakage during a 4-year interval. Also, many Honda mowers come with a 5-year warranty!

Snapper mowers, on the other hand, have proven to be least reliable, with 34% of owners likely to experience a breakage problem in a 4-year period. Toro and Husqvarna mowers fall somewhere in the middle on reliability issues.

POWER

Depending on the size of your lawn, how thick your grass is, how fast you mow and how hilly your property is, you'll want to consider the power of your mower.

Typically if you mow faster, have hills and thick grass, you'll want a more powerful engine (160cc's and up).  Keep in mind, that a more powerful engine will also be less fuel efficient (in most cases), so there is no need to get something too powerful for your property.

Lawn mowers with adjustable speed settings will give you the extra oomph to go slower or faster, depending both on your physical condition as well as on the condition of the lawn.

 You'll need to use the right fuel for your gas mower. Instead of purchasing your gas at the pump, we recommend buying fuel that is ethanol-free and is available for both 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines. It will stay fresh, provide you with a dependable start, and won't degrade like gas you buy at a pump.

MULCHING

A self-propelled lawn mower that also mulches, bags, or side discharges is a convenient and versatile piece of equipment indeed! Most, if not all, of the self-propelled mowers that we are reviewing here today, have mulching capabilities connected to their 3-in-1 functions. The organic product that these mowers leave behind is more of a fertilizer or a compost than a mulch. Providing organic matter to your lawn is much preferable to feeding your grass with chemical fertilizers.

Mulching mowers are specially designed to leave behind precisely shredded grass clippings to feed your lawn. These clippings are much preferable to larger clippings caught inside bags since those clippings tend to mat together readily and are much bulkier.

BAGGING

Bagging involves the collection of cut grass into a bag to be deposited later either into a compost bin or a trash bin, as opposed to mulching which leaves the cut grass clippings on the ground where they will slowly decompose over a period of time. Proponents of bagging claim that a bagged lawn presents better curb appeal and a cleaner appearance since no stray clumps of grass are visible. Bagging is also the method of choice for times when the grass has been left too long without mowing.

All of the mowers reviewed here today provide an option for bagging. Unfortunately, bagging is not an environmentally friendly option. Fully 20% of all solid waste that is collected in the US each year is made up of grass clippings. Another startling statistic is that one acre of grass will yield approximately 3 tons of clippings annually, or about 260 bags every year!  We HIGHLY recommend you mulch your clippings the vast majority of the time.

HANDLING

Self-propelled mowers work by the operator squeezing a bar on the handle to start up the mower, which subsequently moves forward all on its own. The operator controls the direction of the mower and then stops it by simply releasing their grip on the bar, which causes its blades to stop spinning and shuts off the mower.

Choose a mower with adjustable speed settings so that you can go slow on some days and race along on others. You'll get a more even cut with adjustable speed settings as well, because a one-speed self-propelled mower may be set too fast to be able to cut thicker or taller grass, or to mulch clippings evenly.

EASE OF USE

If you're looking for the easiest and most efficient way to cut your grass, there are a number of options to choose from. All of the mowers reviewed here today have simple-to-use controls plus a transmission to power the drive wheels, which makes these mowers faster and easier to use all around.

Most self-propelled mowers have a speed-control lever that makes the mower move forward. We recommend looking at an electric start. It almost goes without saying that a self-propelled, cord-free operation facilitates easy use and freedom of movement. Many of the larger self-propelled mowers are designed to make emptying and removal of side clipping bags easier as well.

WHY BUY A SELF PROPELLED MOWER?

There are many good reasons why you should purchase a self-propelled lawn mower:

  • Cutting the grass is so much easier with a self-propelled model that it could allow you to mow your lawn instead of paying $30-$60 a week to have it cut for you.
  • Many of us don't have the desire or physical stamina to push a heavy lawnmower around for any length of time.
  • Many self propelled motors come equipped with both variable and single speeds. You can adjust speeds on the newer models by utilizing a speed control lever which lets the lawn mower move forward. The only thing you'll need to do is walk behind the mower and provide a little guidance on how it should move across the lawn.
  • There are many options to choose and mowers that will suit every preference. Select a front-wheel, all-wheel, or rear-wheel drive mower. You'll be delighted to learn just what a minimal amount of labor these mowers entail.
  • Self propelled mowers in the marketplace today come with a large number of top-of-the-line features. Check out an automatic-choke recovery system or a sleek dual-lever specially made for height adjustment.
  • Other features of the current crop of self-propelled lawnmowers are their affordability, their 3-in-1 discharge systems which give you a choice of whether you want to bag the grass, mulch the grass, or just let the grass shoot out the side, their larger bag capacity, and the availability of full warranties.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SELF PROPELLED MOWER

A self-propelled mower should automatically turn the engine off every time you release the handle, which is great for safety reasons. It will also have what is called a blade override system that will automatically disengage a blade from spinning while at the same time allowing the engine to keep on running. You'll be able to cut grass faster, and that will extend the engine's life because it won't have to stop and start every 2-3 minutes.

Choose the wheel size that is best for your property and for your motor. If the wheels on the mower are too small, they won't be able to get around on those hilly or uneven areas, despite the fact that the machine has levers for elevating or lowering, since the weight of the mower will be pressing down the wheels. Stay away from smaller plastic wheels as well. They're twice as likely to crack or break if they're left unprotected in the sunlight, if they've battled with numerous small rocks, or if they've been continuously exposed to very wet conditions.

Other notable features to look out for are the mower's engine capacity (4 cylinders are better) and the mower's capability of bagging and mulching.

TYPES OF SELF PROPELLED MOWERS

Self-propelled mowers can save you both energy and time. You'll be able to cut through very thick grass without having to use extra effort since the mower is mechanically moved forward across areas with a slight upgrade and other challenging areas of your yard.

A single-speed model has been designed to accommodate a mid-range ground-speed that will satisfy most operators and most types of cutting conditions. If you require a greater range of ground-speed (you might have a slower walking pace, for example), then you might want to opt for a variable speed mower.

Today's self-propelled mowers can be used for mulching, bagging, or collecting clippings in a side bag. The majority of the machines reviewed today offer all 3 functions and are termed 3-in-1 mowers. Modern mowers also start easily with automatic-choke recovery systems on their engines that facilitate starting an engine 'cold' - a push of a button is all that is required.

FRONT WHEEL DRIVE

Front-wheel drive mowers are the simplest to operate. They allow the user to turn the self-propelled mower by just tipping back the front wheels and then lifting the wheels off the ground. Front-wheel drive is the perfect choice for flat yards.

Front-wheel drive lawn mowers cost less than rear-end drive mowers for a reason. The wheels of a lawn mower need to be securely positioned on the ground to move forward. Rear wheels are grounded, but front-wheel drive wheels can't lift the front of a machine when turning or whenever the mower wheels bounce off the turf for some reason.

REAR WHEEL DRIVE

Rear-wheel drive gives the operator better traction when they have to mow across hilly slopes using a back-and-forth (as opposed to an up-and-down pattern). This is the safest method of grass cutting on hills. 

Rear wheels on a mower are always grounded, and that guarantees exceptional maneuverability and traction control. If the property you are mowing is very hilly, you should always opt for a rear-wheel drive lawn mower.

We recommend rear wheel drive mowers for most applications.

ALL WHEEL DRIVE

All-wheel drive mowers are available that claim to provide power and balance to all 4 wheels in uneven, hilly locations. Some reviewers beg to differ and suggest that this functionality would be better if you invested in a rear-wheel drive for your mower. Be that as it may, there are plenty of folks out there who are fans of all-wheel drive because it provides added traction and very low-effort maneuverability. They cite its performance over wet grass, hills, and on uneven terrain.

One other negative is that all-wheel drive mowers are generally more expensive than both front-wheel and rear-wheel drive lawn mowers.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHEAP AND EXPENSIVE MODELS

There are many differences between a cheaper lawn mower and a more expensive model. This list describes many of the differences you will find:

  • More expensive models may feature a wash-out port located on the mower deck. This feature allows the user to simply hook a garden hose up to a port and start it. Like magic, you'll be able to wash out all those clingy grass clippings from your blades and the inside of the deck and leave the lawn mower looking like new.
  • Self-propelled mowers with front-wheel drive are a less expensive alternative to real-wheel drive mowers. A front-wheel-drive mower will usually require added muscle power from the user because it will lose pulling power from having to make turns and navigate around certain obstacles. A more expensive rear-wheel-drive model provides more propelling power and increased reliability. It all depends on the amount of land to be mowed. If all you've got is a smaller section of very flat property, then you won't need rear-wheel drive.
  • More expensive mowers are more likely to have premium engines which will usually last longer than cheaper options and ought to start more reliably.
  • Medium priced mowers typically are slightly harder to use, and you might notice a dip in your mower's overall performance. These mowers frequently do not feature an electric start or even rear-wheel drive.
  • The most expensive option in self-propelled mowers is an electric mower. Batteries can be quite costly. They do have several advantages, though. You won't need fuel; their operation is virtually silent, they're lightweight. They require less maintenance, and they are stored easily - upright, vertically, horizontally - the choice is yours. Disadvantages? You may experience uneven power distribution, you'll only be able to go a limited distance, your battery will require charging, and over time it will lose power density.

BEST SELLING & TOP RATED BRANDS

  • Honda
  • Toro
  • Troy-Bilt
  • Snapper
  • Husqvarna
  • Yard Machines
  • Lawn-Boy
  • Poulin Pro
  • Cub Cadet

HOW MUCH SHOULD I EXPECT TO PAY?

The self-propelled lawnmowers featured here today range in price from around $300 to $800, with a median price tag of $500(ish). What features should your self-propelled lawnmower have at both the lower and the upper end of the price scale?

On the lower end of our price range, the Lawn-Boy 17732 Rear Wheel Drive Self Propelled Gas Lawn Mower gives you a number of great features at a low-end price. It has an electric button start, it's lightweight, and it has rear-wheel drive for excellent traction and control on hilly tracts of land. Also, it features a 2-year warranty and a 3-in-1 discharge ability.  But in our opinion, suffers in reliability and power.

On the high edge of our price range is the Snapper Rear Wheel Drive Variable Speed Commercial Series Lawn Mower.  It features a high-quality engine (the Honda 163cc GXV160), a smooth turn differential, blade break shut off, steel axle and reinforced bracing, a 14-gauge heavy duty steel Hi-VAC mowing deck that cuts and sucks up all grass clippings with its rolled-deck edge and blade, and 10" rear wheels which provide better maneuverability and improved traction.  It's a very nice mower, but may be a bit overpriced.

CONCLUSION

After a careful study of reviews of hundreds of available self-propelled lawn mowers, our editor unequivocally chooses the Honda HRR216K9VKA 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Gas Mower as the cream of the crop. This mid-price variable speed 3-in-1 mower offers the best options and the most bang for your buck. It features micro-cut twin blades for super-fine mulching, a 6 position cutting-height adjustment of 1 1/8"-4", a super easy to start GCV160 engine, 8" ball bearing wheels, and an auto choke, all of which receive stellar reviews from its many satisfied reviewers.

About the author

Mark Kelly

Hi, I'm Mark the owner of Yard Care Gurus. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Thanks for stopping by!

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