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The Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills: Reliable and Effective Brands

What is a Riding Lawn Mower and What is Its Sphere of Application?

A riding lawn mower is a grass-cutting machine empowered by an engine and equipped with an operator’s seat. In other words, instead of walking behind a mower, you ride on it. Modern riding mowers come packed with features and extra options, so choosing the best riding lawn mower for hills is quite a challenge. Keep on reading to know what type of a mower is right for you.
There are four main types of riding mowers. However, there is no single answer to the question “what is the best type of riding mower for hills?” Every type has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s for you to decide what to choose.

Rear Engine Mowers

This is the cheapest option. They are small, lightweight, and have a bare minimum of features. They are created solely for grass cutting, and they do this job pretty well, though the speed of moving and cutting is on the low side. That said, they are compact and convenient for both storage and moving in narrow places.

Lawn Tractors

This is the most popular, medium-priced option. They are equipped with a relatively powerful engine and a wide deck (38 through 54 inches). Lawn tractors can come with a variety of accessories, and they are often compatible with trailers. Their speed of cutting is higher if compared to rear engine machines.

Garden Tractors

These are powerful and, therefore, expensive machines. Their deck width can reach 60 inches and they are compatible with multiple attachments, including cultivators, plows, tillers, etc. In addition, some models have a detachable engine that can be used separately as a generator.

Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) Mowers

ZTR mowers are professional machines with a unique capability of making 180-degree turns. They are the speediest and the most powerful. That said, a ZTR is not the best riding lawn mower for steep hills (over 15 degrees).

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills: a Comparative Chart

Brand

 

 

Type

Cutting width (inches)

Engine power

Type of fuel

Max speed

Turn radius

Warranty

Troy-Bilt 382cc

BUY NOW AMAZON Rear engine 30 Approx. 13 HP, 382cc Gasoline 4.25 MPH 18 degrees 2 years

Poulan Pro PP155H42

BUY NOW AMAZON A lawn tractor 42 15.5 HP Gas 5.2 MPH

6 inches

10 years limited

Husqvarna MZ61

BUY NOW AMAZON A ZTR mower 61 27 HP Gas 8.5 MPH Zero 4 years limited

Raven MPV7100

BUY NOW AMAZON A garden tractor

46

Approx. 14 HP, 420 cc

Gasoline

6 MPH mowing, 17 MPH transporting 17 inches 1 year

Swisher ZTR2454BS Response

BUY NOW AMAZON A ZTR mower 54 24 HP Gas 8 MPH Zero N/A

Husqvarna YTH24V48

BUY NOW AMAZON A garden tractor 48 24 HP

Gasoline

7 MPH 17 inches 3 years

Snapper SPX2346

   BUY NOW AMAZON A lawn tractor 46 23 HP

Gasoline

5.8 MPH 14 degrees 2 years

Ryobi RY48111

  BUY NOW AMAZON  Rear engine 38 N/A Electricity N/A N/A N/A

Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series

  BUY NOW AMAZON  A lawn tractor 42 18 HP Gasoline 5.5 MPH 16 inches 3 years

Ariens IKON-X Kawasaki FR691 Series

  BUY NOW AMAZON  A ZTR mower 52 23 HP Gasoline 7 MPH Zero 3 years

Things to Consider When Buying a Riding Lawn Mower

Riding mowers are expensive – their price starts at $1000 and can reach $4000. It means there is no room for mistakes – you need to weigh all pros and cons before making a choice. Keep in mind that using riding mower on hills has its specific features, and some otherwise good mowers will be not effective enough. When buying a riding mower for hills, consider the following crucial parameters.

Ease of Driving

Modern riding mowers are commonly very easy to use. They are equipped with convenient intuitive control panels that make driving a pleasure. Such smart features as cruise control are rather useful, especially for inexperienced operators.

Weight

The weight of the mower also matters, especially when you are mowing on hilly terrains. Heavy and bulky machines will move slower and consume more power. The best choice is a lightweight mower with a powerful engine.

Deck Size

A deck size determines a cutting width. Wider decks are better for open spaces – large, smooth lawns. On narrower paths and uneven terrains, a smaller deck will be more flexible and convenient. Thus, the best riding lawn mower for hills doesn’t need a wide deck.

Lawn Size

It seems obvious: larger lawns require powerful mowers with wider decks. We recommend considering the lawn shape and the terrain also. It makes sense to buy a mower with a 40-50 inches deck to handle the lawns no less than 3 acres. For a lawn of up to 2 acres in size, a 30-40-inches deck will do.

Engine Size

It is measured in cubic centimeters (cc) and shows how powerful the engine is. A higher engine size is associated with a higher motor power. The number of cylinders is also important: double-cylinder engines are more powerful than the single-cylinder ones.

How We Selected the Best Riding Lawn Mower

To choose the best riding mower for hills 2018 we’ve compared the parameters of approximately two dozens of popular machines. Apart from the technical specification, we took into consideration the country of manufacturing, the accessories included, the warranty terms, and, of course, the price. After that, we studied tons of riding lawn mower good on hills reviews of real customers. The result of our research is a top-list of ten reliable and efficient riding mowers for landowners to consider.

Top Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills in 2018-2019: Our Choice

We realize that different people have different needs. That is why, in the framework of our review, we’ve covered mowers of different types and try to single out the winners in each category. Here are the ten winners.

Troy-Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

Review

This is a compact riding mower of the rear engine type. With the cutting width of 30 inches, it is not intended for very vast territories but, on the other hand, it is maneuvering and lightweight. The mower is perfect for relatively even terrains up to half an acre in size. Its maximum speed is not high – just up to 4.25 MPH but it has a six-speed manual power transmission. The engine itself is 382 cc, which helps it to produce around 13 HP. Among other features, there are five blade height levels which add more versatility to the machine.

What we think

Troy Bilt is a marvelous entry-level option with plenty of useful features. It is relatively inexpensive but it costs every cent you pay for it. A powerful engine, a manual power transmission with 6 speeds available, 5 positions of the blades, and a turn radius of 18 degrees make it mighty, flexible, and versatile. That said, there are reports that the Troy Bilt riding mower loses power up hills, so we don’t recommend it for steep hills.

PROS

  • lightweight and compact;
  • the turning radius of 18 degrees;
  • 6 speeds available;
  • 5 blades positions;
  • a good engine size.

CONS

  • not for high grass and steep hills;
  • the operator’s seat is a sort of flimsy.
Poulan Pro PP155H42, 42 in. 15.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Gas Riding Lawn Mower

Poulan Pro PP155H42 Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Gas Riding Lawn Mower

Review

This Poulan Pro is one of the most affordable lawn tractors around. With a powerful 15.5 HP engine and a good cutting width of 42 inches, it will easily cope with lawns up to 2-2.5 acres. The machine features auto power transmission, which makes it easier to regulate the speed and adjustable blades. Depending on the type of the terrain and the grass height, you can choose one of the six blade positions. As for the performance of the Poulan Pro riding mower on hills, works good on the sloppy surfaces of up to 15 degrees but it is not intended for steep hills.

What we think

Poulan Pro is an ideal ratio of the price, features, power. 10 years of warranty is also a strong advantage. It is compatible with some optional attachments, which makes it even more flexible. That said, many people complain about the inconvenient operator’s seat and mediocre performance on steep hills.

PROS

  • an excellent price/quality ratio;
  • an auto power transmission;
  • a powerful engine;
  • a 6-inch turn radius;
  • a good cutting width;
  • a decent build quality;
  • compatibility with attachments.

CONS

  • it lacks comfort;
  • not for very steep hills.
Husqvarna MZ61, 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Zero Turn Riding Mower

Husqvarna MZ61, 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Zero Turn Riding Mower

Review

Husqvarna, with its MZ61 model, offers a professional quality of mowing to the owners of vast lawns – 3 acres and more. The performance of this Husqvarna riding lawn mower on hills is also great if compared to low-budget options; however, keep in mind that on very sharp declines, the grass cutting will be less smooth. The machine is big (the deck size is 61’’), powerful (27 HP), and fast (up to 8.5 MPH). The hydrostatic gear transmission system makes the speed regulation easy and smooth. The cutting system consisting of 3 blades guarantees the finest quality of cutting.

What we think

If we put aside the price and look only at the mower’s parameters, it is hard to find any serious flaws in it. This is a professional mowing machine that combines ease of use, smooth performance, excellent features and capabilities. Of course, it is not for everyone. It makes sense to invest in it if the acreage of your lands is close to 3.

PROS

  • premium build quality, an all-steel frame;
  • powerful and efficient;
  • a large cutting width;
  • performs well on hills;
  • a hydrostatic gear transmission system;
  • a zero turn radius.

CONS

  • it is expensive;
  • heavy and large.
Raven MPV7100 Hybrid Riding Lawnmower Power Generator and Utility Vehicle

Raven MPV7100 Hybrid Riding Lawnmower Power Generator and Utility Vehicle

Review

This is quite a rare hybrid model that has a lot to be loved for. It is equipped with a wide 46-inch fabricated deck that is fully removable. Without a deck, the machine can move with an impressive speed of up to 17 MPH. Thanks to that, you can use it not just as a mower but as a multi-purpose agricultural vehicle with a towing capacity of 550 pounds. Being a hybrid tractor, Raven MPV7100 has a battery that is charged during the engine working. It can also serve as an external accumulator and charge various small household tools: trimmers, drills, etc.

What we think

Raven MPV7100 has a lot of great features, and it is more economical than conventional gas- and gasoline-driven vehicles. The biggest disappointment about it is that the spare parts are hard to find and rather expensive. Otherwise, this is a convenient and flexible hybrid vehicle with good mowing capabilities.

PROS

  • a multi-purpose machine;
  • a hybrid construction provides good fuel economy;
  • a good cutting width of 46 inches;
  • speedy and versatile;
  • compatible with attachments;
  • a towing capacity is 550 lbs.

CONS

  • spare parts are difficult to find;
  • you can’t see whether the battery is full without the deck removing.
Swisher ZTR2454BS Response 24HP 54-Inch B&S ZTR Mower

Swisher ZTR2454BS Response 24HP 54-Inch B&S ZTR Mower

Review

This top-rated riding lawn mower for hills is a premium product of the latest generation. It is a really speedy, powerful, and versatile mowing machine, which can handle large lawns (3 acres and more) on even and hilly terrains. It has a mighty 24-HP engine and can speed up to 8 miles per hour. With a wide 54-inches deck and three innovative Gator blades, it provides incredibly smooth and fast grass cutting. The Hydro Gear 2800 transmission allows easy and smooth driving.

What we think

We love the premium touch of this mower that is seen in numerous small details: wide convenient fenders with plenty of storage space, a cup holder, a 12-Volt adapter, a nice digital meter that shows when something goes wrong, and so on. In other words, you get what you pay for. If you are ready to pay around $5500 for the world-class quality, you won’t be disappointed with this mower.

PROS

  • powerful and fast;
  • a zero turn radius;
  • a great mowing capacity;
  • the Hydro Gear transmission;
  • a range of premium details.

CONS

  • it is expensive.
Husqvarna YTH24V48 24 HP Yard Tractor, 48-Inch

Husqvarna YTH24V48 24 HP Yard Tractor

Review

The best way to mow very steep hills with a riding mower is to choose the right mower, such as Husqvarna YTH24V48. It is a medium-priced but extremely versatile, powerful, and robust utility machine with fantastic mowing capabilities. It is maneuvering and fast, thanks to the 24-HP engine and the tight turn radius of 17 inches. The mower is compatible with various optional attachments that make it even more flexible.

What we think

Husqvarna mowers are known for their flexibility and perfect adjustability. With the YTH24V48 option, you can adjust the mowing height right from the operator seat. The hydrostatic transmission provides smooth riding. Most frequently, customers’ complaints are associated with the cost and availability of spare parts.

PROS

  • a good price/quality ratio;
  • versatile and adjustable;
  • for medium-sized and large lawns;
  • hydrostatic transmission;
  • a powerful engine;
  • high maximum speed.

CONS

  • spare parts are expensive and hard to find.
Snapper SPX2346 46

Snapper SPX2346 46″ Lawn Tractor

Review

This practical and reliable lawn tractor performs great even when you mow wet or thick grass. It is equipped with a 23-HP Briggs&Stratton engine, which is easily launched with a single push of a button. The cutting height is adjustable (7 positions), and the maximum cutting width is 46 inches, which is pretty good. The foot pedal hydro transmission allows smooth speed control.

What we think

If you are looking for a reliable “workhorse” at a reasonable price, this tractor is worthy of a closer look. There are reports that the older version of the Snapper riding mower won’t pull hills but you should not experience troubles with this brand-new upgraded tractor with anti-slippery wheels, a more powerful engine, and improved transmission.

PROS

  • inexpensive if compared to the counterparts;
  • a powerful and reliable engine;
  • an adjustable cutting height;
  • versatile and adjustable;
  • smooth speed regulation.

CONS

  • not available for sale in California.
Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48111

Ryobi Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48111

Review

Electric vehicles of all types are gaining popularity. The innovative Ryobi RY48111 can be rightfully called the best small riding lawn mower for hills. It is an environmentally friendly option, unlike gas- and gasoline-driven mowers. With a cutting deck measuring 38 inches, it is quite small and maneuvering. The machine features a powerful 100 Ah battery that allows up to 2.5 hours of working with a single charge.

What we think

This Ryobi mower is an excellent environmentally friendly solution that produces zero harmful emissions. Among nice extras, the is an external USB-port for mobile phone charging right during mowing. Keep in mind, though, that it is pricier than gasoline-powered machines with similar capabilities.

PROS

  • environmentally friendly;
  • lightweight and maneuvering;
  • powerful and reliable;
  • uses a standard 120-volt output for charging;
  • features a USB-port;
  • 3 brushless blades provide smooth cutting.

CONS

  • it is expensive.
Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower

Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower

Review

The performance of this Cub Cadet riding mower on hills is great thanks to its excellent characteristics. This is a powerful, robust, and versatile vehicle equipped with a 24-HP engine. Hydrostatic transmission provides smooth performance and precise speed regulation. With the cruise control feature, it is easier to maintain the needed speed. Thanks to a 16-inch turn radius, the mower is extremely maneuvering. On top of this, the tractor is compatible with multiple attachments, including a snow thrower.

What we think

Cub Cadet is one of the most versatile riding mowers around: you can use it all year round as a full-featured utility vehicle. With a 42-inch cutting deck and 12 height positions, it is perfect for handling most medium-sized and large lawns. Its minor drawbacks include an inconvenient operator’s seat and the lack of the front protective bumper.

PROS

  • a multi-purpose vehicle;
  • excellent mowing capabilities;
  • a powerful 24-HP engine;
  • smooth and fast grass cutting;
  • precise regulation of the cutting height.

CONS

  • no front bumper;
  • the operator’s seat needs improvement.
Ariens IKON-X 52

Ariens IKON-X 52″ Zero Turn Mower 23hp Kawasaki FR691 Series

Review

What is good riding mower for hills? The one that is powerful but lightweight, maneuvering but with a good cutting width. Ariens IKON-X meets all these requirements. It has a robust all-steel frame and a 52-inch fabricated deck with a belt drive. Thanks to 13 blade positions, an exceptional smoothness and preciseness of cutting is provided. The machine can reach the speed of up to 7 MPH and perfectly suits for large lawns of all kinds.

What we think

Apart from being powerful and flexible, Ariens IKON-X is really comfortable. It features a padded seat with a high comfortable back and armrests. Another benefit is its compatibility with multiple optional accessories – a mulch kit, a bagger, and a dethatcher.

PROS

  • premium build quality;
  • a powerful engine;
  • versatile and adjustable;
  • smooth and fast cutting;
  • compatible with optional attachments;
  • enhanced comfort.

CONS

  • not available for sale in California;
  • a bit pricey

Safety Tips When Using Riding Lawn Mower for Hills

Lawn mowers are known as high-injury garden equipment. It is crucial to understand how to make a riding lawn mower safer on hills and lawns. To avoid traumas and injuries follow basic safety tips.

  1. Don’t ignore the manual – it contains all the information about the mower’s characteristics and rules of operation.
  2. Put on protective clothes and glasses; otherwise, you can be hurt with small stones, debris, and thorns that are thrown from the wheels during mowing.
  3. Inspect the lawn for potentially dangerous objects and obstacles that can cause damage to you or to a mower.
  4. Try not to work at nighttime or in rainy weather. The risk of injury increases when the grass is wet and slippery and you can miss an obstacle or a danger in the darkness.
  5. Always turn off the mower when you need to go away for a while and never try to cross the road or stay in front of the working mower, even if it is not moving right now.
  6. Don’t allow anything to distract you from driving. Look at the road (lawn) ahead of you in order to see potential dangers in advance.
  7. Keep your pets and kids away from the working mower. Don’t let children play near the machine or climb on its seat or deck.
  8. Clean the mower regularly but don’t forget to turn it off before doing it.

We also recommend to read how to use riding mower on steep hills correctly. Keep in mind that hills are a high-risk area, and never try to mow in the hilly terrains in the rainy weather or at night.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What Would Cause a Hydrostatic Riding Mower to Bog Down on Hills?

A: There are several reasons for it. The most common of them are a low gas or/and oil level, a dirty carburetor, a dirty air filter, muddy blades, fouled spark plugs, and a dirty muffler. The solution is simple: clean all the inner and outer components before going to hills and check fuel and oil.

Q: How Powerful is a Mower for Leaf Cleanup (Including Acorns)?

A: Most mowers have some extra features and possibilities; one of the most useful of them is leaf mulching. It means you can use your riding mower to clean your yard or lawn from fallen leaves and acorns. There are three options available in popular mowers: mulching, side discharging, and bagging. Depending on the particular model of a machine, you can either mulch the leaves and discharge them back on the lawn, or mulch and collect them. In both cases, you’ll make your lawn cleaner and more pleasant to an eye.

Q: How to Make a Riding Lawn Mower Safer on Hills?

A: Mowing on hills is more difficult and dangerous if compared to mowing on even lawns. To minimize the risks adhere to the following rules: 1) choose the right mower and 2) avoid unfavorable weather conditions (rain, mud, dew, fog. etc.)

Q: What Size Riding Mower Do I Need for Hills?

A: It primarily depends on the size of your lawn. As a general rule of thumb, for bigger lawns, you need larger mowers. Also, keep in mind that a zero-turn vs riding mower on hills is less reliable because of its wheel construction. The trouble is that zero-turn machines use casters instead of front wheels. That is why they easier slip down steep hills.

Q: What Transmission is Best for Hills in a Riding Lawn Mower?

A: There are three types of transmission: manual, automatic and hydrostatic. For smoother movement and more precise control over speed, choose mowers with automatic or hydrostatic transmission. The cruise control feature adds convenience.

Q: How Long is the Warranty from the Manufacturer?

All reliable and trusted lawn mower manufacturers provide warranty on their products. The term of warranty commonly varies from two to five years.

Verdict and Recommendations

In the framework of this guide, we’ve tried to review riding mowers on hills of various types and price categories. Without a doubt, all of them are decent options with a whole range of advantages. Our favorites are the following brands:
Our top pick for large and very large lawns is Swisher ZTR2454BS. This is an innovative premium product with virtually no flaws. It is extremely powerful, speedy, versatile, and easy to operate. The only drawback of this mower is its price – over $5000.
The cheapest top-rated lawn mower available is Troy-Bilt 382cc, which is perfect for smaller lawns. It is lightweight and very maneuvering, which makes it a great option for tight areas and lawns with a lot of obstacles, such as trees. The machine is currently available at the price of slightly over $1000.
If you decided to go green, have a closer look at Ryobi RY48111 – an innovative vehicle that runs on electricity. It works smoothly and has a range of nice features. That said, with the price of about $2300 it is not the most affordable option around.

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