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Depending on the size of your yard and your mowing needs, you can spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a new lawn mower.
And because you’ll rely on your new machine all season long—and for years to come—we combine Consumer Reports’ rigorous field tests with ratings of predicted reliability derived from our annual member surveys. The result is a comprehensive list of the best and most reliable mowers on the market.
We split the tested mowers into three categories: battery-powered walk-behind mowers, gas walk-behind mowers, and riding mowers (mostly gas-powered models, along with a few battery models).
Here's how Dave Trezza, a CR test engineer who oversees lawn mower testing, breaks down the options: “Battery mowers are best for hassle-free mowing on smaller yards, while gas walk-behind mowers are better for cutting larger yards and for thicker, taller grass” he says. “And riding mowers and tractors are only necessary for large yards over half an acre.”
How CR Tests Lawn Mowers and Tractors
To get you ratings and reviews of the latest models by early spring, our testers travel to Florida to conduct tests in late winter at grounds we maintain year-round. We plant 1,800 pounds of grass seed (predominantly annual rye, prized for its dense growth). We cut 500,000 square feet of grass in three modes—mulching, side-discharging, and bagging (we collect 3,000 pounds of clippings in total). We cover level turf, slopes, and ditches to get a feel for each and every model. We also review the convenience features on every model we assess.
The Overall Score for each model in CR's mower ratings incorporates all that performance data, along with predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings from our member surveys. The surveys leverage data on more than 64,000 lawn mowers and tractors that members purchased between 2009 and 2019.
CR members with digital access can read on for ratings and reviews of the eight top mowers in our ratings, including push and self-propelled walk-behind mowers, zero-turn-radius lawn tractors, and rear-engine riding mowers. These top picks are listed in rank order within each category and come from a range of brands, including Ego, Honda, John Deere, Ryobi, and Troy-Bilt.
We'll update this list again, when we finish testing new models in spring of 2021. For now, here are the best mowers on the market.