By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Lawn care is a non-stop chore. For anything more than a small patch of green out front or back in need of weekly (or more) trimming, hopping on a riding mower or lawn tractor might actually make the task fun. This alternative to a push mower can be pricey -- some models cost more than a motorcycle -- but Cheapism.com hacked its way through the brush to find several lawn tractors that garner positive reviews from drivers and go for $1,500 or less.Use a riding lawn mower to cut grass in a big yard.
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The Ariens 960460056 (starting at $1,399) lets riders sit back and relax while the machine moseys along in cruise control at a top speed of 5.2 mph. The steel-based mower's 46-inch cutting deck is backed by a V-twin Briggs & Stratton 22 hp engine (most budget riding mowers come with single-cylinder engines) that makes cutting the grass a breeze, according to online reviews. The deck washout port allows for easy cleaning and the 16-inch turning radius and reverse mowing earn thumbs up from many owners.
The Craftsman LT2500 (starting at $1,377) is equipped with a single-cylinder Kohler engine but the 22 hp it produces is more than enough power to push both machine and driver up a hill while cutting grass to a consistent and even height. This machine also features cruise control but can't mow in reverse, or even be put in reverse without first turning off the engine. The 18-inch turning radius, however, can maneuver drivers out of tight spots. Reviewers like the 5.5 mph forward speed and the convenience as well as the easy-to-clean cutting deck and accessible oil filter.
The John Deere D105 (starting at $1,499) is a lawn tractor with an instantly recognizable brand that boasts a reputation for reliability. This line of mowers has undergone a slight change and now comes with an automatic transmission instead of a gear-drive. It continues to collect high ratings from reviewers. The 17.5 hp engine and 42-inch cutting deck are slightly smaller than the two lawn mowers noted above, but overall the John Deere D105 has secured its place as another quality, entry-level mower from a trusted name in the industry.
The Troy-Bilt Bronco (starting at $1,199) is the cheapest model on the list and sports a 42-inch cutting deck, 20 hp Kohler engine, automatic transmission, and 18-inch turning radius. The lack of backward mowing capability draws some gripes, but otherwise this is a good choice for homeowners with relatively flat lawns.
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The colloquial "riding mower" is the more common term, but technically all the models on this list are lawn tractors because the engine is housed in front of the driver. These inexpensive lawn tractors are ideal for large lawns where using a push mower can be too exhausting and time-consuming. The Ariens and John Deere lawn tractors include fuel tanks that hold about 2.5 gallons, a gallon more than the other two models. A variety of attachments, such as mulching kits and baggers, are available for each of these mowers at cost extra.
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